NVMM Reads: “Heroism Begins with Her: Inspiring Stories of Bold, Brave, and Gutsy Women in the U.S. Military”

“Heroism Begins with Her” shares the story of more than 70 women and their service in the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. An excellent resource for learning more about the evolution of women’s roles in the U.S. Military, Conkling’s research introduces readers to the lesser-known history of women who chose to serve in the military, even when it was not permitted.

The book is divided into sections based on conflict, from the Revolutionary War through present-day. Each section gives an overview of the conflict in addition to many photographs and illustrations by Julia Kuo. You may recognize some of the names like Harriet Tubman and Bea Arthur, while others are unsung heroines.

Visit the NVMM to learn more about these exceptional women, many of whom are featured on our Museum Timeline.

Extend Your Learning:

Ask questions about this story.

  • Why did some women disguise themselves as men?
  • In addition to actress Bea Arthur, can you think of other female celebrities who served?
  • Why is it important to make sure that these women’s stories are told?

Check out some of out past blog posts about women in the military:

Learn more about inspirational women in the military!

Explore the stories of some of our AAPI Servicewomen and their fight to be recognized.

Check out some stories about women in the sky who were pioneers in the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

Choose one of the inspiring women in this book and create a poster about her accomplishments. Share your creation with us by sending an image to education@nationalvmm.org to be featured on our website or tag us on Instagram @NationalVMM!

If you are one of our central Ohio neighbors, check out the book at your local branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library or search WorldCat.org to find the book in a library near you!

NVMM Reads: “Tuskegee’s Heroes featuring the Aviation Art of Roy LaGrone”

“Tuskegee’s Heroes” tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen in a creative way that includes rare photographs, firsthand accounts and paintings by artist and Tuskegee Airman, Roy LaGrone. LaGrone was drafted into the Army Air Corps in 1942 as a Sergeant and served in North Africa and Italy during World War II. After his service, he studied art at the University of Florence in Italy before returning to the United States where he studied at the Pratt Institute in New York. Much of his career was dedicated to the United States Air Force Art Program.

In addition to LaGrone’s artwork, the book details the pre-war experience of young African American men who, despite their unequal treatment at home, fought for the opportunity to serve their country. Numerous stories of the individual Tuskegee Airmen, and women, are told along with details of their accomplishments during and after the war. Diving deep into the emotional toll the Tuskegee Experiment had on its participants, readers will learn not only the history of the program, but the stories of the people who made up the Tuskegee Airmen.   

Extend Your Learning:

Ask questions about this story.

  • Leading up to World War II, African Americans were still treated unequally in American society. Despite that, why did these men fight for the opportunity to serve in the U.S. Army Air Corps?
  • Why did the leaders of the U.S. Army Air Corps believe that African American men could not learn to fly?
  • Why was it so important for members of the Tuskegee Airmen to support youth education and scholarships?

Check out our post from 2021 about “The Tuskegee Airmen at Selfridge Field, Michigan.”

Learn more about the Tuskegee Airmen by visiting the Tuskegee Airmen National Historical Museum.

Virtually visit the National Parks Service Tuskegee Airman Virtual Museum!

Roy LaGrone used his paintings to tell the story of the nation’s black Army Air Force and the United States Air Force. Select one of the men or women mentioned in this book, learn more about their story, and tell that story through your own artwork. Share your artwork with us by sending an image to Education@nationalvmm.org to be featured on our website!

If you are one of our central Ohio neighbors, check out the book at your local branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library or search WorldCat.org to find the book in a library near you!

NVMM Reads: “Ski Soldier: A World War II Biography”

Author Louise Borden, an avid skier, shares the story of Pete Seibert, a solider in the U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division. Pete enlisted in the U.S. Army at the age of 18 and was part of the first division of soldiers trained to ski and patrol the mountain ranges in Italy. For his service and injuries incurred during World War II, Pete was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

This engaging biography includes photographs, maps and drawings from the ski soldiers’ diaries, providing insight into their experience during the war. The author reveals the mental and physical horrors that the men faced in the mountains of northern Italy and details the severe injuries Pete endured, his valiant return to skiing and racing and his creation of the Vail ski resort in Colorado.

Extend Your Learning:

Ask questions about this story.

  • Why was the 10th Mountain Division important to the Allied forces during World War II?
  • Why did the soldiers call the mountains “Riva?”
  • How was the training for the 10th Mountain soldiers different than other soldiers in the Army?
  • Why did snowshoes have an advantage over skis in certain parts of the mountain range?

Pete was inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in 1984. Read more about his induction.

Learn more about the history of the 10th Mountain Division.

Watch Pete’s 2003 induction video for the Colorado Business Hall of Fame.

Listen to NPR’s 2-part series, “Battle on the Slopes: World War II’s Ski Troops.”

If you are one of our central Ohio neighbors, check out the book at your local branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library or search WorldCat.org to find the book in a library near you!

NVMM Reads: “Voices of Pearl Harbor”

Part of the “Voices of History Series” created by Sherry Garland to bring a personal side to America’s past, “Voices of Pearl Harbor” utilizes a mix of historical and representational characters to tell the story of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Discover the unique perspectives of sixteen people involved in and affected by the attack, each accompanied by a beautiful painting by Layne Johnson.

Beginning with a story of a native Hawaiian in 1940, this book includes accounts from the mother of a Japanese fighter pilot, military officials from both the United States and Japan and the granddaughter of a World War II Veteran. To encourage further learning of what happened at Pearl Harbor, Garland includes a helpful glossary, selected bibliography and a suggested list of reading.

Extend Your Learning:

Ask questions about this story.

  • What is the sentiment behind individuals adding their own stitches to the Japanese Senninbari (good luck) belt?
  • Why did American officials seemingly ignore the warning of approaching planes from the Army Signal Corps?
  • What significance does the USS Arizona Memorial play for both American and Japanese visitors?
  • Why was Pearl Harbor attacked?
Pearl Harbor Attack

Hear from the experiences of three Pearl Harbor survivors during what President Roosevelt described as, “A date which will live in infamy,” and one of the most pivotal moments in U.S. history.

Check out the website for the Pearl Harbor National Memorial.

Learn more about Mess Attendant Second Class Doris Miller.

Listen to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Day of Infamy” speech delivered on December 8, 1941 and consider if the attack on Pearl Harbor and the president’s speech would have inspired you to serve.

Write down the reasons why you would or would not have voluntarily joined the military.

NVMM Reads: “H is for Honor”

Author Devin Scillian grew up in a military family and knows what it is like to have a career military officer for a parent. His book, “H is for Honor,” details the history of each branch of the United States Armed Forces with colorful illustrations by Victor Juhasz. Readers will explore the lingo used by those in the Armed Forces and their families, learn why Veterans are an important connection to our past, and additional military knowledge. Each letter of the alphabet provides an important connection to Veterans and those that love and support the people who answer the call of duty.

Extend Your Learning:

  • What did you learn by reading the edges of the pages that feature more information about the U.S. Armed Forces?
  • Why is being called a ‘Brat’ something that makes a military child proud?
  • What was your favorite letter to learn about?
  • What letter were you most surprised by?
Information Systems Technician (Submarine) 1st Class Donald Truman reunites with loved ones during the return of the Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN 22) to its homeport in Bremerton, Washington, Dec. 21. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Sophia H. Brooks)

Learn more about each branch of the U.S. Military.

Read our post from the Month of the Military Child and learn about the resilience of our military children

Watch Staff Sergeant Matthew Montague read the book aloud!

Can you come up with another military related word for each letter of the alphabet that was not included in this book?

Check out more activities provided by Sleeping Bear Press.

NVMM Reads: “Give Me a Fast Ship”

Each year on October 13, we celebrate the birthday of the U.S. Navy, recognizing the establishment of the Continental Navy in 1775. Although it was disbanded after the Revolutionary War and reestablished as the Department of the Navy in April 1798, the value of the U.S. Navy can never be forgotten.

Names like John Barry, John Paul Jones, Abraham Whipple, Nicholas Biddle and Gustavus Conyngham don’t often come to mind when thinking of the heroes of the American Revolution. However, their stories along with the experiences of other men bring the pages of McGrath’s meticulously researched exploration of the Continental Navy to life in stirring detail. Starting out as an idea, reaching a high point of nearly sixty ships, and ending the war with just two ships, McGrath takes readers on a narrative journey that traces the highs and lows of the Continental Navy over the course of its first ten years.

“Give Me a Fast Ship” was awarded the Samuel Eliot Morrison Award for Naval Literature in 2016, presented to writings deemed by the Naval Order of the United States New York Commandery to have “made a substantial contribution to the preservation of the history and traditions of the United States Navy.” We encourage you to read this book, and continue to explore the notions of duty, honor, citizenship and sacrifice that link the patriots of 1776 with the service members of today.

Extend Your Knowledge:

NVMM Reads: “Sergeant Reckless: The True Story of the Little Horse Who Became a Hero”

As the NVMM prepares to present our second annual Pets and Vets Week on October 19 – 22, 2022, we are reading the fascinating story of Sergeant Reckless, the mare who became a U.S. Marine and is the only animal to officially hold a military rank. Just like every other enlisted Marine, Reckless started out as a private and had to earn her promotions. Known for her enormous appetite, determined work ethic and unbreakable bond with her fellow Marines, Sergeant Reckless epitomized the Marine Corps motto of Semper Fidelis – Ever Faithful.

Extend Your Learning:

Ask questions about this story.

  • Why were the U.S. Marines fighting in Korea?
  • What role did Sergeant Reckless and other horses play during the war?
  • Why was the horse named Reckless?

Learn more about the different Marine Corps Ranks.

Read our post from earlier this year about the Korean War.

Check out this website dedicated to Sergeant Reckless to learn more about the heroic mare!

Test your knowledge to find out what other animals have served in the military.

NVMM Reads: “Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II”

“Theirs was a loss compounded by uncertainty and unresolved by time. When he scoured the archipelago with sonar, when he hung in the open doorway of a Cessna, when he slogged through the jungle and traversed the channel on yet another rainy day, he wasn’t searching to the dead. He was searching for the living.”

Part thrilling search and recovery mission, part World War II history, “Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II” seamlessly transitions between the stories of the men who vanished in the Pacific Theater of war on September 1, 1944, and those whose lives remain affected by the mystery of their disappearance more than 50 years later. As we recognize National POW/MIA Recognition Day, add this book to your reading list as it poignantly reveals the struggles of families who grapple with the uncertainty of what happened to a loved one.

Extend Your Knowledge:

  • In an interview with Harper’s Magazine, Hylton answers six questions about the book.
  • Check out this author talk hosted by the New York Public Library in 2014 in which Hylton talks about the book.

Celebrating 75 Years of the U.S. Air Force: History and Lineage

September 18, 2022 marks the 75th birthday of the U.S.A.F. as an independent branch of our military. Help us celebrate their history and impact throughout the month!

As we honor the United States Air Force for 75 years of dedicated service as a branch of the military, it is important to realize that the story of the Air Force begins long before it became an official branch on September 18, 1947.  The Air Force traces its lineage back to the first gliders and aeroplanes produced by Orville and Wilbur Wright in Dayton, Ohio at the turn of the 20th century.

Wright Glider at Ketty Hawk, 1902

The drive and passion of the Wright Brothers to innovate and push the bounds of technology into a new frontier continued as airplanes quickly became integrated into the military. Early on, there were many doubts within the military community that aircraft could be an effective weapon, and many believed they were a gimmick at best. Major George Owen Squier, the Executive Officer to the Army Signal Corps, is credited with the first major push to create the United States Air Force by convincing the Army Signal Corps commander to establish the first heavier than air unit on August 1, 1907.

Aircrew and pilots were pioneers in this new endeavor, and it was a dangerous profession. Just one year later, Lieutenant Thomas E. Selfridge became the first military member killed in an aircraft crash on September 17, 1908. Death during training and practice was not uncommon, but the perseverance and dedication to constantly push the boundaries of this new technology and profession was never in question. From the experience gained through these unfortunate events, the formation of the 1st Aero Squadron was ordered in Texas City on March 5, 1913 for defense against escalating tensions with Mexico.  

Experiences in World War I and further increases in technology allowed proponents of air power like Brigadier General Billy Mitchel, to push the boundaries of what was expected of the Air Force. On July 21, 1921 Mitchell led a trial of bombers to sink several German ships at the end of the Great War and even sunk the battleship SMS Ostfriesland.

Flying aces like Eddie Rickenbacker captured the imagination of the American public, and with 26 enemy planes shot down, proved the worth of aerial combat.

The interwar years saw even greater advances in aircraft technology, with the first all metal aircraft and mono-wing designs replacing the canvas and cloth biplanes. Bombing crews could strike directly at enemy production facilities, fighter pilots flew powerful and complicated machines, and ground crews were required to keep both in operational shape. The creation of the Army Air Forces in 1941 made the Air Force its own separate branch within the Army and gave it the ability to pursue its own needs.

Edward C. Gleed, Tuskegee Airman, photo credit Ghost of WW2 Colourized Photo
Tuskegee Airman during Korean War

During this time, the military began to see an expansion of roles for African Americans and women. For instance, the Tuskegee Airmen became the first African American military aviators when the 99th Pursuit Squadron was formed on March 19, 1941.  The following year the first women began flying for the military, forming the Women Airforce Service Pilots in 1943. As pilots became more experienced, the aircraft became more complex, and by the end of the war the Jet Age had begun. Nuclear weapons were now in existence and only the Air Force could effectively support that mission.

Finally, on September 18, 1947, the United States Air Force was formally established as its own independent branch of the military. With the new title, the innovation that defined the air forces for the previous half century did not stop, if anything, it accelerated. Over the years, air-to-air refueling was perfected, while radar, intelligence, and missile technology changed the working landscape for those serving in the Air Force.

Over time, more women became pilots and eventually served in combat roles. Today, the systems Air Force servicemembers work with continues to be defined by their complexity. Thanks to the professionalism and dedication of all our members, no U.S. troop has been attacked by enemy aircraft since 1953. As we celebrate the Air Force’s 75th birthday, let us remember where we came from to inspire us to reach even greater heights.

At the NVMM, we want to thank all military aviators for their sacrifice and service to our nation. Come learn more about the Air Force history through stories told at the NVMM or found on our website.

KC-135 refueling 2 F-16s during Red Flag, 2022

Watch our crash-course video on the history of the U.S.A.F.:

Check out our Word Cloud (What you think when you hear “Air Force”):

Add yours here!

Extend Your Learning:

NVMM Reads: “Chester Nez and the Unbreakable Code: A Navajo Code Talker’s Story”

Photo: Albert Whitman & Company

Each year on August 14, we honor the Navajo Code Talkers who were called into service in the Pacific Theater of World War II. Joseph Bruchac’s true story of these brave men begins with Chester Nez as a boy attending boarding school where he was repeatedly told “Navajo is bad! Speak only English!” Chester’s refusal to give up his native language and commitment to his culture gave him courage to serve his country, strength to face the horrors of war, and support when transitioning back home, not to mention the tools to create an unbreakable military code that helped the United States achieve victory. Throughout the story, the author reveals how Chester is both proud that he never gave up his language and proud to serve the country that told him that very language was worthless.

Extend Your Learning:

Ask questions about Chester’s story.

  • Who were the other Navajo Code Talkers?
  • Why did these men volunteer to serve in the Marines?
  • Would you have done the same thing in their situation?
  • What makes a good secret code?
  • Why has the U.S. Military used secret code throughout its history?
  • Can you think of any other secret codes?

Conduct research to learn more about Chester Nez and the other Navajo Code Talkers who helped the United States achieve victory in World War II.

Try making your own secret code and see if anyone can crack it.

Don’t know where to start? Create your own version of the alphabet! For example, make “A” a square, “B” a triangle, and so on until you have all 26 letters. From there, you can put together your images/shapes into different combinations to spell out words.

You can make codes out of more than just images. Try sounds or mixing up letters.

For inspiration making you own code, take a look in the back of the book to see more about the Navajo Code.

If you’re one of our central Ohio neighbors, check out the book at your local branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library where the book is widely available! Then come in to the NVMM and learn more about the Navajo Code Talkers or any of the other unique Veteran stories that can be found throughout American history. 

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.

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.

Truman-MacArthur Controversy

General Douglas MacArthur was one of only nine Americans to hold the five-star general rank. He commanded the South West Pacific Theater during World War II, over saw Japan after its surrender, and was selected to command the United Nations efforts to repel the North Korean advance after hostilities broke out. The North’s offensive was finally held at the Pusan Perimeter, a tiny pocket of land in the south of the Korean Peninsula. To strike back, General MacArthur planned a daring amphibious landing that retook Seoul and threatened the North Korean Army’s supply lines  which caused them  to retreat home at a rapid pace. The quick offensive into North Korea by MacArthur drew China into the conflict, which halted the United Nations’ advance and forced them back to the 38th Parallel. It was here that the ensuing stalemate would cause General MacArthur to begin to butt heads with leadership in the United States.

With Chinese troops now supporting North Korea, MacArthur wanted to expand military operations in the South China Sea and China itself. He initially proposed for a naval blockade of China, as well as restrictions to be lifted on air strikes within their borders, and to open support for Chinese Nationalists to start their own operations. All of which were rejected by Washington D.C. who were attempting to keep the war contained to the Korean Peninsula. Frustrations between MacArthur and Washington began to mount when General MacArthur went public with his frustrations and the “limitations” placed on him and his command. Though President Truman did not relieve him, he later recounted that he should have at that moment.

The tipping point occurred when, as Truman and those in the United Nations concluded a negotiated settlement was the best chance for peace as the stalemate ensued, MacArthur made a public statement without contacting the Joint Chiefs of Staff or President that he, personally, was open to negotiating with the “Chinese military commander.” MacArthur had outright disregarded his superiors and in a response letter to Congressman Martin he expressed views that were “not only in disagreement with the policy of the government but was challenging this policy in open insubordination to this Commander in Chief.” General MacArthur’s misconception of what the United States goals were in Korea and refusal to bend to the civilian leadership in its execution are what ultimately led to his dismissal on April 11, 1951.


Carter, Rocky L. “The Truman-MacArthur Debate: A Case-Study of Civil Military Relations and Implications for Foreign Policy Development.” Troy University. 1996. Accessed from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.lib.ou.edu/docview/1986794852?pq-origsite=primo.

Norman, John. “MacArthur’s Blockade Proposals against Red China.” Pacific Historical Review. Vol. 26 (2). 1957. Pg 161-174.

Manchester, William. American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur, 1880-1964. Little, Brown and Company. September 30, 1978.

Truman, Harry S. Memoirs by Harry S. Truman: Years of Trial and Hope, 1946-1952. Doubleday & Company, Inc. 1956.

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