Women in Vietnam: Sharon Ann Lane

Among the eight women inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is the story of First Lieutenant Sharon Ann Lane. Lane was the only American nurse killed as a direct result of hostile fire. For her service in Vietnam, she was awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star with “V” device, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the National Order of Vietnam Medal, and the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross (with Palm).

Sharon Ann Lane’s graduation photo from the Aultman Hospital School of Nursing. Photo courtesy of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.

Journey of Service

A native of Ohio, Lane dreamed of becoming a nurse. She attended the Aultman Hospital School of Nursing in Canton before deciding to join the U.S. Army Nurse Corps Reserve on April 18, 1968. One year later, Lane arrived in Vietnam. In the Vietnamese Ward, she worked five days a week, twelve hours a day and then spent her off-duty time taking care of the most critically injured American soldiers in the Surgical ICU.

On June 8, 1969, Viet Cong rockets struck the hospital. Lane was among the causalities and died one month shy of her 26th birthday. Four days earlier, Lane wrote an upbeat letter to her parents about how quiet it was, the intense heat and the GIs in her care. She signed off with this:

“See you sooner.”

1LT Sharon Ann Lane in a letter to her parents 

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial honors Lane’s sacrifice on Panel 23W, Line 112. Read her remembrance on The Wall of Faces.

Women in Vietnam: Military Nurses

According to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, “more than 265,000 women served in the military during Vietnam — and approximately 10,000 military women served in-country during the conflict.” 90 percent served as military nurses. Hear their stories:

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the last U.S. combat troops departing Vietnam and repatriation of our remaining Prisoners of War. We invite you to honor the more than seven million Americans who served during the Vietnam era including these brave servicewomen.

A Journey of Women in the Marines

“The few, the proud.” An iconic slogan from the U.S. Marine Corps that defines this elite fighting force. While the Marines were first established on November 10, 1775, women only had the opportunity to join starting in 1918 with Opha May Johnson. Their roles have grown since then and today women are training and stepping into combat roles alongside their male counterparts. This March, we take peek into the journey of women in the Marine Corps from the trailblazers to those who followed in their footsteps.

Trailblazers: Women in the Marines

Women Marines became a permanent part of the regular Marine Corps on June 12, 1948 when Congress passed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, but they had already proved themselves in both world wars.

Colonel Ruth Cheney Streeter

Streeter led the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve as their first director. Initially, she had her eyes set on the Women Airforce Service Pilots and earned her commercial pilot’s license in the 1940’s. Unfortunately, she was rejected due to her age. Streeter’s friends recommended her to join the Marine Corps in 1943. In the first eight weeks of the Women’s Reserve, there were 2,495 enlistees. Within a year, there were 800 officers and 14,000 enlisted. This would grow to 1,000 officers and 18,000 enlisted. See how She Made History.

Photo courtesy of the Foundation for Women Warriors.

Private Lucille McClarren

Photo courtesy of the Women Marines Association.

“I am happy and proud to be the first girl Marine private in World War II.” By June 1944, women reservists made up 85% of the enlisted personnel on duty at Headquarters, Marine Corps and almost two-thirds of the personnel manning all major posts and stations in the United States and Hawaii. Explore this Pioneer’s Story.

Chief Warrant Officer Rose Franco

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corps.

In August 1950, for the first time in history, the Women Reserves were mobilized for the Korean War. Despite her family’s protest, Franco enlisted and became the first Hispanic woman to become a chief warrant officer in the Marine Corps. Franco felt that it was her patriotic duty to serve in the armed forces. Connect with Her Marine Corps Story.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Sergeant Annie Graham

Graham was the first black woman in the Marines and would go on to serve until 1952. Her daughter, Stephanie Gilliard-Sheard shared, “she was courageous to decide to go and do what she did.” Watch Stephanie share her mother’s Story of Service.

Today: Women in the Marines

Today, women account for 4.3 percent of all officers and make up 5.1 percent of the active-duty enlisted force in the Marine Corps. In 2016, when the Department of Defense authorized all combat jobs to be open to women, a female lance corporal was the first Marine to sign up for the infantry.

Lieutenant General Carol Mutter

In 1996, Mutter was the first women in our nation’s armed forces to receive a three-star grade. She joined the Marine Corps during the early years of the Vietnam War “because they’re the best, there’s no doubt about that.” Read her Story of Firsts.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Photo courtesy of the Department of Defense.

Captain Elizabeth Okoreeh-Baah

“She’s going to go a long way because she never quits. She can succeed at anything she puts her mind to.” -Isaac K. Okoreeh-Baah Sr. As a 2000 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Okoreeh-Baah was one of the first women to graduate with a Marine Corps aviation contract. In 2006, she became the first woman to pilot the Osprey. See her place in Marine Corps History.

Colonel Nicole Mann

At the end of 2022, Mann became the first Native American woman in space. As a naval aviator and F/A-18 test pilot, she has over 2,500 flight hours in 25 types of aircraft, 200 carrier landings and has flown 47 combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. She is also the first female commander of a NASA Commercial Crew Program launch. Connect with this NASA All-Star’s story.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

“If I was going to join the military, I was going to join the hardest branch I could.”

Lance Cpl. Claudia Murphy

Meet the female Marines of today:

During the month of March and beyond, we honor the women in uniform who took on challenges with fortitude and resilience and never gave up.  

Gold Star Family Candlelight Vigil

During Memorial Day weekend, we honor our Gold Star families who have lost a loved one in service to our country with a Candlelight Vigil.  

The Gold Star Family Candlelight Vigil procession will begin on the Museum rooftop and travel down to the Soldiers Cross in Memorial Grove. 

More information, including the link to register, will be released soon. Be the first to know about Memorial Day week events by subscribing to our emails.

Women in Uniform: Serving at Sea

“By taking the time to educate ourselves on our history and the people who shaped this nation, we can more fully appreciate the ideals set down by the founders…It’s a reminder that our work is to sustain and ensure the rights and liberty belong to all its citizens.”

Admiral Michelle Howard, U.S. Navy (Retired)

During Women’s History Month, we celebrate the legacies of remarkable servicewomen who served in our nation’s maritime services. No sailor or coastie’s journey is alike. Explore the diverse stories of women in uniform and the impact they have made on American history.

Women in Uniform: U.S. Navy

Starting in 1862, women began their journey in the Navy with the Sisters of the Holy Cross who served aboard the USS Red Rover, a naval hospital ship. Then in 1908, the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps was established, beginning a rich history of service.

“The Sacred Twenty”

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command.

They were the first female members to ever formally serve in the U.S. Navy representing the Nurse Corps. Explore how they Answered the Call.

Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee

Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee, (NC) USN. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command.

Higbee became one the first twenty nurses in the newly formed Navy Nurse Corps. For her service during World War I, she became the first woman to receive the Navy Cross. Honor this U.S. Navy Pioneer.

Captain Joy Bright Hancock

Captain Hancock was one of the first women officers of the U.S. Navy. During World War I, after attending business school in Philadelphia, she enlisted in the Navy as a Yeoman. She would go on to direct the WAVES program, which during World War II and briefly afterward grew to 500 officers, 50 warrant officers and 6,000 enlisted women. Hancock guided WAVES through the difficult years of Naval contraction in the later 1940s and the expansion of the early 1950s, a period that also saw the Navy’s women achieve status as part of the Regular Navy. Her promotion to captain after only 6 years of service was one of fastest progressions to that rank in the Navy’s history. See more Servicewomen Firsts.

Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Captain Joan Bynum

Captain Joan C. Bynum, November 1978. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command.

She became the first African American woman to advance to the rank of Captain in 1978 and would go on to serve for 20 years. Read about more Women in the U.S. Navy.

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

 Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Harriet Ida Pickens (left) and Ensign Frances Wills. Photo courtesy of U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command.

On October 19, 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the inclusion of African American women in the W.A.V.E.S. (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). Pickens and Wills were the first two recruits and laid the groundwork for future African American women to serve in the U.S. Navy. Explore their Story of Service.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy.

Admiral Michelle Howard

Howard was the first African American woman to command a U.S. Navy ship, the USS Rushmore. In 2014, Howard was appointed Vice Chief of Naval Operations the second highest ranking officer in the Navy. Upon her swearing in she became the highest-ranking woman in U.S. Armed Forces history, and the highest ranking African American and woman in Navy history. She would become the first female four-star Admiral to command U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Naval Forces Africa. Connect with Her Story.

Explore the experiences of Navy women today:

Women in Uniform: U.S. Coast Guard

Over the past 230 years, women have played a major role in the Coast Guard and its predecessor services. Their service first began as lighthouse keepers in the 1770’s.

Ida Lewis

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard.

“The Bravest Woman in America.” In 1879, Ida Lewis overcame biases of the time to become an official keeper of the Lime Rock Light Station in Rhode Island, a position she held until her death. As a part of the U.S. Lighthouse Service, a U.S. Coast Guard predecessor, she was credited with saving 18 lives during her 39 years as lightkeeper and was the first woman to receive the Gold Lifesaving Medal. Connect with more Servicewomen Firsts.

Myrtle Hazard

Myrtle Hazard, electrical engineer, U.S. Coast Guard. Photo from Chicago Daily Tribune.

Myrtle Hazard enlisted on January 7, 1918, during the height of the U.S. effort to support the Allies during World War I. She was a trained radio and telegraph operator who applied for a position in the Communications Division of the Coast Guard at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Explore this Coast Guard Trailblazer.

Captain Beverly Kelley

Kelley became the first woman to command an American military vessel of any branch of service, specifically a Coast Guard cutter, the 95-foot patrol boat USCGC, Cape Newagen, on April 12, 1979. In 1996, she made history again as the first woman to command a medium endurance cutter, USCGC Northland. Then in 2000, she was the first woman to command a high endurance cutter, USCGC Boutwell.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Lieutenant Commander Marilyn Melendez Dykman

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Lieutenant Commander Dykman was one of the first Hispanic females to graduate from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and become an aviator. See more Women in the Coast Guard.

Lieutenant Commander La’Shanda Holmes

U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 1st Class Adam Eggers.

Holmes is the first African American female helicopter pilot for the U.S. Coast Guard. Today, she has amassed over 2,000 flight hours conducting search and rescue, counter drug, law enforcement and Presidential air-intercept missions. Explore her Story of Service.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Vice Admiral Sandra Stosz

In 2015, she became the first female graduate of the U.S Coast Guard Academy to achieve flag rank. During her 36-year career, Stosz became the first woman to command an icebreaker on the Great Lakes and to lead a U.S. armed forces service academy. Connect with Her Story.

Explore the experiences of Coast Guard women today:

During the month of March and beyond, we honor the women in uniform who took on challenges with fortitude and resilience and never gave up.    

Courage to Lead: Visionary Servicewomen [Rally Point]

This March, we’re honoring the accomplishments of visionary servicewomen who have strengthened our nation. Resilient. Brave. Powerful. These three words describe our Rally Point guests. Learn about their challenges, victories and achievements across different branches of service and how they continue to make an impact in their communities today.

Rally Point is powered by Central Ohio Ford Dealers and supported by Lane Aviation and The Columbus Foundation.

Carlandra “CT” Moss is a U.S. Army, Retired First Sergeant with over 24 years of experience in leadership, training, and community relations.  She is a certified life coach, motivational speaker, and fitness influencer. CT Moss is a director at Blue Star Families, a not-for-profit organization that supports and serves military families. She leads their Campaign for Inclusion a multi-dimensional, cross-sector, collective-action effort to improve the service experiences for diverse military families.

CT Moss received her Bachelor Professional Studies in Business & Administration and her Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Social Media Management from Excelsior College.  She is a native of Florida and enjoys volunteering in the community.  She currently has a son serving in the Army and a daughter serving in the Air force.

Hailing from a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota, Kim Guedry is the daughter of a railroad-working dad and a lunch-lady mom who learned early on that hard work and perseverance produces results and opportunity is something to be taken, despite fear, doubt or risk of failure.

Kim is a proud alum of the US Coast Guard Academy where she was a multi-sport athlete. While on active duty following graduation, Kim’s roles ranged from Commanding Officer of a Coast Guard cutter (ship) to Command Duty Officer in the Service’s busiest command center. Following her transition to the reserves, Kim held various liaison positions within the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security, including her role as Chief of Operations at US Southern Command’s Crisis Action Center and as a Coast Guard Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer to FEMA Region II.

Kim’s current reserve position is as Director, Joint Reserve Detachment at the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) in Mountain View, California. There she leads reserve personnel from across the Services in direct support of DIU’s six portfolios, namely Advanced Energy, Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning, Autonomy, Cyber, Human Systems, Space. After a 24-year active duty and reserve career, Kim has chosen to retire from the Coast Guard in the Fall of 2023 to spend more time with her family and devote to passion projects.

In a civilian capacity, Kim is the former co-founder of two startup companies, one in the AgTech industry and one in business continuity consulting. She is currently the Director of Business Operations at Lumen Technologies, a Fortune 150 technology company, where she also serves as Chief of Staff in the North America Enterprise Field Operations organization. 

Kim holds a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the US Coast Guard Academy, a master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix and certificates from the US Naval War College and the National Defense University. She is also a George W. Bush Institute Scholar and a certified Project Management Professional.

Kim currently resides in Frisco, Texas, with her husband, a fellow veteran and commercial pilot, Andy, their two teenage boys, Devin and Chase, and a Weimaraner named Beatrix.

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!

USO Style Dance

Join us on the Rooftop of the Museum and dance the night away with Tyrone Spence Entertainment! Enjoy a fun night with a live DJ, cocktails, buffet-style dinner and music that will keep you dancing all night as if you’ve travelled back in time to a USO Dance.

Learn more about this event and get your tickets here.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Wounded Warriors Project.

Pioneering Black Army Units in World War II

“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”

-Dr. Maya Angelou

African Americans have served the U.S. military in every conflict our country has fought. While President Harry S. Truman’s order technically ended segregation in the military in 1948, Black service members continued to fight battles on two fronts – against the enemy overseas and against racism at home. This February, we share the inspiring stories of Black Army units who showed tremendous courage and heroism during World War II.

761st Tank Battalion

The 761st Tank Battalion, became the first Black unit to see ground combat in Europe, joining Patton’s Third Army in France in November 1944. The men helped liberate 30 towns under Nazi control and spent 183 days in combat. The most famous member of the 761st was First Lieutenant Jackie Robinson.

555th Parachute Infantry Battalion

During the winter of 1944–45, the Japanese sent 9,300 balloon bombs toward North America. The Triple Nickels, a pioneering all-black airborne unit, were tasked with parachuting directly into the Pacific Northwest to fight fires caused by these balloon bombs. They worked on 28 fires during the 1945 season; garnering them the second nickname, “Smoke Jumpers.” The Triple Nickels became the first integrated division in the U.S. Army.

320th Barrage Balloon Battalion

The 320th Barrage Ballon Battalion was the first and only all-black Army unit to storm the beaches on D-Day. Their mission was to raise hydrogen-filled barrage balloons to protect assaulting infantry and armor from being strafed by enemy aircraft. Five battalion medics were the first to land on Omaha Beach. One of the most well-known stories is Staff Sergeant Waverly Woodson, Jr. who worked for 30+ hours and attended to 300 soldiers during the invasion.

Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower cited the unit for conducting “its mission with courage and determination and proved an important element of the air defense team.”

Black History Month is a time to recognize and celebrate the achievements, sacrifices and contributions made by African Americans. We recognize the fortitude and resilience Veterans of color have demonstrated during their military service and the military values they continue to uphold even in the face of obstacles and challenges. This month and every month, we take the opportunity to honor these Black Army units for their service and thank them for our freedoms.

Presidents who served in the Military

Do you know how many presidents served in the military? If you guessed 31, you’re correct! Military Times shares, “Even though military service is not a prerequisite to becoming president, members of the military develop significant leadership expertise during the time they train and serve.” 

Of the 46 men who have become president, 12 reached the rank of general. George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower demonstrated leadership and administrative abilities as generals that prepared them for the role as commander-in-chief. As Presidents Day approaches, we invite you to take a closer look at some of the most notable stories!

Photo courtesy of Mount Vernon

George Washington

Our first President, General George Washington led Patriot forces to victory in our nation’s War for Independence. He also presided at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, which established the U.S. Constitution and a federal government. Washington is known as the “Father of His Country” for his manifold leadership in the formative days of the new nation. His birthday is observed every third Monday of February often coinciding with Presidents Day. Explore the Biography of George Washington.

Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln served as a captain in the Illinois Militia and 16th President of the United States. He led the nation through its greatest moral, constitutional, and political crisis in the American Civil War. He preserved the Union, abolished slavery, strengthened the federal government and modernized the U.S. economy.

In February of 1926, Carter G. Woodson, writer and historian known to be the father of Black History Month, launched the celebration of “Negro History Week”, the precursor of Black History Month. He chose February because the month contained the birthdays of both Lincoln and abolitionist Frederick Douglass. In 1976, President and Veteran Gerald Ford continued the tradition, saying the celebration enabled people to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” See more of Lincoln’s Leadership.

Ulysses S. Grant

General Ulysses S. Grant, an Ohio-native, served as the 18th president of the United States from 1869 to 1877. Grant led the Union Army to victory in the American Civil War in 1865. The Northern victory at Gettysburg as well as the capture of Vicksburg marked a turning point in the war; it made Grant the premier commander in the Federal army. After the war, he briefly served as Secretary of War under President Andrew Johnson. Later, as president, Grant was an effective civil rights executive who signed the bill that created the Justice Department and worked to protect African Americans during Reconstruction. Read more about this Civil War Leader

Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress
Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

Theodore Roosevelt

Statesman. Politician. Conservationist. Naturalist. Writer.

President Theodore Roosevelt is considered by many historians as one of the five best presidents in our nation. When the Spanish-American War began in 1898, Roosevelt resigned from his post as Assistant Secretary of the Navy and formed the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, also called the Rough Riders, with U.S. Army Colonel Leonard Wood. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions; the only president to have received the honor. Learn more about Roosevelt’s Story of Service.

Harry S. Truman

From 1905 to 1911, Truman served in the Missouri National Guard. When the United States entered World War I in 1917, he helped organize the 2nd Regiment of Missouri Field Artillery. He and his unit saw action in the Vosges, Saint Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne campaigns. Truman then joined the reserves after the war, rising eventually to the rank of colonel. From 1945 to 1953, Truman served as the 33rd President of the United States, assuming the role after President Roosevelt’s death. In his time as president, Truman implemented the Marshall Plan and established the Truman Doctrine and NATO to contain the expansion of Soviet communism. Read more about Truman’s Leadership.

Photo courtesy of the Truman Library
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army

Dwight D. Eisenhower

On February 11, 1943, General Eisenhower became the commander of the allied armies in Europe. The official title was the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force. He was responsible for planning and supervising the invasion of North Africa in Operation Torch in 1942–43 and the successful invasion of Normandy in 1944–45 from the Western Front. From 1953 to 1961, he went on to serve as the 34th president of the United States. Explore his Journey to the Presidency.

John F. Kennedy

During World War II, Kennedy commanded a series of PT boats in the Pacific theater and earned the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his service; he is also the only president to have received the Purple Heart.

“Any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think I can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction, ‘I served in the United States Navy.'”

Kennedy was sworn in as the 35th president on January 20, 1961. As president, he served at the height of the Cold War, with the majority of his work focusing on relations with the Soviet Union and Cuba. On November 22, 1963, while riding in a presidential motorcade, Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald. Today, Americans remember him for his leadership, personality and accomplishments. Learn more about the Life of John F. Kennedy.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy

Jimmy Carter

Carter graduated from the Naval Academy in 1946. His first assignment was an ensign on the USS Wyoming. After completing two years of surface ship duty, Carter applied for submarine duty. He served as executive officer, engineering officer and electronics repair officer on the submarine SSK-1. He served as the 39th president from 1977 to 1981. See more of Jimmy Carter’s Impact.

George H.W. Bush

On June 9, 1943, Bush became one of the youngest aviators in the Navy. He flew his first combat mission in May 1944, bombing Japanese-held Wake Island, and was quickly promoted to lieutenant (junior grade) on August 1, 1944. During a September 2 attack on a Japanese installation in Chi Chi Jima, Bush was downed by enemy fire and the only crew member to survive. He was later awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his role in the mission. By the end of his period of active service, Bush had flown 58 missions, completed 128 carrier landings and recorded 1228 hours of flight time. Read more about our 41st president.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy

These inspiring leaders prove the power of military service and the impact that Veterans have made and continue to make in our communities and country.

More than Clothing: The Triple Nikel Story [Rally Point]

In honor of Black History Month, we’re taking a step into the Triple Nikel universe. This San Antonio-based apparel company aims to tell minority Veterans’ stories and rebrand what “looking like a Veteran” means. Learn about the inspiration behind their brand and how U.S. Army Veterans Ruben Ayala, Rod Graham, Curtez Riggs and Chris McPhee are driven to spark change with a little bit of hip-hop flare.

Rally Point is powered by Central Ohio Ford Dealers.

Founders Ruben Ayala, Rod Graham, Curtez Riggs and Chris McPhee are U.S. Army Veterans on a mission to tell minority Veterans’ stories and to rebrand what “looking like a Veteran” means.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in the summer of 2020, the idea for Triple Nikel was sparked. They created an idea based off four simple concepts: Legacy, Community, Music and Love.

The name Triple Nikel is derived from the 555th Parachute Infantry Regiment that was stood up in 1943 during segregation. Known as the “Triple Nickels”, their mission was to neutralize forest fires through airborne insertions. The founders started their military careers in the 82nd Airborne Division as paratroopers. It is their common ground to derive experiences, motivation and content. Triple Nikel designs pull inspiration from the Hip-Hop culture. They believe that music is a common thread that binds all people.

Staff Spotlight: Ashley Donaldson, Experience Columbus Diversity Apprenticeship Program Participant

Each month, the Museum invites you to get to know the staff supporting our pillars to Honor, Connect, Inspire and Educate. Meet Ashley, our Experience Columbus Diversity Apprenticeship Program Participant.

Q: What is your favorite place in the Museum and why?

A:The Great Hall is my favorite place because of all the sunlight coming in through the large windows & the fantastic view of downtown.

Q: What are three words that best describe you?

A: Adventurous. Innovative. Compassionate.

Q: What is something that no one would believe about you?

A: I have never broken a bone in my body!

Q: We feature an #NVMMReads recommendation every month, what is a book that you think everyone should have on their “must-read” list?  

A: “The Souls of Black Folk” by W. E. B. DuBois

Q: Do you think you would survive a zombie apocalypse? Why or why not?

A: Yes! I think by being innovative & slightly athletic I could survive for a couple months at least.

Q: What was the last television show you binge-watched?

A: Yellowstone.

Q: If you could join any past or current music group which would you want to join and why?

A: Bob Marley & The Wailers because they were influential in introducing reggae music to the world & have a strong familial bond.

Q: What is your favorite board game?

A: Scrabble!

Discovering Black History

“Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letter, U.S., let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pocket, there is no power on earth that can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship.”

Frederick Douglass

Since the birth of our country and the fight for independence, African American men and women have played significant roles in wars and conflicts throughout American history. During Black History Month, join us as we explore their stories of service, sacrifice and achievement.

Black History Trailblazers

Photo courtesy of the National Park Service

Charles Ball

Charles Ball was an escaped slave living in Maryland when the War of 1812 began. He could have secured his freedom by joining the British, but he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and encouraged other African Americans to do the same. Ball served in the Chesapeake Bay for two years as a seaman and cook. The autobiography “The Life and Adventures of Charles Ball” shares an account of the life of slaves in 19th century.

Chief Journalist Alexander Haley

In 1939, Haley enlisted in the Coast Guard as a Mess Attendant Third Class, since the Mess Attendant and Steward’s Mate ratings were the only ratings in the Navy and Coast Guard open to minorities at that time. Haley soon began writing what combat was like, and the Coast Guard Magazine published his article “In the Pacific” in their February 1944 issue. He would go on to write Roots: The Saga of an American Family. Learn more about Haley’s Story of Service.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard
Phyllis Mae Dailey being sworn in as the first Black nurse in the U.S. Navy. (U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive)

Phyllis Mae Dailey

On March 8, 1945, Phyllis Dailey became the first African American to swear in as a Navy nurse. She shared, “[I] knew the barriers were going to be broken down eventually and felt the more applicants, the better the chances would be for each person.” Connect with this Trailblazing Naval Nurse.

Staff Sergeant Waverly Woodson, Jr.

On June 6, 1944, the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion participated in the Battle of Normandy as a part of the First Army; it was the only African American battalion to participate. Due to his training as a medic, Woodson was detached from the 320th. His family tells his story:

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy

Master Chief Petty Officer Carl Brashear

Brashear enlisted in the U.S. Navy on February 28, 1948, just four months before the military would be desegregated. He would go on to graduate from the United States Navy Diving & Salvage School in 1954, becoming the first African American to attend and graduate and then later the first African American U.S. Navy Master Diver. Explore this Man of Honor.

Colonel Yvonne Cagle

“Despite her satisfaction in rescuing and saving people in a variety of aeromedical missions, she continued to dream of space.” Cagle became an Air Force Medical Liaison Officer for STS-30 mission to test the Magellan spacecraft, before she became a NASA astronaut in 1996. See her story of service.

Photo courtesy of NASA
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corps

Lieutenant General Frank Petersen, Jr.

He was the first African American U.S. Marine Corps aviator and the first African American Marine Corps general. During his career, Petersen served combat tours in the Korean War and Vietnam War and flew more than 350 combat missions and more than 4,000 hours in various military aircraft. The U.S. Marine Corps reflects on his Life of Service.

Major General Marcelite Harris

As the first female aircraft maintenance officer, Harris paved the way for women, being one of the first two female air officers commanding at the United States Air Force Academy, and the Air Force’s first female Director of Maintenance. When she retired in 1997, she was the highest-ranking female officer in the Air Force and the nation’s highest ranking African American woman in the Department of Defense. Read more about her in our NVMM Reads selection, Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force

Black History: Military Valor in Action

Of the 3,515 Medal of Honor recipients, 92 have been awarded to African Americans. Here are a few of their stories:

First Sergeant Powhatan Beatty

Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

25 African Americans earned the Medal of Honor during the American Civil War including First Sergeant Powhatan Beaty. Beaty became one of the first members of the 127th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, later re-designated the 5th United States Colored Troops. He received the Medal of Honor for taking command of his company at the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm, after all officers had been killed or wounded.

Ordnance Sergeant Moses Williams

Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Archives

During the Indian Wars, 18 African Americans earned the Medal of Honor with 14 being Buffalo Soldiers including Ordnance Sergeant Moses Williams. He was a member of the 9th Cavalry Regiment and one of the first African American Ordnance Sergeants in 1886. He rallied a detachment, skillfully conducted a running flight of 3 or 4 hours, stood by his commanding officer in an exposed position under heavy fire from a large party of Indians, and saved the lives of at least 3 of his comrades.

Sergeant First Class Melvin Morris

Sergeant First Class Melvin Morris became one of the first Green Berets in 1961. He received the Medal of Honor for his valorous actions on September 17, 1969, while commanding the Third Company, Third Battalion of the IV Mobile Strike Force near Chi Lang, Vietnam.

Sergeant First Class Alywn Cashe

On the evening of October 17, 2005, Cashe, a member of A Company, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, saved the lives of six of his fellow soldiers after a Bradley fighting vehicle was struck with an IED. Shop NVMM brand, Triple Nikel, honors his legacy with The Cashe Collection.

This month, we recognize the fortitude and resilience Black Veterans have demonstrated during their military service and the military values they continue to uphold even in the face of obstacles and challenges. Their stories don’t just represent Black History – these are the stories of American history.

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!

5 Videos to Inspire New Year’s Resolutions

Don’t let your New Year’s Resolutions sunset yet! From improving physical and mental health, setting career goals or trying out a new hobby, you can still prioritize your personal development and stayed motivated.

Check out these 5 NVMM videos to inspire and keep you on track with your 2023 resolutions!

1. Resolutions that Last: Attainable Goal Setting Strategies

Jacki Carr, Goal Coach, Speaker and Writer joined us to explore goal setting techniques and strategies that will prepare you to deliver your unique gifts to the world. Learn how the dynamic combination of vision, values and goal setting can help you strengthen accountability and support your next evolution of self.

The GOALS ALIVE workbook can assist participants with their 2023 goal setting.

2. The Healing Power of Yoga

As a part of PTSD Awareness Month, U.S. Army Veteran and Gold Star Spouse Jennifer Ballou hosted a hybrid yoga session at the Museum. This program included a brief introduction and a 45-minute restorative flow yoga class, followed by closing remarks on how yoga and mindfulness tie into physical wellness and mental health.

You can join Jennifer and the NVMM Yoga team every Sunday at 9 a.m. Learn more about our Resilience and Wellness Program.

3. Navigating Life’s Battlefields

At the height of the pandemic, we explored how to navigate life’s battlefields with U.S. Army Veteran Josh Mantz. In 2007, a sniper’s bullet nearly ended Josh’s life while he was serving in Iraq. After flatlining for a full 15 minutes, a determined and highly skilled medical team was able to resuscitate him. Josh has since become one of the nation’s leading speakers on psychological trauma and moral injury.

4. No Boundaries: Kirstie Ennis’ Mission to Serve

In honor of Women’s History Month, we welcomed U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Kirstie Ennis. She is the daughter of two Marines whose example inspired her to join the Marine Corps at the age of 17. Deployed to Afghanistan in 2012, Ennis was in a traumatic helicopter accident. After more than 40 surgeries and the amputation of her left leg, she has become a role model and inspiration for others around the world.

5. Fishing for Healing: No Bait Needed

Expand your toolkit with therapeutic fly fishing. Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing joined us to share how casting a line can offer physical and mental health benefits, provide a tranquil space for reflection, teach resilience and build community.

Now you have the guidance to keep those New Year’s Resolutions in motion and stay on track. Here’s to a stronger more confident you in 2023!

A Look Back at the Persian Gulf War

The Persian Gulf War was waged by coalition forces from 35 nations led by the United States against Iraq in response to Iraq’s invasion and annexation of Kuwait arising from oil pricing and production disputes. It was the first major crisis post-Cold War and fought with an all-volunteer force.

Operation Desert Shield began on August 2, 1990, with operations leading to the buildup of troops and defense of Saudi Arabia; on January 17, 1991, Operation Desert Storm began as the combat phase. The initial conflict to expel Iraqi troops from Kuwait began with an aerial and naval bombardment that continued for five weeks. It became the largest air campaign since the conflict in Southeast Asia. This was followed by a ground assault on February 24. It was a decisive victory for the coalition forces, who liberated Kuwait and advanced into Iraqi territory. The coalition forces declared a ceasefire 100 hours after the ground campaign started.

Stories From Behind the Front Lines

More than 500,000 American troops deployed to Saudi Arabia as part of Operation Desert Shield, in case Iraqi troops attacked Saudi Arabia. Explore the stories of those who served:

Photo courtesy of Col. Pamela Melroy

Colonel Pamela Melroy

As a Veteran of Desert Shield and Desert Storm, she flew the KC-10 operationally for six years at Barksdale Airforce Base with the 32nd AREFS as copilot, aircraft commander, instructor pilot and basic qualifications (schoolhouse) instructor. Learn how she Reached for the Stars.

Commander Darlene Iskra

Dr. Darlene M. Iskra was a U.S. Navy Commander and groundbreaker for women in the military. She was among the first women to qualify as a Surface Warfare Officer, serve as a sea-going officer, and the first woman to command a ship in the U.S. Navy. She commanded a ship in a combatant zone, the USS Opportune ARS-41, which she took to war during Desert Storm in January 1991. Explore her many Firsts in Naval History.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy

General Walter Boomer

On August 15, 1990, General Walter Boomer deployed to Saudi Arabia, where he served as the Commanding General, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Central Command and I Marine Expeditionary Force during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Listen in:

Angela Beltz

She served in the U.S. Army with the 134th Quartermaster Detachment. Angela shared her experience of flying over to Saudi Arabia and the scene of units waiting for gear in the desert.

Chuck Ware

Chuck Ware served with the 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment. As a battalion commander, he shared his experience of dealing with the sand, and its effects on gear and supplies.

General Colin L. Powell

Powell led a life of service. He served 35 years in the Army, rising to the rank of four-star general. During his last assignment, from October 1989 to September 1993, as the 12th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military position in the Department of Defense, Gen. Powell oversaw the invasion of Panama in 1989 and Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf War against Iraq in 1990–1991. He shared his insights:

Now 33 years later, we remember the stories of those who served and the 299 who lost their lives during the Persian Gulf War.

Resolutions that Last: Attainable Goal Setting Strategies [Rally Point]

The New Year is a perfect time for a fresh start!

Jacki Carr, Goal Coach, Speaker and Writer joins us to explore goal setting techniques and strategies that will prepare you to deliver your unique gifts to the world. Learn how the dynamic combination of vision, values and goal setting can help you strengthen accountability and support your next evolution of self.

The GOALS ALIVE workbook can assist participants with their 2023 goal setting.

Jacki Carr is a coach, motivational speaker, writer and a mother. 

As a leader in the language of goals, she is a certified coach working with people to uplevel their Voice, Vision & Goal-Setting practices. Jacki is known to captivate an audience as a motivational speaker sharing tangible tools through storytelling, experiential learning and open conversation. She has worked with companies like The North Face, MINDBODY, lululemon and Patagonia.

Jacki’s Grandpa Donald F. Carr (WWII), Uncles Jon and Jerry Carr (Vietnam War) and Chris Shattuck (US Army) and Father-in-Law Michael Hynes Sr. (Vietnam War) are Veterans and she is thankful for their service.

Residing in the mountains of Colorado with her husband, three daughters, and two dogs, they roadtrip often in their RV trailer and she reads a lot of books. 

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!

Staff Spotlight: Candace Brady, Vice President of Advancement

Each month, the Museum invites you to get to know the staff supporting our pillars to Honor, Connect, Inspire and Educate. Meet Candace, our Vice President of Advancement.

Q: What is your favorite place in the Museum and why?

A: Each exhibit alcove is extraordinary. It is impossible for me to pick a favorite area.

Q: What are three words that best describe you?

A: Genuine. Honest. Strategic.

Q: What is something that no one would believe about you?

A: Those who know me know that I enjoy international travel. A little known fact is that I love tree-top zip-lines tours and have propelled through the rainforest in Honduras and Costa Rica and have conquered the world’s longest over-water zip line, the Dragon’s Breath Flight Line, in Haiti!

Q: We feature an #NVMMReads recommendation every month, what is a book that you think everyone should have on their “must-read” list?  

A: The last book that I read with ties to the Veteran community was “W.G.: The Opium-addicted Pistol Toting Preacher Who Raised the First Federal African American Union Troops” by Donna and William Burtch. I would definitely recommend it as a must-read not just for those interested in Civil War history, but for all.

Q: Do you think you would survive a zombie apocalypse? Why or why not?

A: Yes! The role I am most proud of is being a mother. I am confident that my “mama bear” instincts would kick in and I would destroy any zombie in my way.

Q: What fictional character do you want to be your best friend and why?

A: Mary Poppins – her magic carpet bag has everything we would need for any situation.

Q: If you could join any past or current music group which would you want to join and why?

A: I would join the Beatles. The Beatles are the best band of all time.

Q: What is something you enjoy doing outside of work?

A: I’m a foodie who enjoys diverse foods on all levels. That is part of the reason why I love to travel. I have favorite restaurants all over the country and must try international cuisines. On our hike in Belize to the Mayan cave of Actun Tunichil Muknal, I volunteered to try an edible rainforest treat, termites. Live termites have a sweet, nutty flavor that isn’t too bad!

Exhibition Highlights: IDENTITY

“At first glance, the arts and the military might seem to have very little in common. But in truth, the two disciplines have a long history together. From the Greek playwright Aeschylus who took the ancient Persian-Greek wars as his subject circa 472 BC, to Walt Whitman who not only wrote expansively about the U.S. Civil War but served as a wartime nurse.” –National Endowment for the Arts

Today the relationship between service member and artist goes much deeper. In our latest exhibition, IDENTITY: Exploring Veteran Narratives through Art + Music, we introduce you to Veterans who found healing and connection through the arts. Through CreatiVets programming, these Veterans learn to express complex events and emotions through the creative processes of drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpture and songwriting. Here are some of our favorite highlights from IDENTITY:

Benefits of the Arts on Health & Well-Being

Nurturing our creative side is essential to the human spirit. The arts are known to decrease depression, increase memory and cognitive function and improve our communication and behavioral skills. For active duty service members, art promotes resilience and enhances physical and mental well-being. For Veterans and their families, art provides a way to reintegrate back into communities and foster positive meaningful relationships that bridge the military/civilian divide.

  • 2 out of 3 soldiers who have been treated with art therapy say it improved their depression.
  • 50% of art therapy patients saw improvement with anxiety during art therapies that address effects of traumatic brain injury.
  • 85% of Military patients who have access to art therapy say it was helpful in their healing.
  • Art therapy is listed as “Most helpful in their recovery” of approximately 40 treatment options at Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland.

Creative art forms like those offered by CreatiVets programs and seen in IDENTITY have shown tremendous progress in reducing post-traumatic stress (PTS) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) symptoms and improving the quality of life for Veterans and their family members.

Music & Songwriting

The CreatiVets Songwriting Program pairs Veterans with accomplished songwriters and music artists to allow them the opportunity to creatively express their story through a song. The songs are written to capture the Veteran’s personal story so that it is their voice talking about their experiences, but in a way that captures certain universal experiences that others can understand and often relate to.

“The song gave me a chance to tell my daughter something I never could quite figure out how to do. I felt as if I was put in a position where even if I had said the words to her face-to-face, it didn’t have nearly as much impact as the song did, and it definitely brought [her] closer to me again.”-Veteran Participant, Songwriting Program

Listen to their full collection on Amazon Music, iTunes, Spotify and other streaming services:

Visual Arts: Sculpture & Metalwork

Sculpture is a branch of visual arts that operates in three dimensions: height, width and depth. U.S. Army Veteran Briana McCrae Carr utilizes this technique to express how she learned to grow from painful experiences.

From iron to copper, metalwork is one way to create inspiring pieces of visual art. U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Carlos Espinosa utilizes this medium to create a soldiers cross and honor the lives lost in war.

“Once [Veterans] discover art, it’s like they realize, ‘I may not have words to describe what I went through, but I have this…I have this piece of art,’ and that piece of art represents something which can help them start a conversation with their family or their friends.” -Richard Casper, CreatiVets Co-Founder

Visual Arts: Collage

Collage is a technique by which art results from an assemblage of different forms, thus creating a new whole.

U.S. Army Veteran Sylvia Bowersox utilizes this art form to describe her PTSD. “My brain takes in everything. I can’t relax. Iraq, the explosions, my mother – my family doesn’t understand. The world is in fragments, like shattered glass, and I am a shadow of my former self. But Timothy, my faithful service dog and companion, now shares the world with me. Nothing flusters him, and I gain new strength with him by my side. There is hopefulness. There is a future. We must begin again.”

Richard Casper & CreatiVets

“Discovering concept-based art and the power of songwriting saved my life. After what it did for me, I knew it could help other Veterans as well, and that’s what I wanted to do through CreatiVets.”

Richard Casper, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran and Co-Founder of CreatiVets, shares how his organization helps Veterans and their families heal through art and music:

IDENTITY is on view through March 19, 2023. We encourage you to join us for our upcoming programs that offer ways to connect to the Veterans in your own life and explore how Veterans can use art and music for their own personal growth and development.

“Arts + Social Impact Explorer Fact Sheet: Arts + Military.” Americans for the Arts, ww2.americansforthearts.org/sites/default/files/2022-05/AFTA%20fact_Arts%2BMilitary_ADA.pdf. Accessed 19 Dec. 2022.

Army-Navy Game: A 132-Year Rivalry

The Army–Navy game is one of the most traditional and enduring rivalries in college football. Since 1890, the Army Black Knights of West Point in New York and the Navy Midshipmen of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland have faced one another.

“Upon the fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds that, upon other fields, on other days will bear the fruits of victory.”

Douglas MacArthur, General of the Army (Retired)

It marks the end of the college football regular season and the third and final game of the season’s Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy series, which also includes the Air Force Falcons of the U.S. Air Force Academy. This year will be the 132nd Army-Navy game, with the Midshipmen leading the all-time series 62-53-7. Learn more about the history and traditions behind the Army-Navy football game.

Army-Navy Traditions

The rivalry between Annapolis and West Point, while friendly, is intense. The phrases “Beat Navy!” and “Beat Army!” are ingrained in the respective institutions and have become a symbol of competitiveness, not just in the Army–Navy game, but in the service of the country.

Army and Navy first met in 1890 at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. In 1893, the first football helmet was used and then in 1901, Theodore Roosevelt was the first sitting president to attend. Navy’s 14-game win streak from 2002 through 2015 is the longest in the series, with the largest win being a Navy victory 51-0 in 1973.

Philadelphia has been the traditional home of the Army–Navy game. Through the 2021 meeting, 89 of the 122 games in the series have been in Philadelphia, including every game from 1932 to 1982. It is selected as the site due to the historic nature of the city and the fact that it is approximately halfway between West Point and Annapolis. 

One of the most unifying traditions of the Army-Navy game takes place after a winner has been declared. At the end of the game, both teams’ alma maters are played. First, both teams join together and sing the losing team’s alma mater to the losing team’s students. Then they turn and sing the winning team’s alma mater to the winning team’s students.

Army-Navy Mascots

Mascots were introduced to both the U.S. Military Academy and Naval Academy in the 1800’s. For West Point, the mule reflected a long-standing history in the Army and was chosen to counter the Navy’s goat at the 1899 Army-Navy game. The first mule mascot was outfitted with a collar, gray blanket and leggings with Army-colored streamers attached to his ears and tail.

In the midshipmen’s case, the mascot chose them. In the 1880s, when Navy ships sailed with livestock as a source of food, one goat was spared and given the role of crew pet. In 1890, Bill the Goat entered Naval football tradition; a symbol of the “tough, warrior mentality.”

Army-Navy Uniforms

A popular topic of conversation is what both teams are wearing! This element of the Army-Navy rivalry never disappoints. Check out this year’s alternate uniforms:

Army and Nike teamed up to tell the story of the soldiers of the 1st Armored Division during World War II. This year marks the 80th anniversary of Operation Torch and the commencement of American ground operations against Axis forces in the European theater, which included North Africa. Learn more: Old Ironsides

Navy and Under Armor teamed up to share the history of fifty-four United States Naval Academy graduates who went on to become astronauts, the most of any institution. The first Naval Academy graduate to become an astronaut was Alan Shepard, who was the first American in space and was one of NASA’s first seven astronauts. Learn more: NAVY x NASA

Over the years, the uniforms may change but one thing remains the same: “America’s Game” continues to be a defining moment in the college football season, and in the hearts of military families around the country.

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.

Pearl Harbor Heroes

On December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy began their surprise attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. Starting at 7:55 a.m. (local time), the base was attacked in two waves by 353 Japanese aircraft, launched from six aircraft carriers.

“Like a thunderclap from a clear sky.”

Naval History and Heritage Command

The deadly and unprovoked strikes against U.S. military forces is “…a date which will live in infamy,” as stated by then President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Listen to his full address to Congress:

On December 8, 1941, President Roosevelt issued a national call to arms and declared war against Japan, entering the United States in World War II.

Stories of Heroism

During the attacks, American service members fought back with extraordinary courage, often at the sacrifice of their own lives. Those without weapons took great risk to save wounded comrades and their ships. Pilots took off to engage Japanese aircraft despite the overwhelming odds. Here are a few of their stories:

Photo courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command

Doris “Dorie” Miller

Miller was assigned to the USS West Virginia as a Mess Attendant Third Class, one of the few ratings open to Black sailors at the time. During the attack on Pearl Harbor, Miller saved his mortally wounded captain and then manned a 50-caliber Browning antiaircraft machine gun. He fired at attacking Japanese planes until he was ordered to abandon ship. Miller shot down between four and six Japanese planes. For his efforts, he was awarded the Navy Cross, becoming the first African American to receive that citation. Read more about this Unsung Hero of World War II.

Brigadier General Kenneth Taylor and Major George Welch

Kenneth Taylor was a new Army Air Corps second lieutenant pilot stationed at Wheeler Field when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Both Taylor and his friend and fellow pilot, George Welch were able to get planes airborne while under fire. Although the two pilots were outnumbered six-to-one, they shot down eight Japanese fighters. Welch and Taylor received the Distinguished Service Cross, becoming the first to be awarded that distinction in World War II. See their Heroism Under Fire.

Taylor (left) and Welch. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy

Rear Admiral Samuel Fuqua

Rear Admiral Samuel Fuqua was aboard the USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was initially knocked down by the explosion of a large bomb which hit the quarterdeck, penetrated several decks, and started a severe fire. Upon regaining consciousness, he began to direct the fighting of the fire and the rescue of wounded and injured personnel. For his bravery and leadership that day, he earned the Medal of Honor.

Lieutenant John Finn

During the first attack by Japanese airplanes on the Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Finn manned a machine gun which was under heavy enemy machine-gun strafing fire. Although painfully wounded many times, he continued to man this gun and to return the enemy’s fire vigorously. He shared, “I can’t honestly say I hit any, but I shot at every damn plane I could see.” He became the first Medal of Honor recipient of World War II.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy

In 2021, during our December Rally Point, we honored the 80th Anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor by sharing the stories of three survivors. Listen in:

On August 23, 1994, Congress would declare December 7 as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. Flags are flown at half-mast and events are held throughout the country, including at the Pearl Harbor Memorial and Hawaii. Join us in honoring the 2,403 lives lost and all those who fought back in one of the darkest days in American military history.

From Soldiers to Sidelines: Coaches with a Purpose [Rally Point]

Veterans and service members can have meaningful and lasting impacts on others through athletics. For our December Rally Point, we explore this powerful combination with Harrison Bernstein, Founder and CEO of Soldiers to Sidelines. Learn how this organization provides a renewed sense of purpose for Veterans, service members and military spouses to become character-based coaches who serve their communities.

The Soldiers to Sidelines story is about turning a passion project into an efficient organization poised to achieve enormous impact for our Veterans and communities for decades to come.

Soldiers to Sidelines(STS) was founded as a project in 2014 based on a single question. What knowledge would be required to become the ultimate coach? Prior to 2014, founder and Executive Director, Harrison Bernstein, had been coaching football and sports performance in high school, NCAA, and the NFL for 14 years. For seven of these years, he taught in the master’s program of exercise science at George Washington University. From 2005 to 2011, he studied and wrote curriculum based on the sciences that support the many facets of coaching.

In 2011 after leaving the Washington Redskins, Harrison began coaching high school football in Washington, DC at a time where many service members and veterans were looking for a new purpose after returning home from the wars. Two years later, a coaching colleague suggested that they invite some veterans to practice so they could involve them in coaching. His suggestion escalated to the idea of starting a non-profit organization named Soldiers to Sidelines led by Harrison. Initially Harrison resisted so he could continue to pursue his own coaching career.

In 2014, Harrison realized that the inherent training and experience of veterans was the perfect foundation to perform as an impactful character-based coach. At the same time, the veteran population was hungry for a new purpose to serve their country as a coach. At this time the STS non-profit project began.

Walter Reed Hospital in Bethesda, MD learned about this new project and donated a classroom to STS to host their first ever coaching seminar for aspiring football coaches who served in the military. Six people attended, and everyone who participated experienced a profound feeling of hope, direction, purpose, and inspiration, including the STS instructors. One of the six original attendees, Randall Finley, eventually earned a college football coaching position at Brevard College in NC. Randall accomplished this with no coaching experience prior to the STS coaching seminar.

STS continued as a project over the next six years while Harrison furthered his football coaching career. All the while, STS was gradually expanding its impact. Each year STS hosted one football coaching seminar averaging 25 participants and expanded to one lacrosse coaching seminar per year.

As more STS certified Soldier Coaches shared their profound stories about how STS saved their lives from depression and suicide, Harrison decided in 2019 to resign from coaching football to dedicate 100% time and energy into scaling this impact to thousands of veterans through multiple sports.

Then in 2020 the COVID pandemic rocked the world and reshaped public perception of virtual learning. This was the perfect opportunity for STS to scale through virtual coaching certification seminars. 2020 proved to be a reformatting year for STS, which culminated in a new 2021 inaugural year of coaching development services for service members, veterans, and military spouses. 2021 was the first year STS operated as a fully staffed and effective non-profit VSO benefitting hundreds of veterans and thousands of athletes. The STS story is just beginning, and with your help, we will provide a new purpose for thousands of veterans influencing millions of athletes for future generations.

Founder & CEO, Soldiers to Sidelines

Harrison Bernstein serves as Founder and CEO of Soldiers to Sidelines (STS). STS is a nonprofit VSO that provides purposeful work for service members and Veterans as character-based coaches in their communities. Before founding Soldiers to Sidelines, Bernstein served as a football and sports performance coach in the NFL, NCAA, and at various high schools. He wrote and published a book titled “The Everyday Coach: Harnessing the Magic of Influence,” which illustrates how we are all coaches every day in all aspects of our lives, whether we realize it or not. It is based on Bernstein’s decades of experience as a coach and a teacher at George Washington University.

Staff Spotlight: Jennifer Ballou, Master Sgt., U.S. Army (Retired), Deputy Chief of Staff

Each month, the Museum invites you to get to know the staff supporting our pillars to Honor, Connect, Inspire and Educate. Meet Jen, Master Sgt., U.S. Army (Retired), Deputy Chief of Staff and NVMM Yoga Instructor.

Q: What is your favorite place in the Museum and why?

A: The Memorial Grove. It is a beautiful outdoor space behind the Museum that inspires reflection and remembrance. I love spending time there and always leave feeling more peaceful and fulfilled than when I arrived.

Q: You are our NVMM Yoga instructor; how has your wellness journey impacted your life your life?

A: I love how this question includes the word “journey” because it truly is just that. We never arrive and knowing that is so important. That being said, my wellness journey has allowed me to give myself permission – permission to try things I probably wouldn’t have otherwise, permission to acknowledge what worked for me yesterday might not work today and permission to invest in myself knowing that I can’t pour from an empty cup.

Q: What is your go-to advice to help someone be in and enjoy the present moment?

A: Slow down, take 10 intentional deep breaths and invite yourself to notice something you wouldn’t have otherwise in this moment (perhaps a particular sight, smell, taste or feeling). Notice what shifts in the way your body feels or your energy.

Q: What are three words that best describe you?

A: Supportive. Determined. Life-long Learner.

Q: What is something that no one would believe about you?

A: 8+ hours of sleep is a non-negotiable for me. Nothing and no one trumps sleep for me.

Q: We feature an #NVMMReads recommendation every month, what is a book that you think everyone should have on their “must-read” list?  

A: “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman is definitely a must read. Relationships matter! Understanding how those you care about need to be loved is a game changer. Just as important is knowing how you need to be loved, which could be much different than what others think you need.

Q: What was the last movie you watched?  

A: “Encanto” with my youngest daughter.

Q: What are your go-to karaoke songs?

A: I don’t have one because I don’t karaoke (trust me, this is a good thing)!

Native American Voices: First Sergeant Pascal Poolaw

His devotion to his soldiers was exceeded only by the love for his family. First Sergeant Pascal C. Poolaw, Sr. was a member of the Kiowa nation and served with the U.S. Army in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He is the United States’ most decorated Native American service member, with 42 medals and citations, including four Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars, and three Purple Hearts – one for each war.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army

Journey of Service

In 1942, Poolaw joined his father and brothers in World War II. He earned his first Silver Star for his actions in Belgium, while serving in Company M, 8th Infantry Regiment. Under heavy enemy fire, he pushed his unit forward and hurled grenades until the enemy dispersed.

During the Korean War, Poolaw earned two Silver Stars. On September 19, 1950, he courageously led his men to penetrate the enemy perimeter and fight hand-to-hand combat. His courage inspired his men to hold their position and allowed the remainder of the company to finish the objective. On April 4, 1951, Poolaw’s platoon was immobilized by the enemies’ automatic weapons and a mortar barrage. In an effort to rescue his men, Poolaw exposed himself to enemy fire, deliberately diverting the enemy’s attention so his men would find more advantageous positions.

After retiring in 1962, he rejoined the Army to follow his son to Vietnam, just like he once did with his father in World War II. He deployed on May 31, 1967, as the first sergeant of the 26th Infantry Regiment’s C Company. On November 7, while on a search and destroy mission during the first battle of Loc Ninh, Poolaw and his unit were ambushed by the Viet Cong. He was killed while attempting to pull a casualty to safety, and posthumously awarded a fourth Silver Star.

“He has followed the trail of the great chiefs. His people hold him in honor and highest esteem. He has given his life for the people and the country he loved so much.”

Eulogy of Irene Poolaw, wife of Pascal C. Poolaw, Sr.

Poolaw’s fighting spirit is honored at Fort Sill, as well as at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Panel 29E, Line 43. Read his remembrance on The Wall of Faces.

Honor and Love: Warrior Tradition

Did you know that Native Americans serve at five times the national average? Despite challenge after challenge, they remain steadfast in their patriotism. As a member of the Kiowa nation, Poolaw was drawn to the warrior tradition found amongst plains Indians. PBS shares more:

Native American Heritage Month is an opportunity for all of us to celebrate the rich and diverse culture, traditions, histories and important contributions of Native Americans who have served in our military since the American Revolution. We invite you to join us as we honor their service and sacrifice.

U.S. Marine Corps Stories of Service: Dorrance Kelly

Semper Fi! In honor of the U.S. Marine Corps’ 247th Birthday, Veteran Dorrance Kelly shared what inspired him to join the Marine Corps and how his service helped shaped him into the person he is today.

“Always Faithful:” Celebrating 247 Years of the U.S. Marine Corps

“70 years ago, Army Major General Frank E. Lowe was quoted as saying, ‘The safest place in Korea was right behind a platoon of Marines. Lord, how they could fight.’ That testimonial rings as true now as it did then and will remain so tomorrow.”

-General David H. Berger, 38th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps
First Lieutenant Baldomero Lopez, USMC, leads the 3rd Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines over the seawall on the northern side of Red Beach, as the second assault wave lands, 15 September 1950, during the Inchon invasion.

Semper Fidelis, Latin for “Always Faithful,” is the motto of every Marine – an eternal and collective commitment to the success of battles, the progress of the nation and the steadfast loyalty to fellow Marines. On their 247th birthday, explore the origins of this versatile fighting force and the service members who shaped their heritage.

Origins of the U.S. Marine Corps

The Marine Corps was founded on November 10, 1775, when the Continental Congress ordered that two battalions of Marines be raised for service as landing forces with the fleet. Marines have executed more than 300 landings on foreign shores and served in every major U.S. naval action since their inception. Read more about the History of the Marine Corps.

Seal of the U.S. Marine Corps. Photo courtesy of the Department of Defense.

Stories You Should Know

Portrait of the First Leader of Marines, Maj. Samuel Nicholas. Photo courtesy of U.S. Marine Corps.

Major Samuel Nicholas

On November 28, 1775, Nicholas was commissioned a “Captain of Marines” by the Second Continental Congress, which was the first commission issued in the Continental Naval Service. On March 3, 1776, the Continental Marines made their first amphibious landing in American history when they attempted an assault during the Battle of Nassau.

Sergeant Major Daniel Daly

Daly was one of nineteen men (including seven Marines) to have received the Medal of Honor twice. He is said to have yelled, “Come on, you sons of *******, do you want to live forever?” to the men of his company before they charged the Germans during the Battle of Balleau Wood in World War I. Major General Smedley Butler described Daly as “The fightin’est Marine I ever knew!” Explore his Medal of Honor actions.

Depicted is then-Gunnery Sergeant Daniel Daly, a double recipient of the Medal of Honor. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Pfc. Preston Toledo and Pfc. Frank Toledo, Navajo cousins in a Marine artillery regiment in the South Pacific, relay orders over a field radio in their native tongue. Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Archives.

Navajo Code Talkers

In 1942, 29 Navajo men were recruited and trained by the U.S. Marine Corps. They worked to develop an undecipherable code that would be used across the Pacific. The Code Talkers, as they were called, became Platoon 382 – the first entirely Native American, all-Navajo platoon in U.S. Marine Corps history. Learn more about the Navajo Code Talkers story.

Montford Point Marines

The opportunity for African Americans to enlist and serve in the Marine Corps came in 1942. Approximately 20,000 African American men completed recruit training and became known as the Montford Point Marines. Despite challenge after challenge presented to them, their valor and performance in the Pacific paved the way for an integrated armed force. Hear their stories:

Private Minnie Spotted Wolf

In 1943, Private Minnie Spotted Wolf was one of the first Native American women to enlist in the Marine Corps. She was a member of the Blackfoot tribe and wanted to serve her country after her brother died. Prior to joining the Marines, she had worked on her father’s ranch and was well prepared to be a heavy equipment operator. In 2019, a section of U.S. Highway 89 was dedicated as “Minnie Spotted Wolf Memorial Highway.” Connect with more stories of Trailblazing Servicewomen.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Archives.
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Colonel Gregory “Pappy” Boyington

A Flying Tiger and Marine Corps Vought F4U Corsair fighter ace who led combat missions with Marine Fighter Squadron 214, better known by its nickname, the “Black Sheep Squadron.”

In January 1944, Boyington, outnumbered by Japanese “Zero” planes, was shot down into the Pacific Ocean and captured by a Japanese submarine crew. He was held as a Prisoner of War for more than a year and a half. After liberation in 1945, he received the Medal of Honor from President Harry Truman.

Colonel John Glenn

John Herschel Glenn, Jr. was a U.S. Marine Corps aviator, engineer, astronaut, businessman and U.S. Senator. Our Museum began with his vision and every day we strive to live up to the guiding principles he set forth: To Honor, Connect, Inspire and Educate. Explore the story of our Museum Visionary.

John Glenn posing in front of his F8U-1P Crusader during the “Project Bullet” record breaking transcontinental flight, 1957. Photo courtesy of the Glenn College of Public Affairs.

Sergeant Jason Dominguez of Lima Company

With more than 177,200 active-duty members and 32,400 in reserve, the U.S. Marine Corps remains an elite fighting force on land, air and sea. Join us in celebrating their service throughout the month of November.

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.

Fishing for Healing: No Bait Needed [Rally Point]

Expand your toolkit with therapeutic fly fishing. For our November Rally Point, Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. joined us to explore how they provide physical and emotional rehabilitation for active-duty service members and Veterans. Learn how casting a line can offer physical and mental health benefits, provide a tranquil space for reflection, teach resilience and build community.

Jarod Klucho is a Marine Corps Veteran and alumnus of The Ohio State University. He has been the Program Lead of the Columbus program of Project Healing Waters since fall 2019. The chapter hosts approximately 30 fly fishing events a year for disabled Veterans in central Ohio. 

Jeff Reinke grew up in Central Wisconsin in a region known as the Sand Counties, which were made famous by the naturalist Aldo Leopold. He grew up with an appreciation of nature, hunting and fishing, along with all the other things boys did growing up in a community of paper mills and farms.

In his daily life, Jeff is an Architect who practices in Healthcare and Senior Living with some projects in regional VA’s. He lives in Arlington Heights, Illinois which is a Northwest Suburb of Chicago. He and his wife Deborah Sheehan, who is also a healthcare architect, raised two children who are now adults. When time permits, he and Deb love to travel, fly fish, and enjoy a glass of wine from that region.

Jeff loves fly fishing and starts at an early age (8 years old) on the small lakes in Central and Northern Wisconsin. Once high school was complete fly fishing took a pause in Jeff’s life while attending college and starting his career. It wasn’t until he was 40 years old that he finally “got his feet wet” once again. Jeff fishes for many species in both fresh and saltwater including larger species like muskies (second place in the 2016 Treeland Premier – his first tournament), tarpon, bonefish, and shark, all on the fly. Jeff’s biggest tarpon was 6 foot and 135 lbs.

All of this has led Jeff to Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing. In 2015 as the Education Chair for his Trout Unlimited Chapter, Jeff took on the responsibility as Program Lead to build a new program for North Chicago. Today this program is attended regularly by 35 veterans during the day and has welcomed 75 veterans through the year in the evenings. These efforts were recognized in 2019 as Jeff was asked to serve as the Midwest Regional Coordinator. In late 2019, Jeff accepted the offer to join the Field Advisory Council and Chaired that Group until October of 2022. Additionally, Jeff sits as Trustee on PHWFF’s Board of Trustees and continued his commitment to TU by becoming Chapter President for the Gary Borger Chapter which sponsors the North Chicago Program. Jeff maintains a seat on the Illinois Council of TU.

Jeff’s is an active listener and a creative problem solver. His approach has always been one of collaboration and his skill with reading an audience has served him well. As he would tell you “When you design a hospital, you must be able to speak with the person driving the earth mover and then meet with the person who just invented the mechanical heart. It takes that diverse group of people and everyone in between to build a hospital.”

Staff Spotlight: Celeste Bradshaw, Volunteer Coordinator

Each month, the Museum invites you to get to know the staff supporting our pillars to Honor, Connect, Inspire and Educate. Meet Celeste, our Volunteer Coordinator.

Q: What is your favorite place in the Museum and why?

A: The Great Hall, for sure, because of our gorgeous curtain wall of glass and the view of downtown Columbus (especially at night)! I also enjoy looking at the temporary exhibit space downstairs, getting to look up and seeing the beautiful design as the exhibits change throughout the years.

Q: What are three words that best describe you?

A: Friendly. Dedicated. Bubbly.

Q: What is something that no one would believe about you?

A: I am an introvert.

Q: We feature an #NVMMReads recommendation every month, what is a book that you think everyone should have on their “must-read” list?  

A: “A Woman of No Importance” by Sonia Purnell! It’s about an American female spy during WWII in France; a truly remarkable patriot with an exceptional life.  

Q: What was the last movie you watched?  

A: “The Hobbit : Desolation of Smaug.”

Q: What fictional character do you want to be your best friend and why?

A: Tinkerbell.  She can sprinkle me with pixie dust and I can fly!

Q: What are your go-to karaoke songs?

A: Nope. Just nope.

U.S. Navy: On Watch for 247 Years

“Don’t give up the ship!” Famous words from Captain James Lawrence after being mortally wounded in the engagement between his ship, the U.S. frigate Chesapeake and the HMS Shannon on June 1, 1813. Today, this phrase lives on as a rallying cry for the U.S. Navy.

Ensign George M. Lowry, USN, and the Perry’s Victory Centennial Commissioners of Wisconsin on board the Centennial Replica Ship, at Green Bay, Wisconsin in 1913. They are holding a reproduction of Perry’s “Don’t Give Up The Ship” battle ensign. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

This year marks the U.S. Navy’s 247th birthday. The central theme is “On Watch – 24/7 for 247 Years,” which highlights the Navy’s enduring ability to remain fully ready to respond to and effectively deter emergent threats on the high seas. Explore with us the origins of America’s Navy and the service members who shaped their heritage.

Origins of the U.S. Navy

On October 13, 1775, a resolution of the Continental Congress established what is now the United States Navy with “a swift sailing vessel, to carry ten carriage guns, and a proportionable number of swivels, with eighty men, be fitted, with all possible despatch, for a cruise of three months….” After the Revolutionary War, the U.S. Constitution empowered the new Congress “to provide and maintain a navy.” Acting on this authority, Congress established the Department of the Navy on April 30, 1798. Read more about “The Birth of the U.S. Navy.”

Photo courtesy of U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command

Stories You Should Know

Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry

Perry is 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. He 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’s leadership was one of nine successful Lake Erie military campaign victories; the Battle of Lake Erie was the pivotal win for the West. 

Rear Admiral Grace Hopper

Rear Admiral Hopper, a mathematician and member of WAVES, was a pioneer in developing computer technology including UNIVAC, the first commercial electronic computer, and naval applications for COBOL (Common Business Orientated Language). She coined the term, “bug”, which refers to unexplained computer fails. Hopper retired in 1986 at the age of 79, the oldest officer on active U.S. naval duty. Explore more stories of Women in Service.

Commodore Grace M. Hopper, USN. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy
Midshipman Jesse L. Brown, USN, Photographed at Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida, October 1948, while serving as a Naval Aviation Cadet.

Ensign Jesse L. Brown

Brown was the first African American aviator to complete the U.S. Navy’s basic flight training program, a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross and the first African American naval officer killed in the Korean War. Learn more about Jesse Leroy Brown’s Inspiring Story of Service.

Captain John McCain

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. On October 26, 1967, McCain was on a bombing run over the North Vietnamese capital of Hanoi when he was struck by an anti-aircraft missile. See His Harrowing Story of Survival.

Lieutenant McCain (front right) with his squadron and T-2Buckeye trainer, 1965. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

Rear Admiral Robert H. Shumaker

Shot down while flying a bombing mission over North Vietnam on February 11, 1965, Rear Admiral Shumaker was the second Naval aviator to be taken prisoner during the war. Hear his story:

Presidents of the United States

John F. Kennedy

During World War II, he commanded a series of PT boats in the Pacific theater and earned the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his service; he is also the only President to have received the Purple Heart.

Lyndon B. Johnson

Johnson reported for active duty in December 1941, after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. He worked as an observer of bomber missions in the South Pacific, for which he was later awarded the Army Silver Star Medal.

Richard Nixon

Nixon volunteered for sea duty and reported to the U.S. Pacific Fleet where his unit prepared manifests and flight plans for C-47 operations and supervised the loading and unloading of the cargo aircraft.

Gerald Ford

From June 1943 until the end of December 1944, Ford served as the assistant navigator, athletic officer and anti-aircraft battery officer aboard the Monterey.

Jimmy Carter

Carter graduated from the Naval Academy in 1946, after which he was assigned to USS Wyoming as an ensign. After completing two years of surface ship duty, Carter applied for submarine duty. He served as executive officer, engineering officer, and electronics repair officer on the submarine SSK-1.

George H.W. Bush

In September 1944, Bush and his Naval torpedo squadron, VT-51, were based on the USS San Jacinto fighting against the Japanese in the Bonin Islands. Explore more of his story: This Week in History (September 1-5).

“Any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think I can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction, ‘I served in the United States Navy.’”

John F. Kennedy, August 1963

With more than 349,000 personnel on active duty and 101,000 in the Ready Reserve, the U.S. Navy is the largest and most capable Navy in the world. Join us in celebrating their service throughout the month of October.

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.

Honor and Fidelity: “The Borinqueneers”

Since the Revolutionary War, Hispanic service members have played a pivotal role in the U.S. Armed Forces. With the outbreak of World War I, Congress urged more Americans to enlist in the military to help support the country’s war effort. Heeding the call, members of the Hispanic community, including newly naturalized U.S. citizens from Puerto Rico, joined the armed forces. The result was the formation of “The Borinqueneers.”

Who were “The Borinqueneers?”

The 65th Infantry Regiment, nicknamed “The Borinqueneers,” originated from the name Borinquen – a native Taino Indian name for the island of Puerto Rico. Many of the men were direct descendants of this tribe. They were the largest, longest standing and only active-duty, segregated Latino military unit in U.S. history.

“In World War I, they defended the homeland and patrolled the Panama Canal Zone. In World War II, they fought in Europe. In Korea, they fought in mud and snow. They are the 65th Infantry Regiment, U.S. Army.”

President Barack Obama

One of the first opportunities the regiment had to prove its combat worthiness arose on the eve of the Korean War during Operation PORTREX, one of the largest military exercises up until that point. They proved themselves by repelling an offensive consisting of more than 32,000 troops from the 82nd Airborne Division and the U.S. Marine Corps, supported by the Navy and Air Force.

During the Korean War, the Borinqueneers were among the first infantrymen to meet the enemy on the battlefields. In total, they received 10 Distinguished Service Crosses, 256 Silver Stars, 606 Bronze Stars and 2,771 Purple Hearts. Brigadier General William W. Harris shared that the 65th Infantry Regiment was, “The best damn Soldiers that I had ever seen.”

Explore the stories of two of those soldiers:

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army

Sergeant First Class Modesto Cartagena

Cartagena was the most decorated Puerto Rican soldier in history and earned the nickname, “One Man Army.” On April 19, 1951, Cartagena left his position and charged directly into enemy fire, single-handedly destroying two enemy emplacements on Hill 206 near “Yonch’on,” North Korea. After taking out the emplacements, he was knocked to the ground twice by exploding enemy grenades. Nevertheless, he got up and attacked three more times, each time destroying an enemy emplacement until he was wounded. His actions prevented heavier casualties within the platoon and his courage and superior leadership were decisive factors in the mission. Cartagena was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions.

General Richard Cavazos

Cavazos was the United States Army’s first Hispanic four-star general. During the Korean War, then-First Lieutenant Cavazos distinguished himself during an attack on Hill 142, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. During the Vietnam War, as a lieutenant colonel, Cavazos was awarded a second Distinguished Service Cross. In 1976, Cavazos became the first Mexican-American to reach the rank of brigadier general in the U.S. Army. Cavazos served for 33 years; his final post was head of the U.S. Army Forces Command.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army

Since 1776, when George Washington became the first Congressional Gold Medal recipient, only 169 other individuals or groups have shared this honor. On June 10, 2014, “The Borinqueneers” became part of that elite group. See the ceremony:

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Ruben Hinojosa shared, “Hispanic Veterans have always been, and continue to be, part of the American story.” Join us in celebrating their contributions to our nation’s military, history and culture.

Equine Therapy with Stockhands Horses for Healing [Rally Point]

We traveled to the stables for our October Rally Point! Stockhands Horses for Healing, a Delaware, Ohio, Veteran Service Organization, shared the benefits of the equine experience including how working with horses provides mental and emotional calm, physical freedom and purpose among Veterans and civilians alike.

Staff Spotlight: Lesley Moore, Executive Assistant to the President & CEO

Each month, the Museum invites you to get to know the staff supporting our pillars to Honor, Connect, Inspire and Educate. Meet Lesley, our Executive Assistant to the President & CEO.

Q: What is your favorite place in the Museum and why?

A: My favorite place in the museum is the rooftop.  Depending on what is happening, it can be tranquil or lively. Not to mention, it gives one the opportunity to get a different view of the city!

Q: What are three words that best describe you?

A: Outgoing. Innovative. Patient.

Q: Do you think that you could survive a zombie apocalypse? Why or why not?

A: Yes!  First, I am a very good shot so I think I would be able to reduce their population, LOL. Lastly, I love to go in the kitchen and play “Chopped” so I would be able to use what is available to survive. 

Q: If you could recommend one book that should be on everyone’s reading list, what would it be?

A: “The Great Santini” by Pati Conroy.

Q: What is something that no one would believe about you?

A: I played football as a youth (cornerback).

Q: What fictional character do you want to be your best friend and why?

A: Misty Knight (Marvel 1975).  She experiences a lot of adversity but does not let it stop her from pursuing justice. Even if she sometimes must do things her own way to get the job done!

Q: What was the last movie you watched?  

A: “The Last Samurai.”

Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day

Our Gold Star Families are a vital part of our nation’s military community and we are dedicated to honoring their sacrifice.

On the last Sunday of September, our nation observes Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day, honoring surviving mothers and families of fallen service members. It is meant to honor the service member’s ultimate sacrifice while acknowledging their family’s loss, grief and continued healing.

Origins of the Gold Star

The Gold Star symbol began during World War I. At the start of the American involvement in 1917, families hung banners with blue stars representing family members in the services. If the service member died in combat, the family changed the blue star to gold.

Grace Darling Seibold, founding national president of American Gold Star Mothers, Inc., began efforts to cope with the loss of her son, Lt. George Vaughn Seibold, by devoting her time and efforts to not only working in VA hospitals but also extending friendship to other mothers who experienced the same loss.

On June 4, 1928, 25 mothers residing in Washington, D.C. laid the groundwork to build an organization founded on delivering “the bond of mutual love, sympathy, and support of the many loyal, capable, and patriotic mothers who while sharing their grief and their pride, have channeled their time, efforts and gifts to lessening the pain of others.”

Hear Gold Star Mother Eunice Eckard’s story about her son Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Eckard who was killed in action while deployed to Afghanistan:

Honoring the Fallen

A newly added display in our Remembrance Gallery pays tribute to the families who have lost loved ones in service to our country. As part of this installation, we honor Staff Sgt. James Moriarty, an Army Green Beret who was posthumously awarded the Silver Star in 2021. In a selfless act of bravery, Moriarty gave his life, enabling a teammate to neutralize the enemy on November 4, 2016.

Gold Star Mother Cindy Moriarty shared, “I still have a hard time with the day he died, but we’ve marked it by spending time at his gravesite in Arlington. I have his pictures, medals and awards in our house – and our Gold Star flag – and those things give me comfort. Many will remember him as Staff Sergeant James Moriarty, but to me he was Jimmy, my son.”

These mothers and families have experienced the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, and we extend our deepest condolences and gratitude.

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Americans have enriched our nation beyond measure with the quiet strength of closely knit families and proud communities.

President George H.W. Bush

Every year from September 15 to October 15, Americans celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by appreciating the community’s history, heritage and contributions. In 1987, Representative Esteban Torres of California submitted H.R. 3182, a bill to expand Hispanic Heritage Week into a Hispanic Heritage Month. In his remarks, Torres noted that supporters of the legislation “want the American people to learn of our heritage. We want the public to know that we share a legacy with the rest of the country, a legacy that includes artists, writers, Olympic champions, and leaders in business, government, cinema, and science.”

Explore some powerful stories of Hispanic American service members who devoted their lives to a cause greater than oneself.

Carmen Contreras-Bozak

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army

Carmen Contreras-Bozak was the first person of Hispanic heritage and the first of approximately 200 Puerto Rican women who would serve in the Women’s U.S. Army Auxiliary Corps during World War II. She joined the WAAC and volunteered to be a part of the 149th WAAC Post Headquarters Company, “the first American women’s expeditionary force in history.” It was also one of the most highly qualified WAAC groups ever to reach the field.

Lieutenant Colonel Olga Custodio

Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Olga Custodio, the first Latina U.S. Air Force pilot, is pictured as a first lieutenant while in flight training. Credit: United States Air Force 

“Querer es poder” (loosely translated to “where there’s a will there’s a way”) is Lieutenant Colonel Olga Custodio’s life mantra. Custodio became the first Latina to complete U.S. Air Force pilot training and the first to become a U.S. military pilot. Learn how she Commanded the Skies.

Major General Angela Salinas

She was the first woman to command a Marine Corps Recruit Depot, and the first Hispanic woman to become a general in the Marines. The youngest of five children to Mexican immigrants, Salinas was the first in her family to graduate from college. In 2013, Salinas retired after 39 years of military service as the highest-ranking female in the Marines, at the time of her retirement. Hear her story:

Beyond the Call of Duty: Medal of Honor Recipients

Since 1865, 61 men of Hispanic heritage have been awarded the Medal of Honor: Two were presented to members of the U.S. Navy, 13 to members of the U.S. Marine Corps and 46 to members of the U.S. Army.

Captain Humbert “Rocky” Versace

As the son of an Army colonel, Versace was no stranger to the military. Upon high school graduation, Versace followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the military.

On May 12, 1962, Versace began his first tour of duty in the Republic of Vietnam as an intelligence advisor. While accompanying a Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) patrol engaged in combat operations in the Republic of Vietnam on October 29, 1963, Captain Versace and the CIDG assault force were caught in an ambush from elements of a reinforced enemy Main Force battalion. Versace was eventually captured and taken to a prison deep in the jungle along with two other Americans, Lieutenant Nick Rowe and Sergeant Dan Pitzer. He tried to escape four times but failed in his attempts. The last time the prisoners heard his voice, he was loudly singing “God Bless America.” On September 26, 1965, North Vietnam’s “Liberation Radio” announced the execution of Captain Versace. His remains have yet to be recovered.

He was the first member of the U.S. Army to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions performed in Southeast Asia while in captivity. Explore more of his Profile in Courage.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army

Master Sergeant Roy P. Benavidez

“If the story of his heroism were a movie script, you would not believe it.” -President Ronald Reagan

On the morning of May 2, 1968 in Loc Ninh, Vietnam, Benavidez voluntarily boarded a returning aircraft to assist in a Special Forces extraction attempt. Despite being wounded multiple times and under intense enemy fire, he carried half of the wounded team members to an awaiting aircraft while administering first aid to the injured of a helicopter crash. Listen as President Reagan shares his valorous actions in combat:

Master Sergeant Leroy Petry

Influenced by a cousin who joined the U.S. Army Rangers, Petry enlisted in the Army in Santa Fe in September 1999. He had a total of eight deployments: two supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom and six supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. In all, Petry spent a total of 28 months deployed. On May 26, 2008, he saved the lives of two soldiers when a grenade landed nearby. Hear his story:

Join us throughout Hispanic Heritage Month as we recognize and celebrate the contributions that Americans with roots in Spanish-speaking nations have made to our military, history and culture.

Honoring POW/MIA Recognition Day

“You Are Not Forgotten.” The central phrase behind honoring our nation’s Prisoners of War (POW) and Missing in Action (MIA) service members.

Every third Friday of September, our nation comes together to pay tribute to the lives and contributions of more than 80,000 Americans who are still listed as Prisoners of War or Missing in Action through National POW/MIA Recognition Day. This special day of remembrance was first established in 1979 through presidential proclamation by President Jimmy Carter.

The proclamation reads: “All Americans should recognize the special debt we owe our fellow citizens who, as prisoners during wartime, sacrificed their freedom [so] that we might enjoy the blessings of peace and liberty. Likewise, we must remember the unresolved casualties of war — our soldiers who are still missing. The pain and bitterness of war endures for the families, relatives and friends.”


National POW/MIA Recognition Day is the result of a push for accountability by the families of more than 2,500 Vietnam War POW/MIAs. The flag was the first part of the movement.

In 1970, Mrs. Michael Hoff, the wife of a service member declared MIA and a member of the National League of POW/MIA Families, recognized the need for a symbol honoring POW/MIAs.

In January 1972, the League of Families Board of Directors approved the design of the flag with the objective of advocating for improved treatment for and answers on American POW/MIAs.

On August 10, 1990, the 101st Congress passed U.S. Public Law 101-355, which recognized the League’s POW/MIA flag and designated it “the symbol of our Nation’s concern and commitment to resolving as fully as possible the fates of Americans still prisoner, missing and unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, thus ending the uncertainty for their families and the Nation.”

POW/MIA or “Missing Man” Table

A solemn ceremony to honor our missing comrades in arms. The table arrangement includes:

Learn more about the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency whose mission is to recover American military personnel listed as prisoners of war or missing in action from designated past conflicts around the world:

Veteran Voices: Sgt. Maj. of the Army Jack Tilley, U.S. Army (Retired)

12th Sergeant Major of the Army Jack Tilley, U.S. Army (Retired) military service spans over 36 years – with service in Vietnam through the start of the Global War on Terror. In March of 2022, he joined us to share some of his reflections on service in Vietnam, his experiences as a Sergeant Major of the Army and how service continues to drive him to make an impact on our transitioning military community and their families.

Tilley is currently featured in the nationally acclaimed book, The Twenty-Year War, which is the basis for our latest exhibition, The Twenty-Year War: Our Next Greatest Generation.

A native of Vancouver, Washington, Jack was sworn in as the 12th Sergeant Major of the Army on June 23, 2000 and served until January 15, 2004. A career soldier, he had held many leadership positions within the Department of the Army and Unified Command environments. As Sergeant Major of the Army, Tilley served as the Army Chief of Staff’s personal advisor on all enlisted-related matters, particularly in areas affecting soldier training and quality of life. He devoted the majority of his time to traveling throughout the Army observing training, and talking to soldiers and their families.

He sits on a wide variety of councils and boards that make decisions affecting enlisted soldiers and their families. A Vietnam War veteran, Jack Tilley has held a variety of important leadership positions throughout his 34 year career including tank commander, section leader, drill sergeant, platoon sergeant, senior instructor, operations sergeant, first sergeant and command sergeant major. His military education includes the First Sergeants Course and the Sergeants Major Academy.

Among his numerous awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Bronze Star with V Device, Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Vietnam Service and Campaign Medals.After retirement, Jack continued his advocacy for all service members. He is co-chairman of the American Freedom Foundation, a 501(c)3 public benefit corporation. The American Freedom Foundation was organized to honor veterans of America’s armed forces, to raise money and awareness for various veterans’ organizations with special emphasis directed to welfare and educational issues facing those wounded in action, and soldiers killed in action during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He has worked tirelessly with the organization managing the annual fund-raising benefit concerts with top named entertainment.

In addition, he is a board member of the Army Retirement Council (ARC) and special advisor for the Wounded Warriors advisory council board. His goal is to raise public awareness and support for military service members and veterans.

Jack has also become a successful management consultant, working with top Fortune 500 companies on a variety of projects and programs that are unique to the military community. He is President/CEO of JTilley Inc., and is part-owner of Oakgrove Technologies.

Their Next Mission: Veterans in the Workforce [Rally Point]

Every day, hundreds of military personnel leave the service in search of employment as civilians. Veterans bring invaluable skills to the workforce, including teamwork, organization, strong work ethics, problem solving, and more.

In this Rally Point, Rachael Jackson, U.S. Army Veteran and Founder and CEO of REV, and Alex Calfee, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran and Executive VP of Oplign, share how you can prioritize finding Veterans to fill your open positions and positively impact your company or organization.

Rachael is the Founder and CEO of REV. She graduated from the United States Military Academy in 2003 with a degree in Engineering Physics. She served in the U.S. Army as an Apache pilot. After deploying to Iraq, Rachael faced a medical crisis that forced her to transition from a military career to a civilian career.

After getting out of the military, Rachael worked with SAIC and then as a civil servant with the Software Engineering Directorate at RedStone Arsenal. Throughout her military and civilian career, Rachael recognized the war that leaders are fighting for the hearts, minds and attention of those they lead and serve.

Her purpose is now focused on helping equip, empower and inspire leaders to build up Meaningful Connection in scalable and sustainable ways. The resulting Cultures of Meaningful Connection power individuals teams that outperform all others.

Alex Calfee, Cuba, 1997

Alex make things with computers and use those things to help people and companies connect for higher, better, and faster employment. Alex also spends some of his time working to enhance the attractiveness of Central Ohio to Veterans and transitioning military through volunteer work at the Central Ohio Veterans Consortium.

He enjoys lifting heavy things off the ground, wearing pocket t-shirts, not getting caught in the rain, and helping Veterans and folks getting out of the military (and the people that love them) navigate this crazy, mixed-up Now of Work.

NVMM Reads: “America’s White Table”

Listen to this reading of “America’s White Table” by the Columbus Metropolitan Library and join us in honoring the sacrifice made by American prisoners of war and those who remain missing in action. Margot Theis Raven’s heartfelt story of a young girl learning about her uncle’s experience as a POW during the Vietnam War reveals the meaning behind the white table that can be found in the dining halls of the Armed Forces across the nation. Rather than basing the story on one Veteran’s experience, the author instead chose to compile different service members’ acts of heroism during the war to represent all branches of the military.

Extend Your Learning:

Ask questions about this story.

  • What does each item on the table represent?
  • What would you add to the table to honor the brave men and women who have served our country?
  • Can you think of other symbols that you see in your everyday life? What do certain objects mean to you?
  • Why is is important to remember and honor the Americans who were prisoners of war or those who never returned home?
  • Ask a Veteran in your life what the symbolism of the white table means to them.

Visit the National Veterans Memorial and Museum and see what the POW/MIA Table looks like in person. While you’re here, discover stories of service and sacrifice of Veterans from the American Revolution to the present.

Learn more about the POW experience in Vietnam from the firsthand account of Colonel Tom Moe, U.S. Air Force (Retired).

An acrostic poem is a poem where certain letters in each line spell out a specific word or phrase.

Check out this worksheet from Arkansas PBS and try writing your own acrostic poem or draw a picture of a hero in your community.

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 importance of our POW/MIA Table or any of the other unique Veteran stories that can be found throughout American history. 

Staff Spotlight: Maureen Mason, Membership Coordinator

Each month, the Museum invites you to get to know the staff supporting our pillars to Honor, Connect, Inspire and Educate. Meet Maureen, our Membership Coordinator.

Q: What is your favorite place in the Museum and why?

A: My favorite place in the museum is inside of our entrance. Not only can you get an incredible view of our architecture and our Guest Experience team, but you can see the look on all of our guests faces as they enter – a true joy!

Q: What are three words that best describe you?

A: Surprising. Personable. Fun.

Q: Do you think that you could survive a zombie apocalypse? Why or why not?

A: I would most certainly perish. I’m always trying to help others, so I would give shelter to too many people or give away all of my supplies. If a zombie came after me, I’d probably hand my Hand over to them so they wouldn’t starve!

Q: If you could recommend one book that should be on everyone’s reading list, what would it be?

A: “The Girl in the Green Sweater: A Life in Holocaust’s Shadow,” written by coauthors Krystyna Chiger and Daniel Paisner. It was a book that changed my career trajectory from Music Education to History.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?

A: People being rude to strangers Life is too short and you never know what someone may be going through.

Q: What fictional character do you want to be your best friend and why?

A: It is a toss up between two people: John McClane from the “Die Hard” series or Chandler Bing from “Friends”. John McClane would be loyal and always have my back. Chandler Bing would make life more fun and always make me laugh.

Q: Based on the Law of the Seven Degrees of Separation, who is someone notable that you know Explain.

A: I actually grew up with some great musical influences. The Cassidy’s are relatives of mine!

7 Facts You Need to Know

Heading into the Museum’s fourth anniversary, it’s time to highlight a few things everyone should know about the NVMM.

1. Iconic Building Without Columns

Due to the irregular curvilinear design of the building, the Museum was built using a 3D model. Every point was assigned with x, y, and z coordinates, with blueprints being of minimal help. In fact, our design has zero weight bearing columns.

2. Concrete with a Purpose

Allied Works designed our concrete arch structure with 28 million pounds of concrete and a glass curtainwall system. Seeming to rise organically from the ground, our building is a symbol of our nation’s Veterans and how their strength emanates from within.

3. Don’t forget to look down!

Our floor contains over 1 million individually inlaid pieces of White Oak, a traditional American wood species found in hometowns across America.

4. We’re the ONLY Museum honoring ALL Veterans

There’s ONLY ONE Museum in America that honors ALL Veterans – from all branches of service, and from all eras of our nation’s proud history of military service, both peacetime and wartime. We are proud to give a voice to every man and woman who answered the call for our country.

5. Awards, Awards, and more Awards

6. What’s behind the Museum?

Our Memorial Grove is 2.5 acres featuring a grove of trees, water feature, memorial wall, Soldier’s Cross and Purple Heart Monument. All together creating a cohesive space for remembrance, inspiration and recognition of service.

OLIN, our Landscape Architects, utilized 5 species of Elm Tree, a tree that has sheltered Veterans and their families since colonial times. The reflecting pool and three water cascades highlight water as the elemental source of life and healing. Lastly, the limestone wall references regional geology and symbolizes our strength as a nation as best exemplified by the teamwork of our armed forces and the motto, E Pluribus Unum, “From many, one.”

7. Artifacts in our Meeting Room

Our Franklin County Meeting Room contains artifacts from the original Veterans Museum in Columbus.

Back-to-School Essentials

As the only Museum dedicated to honoring Veterans from all branches of military service, the National Veterans Memorial and Museum offers unique educational experiences unlike anywhere else. From in-person field trips to digital resources for the classroom, teachers from Kindergarten through High School will find exciting ways to connect what their students are learning with the personal artifacts, quotes, letters, imagery and powerful films of Veterans telling their unique story in their own words.

The Education Team at the NVMM is proud to offer a variety of learning opportunities for students in grades K-12 across the country!

Field Trips

Come visit us in downtown Columbus, Ohio! Field Trips for the 2022-2023 School Year are now being scheduled and educators can select one of two options:

  • Self-Guided Tours
    • Self-guided visits include an overview by a Museum Ambassador and a scavenger hunt customized by grade level.
  • Guided, Interpretive Experiences
    • Interpretive experiences are led by a Museum Educator and include a deep dive into the Museum’s core exhibition and an educational program that provides a hands-on learning opportunity for your students. These experiences last approximately two hours with time for the students to explore the Museum on their own.

Can’t make it to Columbus? Schedule a virtual field trip led by a Museum Educator. For any option you choose, we provide pre- and post-visit activities to enhance your experience at the new home of the brave.

Museum Robots

While you’re here, you may even run into one of our Museum robots, Deborah or VEC-001, which is sure to leave a lasting impression on your students.

Educator Resources

Throughout the school year we’ll be updating our educator resources page with lesson plans aligned to state and national learning standards, hands-on learning activities, Veteran stories about historic events, and other digital resources that support classroom learning in Social Studies, English Language Arts, and STEM subjects.  

NVMM Reads

Looking for book recommendations that can be used to enhance a learning topic? We’ve got you covered! Each month our NVMM Reads program recommends two books: one for children and one for adults. These are tied to monthly themes, historic dates or Veteran stories being told at the Museum. 

We’re also collaborating with the Columbus Metropolitan Library to create digital storytelling videos that can be viewed together as a class or on your own. Stay tuned for more details!

No matter how you and your students interact with us, we hope you’ll walk away with a deeper understanding of the Veteran experience along with the inspiration to serve in your own community in some way. Feel free to contact us at Education@nationalvmm.org with any questions or Sign Up for Emails to stay up to date on what our Education Team is working on.

Who were the Navajo Code Talkers?

“Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima.” 

-Major Howard Connor, 5th Marine Division signal officer

Every August 14, Navajo Code Talkers Day is commemorated to honor the contributions of Native American code talkers who served in the U.S. military during World Wars I and II. Code talking was first pioneered by the Choctaw and Cherokee peoples during World War I. The 20 terms created by the Choctaw were utilized in the development of the Navajo codes during World War II. The enemy was unable to decipher a single code talker message in either World War.

Where did the idea come from to use Navajo Code Talkers?

The idea to use Navajo for secure communications came from Philip Johnston, the son of a missionary to the Navajos, World War I Veteran and one of the few non-Navajos who spoke their language fluently. He believed the language answered the military requirement for an undecipherable code because it is an unwritten language of extreme complexity. Its syntax, tonal qualities and dialects make it unintelligible to anyone without extensive exposure and training.

Navajo Code Talkers, serving with the 1st Marine Division, are commended for their service in the Peleliu campaign by Lt. Col. James G. Smith, Nov. 20, 1944. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corps.

In 1942, 29 Navajo men, including Carl Gorman, were recruited and trained by the U.S. Marine Corps. They worked to develop an undecipherable code that would be used across the Pacific. 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.

Thomas Begay, Iwo Jima Hero

U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Thomas Begay was playing football in a gravel pit near his school in New Mexico when someone announced the Pearl Harbor attack. At the age of 17, he had his mother put her thumb print on a paper so he could join. Begay was a member of the 27th Marines of the 5th Marine Division, which was the first to see action in the Battle of Iwo Jima. Hear his story of service below.

From Code Talkers to Scouts and Messengers

The Navajos also did their share of fighting and made good scouts and messengers. 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. 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.

Uplifting Veterans through Physical Fitness [Rally Point]

We were in California for our August Rally Point with Nate Boyer, co-founder of Merging Vets & Players (MVP). Boyer is a U.S. Army Green Beret Veteran and former NFL player for the Seattle Seahawks. He shares his life journey and the challenges faced by Veterans and former professional athletes when they no longer have their teams. The power of MVP is bringing Veterans and players together to unlock the potential for their next life mission through physical fitness and peer-to-peer support.

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

Nate Boyer is what many would deem a renaissance man. The former active-duty Green Beret is also a world traveler, a philanthropist and community leader, and a professional athlete as a former member of the Seattle Seahawks.

After joining the US Army in 2005, Boyer earned the coveted Green Beret in December, 2006. He was stationed in Okinawa throughout most of 2007 with 1st Special Forces Group. In April of 2008, Nate was deployed with ODA 0324 10th Special Forces Group to Iraq and served his tour of duty until January of 2009. He then served tours in Afghanistan from April-August, 2013 (Special Operations Joint Task Force-Afghanistan) and from April-August, 2014 (ODA 3116 3rd Special Forces Group). In addition to his deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, Boyer completed a number of JCET (Joint Command Exchange Training) Missions to Israel (2009), Bulgaria (2011), and Greece (2012).

A five-year player for the Texas Longhorns, Boyer served as the No. 1 long snapper on PAT/FG’s his last three seasons and also handled punt-snapping duties during 2013-14. He played in 39 career games. In 2012 Boyer received the Disney Spirit Award at the ESPN College Football Awards, which is given to the most inspirational figure in college football. In 2013 the National Football Foundation awarded him with the coveted Legacy Award. He was named to the 2014 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, which recognizes players whose charitable involvement and community service contributions stand out among all other student-athletes; was a three-time first-team Academic All-Big 12 choice (2012-14); and was first-team Capitol One Academic All-American in 2013. Boyer was named 2012-13 Big 12 Sportsperson of the Year and in 2012 became the first-ever recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). In January of 2015, he played in the Medal of Honor Bowl in Charleston, SC.

Boyer has embarked on a wealth of colorful adventures and life-changing experiences: he has backpacked solo throughout much of Europe and Central America, worked for a year on a fishing boat in San Diego, gone fly fishing in Kamchatka in Russia, worked as a big brother and mentor for children diagnosed with Autism, and volunteered at Refugee Camps in the Darfur region of Sudan/Chad border. Recently he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro with a wounded veteran to raise money for clean water wells in Tanzania.

Boyer’s belief that “Anything is Possible” has served him well throughout his life and has made him especially fit to speak about finding one’s passions and living with purpose for other people. Nate’s can-do attitude is contagious and his inspirational story resounds with any audience; students, veterans, businesspersons, athletes and people from all walks of like can take something away from his unique story.

Staff Spotlight: Mason Farr, Education and Outreach Manager

Each month, the Museum invites you to get to know the staff supporting our pillars to Honor, Connect, Inspire and Educate. Meet Mason, our Education and Outreach Manager.

Q: How have you connected to the Museum?

A: I’ve been tracking the Museum’s progress since 2017 when I still lived in Washington, DC and worked for the U.S. Army Center of Military History. I knew I would be moving back to Columbus, and while I was working in the Pentagon someone mentioned that a new national museum for Veterans was being built there. I thought that would be the perfect place for me.

It was extremely rewarding to work as a civilian alongside both active duty servicemembers and Veterans to help tell their stories, and I knew I wanted to find opportunities to continue that mission.

Q: What inspired you to go into education?

A: I have always enjoyed sharing my passion for history with others. While I briefly considered becoming a high school teacher in college, I preferred the idea of interacting with students and adults in a less formal learning environment.

I’ve been fortunate to have positions sharing stories and engaging with people of all ages and backgrounds in museums, historic houses, and even government institutions.

Q: What are three words that best describe you?

A: Enthusiastic. Curious. Dad.

Q: Do you think that you could survive a zombie apocalypse? Why or why not?

A: Probably not. I don’t have much experience with the survival skills that I think would be necessary if a zombie apocalypse occurred.

Q: If you could recommend one book that should be on everyone’s reading list, what would it be?

A: “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Q: If you could swap places with anyone for a day, who would you choose and why?

A: Anyone on the 2016 Chicago Cubs on the day they won the World Series! As a lifelong Cubs fan, it would be amazing to be part of that celebration.

Q: What is your favorite place within the Museum?

A: The Great Hall. Stacy Pearsall’s portraits of men and women as they were when they served and again as civilians is a powerful experience that sets the stage for what the Museum is all about. It’s also tough to beat the view of the Scioto Mile that can be seen through the windows.

Legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers

On Buffalo Soldiers Day, we honor and remember the soldiers of the first peacetime, all-black regiments in the U.S. Army. This date memorializes the action taken by Congress on July 28, 1866, to establish the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments, and the 38th, 39th, 40th and 41st Infantry Regiments.

How did they get their name, “Buffalo Soldiers?”

The 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments played an instrumental role in the Indian Wars, protection of national parks and the safe transport of the settlers through the Western frontier. More than 180,000 Buffalo Soldiers served in the U.S. Army up to the integration of the Armed Forces including then-Colonel Charles Young, the first African American Colonel in the U.S. Army. The monuments located at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point honor their legacy of service.

Fort Leavenworth, Kansas

The 10th Cavalry was organized on September 21, 1866, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas with then-Colonel Benjamin H. Grierson as Commanding Officer. As the only white officer who supported the unit, he enthusiastically believed “in the abilities, dedication and record of performance of the Buffalo Soldiers.” The Buffalo Soldiers embodied “How the West was Won.”

Buffalo Soldier Monument at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Buffalo Soldier Monument. Photo courtesy of the Leavenworth Convention & Visitors Bureau.

In honor of the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments, a 16-foot monument was constructed in bronze depicting a soldier riding on horseback through a water feature. It was dedicated in 1992 by General Colin L. Powell, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time and the first African American to serve in that capacity. The same year, Congress passed a law designating July 28 as Buffalo Soldiers Day.

U.S. Military Academy at West Point

The Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments served at West Point from 1907-1947. The academy utilized members of the Buffalo Soldiers to give instruction in riding skills to cadets.

In honor of this 40-year legacy, a 10-foot bronze statue was unveiled on September 10, 2021. The statue is a likeness to the first soldiers who arrived at West Point in 1907. From horse breed to full-dress uniform, it showcases an accurate depiction of an enlisted soldier and bears the resemblance of Staff Sgt. Sanders H. Matthews Sr., the last known Buffalo Soldier to serve at West Point.

“We can draw inspiration from them now and we will for generations to come. As we dedicate this monument, let us be reminded of the noble service and the sacrifices they contributed so immeasurably to the history of West Point and our nation.”

Class of 1980 General Vincent Brooks, U.S. Army (Retired)
The West Point Buffalo Soldier Monument.
The West Point Buffalo Soldier Monument. Photo courtesy of the Buffalo Soldier’s Association of West Point.

Meet the Artist

Eddie Dixon dedicates his God-given talent to honoring African American military trailblazers. In addition to the two Buffalo Soldier monuments, he created sculptures of Eugene Bullard, Henry O. Flipper, Women of the 6888th and Doris Miller to name a few.

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.

Museum Visionary: John Glenn

John Herschel Glenn, Jr. was a U.S. Marine Corps aviator, engineer, astronaut, businessman and U.S. Senator. Our Museum began with his vision and every day we strive to live up to the guiding principles he set forth: To Honor, Connect, Inspire and Educate. In honor of his birthday, we celebrate John Glenn’s dedication to our community, nation and Veterans.

Take a stroll down memory lane with these 5 Supersonic Facts:

Glenn, Jr. was born on July 18, 1921, in Cambridge, Ohio

The son of John Herschel Glenn, Sr., who worked for a plumbing firm, and Clara Teresa Glenn, a teacher. His parents had married shortly before John, Sr., a member of the American Expeditionary Force, left for the Western Front during World War I.

The family moved to New Concord, Ohio soon after John, Jr.’s birth. At eight years old, he flew his first airplane with his father and from there, became fascinated by flight and built model airplanes from balsa wood kits.

Glenn was only a toddler when he met his future wife, Annie Castor

Glenn, Jr. was only a toddler when he met his future wife, Anna Margaret (Annie) Castor. The pair became high school sweethearts and continued dating through college. Castor and Glenn were married on April 6, 1943 and had two children — John David, born in 1945, and Carolyn Ann, born in 1947.

During World War II and the Korean War, Glenn flew 149 missions and received the Distinguished Flying Cross six times

Colonel John Glenn joined the American war effort in 1942 by entering the Naval Aviation Cadet Program. The following year, he completed his studies and was deployed as a U.S. Marine Corps fighter pilot in the Pacific front of World War II. He flew 59 combat missions in the South Pacific. During the Korean War, Glenn continued his service in the U.S. Marine Corps as a fighter pilot on 63 missions and as an exchange pilot with the Air Force on 27 missions.

Glenn was one of our nation’s first astronauts

He was one of the Mercury Seven, military test pilots selected in 1959 as the nation’s first NASA astronauts. On February 20, 1962, Glenn flew the Friendship 7 mission, becoming the first American to orbit the Earth, the third American and fifth person in history to be in space.

At age 77, Glenn flew on Space Shuttle Discovery’s STS-95 mission, making him the oldest person to enter Earth’s orbit

On October 29, 1998, Glenn returned to space as a payload specialist on a nine-day mission. He participated in experiments that studied the similarities between the aging process and the body’s response to weightlessness.

“To me, there is no greater calling. If I can inspire young people to dedicate themselves to the good of mankind, I’ve accomplished something.”

John Glenn