We can stop Veteran suicide. It starts with understanding.

A Special Message from our President and CEO

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, a topic I am deeply passionate about because it is deeply personal.

As a retired Army three-star General, I have been close to suicide far more often than I ever cared to be. While I cannot guarantee we can eliminate suicide from our world, I do think we can make major strides. And I believe it starts with understanding.

There are certain experiences that ring true of any serviceman or woman, regardless of their branch, base or deployment. To build an analogy, being deployed can feel like – in a small way – preparing for game day. In sports, you spend the off-season training, pushing your body to its limits. You pour over videos and strategies and plays. You connect deeply with your teammates to ensure you understand each other on the field. Everything builds to game day, when you get to prove your talents and contribute to the team.

Time in the military is similar in that we spend nearly every moment in preparation for or in active service to our deployment – our game day. Even in the years between deployments, it is spent in active preparation for the next training exercise and orders. The difference is that during deployment, every day is game day. You could be called into action at any moment, and mentally and physically, you need to be ready.

With that level of intensity – whether you’re active for three years or 33 years – you’re going to leave time in service a changed person. You’ve lived all over, you’ve seen the world, you’ve connected with a group of people who became like a family, and you may have lost some of them along the way.

Transitioning to civilian life lacks the same intensity, purpose and camaraderie. The “Who I am and how I matter” is hard to find or sustain.

Without that stability, things start to fall apart. Depression can sink in. Families can be torn apart. People turn to substances to cope. With each stumble, our Veterans fall a rung on the ladder, until they reach rock bottom. To make it worse, Veterans can feel they have failed if they need to ask for help.

And then you get the call. A fellow serviceman or woman, who you once saw as invincible, has committed suicide. We have to beat the stigma.

By understanding this all-too-common narrative, we can intercept our Veterans in the in-between. We can give them the purpose and camaraderie they so desperately need.

Maybe you run a corporation, a small business or know someone who does. Can you advocate for Veterans to be hired? Can you give them a purposeful career? We love to say, “Thank you,” when we see a service member in the airport, but what many of them really need is an action such as, “I think I have a job for you.”

Or it can be as simple as extending an invitation to join you in a hobby or sport. Do you play a weekly card game? Participate in a kickball league? Enjoy a monthly book club? Have a passion for yoga? I encourage you to seek out the Veterans among you – the neighbor, the colleague, the friend, the family member – and invite them along. Meet them where they are, and hear their story.

For me, I connect with fellow Veterans each week through the sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu here at the NVMM. When I notice someone missing one week, I check in. That phone call, email or text may be all someone needs to keep going. It says, “I noticed you. I see you. You matter.”

Together we can find the Veteran, reach the Veterans and stop suicide.

LT. GENERAL MICHAEL FERRITER
U.S. Army (Retired)
President and CEO, NVMM

Beyond the Exhibit: Beau Simmons

Pull back the curtain with Beyond the Exhibit! We explore the journey of Beau Simmons, the artist behind our latest exhibition, The Twenty-Year War: Our Next Greatest Generation.

NVMM Reads: “Get the Terp Up Here!”

"Get the Terp Up Here!" book image

Following the events of September 11, 2001, our perception of life as we knew it was uprooted, and the world was thrust into the Global War on Terror (GWOT). While most U.S. citizens remained safe from the crossfire, many innocent civilians living in foreign combat zones were not nearly as lucky. Throughout the GWOT, combat interpreters were an enormous part of the military’s strategy. To gain intelligence advantages over the enemy, combat interpreters served on the front lines to intercept enemy radio frequencies and translate locations and plans. “Get the Terp Up Here!” by Nasirullah Safi, an Afghan interpreter for U.S. forces, explores his perspective and experiences.

Safi (called “John” by his comrades in arms) reveals the struggles and versatility of an interpreter’s role in military service. While becoming familiar with new languages, customs and terminology necessary to effectively foresee combat situations, interpreters must also be prepared at all times to handle aggressive enemy encounters. They must be able to keep a close ear on intercepted frequencies, waiting to hear and respond to the enemy’s next steps. Safi shares notable experiences including evading enemy gunshots, narrowly avoiding improvised explosive devices and escaping Taliban leaders in a way that is both personal and captivating.

Growing up in rural Afghanistan, Safi’s childhood was plagued by uncertainty and senseless violence. In his teenage years, he successfully evaded the Taliban’s watchful eye while working on his family farm, attending classes, learning English and looking for a job to support his family. While seeking employment, he was presented with the opportunity to serve as a combat interpreter. Elated that he could finally make money to help his family back home, he joined and served with the American troops stationed in Afghanistan for several years. Through his service, he was assisted with immigration to the United States and payment for his medical doctorate, allowing him to realize his dream of becoming a doctor.

Safi’s story of determination and resilience illustrates the dedication and vigilance of our service members who keep us safe. Like many others, he was able to create a better life for himself by utilizing his service to enhance his natural drive and ambition, leading him down a clear path to success.

NVMM Reads: “Blue Sky White Stars”

This month’s NVMM Reads book, “Blue Sky White Stars,” shares the story of America and its diversity through beautiful imagery and powerful language. For author Sarvinder Naberhaus, this book is an ode to America and the nation’s most enduring symbol – the American Flag. The book pairs sparse text with the beautiful paintings of acclaimed artist Kadir Nelson, to encapsulate the beauty, strength and inclusivity of America. Naberhaus and Nelson communicate America is more than rolling hills, blue skies and fields of grain; America is made up of the people who call America home. These people are what make America a beautiful and special place to live.

Inspiring Stories of Service: Nasirullah ‘John’ Safi

Nasirullah ‘John’ Safi, an Afghan interpreter and new U.S. citizen shares his unique perspective with us about his time in service. He is a former U.S. military combat interpreter and a published author who supported the U.S. during the Global War on Terror. In his book, “Get the Terp Up Here! War as an Interpreter to U.S. Forces in Afghanistan,” John shares his firsthand experience of the war in Afghanistan.

Connect with his inspiring story and see how he continues to service his country and community.

Journey from Veteran to Small Business Owner [Rally Point]

As Veterans transition back to civilian life, some start small businesses as a way to connect with their communities and utilize their skills, values and work ethic gained through military service. Two inspiring leaders: Alonzo McKenzie, U.S. Air Force Veteran and Relationship Manager at the Economic and Community Development Institute, and Angelina Vega, U.S. Coast Guard Veteran and owner of Plus Size Pretty joined us to share best practices and resources for starting your small business venture.

Inspiring Stories of Service: Phil Sussman

Phil Sussman, U.S. Army Veteran and co-founder of American Yogi, shares his journey from service overseas to yoga and wellness. Through American Yogi, he strives to make the practice of yoga more accessible and help both men and women find their vehicle to peace.

Phil is featured in our current exhibition, The Twenty-Year War: Our Next Greatest Generation.

NVMM Reads: “The Juneteenth Story”

While June marks the beginning of summer for most Americans, the month holds great historic and cultural significance for African Americans. On June 19, 1865, more than two years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, enslaved African Americans in Texas finally received word they were free. In her children’s book, “The Juneteenth Story: Celebrating the End of Slavery in the United States,” Alliah L. Agostini shares the history of Juneteenth in an effort to spread awareness of this impactful date.

Reading this book with children will teach them why it took so long for those enslaved in Texas to hear they had been freed. It also sheds light on how Texans who moved to other parts of our country brought their Juneteenth traditions with them, creating momentum that culminated in Juneteenth being declared an official holiday in 2021. “The Juneteenth Story” is beautifully illustrated by Sawyer Cloud, who visually captures the uniting force of Juneteenth, making this book the perfect starting point for children beginning to learn about history.

Transition Talks: Sophie Hilaire

U.S. Army Veteran Sophie Hilaire joins us to discuss her challenges and triumphs transitioning from active duty, and her experience being a part of our latest exhibition, The Twenty-Year War: Our Next Greatest Generation.

Vetrepreneur Spotlight: Battle Brothers Shaving Company

Battle Brothers Shaving Co. is a company made for warriors, by warriors. It was born out of brotherhood, service and self-sacrifice. Justin Locke, our Business Development Manager, sat down with founder and U.S. Army Veteran Andrew Weiss for this month’s Vetrepreneur Spotlight.

Their razors are crafted with military aircraft-grade aluminum, highlighting their attention to detail and uncompromising quality.

Find Your Tribe: Navigating PTSD and Moral Injuries [Rally Point]

The month of June is dedicated to bringing awareness to Post-traumatic Stress and reducing the stigma attached to seeking treatment. Our Rally Point focused on how to “Find Your Tribe: Navigating PTSD and Moral Injuries” with special guest active-duty United States Marine Corps Major Tom Schueman, founder of Patrol Base Abbate.

PTSD Awareness Month

We all have a role to play in listening, connecting and reaching out to those who may be struggling with challenges. By talking about mental health and suicide, it not only helps reduce stigma and increase awareness, but it also has the potential to save a life.

About Rally Point:

Rally Point is a free, monthly event on the first Saturday of every month dedicated to connecting and educating Veterans, Veterans’ families, and those who wish to support Veterans. The programs focus on organizations and programs from which Veterans and their families directly benefit.

The History of Memorial Day

Memorial Day, as we know it today, is a holiday observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military and marking the unofficial start of summer. But this hasn’t always been the case. Did you know Memorial Day grew from a tradition known as Decoration Day?

The Civil War, which ended in the spring of 1865, claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. history. More than 600,000 soldiers from both the Union and Confederate armies fell during the war, leading to the establishment of our country’s first national cemeteries. By the late 1860s, Americans across the country were holding springtime tributes to their fallen loved ones, decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers.

“The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

GENERAL JOHN A. LOGAN

On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 people gathered to decorate the graves of 20,000 Civil War soldiers buried there. By 1890, Decoration Day was an official state holiday in Northern states. Southern states, on the other hand, continued to honor their fallen on separate days until after World War I.

Memorial Day, as Decoration Day gradually came to be known, originally honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War. But during World War I the United States found itself embroiled in another major conflict, and the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars, including World War IIthe Vietnam Warthe Korean War and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Memorial Day was observed on May 30 until 1968 when Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, establishing Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees. This change went into effect in 1971 and also made Memorial Day a federal holiday.

Young boy salutes flags

DID YOU KNOW…

The National Moment of Remembrance is an annual event that asks Americans, wherever they are at 3:00 p.m. local time on Memorial Day, to pause for one minute to remember those who have died in military service to the United States.

Although the name has changed, the intention to honor those who lost their lives defending our country has not. We invite you to honor our fallen service members who fought for our freedoms by joining our Memorial Day Ceremony in person here at the Museum or online.

Create Popsicle Stick American Flags

This Memorial Day, join us in celebrating the men and women who gave their lives to defend our nation by creating mini popsicle American Flags. Post your created flag on Facebook Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #NVMMemorialDay.

Supplies:

  • Popsicle sticks
  • Red, white and blue paint or marker
  • Paintbrush (if using paint)
  • Glitter Glue
  • Glue
  • Paper

Instructions:

  • Paint or color 4 popsicle sticks red and white
  • Take the painted popsicle sticks and lay them down as even as possible with the uncolored side facing up. Make sure they follow the color pattern of red, white, red, white, etc.
  • Cut the piece of paper into a square the same size as the lined-up popsicle sticks
  • Apply glue to one side of the popsicle sticks and place the cut piece of paper on the glue. Let dry.
  • Turn over the flag and paint a blue square in the upper right of the popsicle flag.
  • Apply glitter glue dots to a few spots on the blue square and let the glue dry.
  • You now have a popsicle American Flag!

Inspiring Stories of Service: Amy Sexauer, U.S. Army Reserves

Amy Sexauer, U.S. Army Reserve member, dedicates her time to writing about the things closest to her: rebirth, memory, and identity through the lens of a Veteran. Her new book, “Poppies,” details her personal journey through war, loss, and change.

Connect with her Inspiring Story of Service and learn more about how poetry has become a way for her to navigate life.

NVMM Reads: “Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging”

Many service members describe their military experience as virtually incomparable to any other aspect of life in the civilian world. The bonds they’ve shared, the difficulties they’ve faced and the communities they’ve built can’t be found in most aspects of modern society. “Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging” by Sebastian Junger reflects on the military experience, raising several philosophical and biological questions regarding what citizens and service members alike experience emotionally during wartime. To put into perspective the raw psychological effects of war on both Veterans and civilians, our NVMM Guest Experience Team recommends picking up a copy of “Tribe” this summer.

If you’re not familiar with Sebastian Junger, he is a New York Times bestselling author, special correspondent at ABC News and documentary film maker. Among other assignments, he spent extensive time with soldiers at the Restrepo outpost in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley as he chronicled their deployment. This area was involved in more combat than any other part of Afghanistan. Junger also lost his friend and colleague, photojournalist Tim Hetherington, who was killed while covering the civil war in Libya in 2011. While not a Veteran himself, Junger’s experiences allow him to share personal stories and anthropological evidence to explain the reasoning behind the confusing happiness of those who share tragic bonds.

Throughout the book, Junger recalls his own homecoming experiences while expressing his research findings on mental health, both inside and outside combat zones. He explains the deep bonds of our servicemen and women as well as those of civilians who have been in war when people are fighting side-by-side defending their homes, trying to survive or driving out an enemy oppressor. The common thread is the bonds forged through tragedy and hard work together that bring out the best in each person. Upon returning to civilian life, combat Veterans and victims of violence may feel empty or disappointed with the ways people treat one another.

It’s difficult for those of us who have never experienced military life to recognize how often many service members will come home and reflect fondly on the community they built through shared sacrifice, hard work and tragedy. It is not often the circumstance itself that they “miss,” but rather the deep sense of belonging, purpose and companionship that many long to experience again.

Discomfort begets a bond that cannot be replicated or replaced. Throughout “Tribe,” this theory of intrinsic happiness through discomfort is emphasized many times over. Whether you’re interested in anthropology, biology, history, or philosophy, we recommend “Tribe” for  a thought-provoking read.

NVMM Reads: “Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops”

Today, more than 2.2 million Americans proudly serve as part of the United States Military around the world. Serving alongside them are their families – parents, spouses and children, who remain strong and brave as they wait for their family members to return home.

In First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden’s book, “Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops,” she tells a story inspired by her granddaughter, Natalie’s, experiences waiting for her father to return home from deployment. By sharing this experience through a child’s eyes, the reader gets a glimpse into what it’s like for a child to have a parent serving in the military. She describes the courage and bravery military children develop to remain strong while their parent is away serving their country, the support systems they develop and how they connect with their parents long distance. First Lady Jill Biden encourages readers to remember support and honor both our Veterans and servicemembers as well as their families bravely waiting for a loved one’s return home.

Transition Talks: Chris and Angie Baker

Take a look behind the scenes of The Twenty-Year War: Our Next Greatest Generation. Hear from Chris and Angie Baker, two U.S. Navy Veterans, on their challenges and triumphs transitioning from active duty.

Secure Your Financial Future [Rally Point]

Join us for a financial wellness conversation with Adam Stalnaker, financial advisor at Rockport Wealth Advisors and owner/founder of Veteran Investment Planning, and Austin Steed, U.S. Navy Veteran and Real Estate Agent at Lim Realty Group. Sometimes the hardest part of determining your financial goals is getting started. Adam specializes in planning for retirement and will share his expertise and advice tailored for Veterans, but applicable to the general public as well.

Adam Stalnaker is a Financial Advisor with Rockport Wealth Advisors. After earning his Bachelor’s Degree from The Ohio State University, Adam started his career at Grant Thornton in the assurance department. For the next seven years he worked in the accounting industry. In 2009 Adam joined New England Financial where Adam began his career as a Financial Advisor. After four years there, he joined Rockport Wealth Advisors. Adam has been actively pursuing his vision of building a financial services firm that meets the full spectrum of his clients’ financial planning needs.

The belief is that everyone needs a financial plan and at Rockport they have developed programs to make that a reality no matter the asset level or income level.

Recently Adam and his partner Joe created a financial literacy program exclusively for Veterans and their families (veteraninvestmentplanning.com). With the opportunity to give back and help support Veteran’s organizations has become a priority in both his personal and work life.

Rockport and VIP host an annual golf outing to support Veteran groups and their missions (salutetoservicegolf.com) and Adam also teaches financial literacy as part of rangerforlife.com.

Adam lives in Bay Village with his wife Jen, and their children, Nolan and Emily. He enjoys playing golf, basketball, working out and spending time with family.

Austin Steed is a United States Navy Veteran, established real estate agent and investor. After serving as an Aircraft Mechanic in the service, he received his Bachelor’s Degree from The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business in 2019. It was during college that Austin first found his passion of building assets and wealth through real estate.

Austin is a part of Lim Realty Group and has sold $21MM in Real Estate, has raised $1.5MM for Real Estate development and holds 3.4MM AUM. His purpose is to help people acquire income producing Real Estate and build generational wealth. Through his understanding and usage of VA loans, he’s been able to grow his professional portfolio to what it is today, while helping others do the same.

As a Columbus native, you can find Austin at local networking events, playing golf or on a run through the city. You can connect with Austin at austin@limrealtygroup.com. He’s happy to help another Veteran, answer any questions and assist. 

About Rally Point:

Rally Point is a free, monthly event on the first Saturday of every month dedicated to connecting and educating Veterans, Veterans’ families, and those who wish to support Veterans. The programs focus on organizations and programs from which Veterans and their families directly benefit.

Inspiring Stories of Service: Dead Reckoning Collective

There’s power in putting pen to paper. During National Poetry Month, we’re connecting you to the inspiring stories of Tyler Carroll and Keith Dow, both U.S. Army Veterans and co-founders of the publishing company Dead Reckoning Collective. Learn how they impact the lives of Veterans by encouraging a positive lifestyle through writing and storytelling.

Please see a selection of Veteran-focused poetry from Dead Reckoning Collective below.

“3495 Bailey”

Originally featured in Karmic Purgatory
Published by Dead Reckoning Collective (2021)

Light a smoke
Tell a joke
Order a beer
Wipe a tear
“Where you been?”
“Who’s your kin?”

Old man shares a smoke
Tells a joke
“Have a Miller”
“Can tell you’re a killer”

Take a gulp
Cold and hot
Been here a lot

“Don’t live in it forever
It fades like burnt paper “

Old leather looks a lot like scarred skin
Tells a story most can’t comprehend
Keith Walter Dow

“Warned Me”

Originally featured in Where They Meet
Published by Dead Reckoning Collective (2021)

Every step, a set of ribbons stitched on a hat
Reminds you of where they’ve been
And where you’re at
Wedged in a chair, relating to peeling linoleum
Narcotics more present than the fiends holding them
We are the resolve and we are the end result
We are the hammers, the scalpels, and the old salts
We are more though and moreover
We are walking, talking textbooks when the war’s over
As rattled as we wanna be
As broken as they all believe
When they read our story
What will they take away?
Will they know of the triumphs?
Or will they pity our decay?
Cokie

“Odes to the GWOT”

Originally featured in In Love… & War: The Anthology of Poet Warriors
Published by Dead Reckoning Collective (2019)

Here stands in the face of unprecedented transition
Testament to unchanging resolve
For which these warriors will be forever known.
Cities were our fought-for islands,
Desert and mountain, rather Grandfather’s shores.
A nation asked and thus was answered:
Our bravest men for its longest wars.
David Rose

“22 October 2021”

Originally featured in Poppies
Published by Dead Reckoning Collective (2021)

Ten years later and
We have insulated ourselves,
Turned shock and grief
Into calluses of the heart
A tree planted in your honor
Museum displays
Children named after you
Everyone pours out for you
In their own way
All I have are my words and
Ten years was too easy to count
But your legacy
Exponential through those that love you
Is immeasurable
Amy Sexauer

“Fact & Memory”

Originally featured in Fact & Memory
Published by Dead Reckoning Collective (2019)

Sometimes the two perfectly coincide
Sometimes separated by miles and miles
At times the obstacle is geographic
At times temporal logic is absent
There are times it’s a matter of when
There are times when it’s all that matters
Often times what we believe we lived different
Often times what we remember just isn’t
Keith Dow & Tyler Carol

“Hanging Up the Rifle”

Originally featured in Sober Man’s Thoughts
Published by Dead Reckoning Collective (2020)

They warned me of death,
and war’s evil endeavor,
but nobody told me
we’d chase it forever.
William Bolyard

Volunteer Spotlight: Kathy S.

Our NVMM volunteers are integral to the success of our Museum. Thanks to the support of these amazing individuals, we are able to achieve our mission to Honor, Connect, Inspire, and Educate our community, state and nation about the Veteran experience!

Meet Kathy, an NVMM volunteer who has been with us since day one.

Q: How long have you been volunteering with the NVMM?
A:
I was part of the very first new volunteer orientation class. We met literally 1 week before we opened on Oct. 27, 2018, so going on four years now.

Q: How have you connected to the Museum?
A:
Simply put, I am committed to our mission. I believe with my whole heart that our Veterans, young and not so young, deserve to be honored and thanked for their service. They need to know that their service matters, whether they were in combat or not. To thank a Veteran for his/her service and to see his/her face light up with gratitude, and sometimes surprise, is deeply satisfying for me. It could even make their entire day. Plus, I had six men in my family that were in the military, including one in WW1 and one in WW2. This is my way of honoring them.

Q: What’s your favorite story about your time as an NVMM volunteer?
A:
In 2019 I had the honor of meeting WW2 Veteran Rupert “Twink” Starr and giving him and his friends a personal tour. He was so proud of his military service, as well as his involvement in getting the ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” legislature overturned. If you get a chance, look him up on Google and read about his remarkable life – I believe he will be 99 this year. And, he’s an OU Bobcat like me!!

Q: What inspires you to volunteer?
A:
It’s about serving something bigger than me, contributing to the greater good and making the world a better place.

Q: What’s a fun fact about yourself?
A:
I know how to play the Bodhran, the Irish drum.

Q: We feature a “What We’re Reading” section each month on our website as part of NVMM Reads. What are you reading right now?
A:
I just finished reading “A Woman of No Importance” by Sonia Purnell. It’s about Virginia Hall, an American woman working in the French Resistance during WW2.

Q: What do you like to do when you aren’t working or volunteering?
A:
I love kayaking, hiking, exploring, and ‘treasure hunting.’ Those who work with me on Saturdays will know what that means.

Q: What is your personal motto, or your favorite quote?
A:
“I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121.

NVMM Reads: “The Knock at the Door”

This month, our NVMM Guest Experience team highly recommends adding “The Knock at the Door,” co-authored by Ryan Manion, Heather Kelly and Amy Looney Hefferman, to your reading list. As an incredible testament to their fallen loved ones, these women joined together, united through tragedy, to convey their experience so that others may understand. This is a book for all that have received a literal or metaphorical life-changing “knock at the door,” for anybody who has gone through loss and for anyone interested in exploring and understanding love and sacrifice.

“The Knock at the Door” begins by describing a heartbreaking personal narrative of the intense healing processes undergone by the three Gold Star authors. Immediately upon taking their first hopeful steps into adulthood, Ryan Manion, Heather Kelly and Amy Looney Heffernan were faced with the ever-feared knock at their door. As quickly as their new lives had begun, it all appeared to end with the arrival of servicemen at their doorstep. In an instant, they were forced to cope with the unimaginable loss of family members; losses which changed the entire course of their lives. Despite their struggles, these brave women describe how their losses could not prevent them from living life to the fullest and helping others understand their grief. It was through their grief that they were bonded in solemn purpose, and the community built through their trauma is a true testament to their respective characters and those of their fallen loved ones.

This book is a sorrowful, yet beautiful reminder that nobody has all the answers. It is not always a beautiful process to heal from such pain. However, there is a light in the darkness. For each person who has experienced a life changing “knock at the door,” communities such as “The Travis Manion Foundation” can give many the strength to carry on and grow through pain.

At the National Veterans Memorial and Museum, we honor and respect those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, as well as their families and friends. Our fallen service members have each directly or indirectly impacted lives through their service, dedication and courage. Travis Manion, Brendan Looney, and Rob Kelly each embodied the phrase, “If not me, then who?” a phrase which has proven to be an important phrase for many in the healing process. They gave their lives in defense of our country and our freedoms so that we wouldn’t have to.

Impacting Military Children through Purple Star Schools [Rally Point]

We are proud to celebrate April as the Month of the Military Child in honor of more than 1.6 million military-connected children of all ages worldwide. On Saturday, April 2 at 11 a.m., we welcomed U.S. Navy Veteran and Commissioner Pete LuPiba, founder of the Ohio Department of Education’s Purple Star Award, for our online Rally Point conversation. Purple Star Schools are located in more than 30 states including Virginia, Texas, South Carolina, Florida, California and New Hampshire. To-date in Ohio, there are 381 Purple Star Schools that support military families from Lake Erie to the Ohio River. Each Ohio school has a Purple Star school liaison, an educator on campus in support of military-connected children. Learn how Purple Star Schools help manage the challenges military-connected children face.

Commissioner Pete LuPiba is Ohio’s MIC3 (Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission) representative. Initially appointed in 2012 by Governor Kasich and duly reappointed by succeeding Governor DeWine in 2019. LuPiba serves as Deputy Director for the Office of Budget and Management in the State of Ohio. LuPiba formerly served as Public Affairs Officer at the Ohio Department of Education, 2007-2019.

LuPiba Founded The Purple Star Award for Military family-friendly schools in 2016. Purple Star is in 30+ States, including Virginia, Texas, South Carolina, Florida, California, and New Hampshire – with 350+ Purple Star Schools in the Founding State of Ohio.

LuPiba led the effort to eliminate the professional educator licensure fee for teachers and coaches who have served or are serving in Uniform – including Spouses of active duty personnel. As of 2021, Military families in Ohio have saved more than $354,000.

LuPiba coordinated a state-wide Military Signing Day ceremony for those young men and women choosing to join the Armed Forces to begin their professional career. The 2019 Ceremony hosted more than 1,000 attendees in the State’s capital of Columbus.

LuPiba served active duty United States Navy – deploying with Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 11 to Iraq in 2006. LuPiba completed his Armed Forces service in the Reserves – with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 26.

About Rally Point:

Rally Point is a free, monthly event on the first Saturday of every month dedicated to connecting and educating Veterans, Veterans’ families, and those who wish to support Veterans. The programs focus on organizations and programs from which Veterans and their families directly benefit.

Sisterhood of Service [Rally Point]

We honor the women who looked beyond their roles as mother, daughter, wife, partner and sister and took up the call to serve our nation. These women took on challenges with fortitude and resilience and never gave up. On Saturday, March 5, 2022, we were joined by U.S. Army active-duty service member Lt. Colonel Katie Crombe and U.S. Army Veteran Christine Schwartz. These sisters are also part of our new exhibition The Twenty-Year War: Our Next Greatest Generation.

Lieutenant Colonel Katie Crombe is an active-duty strategic planning officer. She joined the U.S. Army in 2003. In 2018, she became the aide-de-camp to General Joseph Votel, who was the commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) at the time.

Christine Schwartz is a U.S. Army Veteran who deployed in 2011 as a 92A quartermaster officer. She deployed to Afghanistan as executive officer of a supply company doing re-supply runs to line units. She now leads Service to School, which is a non-profit to help veterans apply and get accepted to top-tier colleges, including the Ivy League.

About Rally Point:

Rally Point is a free, monthly event on the first Saturday of every month dedicated to connecting and educating Veterans, Veterans’ families, and those who wish to support Veterans. The programs focus on organizations and programs from which Veterans and their families directly benefit.

Staff Spotlight: Theresa Sanderell, Guest Experience Supervisor

Each month, the Museum invites you to get to know the staff supporting our pillars to Honor, Connect, Inspire and Educate. Meet Theresa Sanderell, our Guest Experience Supervisor.

Q: How have you connected to the Museum?

A: I was a volunteer on opening night when I was a senior in high school, and by summer of 2019 I was working part time at the front desk while in school. Museums and education are my passion, and the NVMM offered me an amazing opportunity to fulfill both passions as I finish my degree in History. While I have very few personal connections to the military, interacting with guests and hearing their stories is something that I look forward to each day at work. The connections I make with guests and community members is what drives my passion for museums and gives me an opportunity to help share stories of those who have served!

Q: What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

A: When I am not working or doing schoolwork, I am an avid hiker and documentary viewer. I have been known to answer work emails on my days off from the middle of a hike depending on my cell service!

Q: What are three words that best describe you?

A: Awkward. Authentic. Determined.

Q: We feature a “What We’re Reading” section on our website each month as part of NVMM Reads. What are you reading right now?

A: I have about 11 books I need to finish for this semester in school, so I don’t have much free time to read for leisure. However one of my books for school is titled “Interpreting Difficult History at Museums and History Sites,” and I’m enjoying it very much!

Q: What is your favorite place within the Museum?

A: My favorite place in the museum is the Remembrance Gallery and Rooftop. The space is incredibly humbling and allows for reflection which is something that I find myself doing often.

Q: What is your favorite place in the world?

A: Outside in nature is my go-to response because it is why I am such an avid hiker. If I had to name my favorite place to go, it would be Glacier National Park.

Q: What’s your personal motto, or your favorite quote?

A: “You belong among the wildflowers” -Tom Petty

Inspiring Story of Service: Serbennia Davis

In honor of Black History Month, we connect you to the inspiring story of service from U.S. Army Veteran and photojournalist, Serbennia Davis. She shares her path to the Army, 27-year marriage and what Black History Month means to her.

NVMM Reads: “Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World”

This February, we dive U.S. Army Lt. General H.R. McMaster’s book, “Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World.” As a former National Security Advisor, he examines foreign policy and national security challenges that face the United States. Our Chief of Staff, Colonel Bill Butler, U.S. Army (Retired), shares more about this our February 2022 NVMM Reads.

A Conversation with Black Vetrepreneurs [Rally Point]

On February 5, we welcomed U.S. Army Veterans James Howell of BK Smokehouse, Jeff Price of PLAN Logistics Solutions and Sizzle of Crafted Culture Brewery for a conversation about how military service impacted their drive to build their business. Join us to see the transition from military to business owner.

Special Guests:

About Rally Point:

Rally Point is a free, monthly event on the first Saturday of every month dedicated to connecting and educating Veterans, Veterans’ families, and those who wish to support Veterans. The programs focus on organizations and programs from which Veterans and their families directly benefit.

NVMM Reads: “Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History”

In an effort to inspire young girls and women to reach for their dreams, author and illustrator Vashti Harrison brings African American women to life through “Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History.”

This book shares the true stories of 40 trailblazing black women in American History. Readers will find biographies of heroes, role models and everyday women who contributed to making a difference in the world. While these women may have been drawn as ‘little figures,’ Harrison is proud that they have grown to become bigger figures who have inspired generations to come.

Popcorn throughout the World Wars

Did you know popcorn played a role in the war efforts during both World Wars? During World War I, Americans rationed food so it could be sent to Allied troops, leaving many in need of a substitute for wheat, meats and other food. In 1916, Mary Hamilton Talbot published the book “Pop Corn Recipes” which contained recipes like meatloaf made from popcorn and popcorn pudding. During World War II, sugar was rationed causing an increase in the price of candy. As a result, the amount of popcorn being consumed tripled compared to previous years. Oddly, it was Chicago candy shop owner, Charles Creators, who helped popularize popcorn as a snack back in the 1890s when he invented the popcorn machine. Today, most Americans will eat around 68 quarts of popcorn a year making it one of the most popular snacks in the United States.

Chief Petty Officer Rodrigo Sabanga, a culinary specialist (right) and Petty Officer 2nd Class Jade Zimmerman, a hospital corpsman, both assigned to Naval Hospital Guam, ready a bag of popcorn for attendees of the Guam Chamber of Commerce’s 17th Annual Christmas Festival at Skinner Plaza.
U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Derrick Pillaga, assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 3, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, stacks popcorn for a holiday party for service members and their families displaced by current water related health and safety concerns. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Christopher Thomas)

Inspiring Story of Service: U.S. Army Veteran Brandon Tucker

We’re starting off 2022 with an emphasis on fitness and wellness! Meet U.S. Army Veteran Brandon Tucker, our January Inspiring Story of Service. He will be attempting to break the Guinness World Records for most muscle-ups in a 24-hour period at the Museum on January 30. All are invited to cheer Brandon on as he makes history.

NVMM Reads: “Make Your Bed with Skipper the Seal”

In life, there are always risks involved when you move forward. Sometimes you fail and sometimes you succeed; but it is always important to face life’s challenges and try your best. This is an important life lesson that’s discussed in Admiral William H. McRaven’s (RET.) new book, “Make Your Bed with Skipper the Seal.” This book tells the story of a young seal named Skipper who decides to join the Navy SEALs. During his training, Skipper faces many challenges and learns several lessons which help him both while serving in the Navy and when he returns home. These lessons include the values of teamwork, determination, perseverance and hard work. After writing his first book, “Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life… And Maybe the World,” McRaven decided to make a version for the younger generation to share with them the same life lessons he had learned while serving as a Navy SEAL. Admiral McRaven wants everyone to take pride in all their accomplishments, even the smallest ones like simply making your bed.

NVMM Reads: “The Correspondents”

This month, the NVMM Guest Experience team is highlighting “The Correspondents,” by Judith Mackrell. The book is a compilation of stories from six female journalists who served along the front lines of World War II, paving the way for women’s equality, while significantly aiding the war effort. From braving the dangers of harsh combat zones to conversing with notable luminaries, these women served courageously and heroically, though their service was largely undocumented until recent years. Mackrell beautifully counters this silence in her intimate and heartfelt account of the brave, intuitive and romantic lives of these six journalists who shaped the world’s perception of WWII.

Mackrell writes in a complex and personal manner, relaying each woman’s story chronologically, riddling her account with historical nuance. Her work captures the harsh, consequential ways in which these women viewed the world, and how it viewed them in return, sugar-coating nothing and omitting no detail. This personal writing style shapes the captivating drama and action sequences. From Martha Gellhorn’s stowaway endeavor on a Red Cross ship, to Lee Miller’s progression from Vogue cover model to official war correspondent, Mackrell sheds an equal spotlight on their accomplishments. These women each risked their lives, dodging bullets and crossing the threshold of combat zones, all the while shouldering the burden of prejudice on the home front.

There are important details to take away from this book, each of them perspective-shifting. Female journalists were engaged in a two-pronged battle; one for the Allies, and one for their rights. They fought courageously to author reports on the war front and petitioned valiantly for equal rights and representation. This book will truly open your eyes to the strength they posessed to cope with these conditions both mentally and physically.

In “The Correspondents,” Judith Mackrell captures the empowering journeys of these journalists. She beautifully honors their contributions and gives due recognition to those whose service had been erased from historical prevalence. This month, we highly recommend adding this tale of adventure, perseverance, love, and war to your reading list.

Inspiring Story of Service: Joel Carpenter

We close out 2021 with an inspiring story of service from U.S. Army Veteran Joel Carpenter. Joel served as a U.S. Army Special Operations soldier with 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. In this conversation, he shared with us what inspired him to join the military and co-author the book, “Set Up for Success: A Veteran’s Guide to Re-acclimation.” He is also featured in “The Twenty-Year War” photo-journal and exhibition opening in March of 2022.

NVMM Reads: “What Do You Do With An Idea?”

For our final installment of NVMM Reads in 2021, we’re sharing “What Do You Do With An Idea?” by Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Mae Besom. This book is for anyone, at any age, who’s ever had an idea that seemed a little too big, too odd or too difficult. It gives you that added boost to keep moving forward and make an impact with your ideas.

Hear from our President and CEO, Lt. General Michael Ferriter, U.S. Army (Retired) about why this book is so special to the Museum.

NVMM Reads: “Silent Night: The Remarkable Christmas Truce of 1914”

This holiday season, the NVMM Guest Experience team recommends reading “Silent Night: The remarkable Christmas Truce of 1914,” by Stanley Weintraub. Imagine a dark, wintery scene— a silence broken only by Christmas carols sung in myriad languages— a darkness broken only by the soft glow of candlelight among hastily-chopped evergreens and desolate trenches. Full of emotion and solemnity, this narrative sheds a dimmer light on the Christmas celebrations we all know and love. By piecing together a grim depiction of the obvious imbalance between a violent act of war and the peaceful celebration of Christmas, this book describes what it was like for the soldiers of World War I to experience the hope of a Christmas truce in an otherwise hopeless war zone.

Set in December of 1914, this book tells the story of how soldiers temporarily set their arms to rest in a fragile truce toward the beginning of the war. During the early months, tensions were high, and young soldiers were eager to feel some semblance of normality. This sparked a widespread agreement along the Western Front to temporarily cease fire, replacing acts of war with candlelight and caroling. Despite language barriers, the phrase, “You no shoot, we no shoot,” was understood by all, and opened up what was known as “No Man’s Land” as a temporary ground for peace. For a short time, soldiers could be at ease recognizing the humanity of their opposition, and observe the sentimental value of Christmas held for all.

The author uses personal letters and accounts passed down by soldiers of all participating nationalities, each bringing different perspectives that he could piece together to memorialize this time in history. Through quotes and hand-drawn pictures, Weintrub shows the progression of temporary peace amid the horrific experience of trench warfare in the dead of winter. From describing the makeshift decorations to detailing fragmented communication between enemies, Weintraub makes it apparent that this situation was miraculous and unpredictable.

The holidays are a time for peace and good will, and wartime is intrinsically the opposite. “Silent Night: The Remarkable Christmas Truce of 1914,” highlights both realities with a solemn, yet hopeful description of the paradoxical nature of this Christmas truce.

Remembering Pearl Harbor: 80 Years Later [Rally Point]

Eighty years ago on December 7, 1941, the Empire of Japan executed a surprise attack on the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor drawing the United States into World War II. On Saturday, December 4, 2021, we heard from the experiences of a Pearl Harbor survivor during what President Roosevelt described as, “A date which will live in infamy,” and one of the most pivotal moments in U.S. history.

About Rally Point:

Rally Point is a free, monthly event on the first Saturday of every month dedicated to connecting and educating Veterans, Veterans’ families, and those who wish to support Veterans. The programs focus on organizations and programs from which Veterans and their families directly benefit.

NVMM Reads: “I Am Courage: A Book of Resilience”

“I Am Courage: A Book of Resilience” by Susan Verde

In everyone’s life, a moment comes when they need a reminder that they are strong, resilient and courageous. In Susan Verde’s book “I Am Courage: A Book of Resilience,” she reminds her young readers that no matter the hardship and adversity, they can stand on their own two feet and persevere. Through the images created by Peter H. Reynolds, “I Am Courage: A Book of Resilience” shares the story of a young child who finds the strength within to push past their fears and doubts. With the help of friends, they push forward together and face the unknown believing they will triumph. While not specifically about the military or Veterans, this story illustrates how service members are put into dangerous situations, and yet continue to stand strong and resilient, facing their fears together as a united force.

Veteran Spotlight: U.S. Army Veteran Jeremiah Wilbur

U.S. Army Veteran Jeremiah Wilber grew up in a Native American family, served in the Army for 20 years and is the founder of War Party Movement. He is also one of the Veterans featured in “The Twenty-Year War” photo-journal and exhibition opening in March of 2022.

Inspiring Story of Service: General Colin L. Powell, U.S. Army (Retired)

This month’s Inspiring Story of Service honors the late General Colin L. Powell, U.S. Army (Retired). Hear from our President and CEO, Lt. General Michael Ferriter, U.S. Army (Retired) as he reflects on General Powell’s example of character, leadership and legacy of service.

Coast Guard Veteran Member Spotlight: Martha Cook

Veterans make up 64% of our membership family, including many Coast Guard Veterans who proudly represent their branch by sharing their diverse and distinctive stories of service.

Today, we celebrate the Coast Guard with a story from Martha “Meg” Cook, a WWII Veteran and an Inaugural Member of the Museum.

Martha’s Story:

“I believe I first became aware of the opportunity to join the Coast Guard in 1943 after seeing an ad of some sort somewhere. I can’t remember if it was in the newspaper or on the television, but they were looking for female recruits and it seemed like an interesting job. So, I talked it over with my family and I was able to contact the Coast Guard. They came to my hometown in Hamilton, Ohio to interview me. Since I wasn’t yet 21 at that time, the Coast Guard had to get permission from my parents to join. 

The women in the Coast Guard’s Women Reserve during WWII were called SPARs. It was derived from the first letter of each word of the Coast Guard motto which is “Semper Paratus – Always Ready.” We also talked a lot about the name coming from the four freedoms protected by the constitution: speech, press, assembly, and religion. It was an incredibly special group to be a part of.  

My first tour of duty was with the Mess Treasurer’s office where I worked as a bookkeeper. I would check information and the food bills that came in from the tenders. I worked with a regular Coastguardsman, he was a Chief Petty Officer, and he was training me. All my work happened in a regular office. There were others too – Yeomans, two other women, and a Lieutenant. But the only regular Coastguardsmen was that Chief Petty Officer.  

In the beginning, civilians and other military personnel didn’t care much for women being in the service. They didn’t think that we should be, as I recall. But it wasn’t pronounced. It was an undercurrent thought that women shouldn’t have anything to do with the military. But we showed ‘em! 

I think the men in the military assumed that women would be sent to the front lines of combat. That was not the case at all in my time; women weren’t even trained for combat. Our purpose in the service was to free men to go to combat areas. We were in more administrative, supportive roles such as cooks and nurses. It was a new day for women in all fields of employment when we went into the military. We opened doors for other women.  

So, I was glad when I got the opportunity to go to vessel repair during my second tour. The attitude towards women there was completely different. For one, there were more women in vessel repair than in the Mess Treasurer’s office. We took care of a lot of equipment for other branches; we worked on an Army ship once during my time there. I was still doing bookkeeping but I enjoyed so I remained in vessel repair until my discharge in 1946, just a few months after the war ended.  

After I was discharged, I headed back to my hometown in Hamilton, Ohio and worked as a bookkeeper there before I was promoted to a bank teller. My life after the Coast Guard took me all the way to California and back. I moved out there with a friend when I was 24 and that’s where I eventually met my first husband. I’m 98 and back in Ohio now and I’m so glad I picked the Coast Guard.  

It was a smaller unit – not as big as the Navy or Army – which ended up being a better fit for me. They do so much for people, whether its’ peacetime or wartime. The Coast Guard is 24/7 on duty for all disasters that come along. I think that a lot of people overlook the Coast Guard because when you think of Veterans, you think of wat and when you think of war, you think of some of the larger branches of the military.  

But there is a branch that does a tremendous amount of work even if it is during peacetime or off the battlefield and that is the Coast Guard. Whether it’s storms, hurricanes, or other catastrophes, the Coast Guard is there. It is our occupation to help when there is a problem. I admire them so much, I think they’re wonderful. ”

Thank you to Martha for sharing stories from your time in the Coast Guard. We are forever grateful to our Veteran Inaugural Members who continue to share their stories, and to all Veterans for their service. 

We’re always looking for other dedicated Veterans to join our membership family. Join as an Inaugural Member of the Museum for as little as $35 and share your military pride with others.

NVMM Reads: “Shadows in the Jungle: The Alamo Scouts Behind Japanese Lines in World War II”

In honor of Native American Heritage Month, the NVMM’s Guest Experience team recommends “Shadows in the Jungle: The Alamo Scouts Behind Japanese Lines in World War II,” by Larry Alexander. This book shares thrilling personal accounts of the men who made up General Douglas MacArthur’s elite reconnaissance unit during his WWII intelligence operations in the Southern Pacific. Drawing on interviews and testimonies from scout Veterans, Alexander details a publicly unknown portion of the war. The story also highlights the esteemed “Alamo Scouts'” courage, valor and proud heritage along with the precise methodology of their mission.

“Shadows in the Jungle” begins in 1942, immediately following the United States’ surrender of the Philippines to the Japanese. Determined to recover this territory, MacArthur made the calculated decision to form a first-rate intelligence team, made up of the toughest 130 men the Army had to offer. Thus, the Alamo Scouts, an elite, top-secret reconnaissance/raider unit was assembled in 1943. When assembling the unit, a niche variety of soldiers were hand-picked by Army commanders to carry out covert intelligence missions in the South Pacific. Approximately six percent of the original Alamo Scouts were known to be of American Indian heritage. However, due to the unit’s top-secret classification barring the release of detailed background records, it is likely this percentage was much higher. Many of these men were known as “Code Talkers,” with the ability to send encoded messages in a language undecipherable by the enemy, effectively securing the cover of operations. Overall, the Alamo Scouts were highly successful, performing at least 108 missions without losing a single soldier.

Larry Alexander’s writing style weaves personal accounts throughout a contextually historical and informative novel. Each chapter delves deep into the individual experiences of Scout Veterans, using clips from targeted interviews and testimonies. By tapping into these resources, Alexander effectively allows the reader to gain knowledge of a largely unknown aspect of the war in the Pacific through the eyes of those who served during that time. He beautifully captures the courage behind undertaking an impossible task and spending weeks behind enemy lines. To say this is an entirely personal read would be factually incorrect; the author unveils a multitude of previously unknown historical events throughout the book. “Shadows in the Jungle” is an excellent resource for those interested in the geographical aspects of conducting missions throughout the region, detailing how the Alamo Scouts utilized the Philippines’ natural terrain to accomplish their goals. Whether your interests are action-packed adventure stories, historical analysis, geography or cultural diversity, consider adding “Shadows in the Jungle” to your November reading list!

John Glenn: A Veteran First [Rally Point]

Rally Point hits the road! We headed to The Ohio State University’s John Glenn College of Public Affairs to honor U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, Astronaut, Senator and Museum visionary, John Glenn. On what would have been his 100th Birthday, we speak with Trevor Brown, Dean of the John Glenn College, about the value of military service, the impact of Glenn on our community and his inspiration behind creating the National Veterans Memorial and Museum.

About Rally Point:

Rally Point is a free, monthly event on the first Saturday of every month dedicated to connecting and educating Veterans, Veterans’ families, and those who wish to support Veterans. The programs focus on organizations and programs from which Veterans and their families directly benefit.

General Colin L. Powell: A Legacy of Caring Service

It is with a truly heavy yet grateful heart that we say farewell to General Colin L. Powell, a trusted advisor, friend and chair of our Honorary Board of Advisors. As much as he will be missed, we will forever be thankful for Gen. Powell’s example of character, leadership, legacy of service, desire to solve world issues and genuine care for others.

Gen. Powell would tell you how serving his country changed his life. He shared with me that he was a “C” student at Morris High School in the South Bronx and didn’t apply to any major universities. At the City College of New York, he was attracted to the Pershing Rifles drill team and joined the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). Gen. Powell said the discipline and leadership opportunities provided him with a focus and direction he never had. Whether it was his humble beginnings or in his nature, Gen. Powell was a soldier’s soldier, equally able to hold engaging conversations with a private one moment and heads of state from around the globe the next. More importantly, he cared equally about helping the individual and solving issues on a world scale.

Gen. Powell said, “They won’t care who I am until they know I care.” That’s something that has stuck with me, and I think about it every day. Whether it’s your family or your staff at work, caring and then showing you care is paramount to good communications and leadership. A few months ago, we engaged Gen. Powell to join our Veterans Voices series to discuss the 30th anniversary of Operation Desert Storm. He shared some of the inside discussions and how decisions were made (the Powell Doctrine was born from this). The biggest impact for many of us during our conversation was when he talked about knowing the decision to send American service members into harm’s way meant some of them wouldn’t come home. He welled up with emotion as he shared how difficult those decisions were, knowing he would have to notify families that their loved ones had sacrificed all for our country. If you want to hear that conversation with Gen. Powell, the episode is on our Facebook and YouTube channels.

For the National Veterans Memorial and Museum, Gen. Powell was our champion, mentor and visionary. He was an encourager of people and instilled in me that to develop people, we need to say “yes” to their ideas by asking one question, “Is this the right thing to do?” When I would share programs and ideas with him, Gen. Powell always pushed me and the NVMM to think bigger, to consider how we could impact more lives. I will miss those conversations.  At the same time, we are thankful to have had his guidance and influence on the NVMM team and our efforts.

Our hearts go out to the Powell family and Veteran and military communities on the loss of a man of incredible character who lived a life of service to his local community, his country, and to the world.

God’s speed to our friend, Gen. Colin L. Powell.

Lt. General Michael Ferriter
President and CEO, National Veterans Memorial and Museum

The Role of Candy in the Military

Civilians watching an airlift plane land during the Berlin Blockade, 1948

Since its creation around 2000 B.C. by ancient Egyptians, candy has brought joy to children and adults around the world. What few people know is that candy has historically played an important role in the military by providing service members with snacks to help raise morale and give them an energy boost. While a simple joy, candy provided a meaningful opportunity to lift the spirits of the people of Berlin.

After World War II ended in 1945, Germany was split in two: East Germany, controlled by the Soviet Union, and West Germany, controlled by the United States, Great Britain and France. This split was applied across the city of Berlin as well. As the Cold War was beginning in 1938, the Soviet Union blockaded West Berlin preventing any food or supplies from entering to force the western nations out of Berlin. In support of Berlin’s inhabitants, western nations created a plan called Operation Vittles – also known as the Berlin Airlift – to deliver support to West Berlin. Many pilots flew these airlifts between 1948 to 1949, but 1st Lieutenant and pilot, Gail Halvorsen, went above and beyond the call of duty to bring joy to the children of West Berlin with candy.

Halvorsen with his invention. Credit: U.S. Air Force

During the Berlin Airlift, Halvorsen flew 126 missions, and was approached by several children from Berlin who were curious about the planes. Unlike some other children, these children did not ask him for anything even though they were struggling to get food. Halvorsen gave the children two pieces of gum he had in his pocket, and to his surprise, the children willingly divided up the treat. He promised them that he would deliver more candy to them the next time he came and would wiggle the wings of his plane to signal his arrival. From that day on, Halvorsen – known as Uncle Wiggly Wings or the “Candy Bomber” – began Operation Little Vittles to bring candy to the children of Berlin.

Operation Little Vittles caught the attention of other military personnel after an image of Halvorsen’s plane, a Douglas C-54, dropping candy attached to small handkerchief parachutes was printed in a newspaper. Despite performing the candy drops without permission from his superiors, Halvorsen was instructed to continue Operation Little Vittles due to the good public relations the candy drops had caused. People and corporations across the United States rallied behind Halvorsen and donated candy to support his mission to bring hope and joy to the children of Berlin. By the end of the blockade in 1949, Halvorsen and other pilots had managed to drop 23 tons of candy. Since the Berlin Wall was torn down on November 9, 1989, many of the children from Berlin have met with Halvorsen to thank him for his assistance, stating that it helped them hold onto hope. Since retiring from the military, Halvorsen has gone on to deliver supplies and candy to children in Albania, as well as in south Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. This year, Gail Halvorsen celebrated his 101st birthday, and still enjoys sharing his story with all who will listen.

Credit: U.S. Air Force

To learn more about the Berlin Airlift, you can head over to our friends at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force and the Air Mobility Command Museum.

Marine Corps Veteran Member Spotlight: William Daugherty

Veterans make up 64% our membership family, with representatives from almost every branch. Our Marine Corps Veterans make up 10% of our entire Veteran member base, following the Army, Navy, and Air Force.

The Marine Corps has a special place in our nation’s military. Help us celebrate them, and read about one of our own Marine Corps Veteran Members, Captain William Daugherty.

William’s Story:

“I was raised in Columbus on the West Side, and I didn’t really know much about the military. I was attending Ohio State when I first became aware of the ROTC programs. At that time, the ROTC programs were mandatory for male students, it was not an elective. You did two years in ROTC whether you wanted to or not.   

At the time, there was an Army ROTC unit with about 5,000 people, an Air Force unit with about 3,000 and then there was a Navy ROTC which had about 300 in it. Within that Navy unit, there was about 20 Marin options. That is, those that chose to go into the Marine Corps. I thought, ‘well that’s interesting. Why does this demographic exist? Why do you go from 5,000 in the Army to only 20 in the Marine Corps?’ 

I found out pretty early on the reason why. For one thing, the Navy was much more demanding with what they wanted you to do while you were in college. They told you what kind of courses to take, for example. They pretty much demanded all of your time. But I was taken by the Marine Corps. For one, they had the coolest uniforms! There was also a movie out around that time called The D.I. and I was somewhat taken by the Marine Corps ever since I had seen that movie. So, I joined the Navy ROTC as a Marine option. 

But unfortunately, I was not a very good student and I flunked out. I got the failure notice while at Corpus Christie, Texas for Naval flight orientation. They had told me to pack my bags and that I had orders waiting for me for basic training in the US Navy when I got home. In those days, if you didn’t fulfill your contract with the ROTC, they pretty much put you in active duty right away.  

Since my larger goal was never the Navy, I talked with my chief instructor and decided to enlist in the Marine Corps reserves before I could execute the orders to go to basic training. Over the next couple of years, I found myself – for various reasons – actually bouncing around the different branches. I spent time in the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, and you can’t forget my earlier years in the Navy ROTC program in college. But regardless of what branch I was in at the time, my main objective was always the Marines and my time spent in the Marines was some of the most impactful years of service for me. 

While in the Marine Corps, my primary MOS was Air Support Control Officer and I ended up getting assigned first to a MASS Squadron (Marine Air Support Squadron). Their primary mission was the control of close air support. While with the MASS units, I was sent to Puerto Rico and then Vietnam. In Vietnam, I spent 6 months, day in and day out, standing watch and manning the radios coordinating air strikes.  The next 6 months of the tour I spent coordinating the withdrawal of the squadron from Vietnam.  After the squadron pulled out of Vietnam, and a brief stay in Japan, I went on to serve in various Marine Air Wing units. These 10 years were made up of a 3-year tour at Kaneohe Bay Hawaii, two tours at Cherry Point N.C., and a tour in Futenma Okinawa. I was deployed to Norway, Denmark, Turkey, The Philippines and Korea during this time period. 

After getting out of the Marine Corps, I came back to Columbus to finish my education.  I had a Master’s in Education, recently earned in Hawaii. Unfortunately, that career path didn’t pan out, but it ended up leading me to one of the greatest decisions of my life. I got a degree in Computer Science in 1980 – a lucky choice.  

I bounced around a lot after leaving the Marine Corps and entering the workforce. In 1983 I enlisted in the US Air Force Reserve and served 11 years with the 40th Mobile Aerial Port Squadron at Rickenbacker ANGB.  This squadron proved to be one of the most versatile and professional I had ever served with.  But there will always be something about the Marine Corps and my time there. The military people are a dedicated bunch, particularly the Marines. They are dedicated to a fault. Even though I spent time in almost all of the other branches of the military, all of my roots lead back to the Marines. 

Thank you, William, for sharing your Marine Corps story. We are forever grateful to our Veteran Inaugural Members who continue to share their stories, and to all Veterans for their service. 

We’re always looking for other dedicated Veterans to join our membership family. Join as an Inaugural Member of the Museum for as little as $35 and share your military pride with others.

Celebrating Cats in the Military

When people think about animals serving in the military, most think about dogs, horses and even birds. However, cats have also played a major role in the military as mousers, messengers, mascots and companions. On National Cat Day, we’re celebrating our military’s feline companions. 

Billet of Company B, Three Hundred and Sixteenth Military Police, Ninety-first Division.

“Unsinkable Sam” is an infamous cat who survived the sinking of three ships during World War II: The German battleship Bismarck, the British destroyer Cossack and the Ark Royal aircraft carrier. After the Ark Royal sank, Sam became a land cat and lived until 1955.  

Like Sam, Simon the “Able Seacat” served aboard the British warship Amethyst as a mouser. In 1949, the ship became stuck on the Yangtse River and Simon was wounded by a shell explosion. Despite his wounds, Simon continued to fulfill his duty as a mouser its return to Britain. Simon is the only cat to receive the Dickin Medal, which is awarded to animals for their gallantry and devotion to duty. 

PFC Hammer and Staff Sgt. Bousfield

Another notable cat is Private 1st Class Hammer who served with American service members in Iraq in 2004. The service members bonded with Hammer and would tuck him into their body armor during enemy attacks. To show his appreciation, Hammer protected their supplies and provided them with comfort and love. When the troops were leaving Iraq, they refused to leave Hammer behind. They joined with Alley Cat Allies and Military Mascots to raise money to bring Hammer home to Colorado Springs.

These cats, and many others, continue to provide support and a sense of home while deployed. 

A group of sailors surround the ship’s cat “Convoy”, as he sleeps in a miniature hammock on board HMS HERMIONE.
‘Pincher,’ the mascot of HMS VINDEX is shown sitting on the propeller of one of the sea planes carried by the ship.
Lieutenant Commander R H Palmer OBE, RNVR plays with Peebles, the ship’s cat, on board HMS WESTERN ISLES at Tobermory, Mull, in 1944

Air Force Veteran Member Spotlight: Ben Dawson

Veterans make up 64% our membership family, with representatives from almost every branch, including the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Our Air Force Veterans are taking up 16% of our entire Veteran member base, following the Army and Navy.

The Air Force has a special place in our nation’s military. Help us celebrate them, and read about one of our own Air Force Veteran Members, Ben Dawson, U.S. Air Force (Retired).

Ben’s Story:

“I joined the military during the Vietnam War. What drew me to enlisting in the Air Force was the opportunity to travel and the opportunity to get into something that I could use on the outside to make a career out of. I went in to take the test and didn’t think much about it after that. About a month later, I got a call and they said ‘Where have you been’ and I said ‘Oh, well, I’ve been waiting for you to call me!’ 

It turned out that what I thought I was going to learn was entirely different from what I would end up doing. It turned out that I was sent to school to learn morse code and became what they called a morse intercept operator in the USAF Security Service. Learning morse code was a bit difficult in the beginning but after a while it became like a second language. What was interesting was you learn the straight morse code in tech school but when you get out in the real world, the code you’re reading is weird. I was stationed in Italy where we were monitoring the Russians and the East Germans. In Vietnam, the morse code sounded like birds chirping so I even had to go to extra school to learn how they sent their code. Sometimes, if I’m watching an older movie, I’ll hear it and try and pick it up! 

After I spent some time in Italy, I went back to the states to train for Airborne operations. I was finally going to fly in the Air Force! Not actually as a pilot, but I was an intercept operator and I ended up flying aboard the EC-47 Gooney bird in Vietnam. Believe it or not, I enjoyed Vietnam because of the closeness of the people on base. You couldn’t go outside the base, and I never got to really know Vietnam – their people or anything like that. But we were all very close in our squadron, the 6994-security squadron. We flew together, we partied together, and we all shared stories together.  

My story is probably similar to a lot of Veterans coming home at that time. There were a lot of pockets of resistance to us coming back where we were frowned upon. What was really shattering was when I was sent to Kelley Air Force Base in Texas and some people that hadn’t been in Vietnam frowned upon me and that hurt. But I was proud of the airborne. There weren’t really too many people on the planes or even who flew the planes themselves, so I’ve always been proud of my wings.  

I’ve gone to some of my grandchildren’s school events during Veteran’s Days where they’ve had Q&As and a lot of kids’ first question is ‘Oh, did you shoot anybody?’ That’s not what the military is all about. That’s a thing people need to know. The military is there, of course, to protect our country. But you can learn so much through a military career. A lot of people such as scientists, technicians, and even politicians are ex-military. There are so many things you can earn from the military too, such as free schooling opportunities for people that can’t afford to go. It’s not just to go in there and be violent. 

After the Air Force, I went back to where I used to work up in Cleveland. I’ve jumped through a lot of jobs. I’ve been a fast-food manager, hard lines manager in a department store, and, most recently, I was in whole sale tire sales. I eventually went to Columbus Technical Institute after 17 years and graduated cum laude which I probably never would’ve done if I had gone straight out of high school. I got a two-year degree there in retail.  

Ben Dawson (left)

The Air Force was a great learning experience. You learn a lot about yourself because you’re in a group that’s way out of your norm. So, you learn a lot about people. That is one of the best things about service, I think. It was learning compassion and empathy.”

Thank you, Ben, for sharing your Air Force story. We are forever grateful to our Veteran Inaugural Members who continue to share their stories, and to all Veterans for their service.

We’re always looking for other dedicated U.S. Air Force Veterans to join our membership family. Join as an Inaugural Member of the Museum for as little as $35 and share your military pride with others.

Inspiring Story of Service: U.S. Army Veteran JC Glick

Meet JC Glick, our October Inspiring Story of Service. He is a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel, Leadership Consultant Keynote Speaker, Author and one of the Veterans featured in “The Twenty-Year War” photo-journal and exhibition opening in March of 2022. In this conversation, JC spoke with us about the key steps in creating a successful military transition.

This Week in History (October 25-31)

A U.S. Marine Corps Sikorsky CH-53D Sea Stallion helicopter hovers above the ground near a Soviet ZU-23 anti-aircraft weapon prior to picking it up during “Operation Urgent Fury”, the U.S. invasion of Grenada in October 1983.

OCTOBER 25, 1983

Operation Urgent Fury is initiated

In 1979, Grenada Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, a pro Marxist, seized power of Grenada and grew a strong relationship with communist Cuba. Bishop was executed while on house arrest in 1983, leading to the formation of a Revolutionary Military Council headed by a fellow Marxist, Hudson Austin. As violence continued to escalate, President Ronald Reagan initiated Operation Urgent Fury on October 25 to ensure the safety of nearly 1,000 Americans, many of them students at the island’s medical school, and to bring peace through the installation of a new government. Nearly 7,600 troops from Jamaica, the U.S. Army 1st and 2nd Ranger Battalions, the 82nd Airborne Division, Army Delta Force, the Marines and Navy SEALs invaded Grenada. Much of the U.S. invasion was planned using tourists maps of Grenada. The resistance was defeated in six days, and Governor-General Paul Scoon, was appointed to lead Grenada until elections were held in 1984. 

Benjamin O. Davis, Sr.

OCTOBER 25-27, 1940

Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. named first African American general in the U.S. Army

Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. entered the U.S. Army on July 13, 1898. Through his career and successive promotions, he was also a Professor of Military Science and Tactics at Tuskegee Institute, Alabama, as well as at Wilberforce University. On October 25, 1940, he was promoted to brigadier general, making him the first African American general in the U.S. Army. After serving for 50 years, Davis retired on July 14, 1948. He received many accolades for his service, including the Bronze Star Medal and the Distinguished Service Medal. Following in his father’s footsteps, his son, Air Force Lt. Gen. Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., was the fourth African American graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and the nation’s second African American general officer.  

McCain (front right) with his squadron and T-2 Buckeye trainer, 1965

OCTOBER 27, 1967

Navy pilot John McCain is shot down over North Vietnam and becomes a POW

Before John McCain was a U.S. Senator from Arizona and a U.S. presidential candidate, he served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War and reached the rank of lieutenant commander. On October 26, 1967, McCain was on a bombing run over the North Vietnamese capital of Hanoi. His aircraft was struck by an anti-aircraft missile forcing him to eject. McCain fell unconscious as he landed in the lake below sustaining a broken shoulder and a shattered knee. He was pulled out of the water by a Vietnamese mob and was stabbed, beaten and taken to a war prison, known as the “Hanoi Hilton.” Because McCain came from a prominent family, the Vietnamese captors aimed to utilize him for propaganda and offered him early release. McCain repeatedly refused to be released because his fellow POWs were not to be released with him. McCain remained imprisoned for five and a half years.  

Relaxing After Battle. Crewmen of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier banish post-battle nervous strain by taking a swim in the warm waters of a lagoon in the Marshalls only a few days after laying siege to and conquering Roi Island in the Kwajalein atoll.

OCTOBER 27

Navy Day

Navy Day was sponsored by the Navy League in 1922. The Navy League of New York proposed that the official observance be on October 27th in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt’s birthday. This date was selected because of Roosevelt’s service in the Navy. In 1897, President McKinley appointed Theodore Roosevelt where he served as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Navy Day is designed to give recognition to the naval service.  

The Navy Birthday is not to be confused with Navy Day, as Navy Day is a day of general celebration and recognition of the service of the Navy. The Navy Birthday is an internal celebration within the Navy.  

Veteran Spotlight: U.S. Army Veteran Jessica Harris

We sat down with U.S. Army National Guard Veteran and founder of K9 Salute Jessica Harris. She is currently featured in “The Twenty-Year War,” a photo journal focusing on the experiences of Veterans who served during the Global War on Terror.

Navy Veteran Member Spotlight: Margaret (Peg) Albert

Veterans make up 64% our membership family, with representatives from almost every branch, including the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. The Navy is currently trailing steadily behind the Army with 31% of our Veteran Members having served in the largest Navy in the world.

Help us celebrate the special place the Navy has in our nation’s military. Please take a moment to introduce yourself to Margaret (Peg) Albert, (U.S. Navy Retired)

Peg’s Story:

“When I was in nursing school, someone in the dorm had said something about there being a way the military could pay for part of your education. Many members of my family have served, including my aunt and my father who served in the Navy. I felt as if the Navy was a bit smaller than the other branches and I have to admit I loved the Navy uniforms! So, my twin sister and I thought, ‘Yup, we’ll try the Navy.’

We enlisted as OCHNs (Officer Candidate Hospitalman), had two years of college paid for, and were obligated to three years of active duty after that. By September of 1971, I was reporting as a brand-new Ensign to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. My sister and I were both assigned to Bethesda, but they assigned us to different parts of the hospital.

In many ways, being a nurse in the Navy was very much like being in a regular civilian hospital. You were a nurse and you had patients. We did a lot of the regular tasks you would typically think of nurses doing – passing meds, hanging IVs, giving chemotherapy, administering blood transfusions, changing dressings. I remember the best shift to work was during the Army-Navy game. I probably worked that shift two of my three years at Bethesda. Nobody bothered you! They were all so intent on watching the game, nobody asked you for anything! We always had a fun time.

Looking back, I got the chance to meet so many people while I was at Bethesda. Most of the patients we treated were active-duty personnel who had gotten sick or were retired military. I often found the retired gentlemen were so humble about their service. I once met a retired Navy Captain who was at Pearl Harbor. He was on duty the day it was attacked and was the officer who said, “This is not a drill!” His wife told me that.

After I left active-duty, I decided to go into the Navy Reserves. During some of those years my Reserve unit was assigned to support the Marines. Since the Marine Corps does not have its own medical people, the Navy supports them for their medical care. So, I got to do training duty with different Marine operations. These were interesting. I learned things such as land navigation and rappelling. My unit went into the field with the Marines. Meals consisted of C-rations (usually left over from Korea). When we were able to heat them, they really weren’t too bad. You quickly learned which kinds were more appetizing. The Marines were very creative with “doctoring” their meals. Hot sauce was always an ingredient. I would tease them that they needed to write a cookbook!

I also learned how to fire different weapons. However, I think the Marines at the time were thinking “Don’t have the nurses do that!” (I can’t say I blame them!) Us nurses always said our weapon was a needle and syringe!

I belong to The American Legion and my post is almost all women veterans. Recently we participated in a craft fair as a fundraiser. I found some people didn’t know what to say to us when they saw we were Veterans. And I even find that sometimes men who have been in the military don’t come up and ask us about our experiences. As a female Veteran, I find people sometimes don’t realize that women did serve – and still do. I am proud of my service. My service was honorable.

I was so fortunate to be stationed at Bethesda. It was a wonderful place to work and I got to do some amazing things. I had the unique honor of working on the first kidney transplant and bone marrow transplant unit in the Navy. The Navy was very good to me.”

Thank you, Peg, for sharing your Navy story. We are forever grateful to our Veteran Inaugural Members who continue to share their stories, and to all Veterans for their service.

We’re always looking for other dedicated U.S. Navy Veterans to join our membership family. Join as an Inaugural Member of the Museum for as little as $35 and share your military pride with others.

This Week in History (October 18-24)

Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Harriet Ida Pickens (left) and Ensign Frances Wills

OCTOBER 19, 1944

President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorizes inclusion of African American women in W.A.V.E.S.

By early 1944, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) and others persuaded Secretary of the Navy, William F. Knox, to allow African American men into the Navy’s officer corps. Later that year, after Knox’s untimely death, his successor, Secretary James Forrestal, advocated for continuing integration in the Navy as well as W.A.V.E.S. (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) because he felt that discrimination and segregation compromised the efficiency of the service. On October 19, 1944, President Roosevelt authorized African American inclusion in the W.A.V.E.S. program. The first African American women to participate in the officer training program were Harriet Pickens and Frances Wills. They were sworn into the U.S. Navy Reserves as Apprentice Seamen on November 16, 1944.

A file photo taken April 18, 1942 of the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV 8) launching U.S. Army Air Forces B-25B bombers at the start of the Doolittle Raid, the first U.S. air raid on the Japanese home islands. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

OCTOBER 20, 1941

The USS Hornet (CV-8) is commissioned

The USS Hornet (CV-8), the seventh U.S. Navy vessel and a Yorktown-class aircraft carrier was commissioned on October 20, 1941 at the Naval Station Norfolk with Captain Marc Mitscher in command. The USS Hornet was in service for just over a year and was the last U.S. fleet carrier to be sunk by enemy fire. The aircraft carrier was involved in The Doolittle Raid, The Battle at Midway, The Solomons Campaign and The Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. For these four conflicts, USS Hornet was awarded four service stars, a citation for the Doolittle Raid in 1942, and the Torpedo Squadron 8 received a Presidential Unit Citation for the Battle of Midway for extraordinary heroism. The wreckage of the USS Hornet was located in late January 2019 near the Solomon Islands.

Behind the Scenes: Fossils at the Museum

On National Fossil Day, we’re exploring the hidden treasures of our Memorial Grove. Prehistoric shelled creatures named Brachiopods are what remain fossilized in the limestone of our main water feature. Today, we go fossil hunting with our friends at Ohio History Connection.

Plan a Fossil Hunt Expedition!

There are several great parks throughout Ohio that are excellent places to explore including Trammel Fossil Park, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Oakes Quarry Park, East Fork State Park, and Cowan Lake State Park.

If you find fossils while exploring these parks, remember to leave them where you found them unless it is specified that you are allowed to remove the fossils. This way we make sure that the fossil can be found again by other fossil hunters.

Fossils and the Military

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers accidentally began collecting fossils in 1936 after the passage of the Flood Control Act. While creating the Caesar Creek Lake dam in Ohio, engineers exposed an approximately 438 million-year-old seabed filled with fossils.

One of the most famous fossils found by the engineers was the Wankel’s T. Rex, the first tyrannosaurus rex skeleton found with intact tiny front arms. Many of the fossils they discovered are now in museums and universities.

Photo: Museum of the Rockies

Did you know?

  • Ohio’s state fossil is the Isotelus! In 1985, it was chosen by groups of Ohio students who took an active role in their state’s government by petitioning for it to become the state’s fossil.
  • Ohio also has a state fish fossil! In December 2020, the Dunkleosteus turrelli – a large, armored fish – became the official fish fossil of Ohio.

Staff Spotlight: Group Sales Coordinator Connor Behm

Each month, the Museum invites you to get to know the staff supporting our pillars to Honor, Connect, Inspire and Educate. Meet Connor Behm, our Group Sales Coordinator. Connor works with our Experience team to make sure groups have access to view the Museum, whether touring online or in-person.

Q: How have you connected to the Museum?

A: Having Graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in history, I have always wanted to work in a museum. That coupled with the fact that my grandfathers on both my mother’s and father’s side of the family served in the Korean war and WWII, respectively, has made working at NVMM a great way to work in a museum space while also honoring their service and sacrifices.

Q: What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

A: When I am not working, I like to work out/lift weights, go for runs, and watch movies with my roommate.

Q: What are three words that best describe you?

A: “I don’t know what to put here, so ‘indecisive’ is definitely one of them.”

Q: We feature a “What We’re Reading” section each month on our website as part of NVMM Reads. What are you reading right now?

A: I just finished reading “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien, and am currently re-reading “Bread Givers” by Anzia Yezierska.

Q: What is your favorite place within the Museum?

A: My favorite place in the museum is the rooftop because of the amazing view of the city.

Q: What is your personal motto, or your favorite quote?

A: “I’m not much one for quotes” – Me

Army Veteran Member Spotlight: Sergeant Henry Guzman

Veterans currently make up 64% our membership family, with representatives from almost every branch, including the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. With 42% of our Veteran members from the Army; they are currently leading the charge.

To help us celebrate the special place the Army serves in our military, we would like to introduce you to one of our Veteran Inaugural Members, Sergeant Henry Guzman.  

Henry’s Story:

“I am a proud American of Puerto Rican descent. I came to the United States when I was 5. My parents wanted the same thing for us that all parents want for their children. They wanted a better life, to provide an education, shelter, make sure that they have food on the table, and they wanted their children to be successful. That’s what a lot of immigrants coming to this country want for their families. 

The first time that my father took me to enroll me in school, I was five years old and was placed in first grade. The teachers took my birth certificate, scratched out my name o nit, which is ‘Enrique,’ and wrote ‘Henry.’ That’s how I was enrolled. That happened to a lot to kids back then. The Juans turned to John, the Miguels turned to Michael. It was a different time back then. But my dad used to always say ‘You need to stay in school. You need to get an education. You won’t succeed in this country without it.’ The reason I wanted to serve was that my father served in the Army. I had an uncle who served in Korea and he is MIA. 

After I graduated high school, I received my draft notice and I decided to enlist. I originally wanted to join the Air Force as a pilot. I always wanted to fly but the Air Force quota was full at that time so the recruiter said, ‘if you want to fly, you could go Army Airborne.’ I did fly, not the way I wanted to, but I did get to fly – jumping out of perfectly good aircrafts! Vietnam taught me a lot. It taught me about survival, cooperation, and being a part of a team. There were scary moments, no question about it. We thought we were invincible. We saw things that I would not wish on anyone, and they took tolls later on because of the lasting memories. But it also gave you a better appreciation of life.  

You learn that everybody’s the same. We are all there together and you’re all trying to accomplish a mission. We protected each other. There were no color or race barriers there. We all bled red when we got wounded. It was important for us to make sure that we looked out for each other. As a paratrooper, the person behind you was responsible for checking your chute and making sure it’s okay. When you’re a part of a team, the team is important in order to complete your mission.  

When we came back from Vietnam, we were told ‘Don’t wear your uniform when you get out of the plane, when you go home.’ It’s because of what was going on at the time. The America today is different from when we came home. Overall, today, there’s a better appreciation for those of us that served. I can’t say that was always the feeling in this country. The community needs to know that we’re called to service because of the love for our country. 

After I got out, I came home, got married, and had kids. I finished my degree and I am currently on the board of the American Red Cross Columbus Region. I have had a lot of opportunities presented to me and I knew through my own struggles in life that I had to help others. Being Hispanic, I found out that, at the national level, 57% of Hispanics have the O blood type, the universal blood type. It’s profound that this month, we’re celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. I feel strongly that blood drives are an opportunity for us to, not only celebrate our culture and our heritage, but also give back to the community by donating blood.  

You will always have a connection to the folks you served with – those in the army. We’re a band of brothers if you will. But overall, you have an appreciation for anyone that has served, whichever branch of service. We are all one.”

Thank you, Henry, for sharing your Army story. We are forever grateful to our Veteran members who share their stories, and to all Veterans for their service.

We’re always looking for other dedicated U.S. Army Veterans to join our membership family. Join as an Inaugural Member of the Museum for as little as $35 and share your military pride with others.

This Week in History (October 11-17)

Naval watercraft from the Vietnam War era. Credit: Naval Historical Foundation

OCTOBER 10, 1969

President Richard Nixon begins removing U.S. troops from the combat zone in Vietnam

By 1969, the US had been involved in the war in Vietnam for approximately four years. This prolonged involvement sparked a long, ongoing string of protests from the American public. In response, President Richard Nixon initiated a plan for the gradual removal of U.S. troops from the combat zone in Vietnam; This process came to be known as Vietnamization.

On October 10,1969, in the single largest transfer of naval equipment since the war began, 80 U.S. Naval river-patrol boats were transferred to the South Vietnamese Navy in an effort to equip the South Vietnamese forces. This transfer would allow Vietnam to begin turning over combat responsibilities to the South Vietnamese in an effort to reduce the United States’ presence in the combat zone.

USS Cole attack

OCTOBER 12, 2000

Remembering the crew of the USS Cole

At 10:30 a.m. on October 12, 2000, the U.S. Naval Destroyer, USS Cole, began refueling at the port of Aden in Yemen. While fueling, a small boat carrying al-Qaeda suicide bombers and loaded with explosives pulled up alongside the USS Cole. The bombers attached C4 onto the side of the ship and detonated it, creating a huge gash in the hull. Seventeen U.S. service members were killed by the blast, and 39 others were wounded. An al-Qaeda recruitment video featuring Osama bin Laden took responsibility for the attack and encouraged more attacks to be executed by al-Qaeda and its supporters. Today, we remember all the service members and families affected by this event.

Two US Navy training vessels take part in the parade for Fleet Week 2019, on May 22, 2019 in New York. Credit: Johannes Eisele/AFP

OCTOBER 13

U.S. Navy Birthday

The U.S. Navy was established by the Second Continental Congress in 1775 and was first called the Continental Navy. The first ships of the Continental Navy were the USS Providence and the USS Wasp. After the American Revolutionary War, the Continental Navy was disbanded until the Naval Act of 1794, which created a permanent U.S. Navy. October 13, 1775, formally became known as the birthday of the Navy in 1972 by the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt. 

EXCOMM meeting at the White House Cabinet Room during the Cuban Missile Crisis

OCTOBER 16, 1962

The Cuban missile crisis begins

On October 16, 1962, President John F. Kennedy was shown photos that were taken by a high-altitude U-2 spy plane showing Soviet nuclear missile installations in Cuba. The missiles, located just 90 miles off the coast of Florida, could carry nuclear warheads putting the U.S. in jeopardy of an attack with minimal notice. President Kennedy convened his advisers to analyze options in order to form a response. Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense, presented President Kennedy with three options: diplomacy with Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, a naval isolation of Cuba or an air attack on Cuba to destroy the missile sites. Kennedy elected to institute a quarantine to buy time to negotiate the withdrawal of missiles. 

John Trumbull:  Surrender of Lord Cornwallis

OCTOBER 17, 1781

British Gen. Lord Charles Cornwallis surrenders at Yorktown

During the American Revolution, England also was at war with Spain and France. In October of 1781, Gen. George Washington, French ally Lt. Gen. Comte de Rochambeau, and the Continental Army traveled to Yorktown, Virginia, where Gen. Charles Lord Cornwallis’s troops were stationed. With Washington’s forces nearly doubling those of the British, and the added element of surprise, Gen. Lord Cornwallis surrendered, resulting in the last major land battle of the American Revolution.

NVMM Reads: “The Outpost” by Jake Tapper

This month, the NVMM Guest Experience team highly recommends adding “The Outpost” by Jake Tapper to your reading list. This October marks the 12th anniversary of the Battle of Kamdesh at Combat Outpost (COP) Keating in Afghanistan. COP Keating was established as a base of operations for U.S. Army personnel in 2006 in an attempt to stop the flow of soldiers and munitions arriving from nearby Pakistan and as a place to direct and support counterinsurgency efforts in nearby villages.

“The Outpost” helps readers gain an understanding of the harrowing battle that ensued. In more than 700 captivating pages, Tapper shares the otherworldly experience that is life stationed in a small U.S. military base in eastern Afghanistan. Through a collection of interviews with soldiers who were stationed at the Outpost, he describes in detail their experiences from 2006 through October 2009. He highlights the pattern of doubt present throughout the interview process, noting a consensus among the interviewees and their families that the Outpost was ill-conceived, as it was located in a militant-infested valley surrounded by looming mountains.

This location resulted in a vicious enemy attack on October 3, 2009, known as the Battle of Kamdesh. The author describes how 53 Americans became responsible for securing American Combat Outpost Keating against nearly 400 Taliban fighters. Outnumbered, outmanned and under incessant fire from all directions, it should have been impossible for anyone to make it out alive. However, as Tapper details throughout “The Outpost,” these courageous men were able to prevail.

Throughout the book, Tapper uses the natural suspense of positioning to build anticipation leading up to the battle. It was known to many beforehand that the risks of building an outpost in such a vulnerable area far outweighed the benefits. In addition to the cause-and-effect structure of the book, the action sequences throughout each chapter are well-crafted, describing the events in detail without over-sensationalizing this tragedy. In particular, this book highlights the experiences of the two Medal of Honor recipients recognized for their actions at Outpost Keating; Ty Carter and Clint Romesha, who saved the lives of many comrades. The author does an excellent job of writing this book as an expression of gratitude for their actions.

This book is jam-packed with information and insight regarding COP Keating. While there are several important takeaways, the prevailing theme throughout the book is “the deep-rooted inertia of military thinking.” This phrase is one that Tapper uses to describe some of the larger problems faced by American soldiers throughout the war, and it is important to gain full comprehension of “The Outpost.” He exhausts the issue of insufficient resources and lack of proper communication among those in positions of authority and lists these as the main causes for the October 3 attack.

The Battle of Kamdesh was the deadliest conflict in 2009. To make things worse, four days after the battle’s conclusion, Pentagon analysts concluded that there were no valid reasons behind stationing the troops at Keating in the first place. Thanks to those 53 remarkable men, the outcome was not nearly as disastrous as it could have been. Reading Tapper’s description of these soldiers’ experience gives a remarkable amount of insight as to what it’s truly like to experience that feeling of being trapped, the disappointment in authority and the sheer terror of hearing the words “enemy in the wire” over the radio. This book is truly a testament to the bravery of the men involved, and an honor to the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. As a perspective-shifting novel, Jake Tapper’s “The Outpost” will almost certainly leave a lasting impression on your perception of the military experience.

Former Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha receiving the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama

This Week in History (October 4-10)

Specialist Ty Carter patrolling Combat Outpost Keating, Afghanistan. Credit: U.S. Army

OCTOBER 3, 2009

Combat Outpost Keating Attacked in the Battle of Kamdesh

On October 3, 2009, U.S. Combat Outpost Keating, located in Afghanistan’s Nuristan province, was attacked by 300 enemy fighters. Stationed at Keating during the onset of the battle were 53 U.S. soldiers, 20 Afghan troops, two Latvian soldiers and 12 Afghan security guards. Soldiers were under attack for 12 hours during which, eight U.S. soldiers lost their lives and 22 were wounded. Thanks to the courage and heroism of these service members, the camp was secured, and the Taliban were driven to retreat.  

Two medals of Honor and nine Silver Stars were awarded to U.S. soldiers following the events of October 3. Staff Sgt. Clint Romesha, received several shrapnel wounds while collecting an uncovered reconnaissance of the battlefield and seeking reinforcements. Despite his injuries, he continued to mobilize small combat groups to carry on fighting. Romesha’s actions saved the lives of multiple injured men, earning him the distinguished Medal of Honor. The second recipient recognized for his actions in this conflict was Specialist Ty Carter. Minimally armed, he placed accurate and deadly fire to deter the enemy assault force. Despite his wounds and the increasing danger, he continued to run through open enemy fire to save a critically wounded comrade, moving him a total of 100 meters to the aid station. All recipients displayed selflessness and courage in their actions and will be forever honored and remembered.  

Michael Durant’s helicopter over Mogadishu. Mike Goodale rode on this one.

OCTOBER 3-4, 1993

Battle of Mogadishu/Black Hawk Down

In December 1992, U.S. President George H.W. Bush ordered the U.S. military to join the U.N. in a joint operation known as Operation Restore Hope, tasked with the mission of restoring order in Somalia. In May 1993, it was agreed by the U.N. and its parties to remove the leading Somali faction leader and self-proclaimed Somali President, Mohamed Farrah Aidid. Many Somali civilians resented the international forces, causing them to take up arms and resist U.S. forces during fighting in Mogadishu.

The Battle of Mogadishu, also known as the incident “Black Hawk Down,” was part of Operation Gothic Serpent. The battle was fought Between October 3-4, 1993, in Mogadishu, Somalia, between the U.S. and Somali militiamen who were supporters of Mohamed Farrah Aidid. The Somali militiamen shot down two U.S. Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters using RPG-7s. Fighting lasted throughout the night to defend the crash survivors, including two U.S. Army Delta Force operators who were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. The following morning, a UNOSOM II armored convoy made it to the helicopters incurring further casualties, but eventually rescuing the survivors. In total, 19 U.S. soldiers were killed during Black Hawk Down.

Death of Tecumseh: Battle of the Thames Oct. 1813 / lith. & pub. by N. Currier.

OCTOBER 5, 1813

The Battle of the Thames

During the War of 1812, Shawnee Chief Tecumseh joined British forces to capture Detroit and invade Ohio. 

The Battle of the Thames, also known as the Battle of Moraviantown, was the decisive U.S. victory over British and Indigenous forces in Ontario, Canada, which gave the United States control over the Northwest. The British forces, comprised of more than 600 soldiers and 1,000 Indigenous allies under Tecumseh, were outnumbered and defeated. Many of the British troops were captured and Tecumseh was killed, which destroyed the alliance and broke the Indigenous power in the Ohio and Indiana territories. After this battle, most of the tribes abandoned their alliance with the British. 

Navy SEALs operating in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom

OCTOBER 6, 2001

Operation Enduring Freedom Begins

October 6 and October 7 mark the initiation of Operation Enduring Freedom, the 13-year operation launched to combat the Taliban in Afghanistan. Prior to acting, the U.S. demanded that the Taliban turn over Osama bin Laden, the extreme fundamentalist leader of the terrorist group responsible for the September 11 attacks. As this request was left unfulfilled, U.S. President George W. Bush announced that a retaliation would take place and military action would commence. On October 7, 2001, President Bush announced that U.S. and British forces had begun launching airstrikes on specific Taliban and al Qaeda targets in Afghanistan. This attack lasted for five days and is now known as the first action in the global War on Terror. Following this attack, the Taliban labeled these actions as “an attack on Islam,” and proceeded to initiate their own war against the entirety of the non-Muslim world. 

38th Parallel

OCTOBER 9, 1950

After turning the tide of the war, U.S. forces cross the 38th parallel

The 38th parallel was the definitive latitude 38° north in Korea which split the country in two portions. During the Korean war, Southern Korea, known as the Republic of Korea, was U.N. approved and American sponsored, whereas Northern Korea was the Soviet supported Peoples’ Republic of Korea.  

North Korea invaded South Korea in an effort to create one Korea under the People’s Republic of Korea. On October 9, 1950, North Koreans were pushed back north of the 38th parallel. The U.N. and the Southern Republic of Korea forces advanced into North Korean territory in an attempt to reunite the two countries under the Republic of Korea. The 38th parallel continued to be used throughout the rest of the Korean War, symbolizing who had crossed over to which side.

“American Veteran,” an Upcoming PBS Series [Rally Point]

We hosted a discussion including GBH producer Amanda Pollack and Cody Ayon, a Navy and Army Veteran from the film, to learn about the documentary that explores Veterans’ inspiration to serve and their eventual transition from service member to civilian.

About “American Veteran”

Today, America has nearly 18 million living military Veterans, from the “Greatest Generation” to men and women coming home from recent tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.  They join the now-silent ranks of American Veterans reaching back to our earliest conflict, the Revolutionary War. American Veteran illuminates the veteran experience with a stunning range of voices from today and across the arc of American history. 

About Rally Point:

Rally Point is a free, monthly event on the first Saturday of every month dedicated to connecting and educating Veterans, Veterans’ families, and those who wish to support Veterans. The programs focus on organizations and programs from which Veterans and their families directly benefit.

This Week in History (September 27-30)

Douglas Monro memorial service. Grave, honor guard, historical photos at the memorial site.

SEPTEMBER 27, 1942

Signalman 1st Class Douglas Munro, U.S. Coast Guard, saves hundreds, receives posthumous Medal of Honor

Douglas Munro had a passion for helping others and joined the U.S. Coast Guard in 1939. He served in both the Atlantic and Pacific prior to Operation Watchtower—the August 1942 U.S. invasion of Guadalcanal. This day, he was in charge of the Higgins boats landing Marines to drive back Japanese forces and make Henderson Field more secure for Allied air operations. The Marines ran into heavy  enemy fire from entrenched Japanese forces at Point Cruz and called for emergency evacuation. Munro volunteered to lead the Higgins boats with nearly 500 Marines back under intense enemy fire. As he closed the beach, he signaled the others to land and then valiantly placed his craft, with its two small guns, as a shield between the beachhead and the Japanese. During the rescue, Munro was fatally wounded; his last words before he passed were, “Did they get off?” His crew, two of whom were wounded, carried on until the last boat had loaded and cleared the beach.

In May 1943, the Medal of Honor was presented to Munro’s parents, James and Edith, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Munro became the first and only U.S. Coast Guardsman to receive the Medal of Honor. Later that day, inspired by her son, Edith raised her hand, swore an oath, and joined the U.S. Coast Guard Women’s Corps to honor her son.

Washington before Yorktown

SEPTEMBER 28, 1781

American and French forces arrive at Yorktown for the final battle of the American Revolution

A joint American and French force led by General George Washington and Lt. General Comte de Rochambeau arrived at Yorktown at the start of the Battle of Yorktown, the final battle of the Revolutionary War. By 1781, both the British and American forces were looking for an opportunity to end the war which had continued to drain their resources and morale. With the aid of his French allies, Washington planned a strategic assault against the British in hopes that a victory at Yorktown would finally force Britain and other European nations to accept the United States of America as an independent nation.

The first step of the plan was to convince the British that Washington and his men were heading north to attack New York. Washington ordered his men to create large camps to fool the British into believing they intended to stay for an extended period. He then created battle plans for an attack on New York, which he purposefully allowed to fall into the hands of the British. With the trap laid, Washington and Rochambeau marched their men south. Upon their arrival, Washington ordered his forces to begin the siege of Yorktown by digging parallel trenches which would allow troops and artillery to be in range of the British forces led by General Charles Cornwallis. Unable to receive aid from the British because of the French fleet guarding the Chesapeake Bay, Cornwallis and his men were trapped between the two forces with no escape. The siege lasted for 20 days until October 17 when a British officer was sent to parley with the American and French forces. This defeat led to the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783.

Floral anchor: Veterans of Foreign Wars

SEPTEMBER 29, 1913

122nd Anniversary of the establishment of the American Veterans of Foreign Service

Today marks the 122nd anniversary of the establishment of the American Veterans of Foreign Service, later renamed the Veterans of Foreign Wars, by Veterans returning home from the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection. The Veterans of Foreign Wars serve as a voice for American Veterans across the U.S. From the time of its creation in 1913, members of the organization have worked towards a vision where all Veterans are treated with respect, receive benefits for their service and are recognized for the sacrifices they and their families have made for our country. Many of their noteworthy achievements include the passage of the World War Veterans Adjusted Compensation Act in 1924, the establishment of the National Home for Veterans’ Orphans in 1925 and the passage of an act that granted service members fighting in World War II immediate life insurance coverage. In 1944 and 2008, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion were instrumental in the passage of two GI Bills of Rights. Today, the Veterans of Foreign Wars has nearly 1.5 million members who continue to work together to support and fight for one another.

 

The U.S. Navy and Air Force unloading supplies during the Berlin Airlift. Credit: The U.S. Air Force

SEPTEMBER 30, 1949

The Berlin Airlift – Officially halted after 277,264 flights

In June 1948, the Soviet Union blocked all ground traffic into West Berlin, leaving more than two million individuals living in there without food, clothing or medical supplies. Over the course of 15 months, 277,264 flights brought in more than two million tons of supplies costing over $224 million. At the height of the Berlin Airlift, one plane would reach West Berlin every 30 seconds. On September 30, 1949, the Berlin Blockade and Airlift officially ended when the last plane, a C-54, unloaded two tons of coal into West Berlin. 

Before the blockade officially ended, the Western Allies created the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This was a response to the “almost” war of the Berlin Airlift and stated that all countries who signed the treaty agreed to a collective defensive.  

 

This Week in History (September 20-26)

F-14D Tomcat makes a flyby over the flight deck of the USS Theodore Roosevelt. 
Credit: U.S. Navy/ Getty Image Files 

SEPTEMBER 22, 2006

The F-14 Tomcat is retired the from U.S. navy

First introduced on September 22, 1974, the F-14 Tomcat served the U.S. Navy for 36 years before it was retired on September 22, 2006. The Tomcat served as the Navy’s primary maritime air superiority fighter and interceptor. In its final combat mission, two F-14s landed on the USS Theodore Roosevelt’s deck after dropping bombs over Iraq. The last flight of anF-14 took place at the Naval Air Station Oceana located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, flown by Lt. Cmdr. Chris Richard and Lt. Mike Petronis.

Thaircraft F-14 is well-known for its central role in the 1986 film, “Top Gun.”

Troops escorting members of the little rock nine. Credit: AP Images

SEPTEMBER 24, 1957

101st Airborne Division is sent to Little Rock, Arkansas to enforce desegregation

Three weeks prior to this date, Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus surrounded Central High School in Little Rock with National Guard troops to prevent desegregation after the landmark Supreme Court Case Brown v. the Board of Education. While National Guard troops were eventually replaced by local police, Central High School students were unable to enter the building due to the large mobs outside. In response to the actions of Governor Faubus and an urging from the mayor of Little Rock, President Dwight D. Eisenhower federalized the Arkansas National Guard and sent an additional 1,000 Army paratroopers from the 101st Airborne Division to enforce the safety of the “Little Rock Nine.”

The American advance into the Argonne Region of France by French Renault tank. World War 1. Credit: National Archives and Records Administration 

SEPTEMBER 26, 1918

U.S. troops aboard French-built Renault tanks head for the front in the Argonne Forest

The Battle of Argonne Forest in France, also known as the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, began on September 26, 1918, and was a turning point in WWI in favor of Allied forces. Allied French Supreme Commander Ferdinand Foch put U.S. General John J. Pershing in command of the offensive.

The Battle of Argonne Forest was one of the first engagements of Pershing’s American Expeditionary Force (AEF). As part of a series of Allied attacks known as the Hundred Days Offensive, this was the largest and bloodiest operation of World War I and was the largest frontline commitment of troops in WWI by the U.S. Army. Stretching across the entire Western front, it was the final Allied offensive that caused the Germans to agree to an armistice. The battle lasted until November 11, 1918, which is now known as Armistice Day and marked the end of WWI.

 

NVMM Reads: “30,000 Stitches”

Author, teacher, artist and innovator, Amanda Davis, collaborated with artist and illustrator, Sally Wern Comport, to share the touching story of the National 9/11 Flag in the children’s book, “30,000 Stitches, The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag.” This story follows the journey of one flag which flew above the wreckage of the World Trade Center in the days following 9/11, bringing together ordinary American citizens to do an extraordinary task- repair the flag. From Veterans, service members and firefighters, to students, teachers, activists and the Navajo Code Talkers, “30,000 Stitches” follows the flag as it brought the spirit of unity and restoration to all 50 states — stich by stich. This inspiring children’s book reminds us that despite that fateful September morning, America will forever be united, strong and enduring.   

Román Baca and Exit12 Dance Company

We’re connecting our audience to Román Baca, a U.S. Marine Corp Veteran, artistic director, and co-founder of Exit12 Dance Company as well as Lisa Fitzgerald, associate director and co-founder. Their mission is to share the experiences of military service and war through dance and movement.

Inspiring Story of Service: Jon Jackson

Jon Jackson, 2021 | © Beau Simmons

An excerpt from “The Twenty-Year War”

“My name is Jon Jackson and I was a 92A Supply Clerk in the United States Army. I was a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment when I separated and did six tours in support of the Global War on Terror. I was in for eleven years total and separated as a Staff Sergeant (E-6). I joined because of 9/11. I lived in Jersey City, on Garfield Ave., where my childhood view was the World Trade Center and the Statue of Liberty. 

After separating from the Army, I started Comfort Farms. My Ranger buddy, Kyle Comfort, was KIA in 2010. I had this thought: “Kyle was such a cool guy and ‘Comfort Farms’ is a great name,” and the farm was born. We’re committed to helping veterans heal through learning to farm. The name can be misleading; we’re not here to be comfortable. You can only grow in discomfort. We have a total farm, complete with a farmer’s market. We’re totally self-funded through what we produce. We were just awarded a grant to teach agriculture for the next three years. You can take classes at Central Georgia Tech, use your GI Bill, and get credit hours by learning farming from the ground up.

Separating is tough. You come from a unit like the Rangers and then you are out. You aren’t deploying or jumping, you feel like you lost your edge. I went through some real serious depression … almost committed suicide. When I clawed my way out and survived it, I felt like there’s nothing I couldn’t do. Even when I was having relationship issues with my wife, all the hard work on the farm had the effect of helping us repair that. You’re only as good as your support. If I look like a rockstar it’s because of my family and the veterans I work with all supporting me. You need your tribe. It’s never just about you!”

Photo: Jon Jackson, 2021 | © Beau Simmons

See Jon in our May 2021 Rally Point!

May’s Rally Point features discussions with U.S. Air Force Veteran Richard Murphy, and U.S. Army Veteran Jon Jackson, the Executive Director of STAG VETS. Both organizations share similar goals — to aid Veterans in their transition from their military service to civilian life with agriculture. Agro-therapy is the conditioning of Veterans to their new normal.

This Week in History (September 13-19)

Francis Scott Key

SEPTEMBER 13-14, 1814

British ships bombarded Fort McHenry, an attack that inspired “The Star Spangled Banner”

Francis Scott Key, a 35-year-old American lawyer, boarded the flagship of the British fleet on Chesapeake Bay to discuss the release of a captive friend. Key and his friend were released but were kept aboard the British ship due to their knowledge of the impending Battle of Baltimore at Fort McHenry. Key watched the battle unfold from eight miles away. Inspired by his view of the battle as  the American flag was  raised in victory, Key wrote the poem, “Defence of Fort McHenry,” which was set to a popular British tune, eventually becoming “The Star Spangled Banner.”  

The storming of Chapu[ltepec] Sept. 13th [1847] / drawn on stone, printed in colours … by Sarony & Major; [from a painting by Walker in the poss]esion of Capt. Roberts, U.S.A.
Photo by: Lance Cpl. Yuritzy Gomez  

SEPTEMBER 13, 1847

The Battle of Chapultepec Castle

On September 13, 1847, U.S. Major General Winfield Scott prepared his troops for the assault on Chapultepec Castle, the last obstacle preventing the U. S. Army from capturing Mexico City, Mexico. Scott knew that the capture of Mexico City meant a United States’ victory in the Mexican-American War. Chapultepec Castle was a formidable fortress with 12-foot-high walls, seated atop a 200-foot-high hill, and defended by General Nicolás Bravo,1,000+ troops and 13 cannons. Many would lose their lives in the assault, but the victory was paramount. After shelling the fortress for a full day, Gen. Scott ordered three divisions led by Maj. Gen. Gideon Pillow, Brigadier General William Worth, and Brigadier John Quitman to attack the castle from the west and south. With the help of several ladders, the U.S. troops scaled the wall and took the castle by 9:30 a.m. From there, the troops marched on Mexico City forcing Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna and his troops within the city to flee in the night. By the morning of September 14, the battle had been won and both Chapultepec Castle and Mexico City were under U.S. control.

The Battle of Chapultepec had a considerable impact on the U. S. Marine Corps. By the end of the battle, approximately 90 percent of the Marines who fought to take the castle were killed in action. In memory of their service and sacrifice, the Marine Corps included a reference to the battle in the “Marines’ Hymn.” In the song, the verse mentioning the “Halls of Montezuma,” refers to the capital of the Aztec Empire, Tenochtitlán, which later became Mexico City. The Marines also added a scarlet stripe down the leg of their uniform trousers representing blood shed by Marines to take Chapultepec Castle. Today, on the 174th anniversary of the Battle of Chapultepec, we remember and honor the soldiers who fought to take Chapultepec Castle and Mexico City, bringing an official end to the Mexican-American War. 

As against “The Shores of Tripoli” in the Marine Hymn, Leathernecks use scaling ladders to storm ashore at Inchon in amphibious invasion September 15, 1950. The attack was so swift that casualties were surprisingly low. S.Sgt. W.W. Frank. (Marine Corps); NARA FILE #: 127-N-A3191; WAR & CONFLICT BOOK #: 1419

SEPTEMBER 15, 1950

Operation Chromite begins

In September of 1950, the United States and United Nations found themselves embroiled in a war between the communist-supported Democratic People’s Republic of (North) Korea, and the western supported Republic of (South) Korea. Seoul, the capital of South Korea, had fallen in June, forcing the South Korean soldiers to retreat and regroup with their western allies at the Pusan Perimeter. After regrouping with their allies, the South Korean and United Nations forces – commanded by U. S. General Douglas MacArthur – halted the North Korean advance. 

With the North Korean advance halted, MacArthur decided the time was right to enact his unconventional plan designed to break North Korean supply lines and reclaim Seoul. This plan, codenamed Operation Chromite, involved an amphibious landing of American troops at Inchon, a port located on the west coast behind enemy lines. However, Inchon was not an ideal amphibious landing zone because of strong tides and a narrow channel. Despite initial hesitation from other American military leaders, Operation Chromite was approved and preparation began for the invasion. On September 15, the 1st Marine Division, with the aid of Admiral Arthur D. Struble’s fleet of 230 ships, landed in and seized Inchon. The Marines from the north and the Allied forces from the south worked together to cut off North Korean supply lines and force them back past the 38th parallel dividing North and South Korea. Today, on the 71st anniversary of Operation Chromite, we remember and honor the soldiers who risked their lives landing at Inchon port. 

 

Roosevelt signing the first peacetime draft in US history on September 16, 1940

SEPTEMBER 16, 1940

The Burke-Wadsworth Act signed into law

Prior to the beginning of United States involvement in World War II, the size of U.S. military forces were vastly insufficient to take on the Axis powers. As tensions rose between U.S. Allies and the Axis powers, it was only a matter of time before the government, as well as the public, realized that involvement was inevitable. President Roosevelt and his advisors also recognized that the military force available at the time would need to be increased and could no longer rely on a purely volunteer force.  

On September 16, 1940, President Roosevelt signed into law the Burke-Wadsworth Act. Also known as the Selective Training and Service Act, this piece of legislation was the first peacetime draft in U.S.  history. To prepare U.S. forces in the event of involvement, this act required all men between the ages of 21-45 to register for the draft. This act remained in place throughout the duration of WWII and was not abolished until July 1, 1973. 

Battle of Antietam–Army of the Potomac: Gen. Geo. B. McClellan, comm., Sept. 17′ 1862.
Photograph from the main eastern theater of the war, Battle of Antietam, September-October 1862.

SEPTEMBER 17, 1862

The Battle of Antietam

By the summer of 1862, Union forces found themselves demoralized after repeatedly being defeated by Confederate forces. Public opinion of the war in the Union states was wavering, giving the Confederate General Robert E. Lee the prefect opportunity to strike. Lee’s plan was to march his troops northward into Maryland and claim a decisive victory in Union territory which would have secured the Confederate State’s victory in the Civil War. However, his plans were discovered by two Union soldiers and reported to Major General George B. McClellan who moved his forces to intercept Lee. On the morning of September 17, 1862, the Battle of Antietam began when Union and Confederate forces met at Antietam Creek. Thousands of soldiers marched to their deaths in what would become known as the deadliest one-day battle in American history. By nightfall, Union and Confederate soldiers wandered the battlefield collecting their wounded and dead. Of the approximately 132,000 soldiers who fought at the Battle of Antietam, there were approximately 23,000 casualties. The battle officially ended the next morning when Gen. Lee fled south towards Virginia with his remaining men. The Union had won, but at a great cost. 

While facts about the Battle of Antietam are well documented, a true account of the battle can only be discerned by reading the firsthand account left behind by soldiers and medical professionals. One such letter is on display within the Service and Citizenship Gallery at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum. In the letter, Lieutenant Colonel Wilder Dwight of the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment writes to his mother on the morning of September 17 to inform her that he is engaging the enemy to support Major General Joseph Hooker in an assault through the cornfield. This would be the last letter Dwight would ever send his mother. As he lay wounded on the battlefield, he wrote his last message to his family informing them that he was wounded and likely going to die. Despite his injuries, Dwight wrote that he believed he died a victor and remarked that he had faith that God would defend the United States of America. Dwight, along with thousands of other soldiers, fought and died for their nation 159 years ago to this day. Today, we honor and remember their service and sacrifice to our nation. 

Missing man table set in honor of those missing in action, expressing that they may be absent, but will never be forgotten. 

SEPTEMBER 17

POW/MIA Recognition Day

On September 17, we pay tribute to the lives and contributions of more than 83,000 Americans who are still listed as Prisoners of War or Missing in Action through the recognition of National POW/MIA Recognition Day. Since its establishment in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter, POW/MIA recognition day has been observed every year on the third Friday in September. Though it is not a federal holiday, it is one of six national days of observance during which the POW/MIA flag can be flown over significant national landmarks and government buildings. This flag serves as a symbol of continuing concern for those missing or taken prisoner in prior military involvement.  

This day is observed throughout the nation through various ceremonies and events held to spread awareness that service members are still missing in action, from World War II through the Gulf Wars. It also serves as a reminder that the Department of Defense’s POW/MIA Accounting Agency continues to search for the missing.

 The first Secretary of the Air Force (W. Stuart Symington) at a press conference in conjunction with the first Air Force Chief of Staff (Gen. Carl Spaatz) announcing the new Air Force organizational system.

SEPTEMBER 17

U.S. Air Force became an independent service

Since the initial introduction of aircraft into the armed forces in 1909, air power has been an essential tool in the advancement of United States military operations. However, until September 1947, the Air Force existed under a series of designations within the Army. It was neither separate nor independent from the Army, despite operating with a markedly different mission.  

As the Army Air Force became an increasingly independent and autonomous sector throughout the course of WWII, it was hard to deny that creating an entirely separate force was the next logical step. Thus, on September 18, 1947, President Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947, declaring the U.S. Air Force to be an independent service equal to the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy. On this date, Army air bases were re-designated as Air Force bases, new uniforms and insignias were distributed, and a separate command structure was established to suit the new branch.  

Today, the total strength of all sectors in the Air Force amounts to just over half a million people and is now a prevalent force in the U. S. military.  

Staff Spotlight: Marketing Manager Jennifer Nodjak

Each month, the Museum invites you to get to know the staff supporting our pillars to Honor, Connect, Inspire and Educate. Meet Jennifer Nodjak, our new Marketing & Communications Manager! Jennifer works with the marketing department to share Veterans’ stories and the NVMM mission with local, regional and national audiences.

Q: How have you connected to the Museum?

A: My grandfather served in the Vietnam War, and my brother-in-law and cousins-in-law are currently in the Navy. Having the opportunity to share the stories and impact of servicemen and women like my own family members is a gift. I also immediately connected with the Depicting the Invisible portrait series exhibition currently on view; mental health is an incredibly important topic in our communities, and something often underrepresented in our military and Veteran communities. Seeing an artist bring stories of Veterans with PTSD to life on canvas is breathtaking.

Q: What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

A: My wife and I spend a lot of time with our yellow lab rescue, Frida. I’m also a plant person, so I’m regularly on the hunt for new houseplants, or taking care of my collection at home.

Q: What are three words that best describe you?

A: Reliable. Determined. Sassy.

Q: We feature a “What We’re Reading” section each month on our website as part of NVMM Reads. What are you reading right now?

A: I just finished “Leadership Strategy and Tactics: Field Manual” by Jocko Willink, a well-known Navy SEAL Veteran. It’s a great book if you’re looking for actionable steps to take toward growing your leadership capabilities.

Q: What is your favorite place within the Museum?

A: The “Veterans Among Us” area on the first level, specifically where you can see hand-written letters from Veterans. Being able to see real and tangible handwriting from 50+ years ago that Veterans wrote home to their loved ones added a huge personal and emotional connection for me. These are real words from real people, written while deployed and serving our country.

Q: Where is your favorite place in the world?

A: Greece! I traveled there once on vacation and once on a study abroad trip to Corfu, and absolutely fell in love with it. The food, the culture, the beaches – everything was amazing. The most picturesque place in my opinion was the beach in Parga, Greece. I hope to return there someday soon!

Q: What is your personal motto, or your favorite quote?

A: I have quote from U.S. Air Force Veteran Steve Maraboli tattooed on my arm, and I try to follow this concept every day. “When you are just existing, life happens to you…and you manage; when you are truly living, you happen to life…and you lead.”

NVMM Reads: “This Very Tree: A Story of 9/11, Resilience, and Regrowth”

Author and illustrator Sean Rubin brings the story of 9/11 and the tragedy of the Twin Towers to life through the ‘eyes’ of a tree in his children’s book, “This Very Tree.” Rubin guides readers through time since the 1970s when the tree, known as the Survivor Tree, stood tall in the plaza providing visitors with shade and heralding spring with its blooms, to the tragic day when the tree was buried under the rubble on September 11, 2001. Told from the tree’s perspective, this story of tragedy and resilience touches the reader at each turn of the page. In the author’s note, Rubin quotes horticulturist Arthur Ross saying, “I think of the way the city bounced back and the way the tree keeps bouncing back. It’s a New Yorker.”

NVMM Reads: “Saved by the Boats”

Written by Julie Gassman, “Saved By The Boats” tells the story of the brave men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard who helped people fleeing from the World Trade Center during 9/11. With the aid of illustrations by Steve Moors, this book captures the emotions of those leaving Manhattan as they watched the blue sky above them become shrouded in smoke. At a time when all hope seemed lost, the men and women aboard these boats offered hope and sanctuary for their fellow Americans. On that day, author Julie Gassman and her husband were among those departing the city. By sharing their story with the world, Gassman wanted to express her deep gratitude for those who aided in the boat evacuation. This book stands as a reminder that through adversity, there are always individuals who will rush in to help. The sky will once again be bright blue.

This Week in History (September 6-12)

Macdonough’s victory on Lake Champlain and defeat of the British Army at Plattsburg by Genl. Macomb, Sept. 11 1814.
Engraverː Benjamin Tanner, after painting by Hugh Reinagle.

SEPTEMBER 6-11, 1814

U.S. Troops triumph at the Battle of Lake Champlain

On September 6, 1814, British Lt. Gen. George Prevost initiated his plan to seize the American base in Plattsburg, New York, in the midst of the War of 1812. With the goal of achieving uncontested control of the lake, Prevost planned on staging a coordinated attack with Capt. George Downie and his naval fleet. However, when Downie finally arrived along the American line, his naval fleet was met with short-range gunfire and heavy carronades. Macdonough’s precision, combined with the disruptive wind conditions, caused severe damage to Downie’s ships, eventually leading to the withdrawal of Prevost’s portion of the attack and an American victory.

Japanese Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida and members of the Japanese envoy sign the Treaty of San Francisco

SEPTEMBER 8, 1951

The Treaty of San Francisco is signed

On September 8, 1951, 48 nations signed a peace treaty with Japan, serving as the formal recognition of the end of the Pacific War. Within the treaty, Japan agreed to recognize the independence of Korea and renounced all rights to Taiwan, the Pescadores, the Kurils, southern Sakhalin and the Pacific Islands granted by the United Nations. While no reparations were provided for Japan in the treaty, the option for negotiations between the specific countries remained open.

The signing and implementation of this treaty initiated a new relationship between the U.S. and Japan, as well as a new wave of political contention over involvement in both countries.

Battle of Lake Erie, War of 1812, Commodore Perry, September 10, 1813

SEPTEMBER 10, 1813

U.S. Navy defeats the British at the Battle of Lake Erie

Commodore Oliver H. Perry is also known as the “Hero of Lake Erie,” for commanding American forces in one of the largest naval victories of the war in Put-In-Bay, Ohio, at the Battle of Lake Erie. Perry is remembered for his battle flag, which read, “Don’t Give Up The Ship,” as well as his note to Gen. William Henry Harrison which read, “We have met the enemy and they are ours.” Perry was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his exceptional service during this time.

Perry’s leadership was one of nine successful Lake Erie military campaign victories; the Battle of Lake Erie was the pivotal win for the West. The lake remained under control of the U.S. for the remainder of the war, allowing the U.S. to recover Detroit, Michigan, and go on to win the Battle of the Thames.

 

Battle of North Point by Don Troiani

SEPTEMBER 12, 1814

Battle of North Point

During the Battle of Baltimore, Brig. Gen. John Stricker, commander of the 3rd Brigade of the Maryland Militia, was tasked with delaying the 9,000-man British advancement led by Maj. Gen. Robert Ross. While Stricker and his militia retreated, giving the British the tactical win of the battle, it gave other U.S. military groups time to prepare for continued British advancement. Although the Battle of North Point was a loss, it was still considered a strategic win for aiding in the overall win of the Battle of Baltimore.

Reflections on 9/11 and the 20-Year War [Rally Point]

As we approach the 20th Anniversary of 9/11, U.S. Army Rangers Dan Blakely and Tom Amenta, along with photographer Beau Simmons, will discuss with us their highly anticipated book, “The Twenty-Year War.” Through the book, they share the experiences and stories of 71 Veterans who were involved in the Global War on Terror.

About Rally Point:

Rally Point is a free, monthly event on the first Saturday of every month dedicated to connecting and educating Veterans, Veterans’ families, and those who wish to support Veterans. The programs focus on organizations and programs from which Veterans and their families directly benefit.

NVMM Reads: “Fireboat”

“Fireboat,” by acclaimed author and illustrator, Maira Kalman, shares the story of the John J. Harvey Fireboat from its launch in 1931 to September 11, 2001, when the Fireboat and her crew came to the aid of New York City Firefighters as they battled flames following the collapse of the World Trade Centers. Before 9/11, this Fireboat was saved by a dedicated crew who saw the worth of the old fireboat. Even though it was retired, the brave old Fireboat and her crew willingly risked their own safety to support the people of New York. Through this book, readers – both children and adults – can learn the lesson that everyone has a purpose. Just like the crew of the John J. Harvey, sometimes you are the one who needs to lift up others to help them see their potential, and other times, you may be the retired Fireboat that needs a few helping hands to help build you up again.

This Week in History (September 1-5)

Near Sochaczew during the German invasion of Poland, 1939. Credit: Hugo Jaeger
Adolf Hitler (right) prepares to fly to the Polish front, 1939. Credit: Hugo Jaeger

SEPTEMBER 1, 1939

Hitler invades Poland

In August 1939, The German-Soviet pact was negotiated between the Soviet Union’s foreign minister, Molotov, and Germany’s foreign minister, Ribbentrop. This pact allowed Stalin to expand Soviet rule over the Baltic states and other countries, helping Hitler avoid a major two-front war. As part of this agreement, Stalin and Hitler agreed to a ten-year peace agreement. Unbeknownst to others, the German-Soviet pact allowed Germany to attack Poland without fear of Soviet intervention.

Leading up to September 1, 1939, Nazi propagandists claimed Poland, Great Britain and France were plotting together to surround and destroy Germany. Propagandists also falsely claimed that Poles were persecuting ethnic Germans. The Schutzstaffel (SS) staged a Polish attack on a German radio station, which Hitler then used this as a reason to retaliate against Poland. With over 2,000 tanks and 1,000 planes, German units broke Polish defenses and advanced to Warsaw in an encirclement attack. Great Britain and France declared war against Germany on September 1,1939. The ongoing battle for Poland was the catalyst for the beginning of World War II.

George H.W. Bush 

SEPTEMBER 2, 1944

George H.W. Bush’s aircraft catches fire

In September 1944, Lieutenant George H.W. Bush and his Naval torpedo squadron, VT-51, were based on the USS San Jacinto fighting against the Japanese in the Bonin Islands. On September 2, four aircrafts from VT-51 attacked the Japanese Installations on Chi Chi Jima. During the attack, the aircrafts were met with heavy fire, and Bush’s aircraft was hit and caught fire.

Bush flew the damaged plane away from the island before he and another crew member bailed out of the aircraft. After landing, he inflated a raft and waited for four hours to be rescued. While he floated, several fighters circled overhead until he was rescued by a lifeguard submarine, the USS Finback. Bush remained on the USS Finback for over a month, assisting in the rescue of other pilots.

Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur signing the Instrument of Peace as supreme commander of the Allied powers during the Japanese surrender ceremony.

SEPTEMBER 2, 1945

VJ (Victory Over Japan) Day

At 9 a.m. in Tokyo, the official Japanese surrender was signed, bringing an end to World War II. More than 250 Allied warships sat anchored in Tokyo Bay during the 23-minute ceremony. Twelve signatures lined the bottom of the document, representing the United States, Japan, China, the United Kingdom, the USSR, Australia, Canada, France, the Netherlands and New Zealand.

 

SS Athenia, British Steam passenger ship. Credit: State Library of New South Wales

SEPTEMBER 3, 1939

Britain and France declare war on Germany

In the early morning of September 3, 1939, Great Britain gave Germany an 11 a.m. deadline to withdraw all German troops from Poland. At 11:15 a.m., after receiving no information from Germany, Great Britain publicly announced war on Germany. Later that day, France gave Germany the same opportunity before also declaring war.

At 8 p.m., a German U-30 submarine misidentified the SS Athenia, a British ocean liner, as a military vessel. Two torpedoes were fired and hit the SS Athenia, killing 112 of the 1,100 passengers on board. Germany denied responsibility until after the Nuremberg Trails. Of the passengers, 28 were American citizens.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signing the declaration of War against Germany.

SEPTEMBER 5, 1939

FDR declares U.S. neutrality at start of WWII

On September 5, 1939, the United States officially declared neutrality in World War II, shocking German forces after numerous American citizens were killed when a British ship was sunk by German submarines. The United States kept this stance of neutrality until the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. Despite the United States’ neutral stance, the New York Stock Exchange surged 10 percent based on speculation that there would be a demand from Europe for industrial goods during the war.

Cheering on Veterans competing in the 2020 Paralympic Games!

We’re cheering on our Veterans and service members competing in the 2020 Paralympic Summer Games this week! Of the 4,400 athletes competing in the games, there are 14 U.S. Army Veterans, four Navy Veterans, two Marine Corps Veterans and one Air Force Veteran. These Veterans are competing in archery, cycling, paratriathlon, rowing, shooting, swimming, track and field, wheelchair fencing and wheelchair rugby.

One of the competitors this year is Navy Veteran Will Groulx, a five-time Paralympian. Groulx was introduced to adaptive sports at the National Wheelchair Games, the world’s largest annual wheelchair sports event solely for U.S. military Veterans. Groulx has previously earned six medals in rugby and cycling, including two gold, two silver and two bronze, making him the most accomplished Veteran in Paralympic history.

Also competing this year is two-time Paralympian and Army Veteran Lisa Coryell. In 2013 and 2014, Coryell attended the National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic where she was introduced to archery. This sports clinic provides Veterans with opportunities for health and healing through adaptive sports and therapeutic art programs. She explains, “The Summer Sports Clinic was life-changing for me. They never called us clients or participants or campers. We were athletes.”

Team USA athletes who are Veterans or active-duty service members are committed to serving and representing our country with vigor, tenacity and a determined spirit to go for the gold.

Join us in wishing all of our Veteran athletes the best of luck!

This Week in History (August 21-29)

U.S. Marines landing on Guadalcanal
Vouza in 1978 during Manchester’s visit

AUGUST 21, 1942

The Battle of Tenaru, island of Guadacanal

The Battle of Tenaru, also known as The Battle of Alligator Creek, occurred during the Pacific Campaign of World War II on the island of Guadalcanal. Japanese Col. Kiyonao Ichiki and his unit, the “First Element,” were tasked with driving U.S. Marines off the island and recapturing Henderson Airfield. The Marines were attacked overnight by Ichiki on the east side of the Lunga perimeter. Minutes before Ichiki’s assault, a Coastwatcher Scout named Jacob C. Vouza alerted the Marines of the impending attack. U.S. troops overcame the Japanese assault and counterattacked the surviving Japanese troops at dawn, winning the fight with the help of Vouza’s warning.

Vouza was a native police officer of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate, who volunteered to serve as a Coastwatcher Scout with the U.S. Marine Corps. As a Coastwatcher Scout, Vouza worked alongside Allied military intelligence operatives, observed enemy movements, and helped to rescue stranded Allied personnel during the Guadalcanal campaign. Just before the Battle of Tenaru, Vouza was captured, tortured, and left to die by the Japanese. Vouza broke free and warned the Marines that Ichiki was about to attack. For his courageous and heroic actions, Vouza was presented with the U.S. Silver Star, Legion of Merit and Great Britain’s George Medal.

The Marine Raider Association revisited Guadalcanal years after the war and placed a bronze plaque on a granite block in memory of Vouza. It reads, “We dedicate to Sgt. Maj. Jacob Vouza and his Solomon Island Scouts for supreme intrepidity and valour in the face of the enemy during the struggle for Guadalcanal 1942-43.” When Vouza passed away in 1984, the stone block and plaque became his headstone. This heroic Coastwatcher Scout and the bravery of his actions will always be remembered by our nation.

Army Staff Sgt. Macario García

AUGUST 23, 1945

Marcario García became the first Mexican national to receive the Medal of Honor

Army Staff Sgt. Marcario García was born in Castaños, Mexico in 1920. After moving to Texas and working on his parents’ ranch, Garcia enlisted as an infantryman in the U.S. Army in November of 1942.

When Pvt. García made his D-Day landing on Normandy Beach, he was badly injured and took over four months to recover from his wounds. After recovering, García joined Bravo Company near Grosshau, Germany where he served as an acting squad leader. García was injured there too, but refused to evacuate, instead choosing to advance toward two enemy machine gun nests with his rifle and grenades in hand. García eliminated the nests by killing six enemy soldiers and taking four more captive. Only after the company successfully seized its objective was he removed for medical care.

For his act of bravery, Staff Sgt. García received the Medal of Honor from President Harry S. Truman. He also received the Purple Heart, Bronze Star Medal and Combat Infantryman’s Badge. García became the nation’s first Mexican immigrant to receive the Medal of Honor on August 23, 1945.

Eugene Bullard, the first African-American military pilot, in Legionnaire Uniform.
Eugene Bullard’s, the first African-American military pilot, interviewed by Dave Garroway on NBC’s “Today Show”, December 22, 1959.

AUGUST 23, 1994

Eugene Bullard posthumously commissioned as Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force

On August 23, 1994, Eugene Jacques Bullard, the first and only African American fighter pilot who served during World War I was posthumously granted the rank of second lieutenant by the U.S. Air Force. Bullard was born in Columbus, Georgia, on October 9, 1895, where he saw and experienced the inhumane treatment of African Americans in America. After witnessing his father almost being murdered by a lynch mob at age 11, Bullard ran away from home in search of a place where he would not be judged for the color of his skin. After traveling with a group of English Romani called the “Stanley Clan,” he realized his best chance for a better life was traveling to Europe. In 1912, he stowed away on the Marta Russ, a German merchant vessel heading back to Europe. Bullard settled in Paris, France where he felt he truly belonged. Only a year later in 1914, his new home would be thrust into the first modern war – World War I.

Bullard joined the French Foreign Legion and fought at the Battle of Verdun at only 19 years old. After becoming injured while relaying a message to a French officer, he was awarded the Croix De Guerre. In 1916, Bullard joined the Aéronautique Militaire and received his pilot’s license. As a pilot for France, he  flew in at least 20 missions reportedly with a Rhesus Monkey named “Jimmy.” When the United States entered World War I in 1917, Bullard felt a deep calling to fight for the nation where he was born and tried to join the U.S. Air Force. He was rejected on the official grounds that pilots had to be officers holding the rank of first lieutenant. After being rejected by the U.S. Air Force, Bullard rejoined the Aéronautique Militaire and later joined the 170th Infantry Regiment until 1919. He would go on to serve as a spy in World War II for the French Resistance. However, after being wounded, Bullard fled to the U.S. and settled in New York where he remained until his death in 1961. On September 14, 1994, he was posthumously commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. A display case in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, honors him. Today, we remember and honor Eugene Bullard’s life and service.

 

President’s house after its destruction by the British
Capture of the city of Washington, British soldiers marching into Washington, D.C. and burning buildings during the War of 1812.

AUGUST 24, 1814

British forces set fire to the White House

On August 24, 1814, President James Madison stood beside a volunteer American force in Bladensburg, Maryland, as they prepared to defend Washington, D.C., from approximately 4,000 British soldiers. The Capitol of the United States of America was under attack, and there was little the volunteer American force could do to stop the approaching British soldiers. They defended the city but were eventually forced to flee. As British soldiers marched through Washington, they burned storehouses filled with military supplies, the Library of Congress, and any other building that was tied to the American government. This included the President’s Mansion or, as it is known today, the White House. British forces remained in Washington, D.C, until August 25, when a thunderstorm and the threat of a tornado forced British soldiers to leave. Despite abandoning the city, British forces hoped the Capitol attack would demoralize Americans and force the United States to surrender, but the American people were not so easily broken.

While the volunteer American force faced the British, Dolley Madison, President James Madison’s wife, prepared to flee the President’s Mansion. Rather than taking all their personal belongings, Dolley chose instead to take objects important to America’s history, including a portrait of former President George Washington and a copy of the Declaration of Independence, to prevent the British from destroying them. Dolley’s determination to remain strong and continue the fight exemplified the feelings of Americans. Instead of demoralizing the American people, the British attack only strengthened their resolve to defeat the British and prove that America could compete with one of the strongest militaries in the world.  Today, we remember August 24 as a day when Americans stood strong against a force trying to tear them apart.

Engraved portrait of Deborah Sampson, female American Revolutionary War soldier. Source: Massachusetts Historical Society

AUGUST 26

Women’s Equality Day

While women today can serve in any branch of the military and command their own units, this wasn’t always the case. On the 101st anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment granting women the right to vote, let’s take a moment to remember some of the women who fought for their rights to join the military and serve their nation.

During both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, women’s contributions to the war efforts were limited to serving as nurses, seamstresses, cooks, and occasionally, as spies. However, women such as Deborah Sampson and Cathay Williams chose to serve on the frontlines. Sampson, a self-educated teacher and weaver, disguised herself as a man and joined the 4th Massachusetts Regiment. Similarly, Williams, a former slave in Missouri, joined the Union Army under the name William Cathay and served as a Buffalo Soldier. Both Sampson and Williams were honorably discharged when it was discovered they were women.

By World War I, women were able to serve in several noncombatant roles and, by World War II, they were able to join either the Women’s Army Corps (WAC), Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), U.S. Marine Corps Women’s Reserves, or the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES). Grace Hopkins joined the WAVES where she helped create the first electronic digital computer called the UNIVAC. After World War II, women continue to gain influence in the military. Thanks to the service and sacrifice of these and many others, women today can choose to serve as combatants in any branch of our military.

Marine Corps Women’s Reserve at Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, North Carolina at Parade Rest during review. Photographed by Lieutenant Paul Dorsey, TR-6245, November 1943.

AUGUST 29

U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Birthday

August 29, 2021, marks the 105th anniversary of the day President Woodrow Wilson signed the Naval Appropriations Act, officially creating the Marine Corps Reserves as an expansion to the active-duty Marine Corps. In August 1916, World War I had been raging for more than two years, yet the United States remained neutral. As demand for U.S. involvement in the war increased, so too did the need to bolster the military. By the end of World War I in 1918, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves had grown to over 6,000 service members, including approximately 300 women. Following its reestablishment through The Naval Reserve Act 1925 and reorganization through the 1938 Act of the same name, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves continued to grow in size and strength.

In 1941 when the United States entered World War II, approximately 70 percent of the 589,852 Marines serving were Reservists, and of the 82 Marine Medal of Honor recipients, 44 were Reservists. During the Vietnam War, the Marine Corps Reserves were not mobilized, however, many Marine Corps Reservists chose to continue their mission by joining other active units who were serving in the war. Today, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves is an all-volunteer force that consists of the Select Reserves and the Individual Ready Reserve together consisting of around 108,000 Reservists. Many Marine Reservists have served during the War on Terror, protecting our nation and the communities they call home. On the 105th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, be sure to thank a Marine Reservist by thanking them for their sacrifice and service to our country.

NVMM Reads: “Goodnight Captain Mama: Buenos Noches Capitán Mamá”

This unique book was written by a Latina military officer and former aviator. It’s the first bilingual children’s book, in English and Spanish, about why mommies wear military uniforms.

A little boy named Marco is walking to his bedroom in pajamas carrying his stuffed puppy dog when he notices his mommy in an olive-green military flight suit. His curiosity about the colorful patches on her uniform evolves into a sweet, reassuring bedtime conversation between a military mother and her child about why she serves and what she does in the unusual KC-135R aerial refueling airplane.

NVMM Reads: “Alone at Dawn”

Alone at Dawn by Dan Schilling and Lori Chapman-Longfritz

In honor of #MedalofHonorMonday, one of our Guest Experience team members, Brianna Jones, has added Alone at Dawn to our summer reading list. Written by Dan Schilling and Lori Chapman-Longfritz, Alone at Dawn follows the story of John Chapman, an Air Force Combat Controller and Medal of Honor recipient. Divided into three sections, this gripping story will guide you on a remarkable adventure through the inspiring heroics of Chapman’s service, detailing his unwavering bravery in the face of adversity.

The book begins with an introduction fitting to Chapman’s personality, leading in with a thrilling and immersive action scene. Opening with a suspenseful air-support mission, Schilling sets the tone for the chaotic and fast-paced nature of the later chapters. Throughout the entirety of part 1, Evolution, Schilling highlights Chapman’s ambition and his drive to take action, characteristics that appear consistently as the book progresses. This is later tied in with a brief picture of the Secret War in Laos, relating the common traits of war heroes to the often-underappreciated role of a CCT (Combat Control Team), a role that John Chapman would grow to fill.

Part 2, Anaconda, delves deeper into the extremity of conditions faced by Chapman and his team throughout Operation Anaconda in March of 2002. Operation Anaconda, a subordinate sector of Operation Enduring Freedom, was America’s first major combat operation in the Global War on Terror. The novelty of this type of operation created several communication and planning issues, and several critical pieces of information were lost in the fog of war. Its method of execution remains controversial even as we continue to learn more about the events of this seven-day battle, and critical questions remain unanswered to this day. However, we do know that three attempts were made to insert Chapman and a team of SEALs onto the top of Takur Ghar mountain to take on al-Qaeda insurgents. All three of these attempts were met with direct enemy fire, sparking a series of heroic rescue missions that resulted in the death of seven Americans, one of which was our hero, John Chapman.

When tragedy strikes, especially when it is inflicted upon a man as influential as John, those close to them experience immense emotional turmoil. The third and final section of the book, Aftermath, truly tugs on the heartstrings, detailing the saddening arrival of the notification teams tasked with informing Chapman’s wife and mother of his passing. While this must have been one of the most painful experiences of their lives, they could find solace in knowing that his story would be remembered, preserving his legacy for years to come. In the final chapters of the book, Schilling cements the impact of Chapman’s legacy by detailing the posthumous process of upgrading his Air Force Cross to a Medal of Honor.

A driving theme throughout Alone at Dawn is the importance of becoming willing and able to face challenges as they come, both in life and in the combat zone. The life and death of John Chapman embodied this theme every step of the way. On August 22, 2018, his resilience in the Battle of Takur (War in Afghanistan) led him to become the first Medal of Honor recipient since the end of the Vietnam War, almost 50 years prior. Somewhere amidst the dust and chaos, he recognized that he’d accrued fatal injuries. Despite knowing that he was mortally wounded, he continued to take on two dozen enemy combatants to assist the incoming rescue team. Imperfect knowledge and the fog of war clouds the judgment of many. To John, these issues were simply hurdles to be cleared. He’d faced more than his fair share of hurdles throughout his life and military training, so he knew what he had to do; face them head-on without concern for factors he couldn’t control. The end of the Global War on Terror depends on heroes like John Chapman as it continues to rage into the present day.

After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, President Bush announced that “Our war on terror begins with al-Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped, and defeated.” This announcement served as the official initiation of the War on Terror, setting the tone for global relations over the next 20 years. Diplomatic ties between the United States and the Taliban authorities in Afghanistan were immediately dissolved, and Operation Enduring Freedom (the first anti-terror operation) was commissioned. Upon discovery of Iraq’s development of WMD (weapons of mass destruction), Operation Iraqi Freedom was launched, followed by Operation New Dawn and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

This Week in History (August 15-21)

Featured in our museum’s timeline, this image depicts the relief experienced by American service members following the surrender of Japan.

AUGUST 15, 1945

VJ Day (Victory over Japan)

August 15, 1945, marked the momentous end of war in the Pacific Theater. Referred to now as “VJ-Day,” we remember this day as an occasion to commemorate Japan’s surrender.

Prior to the surrender, Japan was under incessant fire from the United States following the attack on Pearl Harbor. When presented with the opportunity to unconditionally surrender at Potsdam, Japanese leaders refused, prompting the United States and the Soviet Union to increase their firepower. Following a series of destructive events, including the demolition of two U.S. atomic bombs and the Soviet declaration of war on Japan, it was recognized that there was no possibility of victory. In the early evening of August 15, Japan accepted terms of the Potsdam Declaration, sparking a celebration throughout the Allied nations.

Following the surrender, British Prime Minister, Clement Atlee, announced August 14 & 15 as days of national celebration for VJ-Day. Others acknowledge September 2 as VJ-Day, the date the official surrender documents were signed aboard the USS Missouri.

Photo: National Veterans Memorial and Museum

AUGUST 16, 1940

National Airborne Day

Today we honor our nation’s Airborne Forces. After World War I, Brigadier General William Mitchell first conceived of the idea of parachuting troops into combat. In 1940, members of the Parachute Test platoon pioneered methods of combat jump at Fort Benning, Georgia. Since then, the U.S. has conducted approximately 20 large-scale combat parachute assaults in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

Lt. Col. Lyle Bernard, CO, 30th Inf. Regt. (R) discusses military strategy with Lt. Gen. George S. Patton (L). Near Brolo.

AUGUST 17, 1943

The unofficial “Race to Messina” was won

Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily, was a major campaign during which the Axis powers lost the island of Sicily to the Allies. In order to advance Operation Husky, the city of Messina needed to be taken by the Allies.

U.S. General George S. Patton was known for his determination and is said to have been one of the most successful combat generals in U.S. history. During WWII, he commanded the 7th Army and aimed to be the Allied leader to take Messina. Although Allied leader, British Field Marshal Bernard L. Montgomery, and his 8th Army were instructed to take Messina, Patton pushed forward to win on his own.

Portrait of Peter Fechter around 1961, taken from his passport for a memorial in Berlin

AUGUST 17, 1962

A young man was killed trying to escape into West Berlin

Peter Fechter was a bricklayer who assisted in building the Berlin Wall. At 19 years of age, Fechtor and Helmut Kulbeik attempted to flee East Germany. However, Fechter was shot in the pelvis while climbing the wall. He laid in the street suffering for almost an hour receiving no aid or medical assistance, and later died from his injuries. Fechter’s death was one of the most famous deaths at the Berlin Wall, and sparked outrage in Europe. 

Portrait of Susan B. Anthony and Anne Fitzhugh Miller, two driving figures in the early women’s suffrage movement

AUGUST 18, 1920

The 19th Amendment was ratified

The struggle for women’s suffrage was marked by decades of intense and tireless protest. Women who found their political footing through the abolition and temperance movements shifted their focus to attaining their own rights in the 1800s, beginning with the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. Organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, this initial meeting sparked a decisive drive within the hearts of women to participate in the democratic process. The process was slow; it took the women’s suffrage movement 31 years to drive the introduction of the 19th amendment in Congress, and most of the original organizers didn’t live to see the amendment ratified on August 18, 1920.

On August 18, we remember this momentous development in women’s rights and honor those whose bravery, persistence and dedication in the face of opposition won women the right to vote in our country.

Inspiring Story of Service: U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Jason Dominguez

For our August Inspiring Story of Service, we sat down with U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Jason Dominguez. While serving as an infantry squad leader in Iraq, a roadside bomb near the town of Hiditha claimed the lives of 15 servicemen on August 3, 2005.

As a Veteran whose story is featured throughout our Museum, Dominguez continues to promote a greater awareness of the sacrifices made by our servicemen and women and their families, and shares the many ways in which Veterans continue to impact our nation today.

The 1919 Inter-Allied Games

In 1919, a sudden ceasefire was called ending the fighting between the Central Powers and the Allied Powers, marking the end of World War I. While world leaders met to discuss the terms of Germany’s surrender, allied troops were left stranded in Europe with nothing to occupy their time. Many soldiers had assumed that the war would continue for several more years and were surprised at its abrupt conclusion. Even though the war was over, the influenza pandemic spreading across the world made it difficult to bring allied soldiers back home. Stranded in a foreign land, Americans and other allied troops became frustrated as they were pushed to engage in group activities and run drills while waiting for their chance to return home. Without an effective outlet for their frustrations, tensions continued to rise among troops until Ellwood Brown, a YMCA athletics director, proposed an Olympic-style competition between the allied soldiers.

The Inter-Allied Games were held just outside of Paris, France from June 22 to July 6, 1919, inside a newly constructed stadium paid for by the YMCA. However, the stadium completion was in danger due to tense labor situations in France. With the Inter-Allied Games in jeopardy, several American engineers and labor troops, along with more than 300 French soldiers, worked together to finish construction of the new stadium. Upon its completion, the stadium – now named Pershing Stadium – was handed over to U.S. General Pershing for the games.

Because World War I canceled the 1916 Olympic Games, public interest in the Inter-Allied Games was high. People came from all over to watch soldiers from 18 allied nations compete in sporting events, including baseball, basketball, water polo, tennis and track and field.

Several notable American soldier athletes competed in these games, including Solomon “Sol” Butler, an African American man who won gold in the long jump competition, setting a new long jump record in the United States. Another notable American soldier was U.S. Army Chaplain, F.C. Thompson, a former baseball player, who brought home the gold when he threw a hand grenade 246 feet as part of the newly invented sport, Hand-Grenade Tossing. Finally, Norman Ross, an American swimmer and member of the U.S. Army, won the gold in the 100m, 400m, and 1,500m at the Inter-Allied Games. He would later go on to set a total of 13 world records.

Inaugural Ceremonies of Pershing Stadium. Entrance of American troops. Paris France, 1919.
Inaugural Ceremonies of Pershing Stadium. President Poincare and General Pershing review the French and American Troops. Paris France, 1919.

At the conclusion on the Inter-Allied Games on July 6, a closing ceremony was held in which each of the Allied nations’ flags was lowered one by one, except for the French Flag which remained aloft as a sign of Pershing Stadium being passed back to the French from their United States allies. While the Inter-Allied Games were never an official Olympic Game, many soldiers went on to later compete in the Olympics and deserve to be remembered and honored both for their service to the United States, and the skills they displayed during the Inter-Allied Games.

Staff Spotlight: Isabel Wening

Each month, the Museum invites you to get to know the staff supporting our pillars to Honor, Connect, Inspire and Educate. Meet Isabel Wening, our Membership Associate! Isabel dedicates all of her efforts, day in and day out, towards helping us build a truly national membership program.

Q: Where are you from in the world?

A: Toledo, Ohio!

Q: As a recent college graduate, how did you come to find your first career job with us here at the NVMM?

A: I can’t lie, graduating from college and starting my first job during the pandemic was a bit rough and not at all how I pictured it going. But I am glad that I now work for the NVMM! The team here at the NVMM is one of the best I have ever had the pleasure to work with. The organization purposefully sets out to create a positive and supportive working environment every day, and you don’t always get to see that.

Q: How have you connected to the Museum?

A: I have found that I really connected to the Museum by thinking about my grandfather. He served in WWII but unfortunately passed away before I had the opportunity to meet him or hear all about his Veteran experience. Coming into the Museum every day and hearing other Veterans’ stories makes me feel connected, not only to him but to this building as an amazing space that holds these valuable stories that aren’t always able to be told.

Q: Do you have a favorite place to visit in Columbus, besides the NVMM?

A: Anywhere that sells coffee! Some of my favorites are Roosevelt, Fox In The Snow, and Stauf’s. Bonus points for Stauf’s because they’re right next door to The Book Loft.

Q: We feature “What We’re Reading” each month on our website as part of NVMM Reads. What are you reading right now?

A: I just finished, And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie. It is a true classic.

Q: If you could go back in time and meet anyone, who would it be?

A: I know it sounds weird but just hear me out! I would love to go back in time and meet the FBI agents who pioneered modern-day criminal profiling. There is something about getting into the minds of people that excites me. Maybe it also stems from one too many true-crime podcasts.

Q: What is your favorite space inside the Museum?

A: It’s not technically inside the Museum, but my favorite place would have to be the rooftop. It is very calm and relaxing; a great place to escape to.

Q: Tell us in 25-words or less why our readers should become a Museum member. Go!

A: Our readers should become a member because our Membership family and their constant support are what allows us to continue telling Veterans’ stories. (23!!)

Keep up the fantastic work and dedication, Isa!

This Week in History (August 8-14)

Nagasaki, Japan under atomic bomb attack / U.S. Army A.A.F. photo.
Nagasaki, Japan after atomic bombing / U.S. Army A.A.F. photo.

AUGUST 9, 1945

B-29 bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan

On May 7, 1945, Germany surrendered to the Allied powers ending World War II, but Japan refused to end the war in the Pacific. By 1944, the United States forces had gained control over most of the islands in the Pacific; they were now in perfect position to begin planning an invasion of Japan. However, the Japanese War Council refused to unconditionally surrender to the Allies. This led President Harry S. Truman to approve the dropping of two nuclear bombs created by the Manhattan Project on specific Japanese cities. The first bomb, “Little Boy,” was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, killing 70,000 to 135,000 Japanese citizens. Despite the colossal loss of life, Japan did not surrender, leading to the dropping of a second bomb.

On August 9, 1945, the crew of the B-29 bomber, Bockscar, led by Maj. Charles W. Sweeney, started their mission to drop the second nuclear bomb, “Fat Man,” over Kokura, a city with several ordinance factories manufacturing chemical weapons. On that day, a thick cloud cover made it impossible to accurately target a location, which led Sweeney to change course and head to Nagasaki. At around 11 am, Sweeney gave the order to drop “Fat Man” over Nagasaki. An eyewitness account from William L. Laurence, a New York Times reporter aboard The Great Artiste, a Silverplate B-29 bomber, described the resulting explosion as a green flash of light that flooded the plain, followed by a plume of purple fire rising from the ground. Between 60,000 and 80,000 Nagasaki residents were killed by the 22-kiloton blast. Following the second bombing, on August 15, Japan’s Emperor Hirohito and the War Council unconditionally surrendered to the Allies.

While many have questioned the necessity of using nuclear bombs, the bravery of the men who flew those missions cannot be questioned. Today, let us remember the service members who did their duty and risked their lives to drop the second nuclear bomb over Nagasaki, as well as the Japanese civilians who lost their lives, families, and homes that day.

International Security Assistance Force HQ Public Affairs, Kabul, Afghanistan 2008 | Photo by: Tech. Sgt. Laura Smith
International Security Assistance Force HQ Public Affairs, Kabul, Afghanistan 2008 | Photo by: Tech. Sgt. Laura Smith

AUGUST 11, 2003

NATO assumes control of international peacekeeping efforts in Afghanistan

On August 11, 2003, German Lt. Gen. Norbert van Heyst handed the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) green flag to NATO Lt. Gen. Gotz Gliemeroth, symbolizing the passing of command in Afghanistan from Heyst to Gliemeroth. These two commanders met at Amani High School in the Afghan capital of Kabul where they conducted a formal ceremony to mark the historical moment. In 2003, NATO, which at that time had existed for 54 years, had yet to take part in a ground mission in a country that was not part of Europe. Despite the change in command, NATO was determined to maintain and fulfill the original mission of the International Security Assistance Force: to create a stable environment where the Afghan government and national security forces can maintain their control of the country.

This year marks the 18th anniversary of NATO taking command in Afghanistan. They have managed to fulfill their original mission, created the Resolute Support Mission (RSM) in 2015 to help Afghan’s security forces and established the Enduring Partnership with Afghanistan. While Allied forces began withdrawing from Afghanistan as of May 1, 2021, the partnership between NATO and Afghanistan remains strong.

Today, we honor the members of the International Security Assistance Force and recognize this historic moment in history.

Tired Marines of Company F, 2d Battalion, 1st Marines, unwind during a pause in the fighting on Bunker Hill in Korea.

AUGUST 12, 1952

The 4-Day Battle of Bunker Hill begins

In 1952 during the Korean War, Marines were sent to the Jamestown Line, which was the U.N.’s main line of resistance across Korea. The Battle of Bunker Hill, also known as Hill 122, was critical because having possession of the Hill would enable a command to dominate Outpost Siberia and move beyond the PVA (Chinese Peoples Volunteer Army) Outpost line. The Marines fought to progress further onto Hill 122, and with the brilliant strategizing of Lt. Col. Gerard T. Armitage and Commanding Gen. John T. Selden, and others, the Marines continued to advance. After Bunker Hill was secured, the war continued onto the next outpost, Stromboli. Winning the Battle of Bunker Hill allowed the Marine’s significant advancement aiding in the armistice which ended the war.

First women in the military show content of their character.

AUGUST 13, 1918

Opha Mae Johnson enlisted in the United States Marine Corps

Opha May Johnson was 40 when she became the first woman ever sworn into the U.S. Marines Corps. Born in Kokomo, Indiana, on May 4, 1878, and raised in Washington, D.C., she graduated second in her class from Wood’s Commercial Business College. Before enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps, she worked for 14 years in a civil service role at the Interstate Commerce Department. On August 13, 1918, Johnson happened to be at the front of the line with another 305 women who enlisted that day. Johnson was a clerk at the U.S. Marine Corps Headquarters in Arlington.

Today, we honor Opha and all of the brave women who followed her example by enlisting in the Marine Corp.

PFC Carl Gorman, Saipan, June 27, 1944
Carl N. Gorman at his son’s, RC Gorman, studio in Taos, NM

AUGUST 14

Navajo Code Talkers Day

Today, we honor and remember hundreds of Navajo Code Talkers and their significant contributions to the Allied victory in World War II. Throughout American history, Native American servicemen from more than twenty different tribes, including the Navajo, utilized their indigenous languages to assist in sending secret coded messages that our enemies could not brake or intercept. In 1942, 29 Navajo men were recruited and trained by the U.S. Marine Corps and worked to develop an undecipherable code that would be used across the Pacific during World War II. The “Code Talkers,” as they were called, became Platoon 382 – the first entirely Native American, all-Navajo platoon in U.S. Marine Corps history. Together, they generated more than 200 new Navajo words for U.S. military terms and committed them to memory in a timespan of several weeks.

Carl N. Gorman was one of the original Navajo Code Talkers who joined the Marine Corps in 1942 when he learned the military was recruiting Navajo speakers. In the 1996 book, “Power of a Navajo: Carl Gorman, the Man and His Life,” Pvt. 1st Class Gorman reflected on his experiences during World War II: “For us, everything is memory, it’s part of our heritage. We have no written language. Our songs, our prayers, our stories, they’re all handed down from grandfather to father to children—and we listen, we hear, we learn to remember everything. It’s part of our training.” After Gorman served in the battles of Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Tinian, and Saipan, he returned state-side and attended the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, California, on his GI Bill where he studied art. Throughout his life, he experimented with painting and other mediums including ceramics, tile, silk screening and jewelry design. Gorman created artwork for more than 50 years and combined his stories and experiences of childhood and Navajo life with a stylistically modernist-approach to his work.

Trauma and Treatment: Caring for our Combat Wounded [Rally Point]

When our service members are wounded in combat, they rely on trauma teams to stabilize them enough to endure transcontinental flights back to the U.S. for intensive care. In this month’s Rally Point, we’re joined by Veterans Gregory J. Argyros, MD, and Rocco A. Armonda, MD, to discuss Trauma and Treatment: Caring for our Combat Wounded. Join us this Purple Heart Day on August 7, 2021 to hear stories from some of our Veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice.

About Rally Point:

Rally Point is a free, monthly event on the first Saturday of every month dedicated to connecting and educating Veterans, Veterans’ families, and those who wish to support Veterans. The programs focus on organizations and programs from which Veterans and their families directly benefit.

Celebrating our servicemen and women in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

The 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games will have 613 members of Team USA competing with nineteen team members representing the United States Armed Forces. Seventeen Army soldiers, one Marine and one Coast Guardsman will compete in events ranging from boxing, shooting and Paralympic swimming to track and field, modern pentathlon and sailing. Each athlete will combine their military training and athletic prowess in their journey to gold.

  • Staff Sgt. Naomi Graham, Boxing
  • Staff Sgt. Sandra Uptagrafft, Shooting
  • 1st Lt. Amber English, Shooting
  • Staff Sgt. Nickolaus Mowrer, Shooting
  • Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Marks, Paralympic Swimming
  • Staff Sgt. Kevin Nguyen, Paralympic Shooting
  • Sgt. John Wayne Joss, Paralympic Shooting
  • Sgt. Ildar Hafizov, Wrestling
  • Spc. Alejandro Sancho, Wrestling
  • Sgt. Amro Elgeziry, Modern Pentathlon
  • Sgt. Samantha Schultz, Modern Pentathlon
  • Spc. Benard Keter, Track and Field
  • Sgt. Phillip Jungman, Shooting
  • Spc. Alison Weisz, Shooting
  • Spc. Sagen Maddalena, Shooting
  • Sgt. Patrick Sunderman, Shooting
  • 1st Lt. Sam Kendricks, Pole Vault
  • Staff Sgt. John Stefanowicz, Wrestling
  • Lt. Nikole Barnes, Sailing

Five of the nineteen service members are Army soldiers who trained at the Fort Carson U.S. Army Base located in El Paso, Pueblo, Fremont and Huerfano counties, Colorado. This base is home to a world-class athletic program providing training and coaching to elite athletes. This year, Sgt. Ildar Hafizov and Spc. Alejandro Sancho will compete in wrestling. This will be Spc. Sancho’s first time at the Olympic Games, while Sgt. Ildar Hafizov competed in 2008 for Uzbekistan. He is now both a U.S. citizen and a soldier serving his new country. Spc. Sancho said he is representing “The two best teams in the world. Team Army and Team U.S.A.”

On Thursday, August 5, join us in watching Sgt. Amro Elgeziry and Sgt. Samantha Schultz compete in the modern pentathlon. Comprised of five events: running, swimming, fencing, horseback riding and shooting, each soldier brings a skillset to the games that was learned during their military service. This year marks Sgt. Elgeziry’s fourth Olympic Games competition.

Samantha Schultz | Credit: Samantha Schultz/Instagram
Sgt. Ildar Hafizov | Credit: Maj. Nathaniel Garcia, WCAP

Since family members and spectators won’t be in attendance, our Olympic service members will come together to cheer on one another as a military family. They demonstrate that being brave, bold and fearless has helped them become elite athletes who are striving for gold. As they have committed to serving our country in the armed forces, they are also dedicated to representing our country on the world stage.

We celebrate them and wish them much success this summer in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games!

This Week in History (August 1-7)

Signal Corps Airplane No. 1 at Fort Myer, Va., 1908.

AUGUST 1, 1907

Air Force Day – The Aeronautical Division in the Office of the Chief Signal Officer of the Army was established

On August 1, 1907, U.S. Army established a small Aeronautical Division called the Signal Corps; they tested their first airplane August 20, 1908. On September 9, Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge and Orville Wright were killed when the plane crashed; Selfridge was the first military aviation casualty. The Wright Flyer underwent additional testing and maintenance until the Army formally accepted “Airplane No. 1” on Aug. 2, 1909.

The Department of the Air Force was officially created by the National Security Act of 1947.

Fresh and Eager U.S. Marine troops, newly arrived at the vital southern supply port of Pusan, are shown prior to moving up to the front lines. August 1950.

AUGUST 1, 1950

Lead elements arrived in Korea from the U.S. to defend the Pusan Perimeter

At the beginning of the Korean War, lead elements were delivered in preparation for the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division into Korea from the U.S. to defend the Pusan Perimeter.

On August 4, 1950 the Battle of Pusan began, which was one of the first major conflicts of the Korean War between UN Troops and the KPA.

Kuwaiti M-84, 1992

AUGUST 2, 1990

Iraqi forces commanded by Saddam Hussein invade Kuwait

August 2, 1990 began a two-day military invasion lead by the Iraqi military, resulting in a seven-month Iraqi occupation of Kuwait. The day of the invasion, the United Nations condemned the actions of Iraq and months later authorized a coalition to oust Iraqi forces from Kuwait.

The invasion and annexation of Kuwait was filled by Iraq gaining 20% of the world’s oil reserves and disputed global oil trade. These actions catapulted the First Gulf War, the United States’ largest military operation since the end of the Vietnam War with over 700,000 service members.

The USS Nautilus (SSN 571) being launched into the Thames River.

AUGUST 3, 1958

The first nuclear submarine, USS Nautilus, passes under the North Pole

Operation Sunshine, completed on August 3, 1958, saw the world’s first operational nuclear-powered submarine complete a submerged voyage of the North Pole. The USS Nautilus was submerged 1,830 miles under the polar ice caps and faced a dangerous mission. Above 85 degrees North, both magnetic and gyrocompasses stop functioning properly and the submarine’s crew navigate blindly.

The Nautilus, named after the famed ship from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, was commanded by Vice Admiral Eugene Parks “Dennis” Wilkinson. A member of the U.S. Navy, Vice Admiral Wilkinson set many of the Navy Nuclear protocols into use that are still followed today. The USS Nautilus was decommissioned in 1980, became a national historic landmark in 1982, and is now being used as a museum.

Lieutenant Nikole Barnes
Credit: US Sailing Team

AUGUST 4, 1970

Coast Guard Day was established

The United States Revenue Cutter Service was created by Congress on August 4th, 1790, at the request of Alexander Hamilton, the Secretary of the Treasury. In 1915, Congress reorganized the Revenue Cutter Service into the recognizable United States Coast Guard, which has been involved in every major U.S. war since 1790. The Coast Guard remains the second smallest branch of the armed services, but is recognized as the 12th largest naval force in the world.

Today, there are an estimated 40,992 active duty service members and 7,000 reservists in the Coast Guard. Recently, the Coast Guard made Olympic history at the 2020 Tokyo Games with Lt. Nikole Barnes being the first active-duty Coast Guard member to represent Team USA.

View of Hiroshima from the sky after the bomb was dropped on August 6th, 1945
Briefing before the dropping of the first atomic bomb, taking place in Guam on August 5, 1945

AUGUST 6, 1945

The first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan

On August 6, 1945, the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. Dropped by US B-29 bomber Enola Gay and commanded by Air Force Colonel Paul Tibbets, this bomb enacted “prompt and utter destruction” on the citizens of Hiroshima. 70,000 residents died instantly, and 20,000 more died in the aftermath from various afflictions.

This bomb, named “Little Boy” by Operation Centerboard I, was dropped to bring about a swift end to the war in the Pacific. While President Truman had a multitude of other options at his disposal, failure of the Japanese to accept unconditional surrender at the Potsdam Conference earlier that year led him to believe that nuclear warfare was the most effective way to bring a decisive conclusion to the brutal fighting.

This attack opened the nuclear age, which would spark an aggressive arms race across the international stage in the years to come.

Marines from the US 1st division using sharpened stakes in lieu of supplies located on ships that were forced to leave by enemy threats
Aftermath of the attack on Solomon Island

AUGUST 7, 1942

The U.S. 1st Marine Division lands on the islands of Guadalcanal and Tulagi in the Soloman Islands

On August 7, 1942, the United States began its first amphibious offensive of WWII with a mission called “Operation Watchtower.” On orders to seize hold on the Japanese airfield, the U.S. 1st Marine Division landed on the Solomon Island of Guadalcanal in the early hours of dawn after significant tactical planning and preparation. Due to poor weather conditions, the Japanese scouting aircraft had been grounded that day, allowing over 11,000 Marines to land undetected within 24 hours. However, the target airbase was well within striking distance of the bombers and warships based at Rabaul and Kavieng, leaving the Americans at a severe disadvantage upon detection.

Though the Marines came under fire from both air and sea, the US Navy was able to send sufficient reinforcements, forcing the Japanese to surrender after the loss of 25,000 men, compared to the United States’ 1,600. Only five of the 27 Japanese bombers survived to return to Rabaul; each side lost a total of 24 warships.

Purple Heart Memorial at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois
Second Lieutenant Samuel S. Junkin Jr. receiving the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross at a Canadian army hospital

AUGUST 7, 1782

Purple Heart Day is established

In 1782, General George Washington authorized the first “Badge of Military Merit,” now known as the “Purple Heart” award in recognition of military exceptionalism. Initially, these awards were presented as a singular action in honor of three soldiers who fought courageously in the Revolutionary War. No additional awards of this nature were presented until 150 years later when the Purple Heart award was presented to a handful of WWI veterans in 1932, the bicentennial year of George Washington’s birthday.

Since its reinstatement, 1.8 million service members have received the modern Purple Heart award, including those who have been killed or wounded in action, as well as prisoners of war who suffered forms of maltreatment. Additionally, the award’s parameters have expanded to include servicemembers of all branches, as opposed to including only those in the Army and Air Corps. Those who receive a Purple Heart are presented with a purple ribbon, outlined with a thin strip of silver, attached to a gold and purple heart. On the front is a profile image of George Washington’s head, and the back side is engraved with the words “For Military Merit” (based off of the original design which included only the word “Merit”).

Purple Heart Day was established as a day of observance in 2014, and continues to gain recognition each year on August 7 as a day to honor those whose courage and valor exceeded expectations. We thank all service men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

This Week in History (July 26-31)

Executive Order 9981, July 26, 1948;
99th Pursuit Squadron, Tuskegee Airmen Recruits of the 99th Pursuit Squadron, Air Corps Unit.

JULY 26, 1948

President Truman signed Executive Order 9981, desegregating the military

Since the American Revolution, African Americans have served in the military separately from while soldiers, and typically in more simple roles. When WWII ended, more than 900,000 African Americans had served in the Army, Army Air Forces, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Army Nurse Corps.

African American WWII Veterans were eligible for a free college education and other benefits under the GI Bill, but often faced discrimination when trying to access their benefits. In an effort to end the discrimination and segregation, President Truman issued Executive Order 9981 which stated “It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.”

Executive Order 9981 integrated both the armed forces and established the President’s Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services, which was an advisory body tasked with determining the best possible way to implement these new policies.

Korean War Veterans lay wreaths to honor the memory of those who died defending freedom in Korea, at the Korean War Memorial in Washington, July 27, 2013.
A grief-stricken American infantryman whose buddy has been killed in action is comforted by another soldier. In the background, a corpsman methodically fills out casualty tags. Haktong-Ni area, Korea. August 28, 1950

JULY 27, 1953

National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day

On July 27, 1953, the Korean War, which had lasted 3 years and cost the lives of approximately 40,000 American soldiers, finally ended with the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement. Negotiations had begun in 1951, yet by 1952, no agreement had been made. After visiting Korea, newly elected President, Dwight D. Eisenhower was determined to end the Korean War. Publicly, President Eisenhower hinted at the use of nuclear weapons to force China and North Korea to accept the truce’s terms while simultaneously pressuring South Korean leaders to speed up the negotiations by dropping some of their demands. In total, it took more than 150 meetings over the course of two years for the delegates from the United Nations, United States, China, North Korea, and South Korea to finally agree to sign a truce.

While not officially a peace treaty, the Korean Armistice Agreement suspended open hostilities, freed and repatriated prisoners of war and created a Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. To the United States government, they had achieved their goal of participating in a “limited war.” The United States’ goal was not to defeat North Korea and China, but rather to protect South Korea, a goal that was met through this treaty. However because most Americans were accustomed to the concept of total victory, the Korean War was viewed by some as pointless because no one was defeated. This led to many Americans’ overlooking the Korean War and instead focusing on World War II and the Vietnam War. One aspect of the Korean War that should never be overlooked is the impact it had on soldiers which can be seen through the stories they share. Today, we honor the Veterans who served in the Korean War by celebrating National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day.

The Buffalo Soldiers of the 25th Infantry

JULY 28, 1866

National Buffalo Soldiers Day

On July 28, we remember and honor the valiant soldiers of the first peacetime all-black army regiments, the Buffalo Soldiers. Named for unknown reasons by the Native American Indians, the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments played an instrumental role in the Indian Wars, protection of national parks and the safe transport of settlers through the western frontier.

The Buffalo Soldiers were first assembled in 1866 shortly after the Civil War with the 9th Cavalry Regiment in New Orleans. With racial discrimination rampant, these men faced trials unlike any other regiment before them. Nevertheless they persisted, rising to each challenge they were ordered to face along the western frontier. Their initial mission was to secure the trail leading to El Paso from San Antonio, shielding eastern travelers from increasingly unsettled Native Americans, frustrated with broken government promises and life on the reservations. A year later, the 10th Cavalry Regiment was based out of Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. Commanded by Colonel Benjamin Grierson, they were tasked with ensuring the safety of the Pacific Railroad. Remarkably, despite engaging in two fierce battles in which they were greatly outnumbered, the Buffalo Soldiers only lost one man and a few horses.

Throughout the Indian Wars, the 9th and 10th Cavalry regiments engaged in at least 177 conflicts, comprising approximately 20 percent of all participating cavalry members. However, they were tasked with much more than battling Native Americans. These regiments were often sent to secure Yosemite and Sequoia National parks from poachers and to manage wildfires. After the precarious end of the Indian Wars, the 9th and 10th Cavalry, in conjunction with the 24th and 25th Infantry, were sent to Florida at the brutal beginning of the Spanish-American War.

The Buffalo Soldiers were officially disbanded with the signing of Harry Truman’s Executive Order 9981, which eliminated racial segregation in the US military. Soon after, 14 members of these regiments were awarded the Medal of Honor for their bravery and persistence in service. It is our honor to remember the undying courage and fierce persistence of the Buffalo Soldiers and their service to the protection of early America.

Chaplain Lorenzo Evans removing a bandage from Chaplain Joseph R. Middleton after a first aid class at the U.S. Army chaplain school.
Chaplains Jacob Rothschild and Harold Elsam learning to use instruments in a map reading class at the U.S. Army chaplain school.

JULY 29, 1775

Founding of the United States Army Chaplain Corps

On July 29, 1775 during the Revolutionary War, the United States Army Chaplain Corps was officially founded with one chaplain serving in a regiment of the Continental Army. With the motto of Pro Deo Et Patria, or For God and Country, the Army Chaplains Corps have served as spiritual advisors to both soldiers and their families for 246 years, making them one of the oldest branches in the United States Army. Their role is to improve morale by taking care of the spiritual, moral, and sometimes physical needs of all members of their regiment. In 2021, the United States Army has chaplains representing the six most prevalent religious groups including Protestants, Roman Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and followers of Hinduism. However, chaplains also strive to serve soldiers and their families from nonreligious backgrounds by being a confidant for any moral or ethical struggles and offering advice when needed. Today, more than 2,500 Army chaplains serve in active duty and reserves.

While the role of a chaplain is that of a noncombatant, many have risked and given their lives to help fellow soldiers. One well known story of the bravery of Army chaplains is that of the Four or Immortal Chaplains. These four chaplains – Reformed minister Lieutenant Clark V. Poling, Methodist minister Lieutenant George L. Fox, Father Lieutenant John P. Washington of the Roman Catholic Church and Rabbi Lieutenant Alexander D. Goode – served aboard the U.S.A.T Dorchester during World War II. When the Dorchester was struck by a torpedo, the four chaplains worked together to help their fellow soldiers. They gave up their own life jackets to other soldiers, and as the ship sank, the four chaplains linked arms and sang hymns together accepting their own deaths. Their actions helped save many men aboard the U.S.A.T. Dorchester; for their bravery and sacrifice, they were posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Distinguished Service Cross. To date, more than 300 Army chaplains have given their lives in service to the United States and the gods they worship. On the anniversary of the founding of the Army Chaplain Corps, we remember their stories and honor their service.

WAVES Sp(T)3/c Dorothy Knee and Sp(T)3/c Genevieve Close direct aircraft arrivals and departures from the ‘Tower’ at NAS Anacostia, DC, in early-mid 1943.

JULY 30, 1942

FDR signs bill creating the Women’s Navy Auxilary Agency (WAVES)

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Navy Women’s Reserve Act into law, creating WAVES – Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, which was a division of the U.S. Navy created during World War II in an effort to have Navy members available while viable men were out at sea.

The first commander of WAVES was Mildred McAfee, who as a civilian was the president of Wellesley College. Another notable member of WAVES was Grace Hopper who later attained the rank of rear admiral. The war provided women with the opportunity for careers which were historically exclusive to men. The Navy also actively employed college-educated women with backgrounds in mathematics, engineering, and physical sciences.

Photograph of the USS Indianapolis

JULY 30, 1945

USS Indianapolis torpedoed by a Japanese submarine

The USS Indianapolis was a Portland-class heavy cruiser of the United States Navy. The mission of the delivery to Tinian Island on July 26, 1945 was top secret; their goal was the delivery of components of the atomic bomb fated to be dropped in Hiroshima. The ship’s crew was unaware of its cargo and made the delivery successfully. After leaving Tinian, the USS Indianapolis was given orders to meet the battleship USS Idaho at Leyte Gulf in the Philippines to prepare for the invasion of Japan. The USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine halfway between Guam and Leyte Gulf and sank within 12 minutes in shark-infested waters. Of the 1,196 men on board, only 316 survived. Edgar Harrell, the last surviving Marine of the USS Indianapolis, died in 2021; Five other survivors remain alive today.

Elaine Danforth Harmon, a member of the WASPs of WWII
Tammie Jo Shults and her family meeting Adm. John Richardson at the Pentagon

JULY 31, 1991

Senate votes to allow women to fly combat aircrafts

On July 31, we celebrate the 30th anniversary of one of the most important developments in gender equality within the US Armed Forces. 30 years ago, the Senate voted to lift a prior ban against women flying combat missions for the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps.

This development came after nearly 47 years of intense struggle and opposition from numerous interest groups and political lobbyists. After the disbanding of WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) in 1944, it appeared as though hope was lost for gender inclusion in combat roles within the armed forces. The WASPs who had served prior to the disbanding were no longer eligible to receive their due benefits, sparking a long battle for female recognition and representation.

In 1976, the armed services were once again permitted to admit a number of women into their pilot training programs. While women were already achieving spectacular accomplishments in the world of civilian aviation, military service offered a vast expansion of opportunity. However, women in the service were still barred from flying combat missions. It was not until 1991 that the Senate finally voted to suspend sex-based restrictions for combat roles in the armed forces.

One inspiring woman who rose to the combat challenge is Tammie Jo Shults. Shults served in the United States Navy from 1985-2001, flying F-18s and eventually retiring from the Navy Reserve Forces. After retirement, she flew commercial airliners for Southwest Airlines, applying reactionary skills retained from her naval experience to avert disaster. When the Boeing 737-700 faced an unexpected mechanical issue amidst a passenger flight toward Dallas, her ability to think rationally under hazardous and adverse conditions saved her life, along with the lives of each passenger aboard. In December 2020, she was inducted into the International Air and Space Hall of Fame, and has since continued to inspire young pilots through her speeches and participation in the Angel Flights program.

Thanks to Shults and countless other pioneers of diversity in aviation, the opportunities for all to serve within the US armed forces are virtually boundless. For this reason, we commemorate this momentous day in history and strive to continue fostering progress.

Hiring Veterans: Why It’s Important

Every day, hundreds of military personnel leave the service in search of civilian employment. On July 25, we celebrate #HireaVeteranDay to encourage employers across the country to remember that Veterans are highly trained, qualified individuals.

According to a study conducted by Call of Duty Endowment, nearly one-third of Veteran job seekers are underemployed, a rate 15.6 percent higher than non-Veteran job seekers. Lt. General Michael Ferriter, President & CEO of the National Veterans Memorial and Museum, explains, “Military service is the best on-the-job leadership training in the world. Veterans bring so much to the workplace, but it is important to help them invest in professional development to continue to grow and thrive in their civilian careers.”

“When it comes to honoring the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country, offering paths to well-paying, sustainable careers is foundational to supporting their successful transition to civilian life. Our nation’s Veterans are highly trained individuals with wide-ranging skillsets which make them uniquely qualified to address challenges and drive innovative solutions in the workplace. National Hire A Veteran Day serves as another reminder for employers to consider the value associated with hiring Veterans and expanding workforce readiness solutions for transitioning service members. As a Veteran, JPMorgan Chase employee and proud board member of the NVMM, I’d like that thank all of our Veterans and stand firmly alongside the business community hiring our nation’s heroes.”

TONY ANZIC, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, JPMORGAN CHASE & CO

Here’s how we’re providing experiences that help promote employment and career advancement opportunities for Veterans:

  • On the first Saturday of each month, we host Rally Point, an event geared to sharing Veteran services, networking, resiliency and fellowship opportunities for Veterans and their supporters.
  • The Certificate in Public and Nonprofit Leadership for Veterans through The Ohio State University’s John Glenn College of Public Affairs offers Veterans six graduate-level credits transferrable to other programs to show employers a progression in continued education. Additionally, it brings together Veterans who are called to serve in civilian life to connect through their shared experiences, learn from each other, build lasting relationships and demonstrate the value of military experience and leadership to civilian employers.

“National Hire A Veteran Day is a wonderful reminder to leaders and employers to consider hiring Veterans to fill their open positions. Our military heroes’ service to their country does not end when they come home from active duty. They deserve the security of a purposeful, well-paying job just as they protected our security at home and abroad. COTA is so proud that the number of Veterans and active military members in our workforce is higher than the national average. And, our Veterans Employee Resource Group, the largest at COTA, is 126 members strong. We hire Veterans not only because we owe it to them, but also because we know they have the experience, the skills and the character to make our organization the best it can be.”

JOANNA M. PINKERTON, PRESIDENT & CEO, CENTRAL OHIO TRANSIT AUTHORITY (COTA)

A Veteran’s desire to serve and make a difference doesn’t stop once they return to civilian life. Hire a Veteran as part of your organization today.

Congratulations Lt. General Michael Ferriter!

Congratulations to our President and CEO, Lieutenant General Michael Ferriter on being inducted into the U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame!

“This is an incredible honor and accomplishment, especially when you consider the tens of thousands of Rangers who honorably and heroically served our country in World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam and now, our modern day Ranger Regiment. It’s similar to an NFL player being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.”
Col. Bill Butler, U.S. Army (Retired), Chief of Staff, NVMM

Formed in 1992, the Ranger Hall of Fame serves the exclusive purpose of honoring and preserving the contributions of America’s most extraordinary Rangers. Those charged with administering the Ranger Hall of Fame take particular care to ensure that only the most extraordinary Rangers are inducted, a difficult mission given the high caliber of all nominees.

Some of Lt. General Ferriter’s highlights include:

  • Ferriter served 35 years in the U.S. Army commanding soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and international forces at every level.
  • Commissioned in 1979 as a second lieutenant, he participated in numerous overseas operations including Operation Restore Hope in Somalia, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn in Iraq.
  • Through his strategic leadership, he successfully cut costs and achieved a savings of nearly $3 billion by transforming the way business was conducted and services delivered as a U.S. Army Commanding General.
  • After a successful career with the U.S. Army as an operational leader, Ferriter continued his commitment to serve by establishing the Ferriter Group, LLC, a consulting firm that focuses on improving organizations, leaders and teams.
  • Ferriter now serves as the President and CEO of the National Veterans Memorial and Museum. He took a conceptual idea and helped create a nationally renowned place to Honor, Inspire, Connect and Educate our nation’s Veterans. Under his continued leadership and guidance, the Museum and its stories are continuing to grow each year.

The 2021 Class of Inductees:

LTG Michael Ferriter (Ret.)

MG Jeffery Bannister (Ret.)

COL Jack Donovan (Ret.)

COL William Powell (Ret.)

CSM Ralph Borja (Ret.)

CSM Richard L. Davis (Ret.)

SGM Clem Lemke (Ret.)

SGT Stephen Crabtree (Ret.)

LTG Robert Wagner (Ret.)

COL Harvey Cook (Ret.)

COL Clarence Matsuda (Ret.)

LTC Mark Ponzilla (Ret.)

CSM Mark Collazos (Ret.)

CSM Carl Dedrick (Ret.)

CSM Hugh A. Roberts (Ret.)

Honorary: Jonnie Clasen (Ret.)

Congratulations to everyone selected for induction into the 2021 Ranger Hall of Fame. Rangers Lead The Way!

Inspiring Stories of Service: Captain Florent Groberg, U.S. Army (Retired)

Connect with Captain Florent Groberg, U.S. Army (Retired) and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient in our July Inspiring Story of Service. In this conversation, Captain Groberg shares what Independence Day and freedom mean to him as both an American Veteran and an immigrant. He expresses the importance of service, responsibility and duty that comes along with being a recipient of the Medal of Honor.

“Depicting the Invisible” Exhibition: Rusty’s Story

In recognition of PTSD Awareness Month, our Exhibitions Team shares a closer look at Depicting The Invisible: A Portrait Series of Veterans Suffering from PTSD. Each week, hear from a featured Veteran in their own words about their experiences with Post Traumatic Stress.

We close out this four-part series with words from Rusty, who enlisted in the U.S. Army and was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds he sustained in Afghanistan in June, 2010. Months later in January of 2011, the truck he was traveling in went off a bridge and fell fifty feet down a ravine. Rusty spent 16 months at a VA hospital and is paralyzed from the neck down. Rusty says that he, “…would rather have physical injuries than mental injuries any day.”

Veteran Spotlight: Matt Pech, U.S. Army Veteran

Check out our June Story Spotlight with retired U.S. Army Veteran, Matt Pech – founder of Operational Athlete Inc. and Ruck for Veterans. Matt is a former Green Beret from Southern California who served for 15 years with 12 of those years on a Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA). During this time, Matt experienced nine deployments, four of which were combat rotations to Iraq and Afghanistan. As we continue to raise awareness of PTSD and Veteran suicide, Matt shares his experiences with post-traumatic stress, his own personal growth, resiliency and motivation. Matt is passionate about Veteran-centric non-profits, wellness, fitness, PTS awareness and Veteran suicide prevention. Head to our website for more digital content and resources.

“Depicting the Invisible” Exhibition: Ken’s Story

In recognition of PTSD Awareness Month, our Exhibitions Team shares a closer look at Depicting The Invisible: A Portrait Series of Veterans Suffering from PTSD. Each week, hear from a featured Veteran in their own words about their experiences with Post Traumatic Stress.

Ken is a U.S. Army Veteran and Purple Heart recipient. His unit was tasked with locating IEDs and landmines and then detonating them. On June 18, 2004, Ken was in a Humvee (HMMWV) when his arm was hit and severed in an attack. Each year since then, Ken celebrates his Alive Day – the day he didn’t die.

NVMM Reads: “Arsenal of Hope: Tactics for Taking on PTSD, Together”


As we continue to amplify awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), this month’s reading recommendation is dedicated to the military spouses and families who experience secondary traumatic stress, (emotional stress that results from indirect exposure to PTSD and traumatic events). “Arsenal of Hope: Tactics for Taking on PTSD, Together,” co-authored by Jen Satterly and Holly Lorincz serves as a guide to empowering families to work together to heal their individual and collective traumas. In this book, Jen shares countless hours of research and real-life examples from her own personal experiences with PTSD to help Veterans, first responders, civilians, and their families work together to overcome trauma.

Jen Satterly is a compassionate advocate for Veterans and their families. As CEO and co-founder of the  All Secure Foundation, she works alongside her husband, Command Sgt. Maj. Tom Satterly, U.S. Army  (Retired) who served for 25 years, 20 of those in 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (Delta Force). Jen served as director of film and photography embedding with Special Operations units during realistic training missions for three years before founding All Secure to help warriors and their families heal from war trauma on the homefront. This month, Meagan McGowan, our digital exhibitions manager, had the opportunity to connect with Jen about her experiences writing “Arsenal of Hope”  following the release of Tom’s book, “All Secure,” published in 2019.

“Depicting the Invisible” Exhibition: Danielle’s Story

In recognition of PTSD Awareness Month, our Exhibitions Team shares a closer look at Depicting The Invisible: A Portrait Series of Veterans Suffering from PTSD. Each week, hear from a featured Veteran in their own words about their experiences with Post Traumatic Stress.

Danielle never deployed overseas. Her PTSD stems from Military Sexual Assault (MSA). Danielle shares that, “PTSD from MSA is treated totally different from PTSD from combat. Our stories are very private. But I’m telling my story for my daughter and my daughter’s daughter.”

PTSD Awareness Month | What We’re Reading

As we continue to amplify awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), this month’s reading recommendation is dedicated to the military spouses and families who experience secondary traumatic stress, (emotional stress that results from indirect exposure to PTSD and traumatic events). “Arsenal of Hope: Tactics for Taking on PTSD, Together,” co-authored by Jen Satterly and Holly Lorincz serves as a guide to empowering families to work together to heal their individual and collective traumas. In this book, Jen shares countless hours of research and real-life examples from her own personal experiences with PTSD to help Veterans, first responders, civilians, and their families work together to overcome trauma.

Jen Satterly is a compassionate advocate for Veterans and their families. As CEO and co-founder of the  All Secure Foundation, she works alongside her husband, Command Sgt. Maj. Tom Satterly, U.S. Army  (Retired) who served for 25 years, 20 of those in 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (Delta Force). Jen served as director of film and photography embedding with Special Operations units during realistic training missions for three years before founding All Secure to help warriors and their families heal from war trauma on the homefront. This month, Meagan McGowan, our digital exhibitions manager, had the opportunity to connect with Jen about her experiences writing “Arsenal of Hope”  following the release of Tom’s book, “All Secure,” published in 2019.

MM:      What sparked you to write “Arsenal of Hope” and how did you know that “now” was the time to work on this project; was there a specific catalyst?

JS:          Tom and I spend countless hours on the phone, working in person, and conducting PTSD Resiliency Training at Special Operations units around the country. My own experiences and the conversations I’ve had with warriors and warrior spouses over the years led me to sit down with my incredible co-author, Holly Lorincz, to write “Arsenal of Hope.” I heard many of the same questions that I was asking when I met Tom eight years ago. I heard the frustration, the fear, the confusion and the shame from thousands — I knew that I had to share what I learned in our own recovery. With 22 service members and an unknown number of secondary PTS suicides each day, I could not wait any longer to get answers out there. I had to let people know there is hope in healing, and there is a pathway forward.

MM:      What do you want readers to take away from Arsenal of Hope?

JS:          If there is one thing I want readers to take away from this book, it’s that trauma is trauma no matter how you experience it. And no amount of willpower will make it go away. You have to face trauma to fix it, and when you put in the work, you can get to the other side of it and live a happy life — one that you so very much deserve. Asking for help is not only admirable, but a sign of strength, not weakness. This book is not just for spouses, but for warriors and really anyone who has suffered a trauma who wants to better understand it and learn how to heal from it.

MM:      Why is it important to talk about PTSD within our communities?

JS:          Post-traumatic stress disorder is not a “disorder” to us or our organization. In fact, many nonprofits and organizations are moving to the term PTSI (post-traumatic stress injury) because injuries can be healed, and you can recover from them. You can’t heal from something you are not facing; you can’t change behaviors that aren’t working for you or your family until you take steps to patiently and diligently heal and recover. Time does not make it “go away,” in fact, it can get worse with time. It is critical to get started today. The longer someone waits to get help, the longer that person will suffer. There is hope and there is healing, and that is why it is important for us to talk about Post-Traumatic Stress.

MM:      What is one of the most important steps for a service member to seek or receive help?

JS:          The first healing modality is different for every person; however an honest personal assessment should be the first step. Write out a list: How am I feeling and how is it different than I felt before? Am I depressed, drinking too much, angry for small things, sleep deprived, anxious, lost your love for things you used to enjoy doing? Take an honest look at that list and get to work.

The first healing modality for one might be to seek help for substance abuse issues, while another service member might not touch alcohol and needs help with anger issues at home and first seeks martial counseling. The most important thing is self-assessment and creating awareness around behaviors that are destructive or unproductive and having the patience to work through it. It might take you three tries to find the right therapist, but don’t give up. Keep going.

MM:      What advice would you give to family members of Veterans who live with post-traumatic stress, and what has helped you on your journey?

JS:          First, know that the behavior at home is not your fault. Often loved ones develop caretaker fatigue or secondary PTS and so it’s critical that you are taking care of yourself and getting the help and support you need as well. Our nonprofit treats service members and their families as equals — both serve this country, just in different ways; both need and are deserving of help in healing from war trauma.

Secondly, you can lower a ladder down that deep hole your loved one has dug for themselves, but you cannot make them climb out of it. You can offer love, help and support, but no one has the power to save anyone else, despite your efforts. Each person is responsible for their own healing and happiness. Though no one can truly save anyone else, you can show them the way,  and you can be the lighthouse in those dark times.

MM:      How do you raise awareness for post-traumatic stress?

JS:          Tom and I travel the country to Special Operations units to train service members about the biology of PTS — that it is an injury you can heal from with time and patience, and that asking for help makes you a stronger warfighter, not a weaker one. We often put it this way: Would you rather go into battle with someone who is behaving rationally, thinking clearly, sober and mentally fit? Or, would you rather go into battle with someone who has not addressed their trauma and is coping with pills and booze, not thinking clearly and possibly is acting out with reckless behavior? Everyone picks the first service member. Additionally, we offer coaching, counseling, warrior couples retreat workshops, seminars, and we are currently raising funds to build a small facility outside of Ft. Bragg to serve Special Operations warriors and their families with counseling and workshop retreats.

MM:      Can you share with us some final thoughts and encouragement for anyone in need of help due to post-traumatic stress?

JS:          No one out there is truly alone, even when you feel isolated from the world. There are millions who feel the same way, who are suffering unnecessarily, who don’t know what’s wrong with them or why they can’t control certain behaviors. Once you understand PTS, you will understand that it’s not your fault, and there is a way to change behavior that works for you or your family. There are protocols for when you break your leg and how to heal from it. Same here; there are ways to heal from PTS, and there is a great life on the other side of it. Never ever give up, never surrender, you are worthy of healing. When you get to the other side of trauma, take others with you and pass it forward. PTS is a massive issue in this country, and we must face it to heal from it. Never give up hope!

“Arsenal of Hope: Tactics for Taking on PTSD, Together,” coauthored by Holly Lorincz and Jen Satterly, published by Post Hill Press, 2021 is available in stores and online.

For more information about Jen and Tom Satterly and how you can connect with All Secure Foundation, please visit: www.allsecurefoundation.org

Image Captions: Navy Seal Realistic Military Training Exercise, 2016;  Arsenal of Hope, 2021; Jen and Tom Satterly, 2017

Working Together to End Veteran Suicide [Rally Point]

In recognition of PTSD Awareness Month, we invite you to join the conversation on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), suicide prevention, treatment and intervention. Our June 5, 2021 Rally Point featured Magnus Johnson, a U.S. Army Veteran and former Green Beret, and Co-Founder of Mission 22, whose mission is to support the Veteran community with three main programs: Veteran treatment programs, memorials and community social impact.

In addition, leaders in innovative treatments for suicide and trauma for military personnel, Veterans and first responders at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center U.S. Air Force Veterans Craig Bryan, PsyD, ABPP and AnnaBelle Bryan, MS will join the conversation. Learn more about how we can all make a difference in lives of those who served our nation.

About Rally Point:

Rally Point is a free, monthly event on the first Saturday of every month dedicated to connecting and educating Veterans, Veterans’ families, and those who wish to support Veterans. The programs focus on organizations and programs from which Veterans and their families directly benefit.

“Depicting the Invisible” Exhibition: Josh’s Story

Meet Josh – a U.S. Army Veteran who was diagnosed with PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) when an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated under his vehicle on a routine mission in Iraq.

Inspiring Story of Service | PTSD Awareness Month – Josh Sandor

Josh & Emma, 2018 | Mixed media on canvas © Susan J. Barron

Former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Joshua Sandor was born and raised in the town of West Milford in northern New Jersey. After graduating from high school in 2001, Josh joined the Army at age 17. In August, he attended basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, to become a cavalry scout. “I remember my recruiter trying to tell me about all of these great jobs and career paths I could take, and I had to stop him mid-sentence,” Sandor recalls. “I wanted to be a scout. I already knew that was what I wanted to do.”

On September 11, 2001, Josh found himself on the qualifying range for rifle marksmanship when the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center began to unfold. In his words, “Our chaplain came out to our range after a post-wide cease-fire was directed for all range operations. We all felt something was wrong and later, as our chaplain spoke, we knew our time on the range was not just to qualify, but to prepare for war.”

Josh outside a Combat Outpost in South Balad Ruz, Iraq, 2008

Sandor deployed to Iraq in March 2003 with Bravo Troop, 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division as a Bradley Fighting Vehicle driver, redeploying in March 2004. In October 2007, he deployed again to Iraq with Fox Troop, 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. It was during this deployment that Josh served as a gunner in his platoon’s lead vehicle in the infamous Diyala Province. Sandor shares with us the story of how he was injured on this deployment.  “On Dec. 18 late at night, we were returning to our base after a fairly routine mission in a Kurdish controlled area. We were getting close to home when I remember telling our driver to stay left ahead to avoid going over a massive pothole in the road. As he maneuvered the HMMWV (Humvee) around the hole, it detonated. I don’t remember too much of the initial strike. There is a moment of numbness and peace before the chaos sets in during a blast. It all happens so fast that there is no time to react to anything. When I regained consciousness, my eyes were burning so bad I could not see, and my entire right side hurt badly. I went to move, but was told to stay still for the medic. Our crew all survived three artillery rounds that were packed with explosives and designed to detonate together as we went by. A foot-long piece of shrapnel was coming through the inner back wall of the truck but was stuck about a foot away from my back. Had it made it through, I would have been gone. The up-armored HMMWV saved our lives, no doubt.”

Images from the IED blast: “We were the lead Vehicle and heading back to the Kirkush Military Training Base where our Forward Operating Base (Caldwell) was located, IED blast December 18, 2007.”

Josh exited the Army in April 2010 and began his transition back to civilian life. The blast took its toll on him both physically and mentally. He knew his life was changing and day-to-day living became increasingly more difficult. Army doctors diagnosed Sandor with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in 2009, and in 2012, the Department of Veterans Affairs again diagnosed Josh with PTSD and TBI. 

Josh and his daughter, Emma, at the opening of Depicting the Invisible in New York, 2018.

When asked what compels him to share his story and experiences, Josh told us, “Depicting the Invisible has given me a voice and a voice for those who cannot speak or are not ready to talk yet. Being chosen to share my story of service with you at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum is such an amazing moment in my life. I have given myself and my story to Depicting The Invisible. I also volunteer as an outreach officer with Freedom Fighter Outdoors to help Veterans. I keep both close to heart. I was saved because I came out of the shadows where I felt stuck. I want all Veterans to know that if I can find the strength and courage to come forward to get help, so can any Veteran.” 

Family photo of Josh with his wife and daughter, Emma.

Depicting The Invisible: A Portrait Series of Veterans Suffering from PTSD by mixed-media artist Susan J. Barron, is now on view at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum through Jan. 2, 2022. For information about visiting in-person or experiencing a virtual tour of this exhibition, visit NationalVMM.org


In May of 2019, Josh opened his business, Patriot Mobile Detailing in Milford, P.A. He shares, “I am very proud to have started my own business. It is small but growing steadily every day.” Learn more: http://www.patriotmobiledetailing.com/ 

Transforming Veterans through Agriculture [Rally Point]

The May 2021 Rally Point features discussions with U.S. Air Force Veteran Richard Murphy, and U.S. Army Veteran Jon Jackson, the Executive Director of STAG VETS. Both organizations share similar goals — to aid Veterans in their transition from their military service to civilian life with agriculture. Agro-therapy is the conditioning of Veterans to their new normal.

“At the end of the day, everyone will realize that STAG VETS program accomplishments are measured in the value that our Veterans achieve, rebuilding their dignity as warriors, and most importantly, bringing our communities together to fulfill a major need; which is the right to have healthy sustainable food that is accessible to everyone.” – Jon Jackson, Executive Director of STAG VETS Join the discussion on life after the military, finding your own personal mission and delivering good to others.

About Rally Point:

Rally Point is a free, monthly event on the first Saturday of every month dedicated to connecting and educating Veterans, Veterans’ families, and those who wish to support Veterans. The programs focus on organizations and programs from which Veterans and their families directly benefit.

Veteran Voices: Operation Eagle Claw

63 people held hostage at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran, an unprecedented joint operation and a series of unfortunate events. These are only some of the attributes surrounding Operation Eagle Claw, one of the most influential missions that shaped how the military conducts operations even to this day.

Learn more from our expert panel about this historic rescue mission; all that went right and all that went wrong. Joining us is Major General David L. Grange, U.S. Army (Retired), Lieutenant Colonel Lewis H. Burruss, Jr., U.S. Army (Retired), and the Godfather of Special Operations Communications, Chief Warrant Officer Four Paul Zeisman, U.S. Army (Retired).

NCOs Backbone of the Army [Rally Point]

For our April 2021 Rally Point, we explored the role of the noncommissioned officers (NCOs), also known as “The Backbone of the Army” with Command Sgt. Maj. Mike Hall, U.S. Army (Retired). The core responsibilities NCOs in the U.S. military are to successfully accomplish the mission and maintain the welfare of their soldiers. They strive to remain technically and tactically proficient as well as provide outstanding leadership. The U.S. has the most highly educated and competent NCOs in the world, and they are the envy of other militaries.

About Rally Point:

Rally Point is a free, monthly event on the first Saturday of every month dedicated to connecting and educating Veterans, Veterans’ families, and those who wish to support Veterans. The programs focus on organizations and programs from which Veterans and their families directly benefit.

Women Who Inspire: Maria Kelly, NVMM Volunteer, US. Army and Ohio Army National Guard Veteran

Each week during Women’s History Month, we honor and celebrate the women Veterans within our museum and volunteer staff ranks. Their countless contributions and selfless acts of service inspire us daily.

Meet Maria Kelly, U.S. Army and Ohio Army National Guard Veteran and Volunteer at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum

Q: Where were you stationed, what was your job?

A: I enlisted into the US Army when I was a senior in High School. I was stationed in Frankfurt, Germany, where I worked for a Maintenance Evaluation Team. I traveled with the team throughout the V Corps area inspecting publications accounts to ensure that the units had the appropriate technical and field manuals on hand for their assigned equipment. This was during the early – mid 1980s, the Cold War. While there were many tensions and escalations between the NATO Allies and the USSR, there were also many scares due to terrorist organizations such as the Red Army Faction, also known as the Baader-Meinhof gang. While there was a lot of tension during this time, I was young, and managed to travel on and off duty to enjoy a lot of what Europe had to offer. I traveled as much as I could because I thought I may never get to visit again. I planned to leave the Army after my three year tour. After leaving the service, I attended Ohio University where I enrolled in ROTC and enlisted in the Ohio Army National Guard. Once commissioned, I continued to serve in the National Guard. I had the opportunity to serve in numerous domestic and overseas operations until I retired in 2016.

Q: What does service mean to you?

A: Service is an opportunity we have to strengthen the legacy of those who sacrificed for our freedom. While I didn’t understand that when I enlisted, I certainly learned that lesson during my time in military service.

Q: What impact has service had on your life?

A: Service allowed me the opportunity to share my skills and talents and learn new skills and talents from others. Service puts me in an environment to meet the most amazing people in our country and around our world so that I can continue to grow and contribute to others.

Q: What is your favorite exhibit inside the museum?

A: The exhibit I identify with the most is in the “Transformations” alcove of the core exhibit. One of the main features is a wall with six photographs of service personnel in uniform. But when you move slightly to the right or left, the photos blur before becoming six photographs of the same person as a civilian. There is a quotation from Ben Snyder, A World War II veteran – “…….I wonder if you will find me changed.” Military service is life changing. When you leave the service it is not so easy as trading in your uniform for a suit or dress. I sometimes find myself feeling “stuck in the blur.” No longer a Soldier, but not feeling really like a civilian either. It’s difficult to describe with words, but I think the transformation of the photos – coupled with the blur – describe it well.

NVMM Reads: “Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines”

Maya Lin Cover

“Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines,” is a beautifully illustrated children’s book for ages 4-8 which tells the inspiring story of Maya Lin, designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. In this book, we learn about Maya’s childhood – her connection to nature, her love of art and reading, and her desire to one day become an architect. Both children and adults will gain insight into what inspired the young artist’s design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and follow her journey from winning the design contest to seeing it through completion.

NVMM Reads: “A Higher Standard: Leadership Strategies from America’s First Female Four-Star General”

On June 23, 2008, President George W. Bush nominated Ann Dunwoody as a four-star general in the US Army-the first time a woman had ever achieved that rank. Dunwoody shares what she learned along the way, from her first command leading 100 soldiers to her final assignment, in which she led a 60 billion enterprise of over 69,000 employees, including the Army’s global supply chain in support of Iraq and Afghanistan.

While her talent as a logistician and her empathy in dealing with fellow soldiers helped her rise through the ranks, Dunwoody also realized that true leaders never stop learning, refining, growing and adapting. Dunwoody’s strategies are applicable to any leader, no matter the size or scope of the organization.

Women Who Inspire: Kim Minor, Air Force Veteran, NVMM Volunteer

Each week during Women’s History Month, we honor and celebrate the women Veterans within our museum and volunteer staff ranks. Their countless contributions and selfless acts of service inspire us daily.

Meet

Kim Minor, U.S. Air Force Veteran and Volunteer at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum

Q: Where were you stationed, what was your job?

A: I was stationed at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base in Columbus, Ohio from 1982-2008.  Throughout my career, I held several positions which included Chief of Military Equal Opportunity, Inspector General, Executive Officer, and Personnel Squadron Commander.

Q: What does service mean to you?

A: For me, service means giving of oneself for others and for our country. Service means fighting for our democracy, for our way of life, and for American Ideals. 

Q: What impact has service had on your life?

A: I was raised in a military family in a small Virginia town.  I knew from an early age that I wanted to serve in the military, but at the time military schools were not an option for girls.  As soon as I was old enough, I joined the Air National Guard.   Military training was a significant and emotional event for me.  Having grown up in small town, I was sheltered and influenced in many ways.  The military taught me about other cultures, races, and ethnicities.  It opened my eyes to my own biases and prejudices and made me face some hard truths about myself.  It taught me to take accountability for my words and actions.  

Service provides personal and professional opportunities to develop oneself and it has instilled in me the following values:

  • Accountability
  • Responsibility
  • Confidence
  • Commitment
  • Self-discipline
  • Self-respect
  • Pride

Q: What is your favorite exhibit inside the museum?

A: I have a couple! The first is the “Taking the Oath” alcove because it gives me an opportunity to share how impactful the oath is for individuals.  I also have an opportunity to share some of the differences between serving in the Air National Guard versus in the active duty Air Force because the ANG oath has the addition statements about the state and local governments. The other exhibit I really enjoy is the “Jobs” alcove because we talk about how any person can hold pretty much any job today. Women can fly and men can work as nurses!  It also shows extracurricular opportunities like being in the military band.

Q: What advice would you give to other women starting out in their military career?

A: My advice to women wanting a career in the military would be to “be true to yourself.” Be honest, humble, and truthful. Go for the job or position you’re most interested in. Work hard and be prepared. You can do anything, be anything, and the sky is the limit!

NVMM Reads: “They Fought For Each Other: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Hardest Hit Unit in Iraq”

Book cover

In our continued celebration of Women’s History Month, Brandon Turnau, Guest Experience Associate, recommends a powerful book written by U.S. Army Veteran, bestselling author, and award-winning journalist, Kelly Kennedy: “If you’re interested in reading about the bond that soldiers share and how camaraderie is found in the darkest of times, then look no further than Kelly Kennedy’s book, “They Fought For Each Other: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Hardest Hit Unit in Iraq.”

Kennedy was embedded with Charlie Company 1-26, a United States Army unit. Her time with Charlie Company 1-26 lasted several months, but the experiences encountered undoubtedly will last a lifetime. The group would go on to be recognized as the hardest hit unit during the Iraq War. Many chronicles of heroism have been written about United States soldiers spanning a plethora of wars, but what makes this book standout is the depth with which these stories are told. Kennedy goes into heartbreaking detail as she digs into each individual soldier’s life story. While anguish and tragedy struck the unit on numerous occasions, true heroism and sacrifice are what rings most soundly from this work.

This courageous company volunteered to serve their country with patriotic fervor and were willing to sacrifice everything for this nation and for each other. What makes this book such a good read is how powerful the themes of sacrifice and selflessness are displayed by ordinary people in impossible situations. Without a doubt, a must-read for anyone interested in personalized military stories, themes of brotherhood, and stories of true resilience.”

Women Who Inspire: Terri Swank, Ohio National Guard Veteran, NVMM Volunteer

Each week during Women’s History Month, we honor and celebrate the women Veterans within our museum and volunteer staff ranks. Their countless contributions and selfless acts of service inspire us daily.

Meet Terri Swank, Ohio National Guard Veteran and Volunteer at the National Veteran