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.

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.

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.”

POW/MIA Flag

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.

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.

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

The Power of Watercolor

Art is a powerful medium to express our thoughts and emotions. It provides you with comfort, inspiration, energy or even begins healing. Every July, watercolorists come together to celebrate World Watercolor Month and share how this soft, dreamy water-based artwork is an accessible medium for everyone.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Mary Whyte, an American figurative artist internationally renowned for her watercolors including our past exhibition, We The People: Portraits of Veterans in America. She shares with us her inspiration and how art can positively impact the lives of Veterans in our latest Q&A.

Q: Why do you choose to work in watercolor?

A: I prefer watercolor for two reasons: It’s fast and it’s magical. That being said, watercolor is also unpredictable, challenging and is full of surprises. In that way it is very much like life.

Q: How long have you been working in watercolor? 

A: I was in ninth grade when I first signed up for a watercolor class at a local art league in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. As I watched the instructor paint I remember inhaling. All these years later I still get the same feeling of excitement when I work in watercolor.

Q: What makes watercolor different than other paints?

A: Almost every artist will tell you how difficult watercolor is to master, largely because it is the only medium that relies strictly on timing. The beauty of watercolor pigments are that they are more transparent, which can give the final result a beautiful luminosity. I love watercolor especially for painting portraits and the translucent quality of skin.

Q: Was there a particular watercolor artist that inspired you?

A: Back in the 70’s when I was learning watercolor there was no online video instruction or web access to see what other artists were creating. I learned by going to museums and libraries, and by studying the works of artists I admired like Wyeth, Sargent and Homer. I would try to emulate their methods, and little by little I improved.

Q: What did you learn from the Veterans you painted in We the People: Portraits of Veterans in America?

A: I met so many amazing Veterans over the seven years I spent traveling to all fifty states. From them I learned three significant life lessons. The first lesson I learned is the value of committing to a cause greater than self. The second lesson I learned is to never let fear stop you. And lastly, the third lesson I learned is that art and freedom are the same. You cannot have one without the other. All of these I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Q: How do art programs facilitate mental wellness and increase social connectedness within the Veteran community?

A: I believe that the medical and scientific community is just beginning to understand the significance of art and the positive impact it can have. Studies have shown that the process of creating art has therapeutic benefits, and is a viable means to facilitate self expression. Through the Patriot Art Foundation’s classes in painting and drawing we are able to give Veterans a means of expression through art as well as a sense of purpose and connection.

Q: What is your most memorable story with the Patriot Art Foundation?

A: Through the Foundation’s curriculum, I have seen Veterans make remarkable progress in both their art as well as their self esteem. During one of our classes an Air Force Veteran reported that after she left the military she was unable to talk. It wasn’t until she learned how to paint that she was finally able to open up. She is a good example of how art tells our common story and connects us.

Did you know?

Our Museum Exchange and online store sells an exclusive holiday keepsake ornament drawn by Mary Whyte and crafted by a locally Veteran-owned business.

Staff Spotlight: Taylor Shaw, Museum Educator

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

Q: You recently came back from a deployment with the U.S. Air Force Reserves. Do you have any advice for those in the military who might be preparing for their first deployment?

A: Pack light! You really don’t need anything other than your issued items and about a weeks’ worth of gym clothes. Seeing people try to drag 4 or more bags while in-transit was always humorous. And also consider using a trash bag or two as a liner. You never know when your stuff is going to get stuck outside.

Be sure that your family is for your deployment just as much as you are. Take the time to make sure they have goals, plans, and support in place. They are going through a massive change in their day to day lives as well. Realistic goals regarding fitness, education, and reading are always big ones that people aim for.

Q: What is the story behind the flag that you brought back from your deployment?

A: In January, the United Arab Emirates and the base I was deployed to was attacked with ballistic missiles and suicide drones multiple times by the Houthis in Yemen. A squadron of F-22’s from the 1st Fighter Wing was deployed to our base in response as a show of force and to carry out several air operations. As an Aerial Port, we ended up being crucial in making sure that their support equipment was in place. We only had a 4-hour window to help them get everything where it needed to be. Due to the efforts my Airman put into helping them over 3 months, they offered to fly us flags as a thank you. We were the only section as far as I’m aware they offered that for. I had one flown for my brother who was in the Army and one for the Museum.

Q: What are three words that best describe you?

A: Quiet. Nerdy. Dedicated.

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

A: I haven’t had much time to read for fun between work, my graduate program, and a tabletop RPG campaign I’ll be running. But, I did pick up and start Brandon Sanderson’sStarsight a few weeks ago. I read the first book at some point and had fun with it.

Q: What fictional character do you relate best to and why?

A: The Lightfoot brothers from Onward have a special place in my heart because of the experiences that my own brother and I went through growing up with a father who passed away while we were very young.

Q: If you were a baseball player, what would your walkout song be?

A: Not sure if they would play this one but probably My Chemical Romance’s cover of “Desolation Row.” My backup would be the introduction to Sabaton’s “Red Baron” or Miracle of Sound’s “Road Rage.”

America’s Fight for Independence

“Those who expect to reap the blessing of freedom must undertake to support it.”

– Thomas Paine, from his pamphlet series titled, “The American Crisis,” 1776-1783

Two hundred and forty-six years ago, our War for Independence was an experiment in forging a new nation, one free from British rule. In honor of Independence Day, we share some of the Revolutionary War’s major events and key Veterans who helped win freedom for the American Colonies.

This 19th-century lithograph by Henry Pelham is a variation of Revere’s famous engraving, produced just before the American Civil War. Photo: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

March 5, 1770: Boston Massacre

A confrontation between colonists and British soldiers led to a deadly riot killing American civilians including Crispus Attucks, the first person killed in the fight for American independence.

Read more: This Month in History (March 1-29).

December 16, 1773: Boston Tea Party

“No taxation without representation!” — A rally cry from American colonists after the Tea Act was passed by Britain’s Parliament. To resist, demonstrators boarded ships and threw chests of tea into Boston Harbor on December 16, 1773. The Boston Tea Party protest was a pivotal point in beginning the American Revolution.

Learn more: This Month in History (December 1-24).

Destruction of tea at Boston Harbor. N. Currier, 1846. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs.
Signature page of the Olive Branch Petition. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

September 5, 1774: Petition of the King

On September 5, 1774, the First Continental Congress drafted a “Petition to the King” and organized a boycott of British goods. Then the “Olive Branch Petition,” a final attempt to prevent war, was sent by Congress to King George III in July of 1775. Despite attempts to achieve a peaceful solution, the British declared the Colonies to be in a state of rebellion.

April 19, 1775: Battles of Lexington and Concord

The first military engagements of the American Revolution were the battles at Lexington and Concord. About 700 British Army regulars in Boston were given secret orders to capture and destroy Colonial supplies stored by the Massachusetts Militia at Concord. Ralph Waldo Emerson describes the first shot fired by the Patriots at the North Bridge as “The shot heard round the world.”

Explore its impact: This Month in History (April 2-26).

Battle of Lexington. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army.
Declaration of Independence, oil on canvas by John Trumbull, 1818; in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, Washington, D.C. Architect of the Capitol.

July 4, 1776: The Declaration of Independence is Adopted

By June 1776, the Revolutionary War was in full swing, and a majority of colonists favored independence from Britain. Inspired by this sentiment, the Continental Congress voted to adopt the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

December 26, 1776: Battle of Trenton

The journey to the Battle of Trenton began on a frigid morning along the edge of the Delaware River. George Washington and his Continental Army felt every bit of the cold as they prepared to transport themselves and their equipment across the frozen body of water. It seemed almost irrational, if not inhumane to attempt this crossing in the freezing cold, on Christmas afternoon no less. However, the Continental Army was desperate for a victory after a series of major defeats and no significant victories.

Read more: Battle of Trenton.

Battle of Trenton, a painting. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army.
The scene of the surrender of the British General John Burgoyne at Saratoga on October 17, 1777. John Trumbull, Architect of the Capitol. 

September 19, 1777: Battle of Saratoga

The Battle of Saratoga marked a decisive victory for the Americans. British General John Burgoyne led a large invasion southward from Canada but was never met with additional support. He was surrounded by American forces with whom he fought two battles. The British gained one victory but lost the second due to being outnumbered by American forces. He retreated to Saratoga and surrendered his army on October 17. This won America the foreign assistance they needed for victory in the American Revolution.

September 28, 1781: Battle of Yorktown

A joint American and French force led by General George Washington and Lt. General Comte de Rochambeau arrived at Yorktown at the start of the Battle of Yorktown, the final battle of the Revolutionary War. With the aid of his French allies, Washington planned a strategic assault against the British in hopes that a victory at Yorktown would finally force Britain and other European nations to accept the United States of America as an independent nation.

Check out the final battle plan: This Week in History (September 27-30).

This painting depicts the forces of British Major General Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis (1738–1805) surrendering to French and American forces after the Siege of Yorktown during the American Revolutionary War. John Trumbull, Architect of the Capitol.

Heroes of the Revolutionary War

Paul Revere riding on the night of April 18, 1775, to warn Boston-area residents that British troops were coming. Encyclopedia Britannica.

Paul Revere

Paul Revere was a silversmith, engraver, early industrialist, Sons of Liberty member and patriot in the American Revolution. His midnight ride is forever memorialized in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride.” Revere warned American Colonial militia about a British attack, allowing for a significant advantage in the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

General George Washington

In May 1775, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia to discuss preparations for war. One of the main concerns was organizing and supplying the army. The current army was comprised of several militia bands, each controlled by different states. The militias needed a leader, and, on July 3, 1775, George Washington took command of the new Continental Army as its commander-in-chief.

Throughout the war, Washington and his men won only three major battles out of nine. While he may not have been a military strategist, he was an excellent general, keeping his troops together and motivated to continue fighting no matter the hardships they faced. Without Washington’s leadership, the Continental Army may never have defeated the British Army.

Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze, 1851 (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Peter Francisco (left) fighting Tarleton’s British cavalry (1814 engraving). Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Peter Francisco

A Portuguese-born, American patriot and soldier, Peter Francisco played a crucial role during the Revolutionary War. As a member of the 10th Virginia Regiment in 1776, he fought in the Battle of Camden and was well known as the “Giant of the Revolution” due to his height and strength. He fought with distinction in numerous engagements including the Battle of Brandywine, Battle of Germantown and Battle of Camden.

Throughout the course of the Revolutionary War, approximately 230,000 soldiers served in the Continental Army with an additional 145,000 militiamen. They fought for the promise of freedom. Their grit and determination for independence inspire us to this day. On Independence Day, we pause to reflect on the founding of our nation and the brave men and women who have sacrificed to gain and uphold our freedoms today.

This Month in History (July 1-30)

Four members of the 6888th. Source: United States Department of Defense.

JULY 1, 1943

Women’s Army Corps is activated

World War II created an unprecedented need for soldiers on the front lines leaving many other jobs to be fulfilled. The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) was created in 1942 by Public Law 554 and converted to an active-duty status as the WAC in 1943 allowing more than 150,000 women to serve in the Army. These roles included radio operators, electricians, air-traffic controllers and postal workers. The WAC was disbanded in 1978, and all units were integrated with male units.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army.

JULY 2, 1926

U.S Army Air Corps is established

The Air Corps served as the Army’s aerial warfare service component between 1926 and 1941. After World War I, as early aviation became an important part of modern warfare, a rift developed between those who valued more traditional ground-based Army methods and those who felt aircraft were being underutilized and stifled for political reasons. During World War II, the Air Corps remained a combat arm of the Army until 1947, when it was legally abolished by legislation establishing the Department of the U.S. Air Force.

Declaration of Independence, oil on canvas by John Trumbull, 1818; in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, Washington, D.C. Architect of the Capitol.

JULY 4, 1776

The Declaration of Independence is adopted by the Second Continental Congress

The Declaration of Independence is adopted by the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Enacted during the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence explained why the Thirteen Colonies at war with the Kingdom of Great Britain regarded themselves as thirteen independent states, no longer under British rule. With this declaration, the new states took a collective step in forming the United States of America.

28 May 1980, 55 women became the first female graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Naval Institute.

JULY 6, 1976

U.S. Naval Academy admits women for the first time

The Naval Academy inducted 81 female midshipmen, and in May 1980, Elizabeth Anne Rowe became the first female graduate. She joined Janie L. Mines, the first African American woman to graduate. Four years later, Kristine Holderied became the first female midshipman to graduate at the top of her class. Nearly 5,000 women have graduated from the Naval Academy and gone on to excel in their military careers and beyond.  


The Liberty Bell. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

JULY 8, 1776

“Liberty Bell” celebrates the Declaration of Independence

The “Liberty Bell” rings out to celebrate the Declaration of Independence. The 2,000-pound copper-and-tin bell rang from the tower of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, summoning citizens to the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. 

U.S. Army Medal of Honor

JULY 12, 1862

President Lincoln signs into law the U.S. Army Medal of Honor

President Abraham Lincoln signs into law the Medal of Honor for the U.S. Army. The measure awarded the Medal of Honor, in the name of Congress, “to such noncommissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldier-like qualities during the present insurrection.” In December 1861, Lincoln had approved another provision to create a U.S. Navy Medal of Honor.

Library of Congress| Public Domain  
Major John H. Glenn, Jr., United States Marine Corps, with his Vought F8U-1P Crusader, Bu. No. 144608, after his record-setting flight, 16 July 1957.

JULY 16, 1957

U.S. Marine Corps test pilot, John Glenn, makes the first supersonic transcontinental flight

The transcontinental speed record held by an Air Force Republic F-84 Thunderjet was three hours 45 minutes, and Glenn calculated that the F8U Crusader could go faster. Because its 586-mile-per-hour (943 km/h) air speed was faster than that of a .45 caliber bullet, Glenn called the flight Project Bullet. He flew an F8U Crusader 2,445 miles (3,935 km) from Los Alamitos, California, to Floyd Bennett Field in New York City in three hours, 23 minutes and 8.3 seconds, averaging supersonic speed despite refueling in-flight three times at speeds below 300 miles per hour (480 km/h).

Brigadier General Frank T. Hines, Chief Veterans’ Bureau, 5-20-1924. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

JULY 21, 1930

The Veterans Bureau becomes a federal administration

President Herbert Hoover makes the Veterans Bureau a federal administration. Hoover signed Executive Order 5398, elevating the Veterans Bureau to “consolidate and coordinate government activities affecting war Veterans.” U.S. Army Brigadier General Frank Hines, who had directed the Veterans Bureau for seven years, became the first VA administrator.

American armored and infantry forces pass through the battered town of Coutances, France, in the new offensive against the Nazis. Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Archives.

JULY 25, 1944

The U.S. First Army launches Operation Cobra

During the Normandy campaign of World War II, Lieutenant General Omar Bradley launched an offensive seven weeks after the D-Day landings. The intention was to take advantage of the Germans distracted by British and Canadian attacks around Caen, France in Operation Goodwood. It was impossible for the Germans to form successive lines of defense, and the Normandy front soon collapsed.  

National Archives and Records Administration| Public Domain
Members of the 223rd Inf Regt, 40th US Inf Division, listen to the announcement of the signing of the truce in their bunker on the Heartbreak Ridge, Korea. 7/27/1953.

JULY 27

National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day

The Korean War ended with the armistice signing in 1953. For three brutal years, the U.N. — principally the United States, fought bravely to stop the spread of communism on the Korean Peninsula. The armistice created the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to separate North and South Korea and allowed for the return of prisoners. In honor of the millions who served, the Korean War Veterans Memorial was dedicated on July 27, 1995, in Washington, D.C. “Freedom is not free,” is inscribed in the memorial display.

Buffalo Soldiers were among the first rangers in what became the National Park Service. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service, Harpers Ferry Center for Media Service.

JULY 28

National Buffalo Soldiers Day

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. The 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments played an instrumental role in the Indian Wars, protection of national parks and the safe transport of settlers through the Western frontier. Over 180,000 Buffalo Soldiers served in the Army up to the integration of the Armed Forces. Today, we honor and remember the soldiers of the first peacetime, all-black regiments in the U.S. Army.

Students of the U.S. Army chaplain school, Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana in dress formation. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

JULY 29, 1775

U.S. Army Chaplain Corps celebrates its 247th anniversary

One of the oldest and smallest branches of the Army, the Continental Congress authorized one chaplain for each regiment of the Continental Army. Our nation’s Army Chaplain Corps helps build spiritual readiness to deploy, fight and win our nation’s wars.

PATUXENT RIVER, Maryland (March 3, 2017) – An undated photo from the personal collection of Alice Virginia Benzie, a Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) Sailor stationed at NAS Patuxent River in the 1940’s, shows WAVES standing in formation at NAS Patuxent River outside the hangars. By the time recruiting ended in 1945, the WAVES boasted a force of 86,000 enlisted and more than 8,000 female officers — around 2.5 percent of the Navy;s total strength at the time.

JULY 30, 1942

WAVES is created during WWII

WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) is created during World War II. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Navy Women’s Reserve Act into law authorizing the U.S. Navy to accept women into the Naval Reserve as commissioned officers and at the enlisted level, effective for the duration of World War II. More than 100,000 WAVES served in a wide variety of capacities ranging from performing essential clerical duties to serving as instructors for male pilots-in-training. The first commander of WAVES was Mildred McAfee, president of Wellesley College. Another notable member of WAVES was Grace Hopper who later attained the rank of rear admiral.

Korean War: “The Forgotten War”

“Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met.” -Korean War Veterans Memorial plaque inscription

In the early hours of June 25, 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea, beginning a war sometimes referred to as “the Forgotten War.” This three-year conflict was the first military action of the Cold War. North Korea was supported by China and the Soviet Union while South Korea was supported by the United Nations, principally the United States. By July, American troops had entered the war to stem the tide of communism. We invite you to learn more about a few of the brave men and women who raised their right hand to defend our freedoms.

Sergeant Cornelius Charlton, U.S. Army

Sergeant Cornelius Charlton was the second of two African Americans to be awarded the Medal of Honor during the Korean War. When he graduated from high school in 1946, Charlton’s parents allowed the 17-year-old to enlist. He was assigned to C Company, 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, part of the 25th Infantry Division. In May of 1951, Charlton was made platoon sergeant due to his impressive leadership abilities.

United States Army Sergeant
Cornelius Charlton, Medal of Honor recipient
for actions in the Korean War.
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army.

On June 2, 1951, Charlton’s platoon was attacking heavily defended hostile positions when the platoon leader was wounded and evacuated. Charlton assumed command, rallied the men and spearheaded an  assault on Hill 543 near the village of Chipo-ri. Personally eliminating two hostile positions and killing six enemy combatants with rifle fire and grenades, he continued up the slope until the unit suffered heavy casualties and became pinned down. Despite a severe chest wound, Sgt. Charlton refused medical attention and led a third charge which carried to the crest of the ridge. Observing that the remaining emplacement was situated on the reverse slope, he charged it alone. Charlton was wounded again by a grenade, but hit the position with devastating fire, eliminating it and routing the defenders. He was, however, unable to recover from severe wounds received during his courageous assault. Sgt. Cornelius Charlton was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on March 12, 1952.

Master Sergeant Woodrow Keeble, U.S. Army

Master Sergeant Woodrow “Woody” Keeble served with the famed North Dakota 164th Infantry Regiment. He was a full-blooded member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation, a federally recognized tribe of the Dakota people. As a child, he excelled in sports and was set to be recruited by the Chicago White Sox when his unit was called to serve in World War II. His combat experience and leadership brought him a quick series of promotions to the level of master sergeant.

During the Korean War, he was assigned to George Company, 2nd Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. Starting on October 15, 1951, his division was called upon to be a part of Operation Nomad-Polar. For six days straight, they were caught in round-the-clock fighting. On October 20, 1951, Keeble led all three platoons in successive assaults upon the Chinese who held Hill 675-770 throughout the day. All three charges were repulsed, and the company suffered heavy casualties. After Keeble withdrew the 3rd platoon, he decided to attempt a solo assault on Hill 765. He single-handedly destroyed three enemy machine-gun bunkers and killed an additional seven enemy soldiers in nearby trenches. During this time, Keeble had suffered two gunshot wounds to his left arm, grenade shrapnel to his face that almost removed his nose and 83 other pieces of festering shrapnel from a grenade. For his actions, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) on December 20, 1952. In 2008, the DSC was upgraded posthumously to the Medal of Honor.

High resolution image of MOH recipient, United States Master Sergeant Woodrow Wilson Keeble. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army.

Women in the Korean War

After Congress passed the Women’s Armed Forces Services Integration Act in 1948, women were allowed to serve as permanent members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force for the first time in American history. Two years later, more than 120,000 women answered the call for our country. Many women served in Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals (MASH), on MEDEVAC aircraft or hospital ships. One of the first mobile surgical hospitals to be set up in Korea was the 8055th MASH, whose team of doctors and nurses sometimes treated hundreds of casualties in a day and routinely performed life saving surgeries. They were pioneers of trauma nursing and care.

U.S. Army Nurse Cathy Drake was one of those pioneers. She was an operating room nurse in the 8055th MASH unit. Read more of her story here: Indiana Nurse During the Korean War Helped Inspire “M*A*S*H’ | Indiana News | US News

Captain Lillian Kinkela Keil was one of the most accomplished women in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War, and one of the most decorated women in American military history. Her daughter shares her story: Flight Nurse | American Experience | Official Site | PBS

U.S. Air Force Nurse Grace Chicken shares her experiences transporting the wounded in this video courtesy of the Witness to War Foundation.

After more than two years of negotiations, the fighting ended on July 27, 1953, with the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement. It created the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to separate North and South Korea and allowed for the return of prisoners. The Korean War was one of the most destructive conflicts of the modern era with approximately three million war fatalities and a larger proportion of civilian deaths than World War II and the subsequent Vietnam War. Today, it is important for all of us to remember and share the stories of the 40,000 Americans who died and the more than 100,000 who were wounded during this conflict.

Innovator in Aerial Combat: Admiral John Thach, U.S. Navy

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, a U.S. naval victory and turning point of World War II in the Pacific. Six months after the Imperial Japanese Navy’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, they attempted to destroy the remainder of the U.S. Pacific Fleet with a surprise attack at Midway Island. On June 4, 1942, then U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander John Thach, employed aerial combat tactics that fundamentally changed how World War II was fought in the Pacific Theater. His creative ingenuity and leadership paved the way for the future of naval warfare.     

A native of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1927 and spent two years serving on battleships, before becoming a naval aviator in early 1930. He spent the next decade as a flight instructor, test pilot and gunnery expert. Thach developed a fighter combat tactic known as “Thach Weave.” This combat flight formation enabled American fighters to counter the superior Mitsubishi A6M Zero, the primary aircraft of the Imperial Japanese Navy. In early 1940, Thach was placed in command of Fighting Squadron Three (VF-3). On the morning of June 4, 1942, Thach was leading a six-plane sortie, escorting 12 Douglas TBD Devastators led by Lieutenant Commander Lance Massey from Yorktown, when they discovered the main Japanese carrier fleet. They were immediately attacked by 15 to 20 Japanese fighters. Thach decided to use his namesake maneuver, marking its first usage. Although outnumbered and outmaneuvered, Thach shot down three Zeros and a wingman accounted for another.

Lieutenant Commander John Thach. Wearing flight helmet, goggles and inflatable life vest, 1942-43. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the U.S. National Archives.

After the Battle of Midway, Thach was assigned to instruct pilots in combat tactics. The U.S. Navy often pulled its best combat pilots out of action to train newer pilots, a distinct difference from the Japanese Navy. As the war progressed, the Japanese lost their experienced pilots to attrition while the U.S. consistently improved their fighting abilities. When the Japanese resorted to Kamikaze suicide attacks, Thach developed another defensive technique known as the “Big Blue Blanket” system. This allowed for constant presence of the blue-painted Hellcats and Corsairs over American warships at all hours. During WWII, Thach became a flying ace credited with shooting down six enemy aircraft.

Admiral John S. Thach. Portrait photograph by PH1 E.G. Fredette, 26 February 1965. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

Later in his career, Thach commanded both the USS Sicily and USS Franklin D. Roosevelt from 1953 to 1954. He was promoted to vice admiral in 1960 and served as the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Air in the Pentagon, where he presided over development of the A-7 Corsair II. Starting in 1965, Thach became the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Naval Forces Europe, where he was promoted to full admiral and then retired in May 1967. During his four decades of service, he was awarded two Navy Crosses, two Navy Distinguished Service Medals, a Silver Star, two Legions of Merit and a Bronze Star.

We’re honored to share his story of service and the impact he made developing U.S. Naval combat tactics as well as on the course of World War II in the Pacific. Fair winds and following seas, Admiral Thach.

NVMM Reads: “Never Call Me a Hero”

To honor the World War II Battle of Midway 80th anniversary, we are reading “Never Call Me a Hero” by Captain Jack “Dusty” Kleiss. The last surviving dive-bomber from the Battle of Midway, Kleiss was compelled to tell his story in honor of his comrades. A majority of Kleiss’ memoir is focused his experience aboard the USS Enterprise, the Battle of Midway and his fellow dive-bombers of the Scouting Squadron.

Dusty was born in 1916 and grew up in Coffeyville, Kansas during the Great Depression. His life of service began at the age of 15, when he lied about his age in order to join the Kansas National Guard. He later was accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy, graduating in 1938. Kleiss became a highly accomplished pilot flying the Douglas SBD Dauntless Dive Bomber in Scouting Squadron Six attatched to the USS Enterprise.

Six months after Pearl Harbor was destroyed by Japan’s Imperial Navy, the United States was preparing to counter Japan’s attack through their occupation of the Midway Islands, an area between the then-U.S. territory in Hawaii and Japan. U.S. battle success at Midway fell heavily on a team of dive-bombers to sink Japan’s warships. They succeeded. All in all, Japan sank one U.S. ship while the United State’s team of dive-bombers were able to sink all four of Japan’s ships. Kliess was one of the most successful dive-bombers of the battle, striking three of four enemy warships with precision.

Throughout “Never Call Me a Hero,” Kliess reveals battle events from a first-person perspective. From the book jacket, “Plummeting through the air at 240 knots amid blistering anti-aircraft fire, the twenty-six-year-old pilot from USS Enterprise’s elite Scouting Squadron Six fixed on an invaluable target—the aircraft carrier Kaga, one of Japan’s most important capital ships. He released three bombs at the last possible instant, then desperately pulled out of his gut-wrenching 9-g dive. As his plane leveled out just above the roiling Pacific Ocean, Dusty’s perfectly placed bombs struck the carrier’s deck, and Kaga erupted into an inferno from which it would never recover.”

After arriving back on the Enterprise, Keliss would learn heartbreaking news about his best friend and 24 fellow naval aviators. He would continue, undaunted, to strike two more Japanese ships, earning him a place in history. Similar to many WWII Veterans, Dusty returned home, married, had children, and remained silent about his role in the war for decades.

Captain Kleiss was awarded the Navy Cross and Distinguished Flying Cross in 1942. He was married to his wife, Jean, until her passing in 2006 – more than 60 years. Kleiss planned to release his book for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway in June 2017, but he passed away at the age of 100 in 2016.

At the National Veterans Memorial and Museum, we connect visitors with the Veteran experiences. “Never Call me a Hero” serves to educate and connect readers to the experiences of an accomplished naval pilot in the early era of aviation. Even after persevering through high stakes, hard work, loss and sacrifice, Kleiss humbly asks that we “never call him a hero.”  So instead, we will call him a man who strove for excellence in all he did. We highly recommend reading “Never Call me a Hero” this month to gain a firsthand glimpse into events that shaped our world from an incredible Veteran who was there and chose to share his story in remembrance of those with whom he served.

This Month in History (June 4-30)

Deck of the USS Yorktown shortly after being hit by Japanese bombs during the Battle of Midway, northeast of the Midway Islands in the central Pacific, June 4, 1942.
2rd Class William G. Roy—U.S. Navy/NARA

JUNE 4-7, 1942

80-Year Anniversary of the Battle of Midway

Six months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, commander of the Imperial Japanese Navy, attempted to destroy the remainder of the U.S. Pacific Fleet with a surprise attack at Midway Island. On June 7, the U.S. Navy under Admirals Chester W. Nimitz, Frank J. Fletcher and Raymond A. Spruance, successfully defeated the Japanese Navy using cryptanalysts who deciphered Japanese radio transmissions. The Navy’s victory and its successful defense of the major base located at Midway Island turned the tide of World War II in the Pacific. The U.S. lost 360 service members as well as the USS Yorktown and USS Hammann.

Assault landing, one of the first waves at Omaha. The Coast Guard caption identifies the unit as Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Center of Military History.

JUNE 6, 1944

Allies Invade Normandy, known as D-Day

On the morning of June 5, 1944, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, gave the go-ahead for the Operation Overlord. He told the troops, “You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hope and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe and security for ourselves in a free world.” More than 5,000 ships, 11,000 airplanes and over 150,000 servicemen landed on five beaches along a 50 mile stretch of  France’s Normandy region. It was and remains the largest amphibious assault in history and marked the beginning of one of the most decisive battles in World War II.

Great Hall Veteran Portrait Project photos, courtesy of Stacy Pearsall.

JUNE 12

Women Veterans Day

The first Women Veterans Day was held June 12, 2018, marking the 70th anniversary of the groundbreaking Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, signed into law by President Harry S. Truman on June 12, 1948.  We honor and recognize the more than 67,000 female Veterans in Ohio and more than 2 million female Veterans who have bravely served our nation. June 12 is currently a state-recognized commemoration in California, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army.

JUNE 14

U.S. Army 247th Birthday

From the Revolutionary War to conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, the Army is the oldest and largest branch of the U.S. Military. On June 14, 1775, the Second Continental Congress formed the Continental Army as a way for the 13 unified American colonies to fight against British forces. More than 30 million men and women have served since 1775 and today, the Army is made up of more than 700,000 soldiers.

Betsy Ross showing George Washington (left) and others how she made the U.S. flag, painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme.
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

JUNE 14, 1777

U.S. National Flag Adopted

The Second Continental Congress passed a resolution stating, “The flag of the United States be 13 stripes, alternate red and white: that the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation establishing June 14 as national Flag Day.

Juneteenth celebrations. Photo courtesy of The Portal to Texas History.

JUNE 19

Celebrate Juneteenth

On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger read federal orders in Galveston, Texas, that all previously enslaved people in Texas were free. Although the Emancipation Proclamation had formally freed them two years earlier, and the American Civil War had largely ended, Texas was the most remote of the slave states. Due to a low presence of Union troops, enforcement of the proclamation had been slow and inconsistent. Newly freed Black people celebrated, and Juneteenth was born. Juneteenth became an official U.S. holiday in 2021.

JUNE 20

American Eagle Day

On this day in 1782, the Second Continental Congress selected the bald eagle as our country’s national symbol. In 1940, Congress passed the Bald Eagle Protection Act prohibiting the selling, owning or killing of bald eagles. In spite of this protection, the bald eagle was listed as an endangered species by 1967, due mainly to the widespread use of D.D.T., a pesticide used to eradicate mosquitoes and other pests, passed on to eagles through the fish they ate. After strict conservation efforts, eagle populations are once again thriving. This special day honors our national symbol and helps create awareness of the eagle’s importance to our ecosystem and our national pride.

JUNE 21, 1788

U.S. Constitution Ratified

New Hampshire became the ninth and last necessary state to ratify the Constitution of the United States, thereby making the document the law of the land.

G.I. Bill signing by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Photo courtesy of the FDR Library.

JUNE 22, 1944

G.I. Bill signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt

The G.I. Bill or  Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 was an unprecedented act of legislation designed to compensate returning members of the armed services known as G.I.s, for their efforts in World War II. As part of the New Deal, Roosevelt’s administration created the G.I. Bill to avoid a relapse of the Great Depression. It transformed higher education in America by giving Veterans money for tuition, living expenses, books, supplies and equipment. By 1947, Veterans made up half of the nation’s college enrollment.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard.

JUNE 23

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary 83rd Birthday

Established by Congress in 1939, the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary is Semper Paratus, “Always Ready.” The 26,000-volunteer member force donates more than 3.8 million hours in support of U.S. Coast Guard missions to promote safety on and over the high seas and the nation’s navigable waters.

A U.S. howitzer position near the Kum River, 15 July. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army Signal Corps.

JUNE 25, 1950

The Korean War Breaks Out

North Korea invaded South Korea beginning the war sometimes referred to as “ the Forgotten War.” This three-year conflict was the first military action of the Cold War. North Korea was supported by China and the Soviet Union while South Korean was supported by the United Nations, principally the United States. By July, American troops had entered the war to stem the tide of communism. The fighting ended with an armistice on July 27, 1953.

Berlin Airlift. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force.

JUNE 26, 1948

The “Berlin Airlift” Begins

After World War II, the Allies split a defeated Germany into four zones: Soviet-occupied, American-occupied, British-occupied and French-occupied. In June 1948, the Soviet Union closed off all highways, railroads and canals from Western-occupied Berlin. In response, the U.S. and its Allies supplied residents with food, water, medicine and more from the air. Through “Operation Vittles” or the “Berlin Airlift,” more than 2.3 million tons of cargo were dropped into West Berlin for nearly a year.

Brig. Gen. Kristin K. French, commanding general, 3rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), congratulates Chief Warrant Officer Jeffrey Thompson, a systems technician with the 82nd Airborne Division, on completing his college degree during his deployment, May 23. French gave the opening remarks for the first ever Kandahar Airfield college graduation ceremony and handed out certificates to the graduates. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Gregory Williams)

JUNE 30, 2008

President George W. Bush Signs the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill

President Bush signed H.R. 2642 into law in an effort to pay for Veterans’ college expenses, just as the original G.I Bill did after World War II. The main provisions of the act include 100% funding of a public four-year undergraduate education to a Veteran who served three-years on active duty since September 11, 2001. The act also Veterans to transfer these benefits to a spouse or children after serving ten years.

Staff Spotlight: Samantha Fouts, Exhibitions Associate

Each month, the Museum invites you to get to know the staff supporting our pillars to Honor, Connect, Inspire and Educate. Meet Sam, our Exhibitions Associate.

Q: How have you connected to the Museum?

A: I have always felt drawn to history. In particular, military history. My father and grandfather served in the Marine Corps and Navy, respectively, and it is an honor to remember them through my work at the Museum.

Q: If you weren’t in Exhibitions, what would you be doing?

A: Probably a novelist. For the past four years, I have been writing my own Dungeons and Dragons campaign, complete with a unique world and lore. Everyone keeps telling me that I should eventually turn the 1299-page document into a novel. We will just have to wait and see.

Q: What are three words that don’t describe you at all?

A: Brazen. Unorganized. Stern.

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

A: “Mass Effect: Deception.” I am a nerd and proud of it!

Q: What is your favorite place within the Museum?

A: The Memorial Grove. It’s peaceful to sit and watch the waterfall or listen to the breeze through the trees. I often find myself often taking little breaks just to be able to walk around the Grove all by myself.

Q: What fictional character do you relate best to and why?

A: Samwise Gamgee. The two of us not only share a nickname – Sam – but also a love for those closest to us and a determination to make sure they reach the end of their journey in one piece. We may never be the protagonist in an epic adventure, but we are the friend that will walk beside our loved ones into the fire. As the saying goes, “Everyone needs a Sam.”

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

A: “Courage is found in unlikely places.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien

The History of Memorial Day

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

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

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

GENERAL JOHN A. LOGAN

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

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

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

Young boy salutes flags

DID YOU KNOW…

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

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

Create Popsicle Stick American Flags

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

Supplies:

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

Instructions:

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

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

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

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

NVMM Reads: “Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transition Talks: Chris and Angie Baker

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

“Go For Broke:” Stories from the 442nd Regimental Combat Team

“The principle on which this country was founded and by which it has always been governed is that Americanism is a matter of mind and heart; Americanism is not, and never was, a matter of race or ancestry.” -President Franklin D. Roosevelt

As the country was catapulted into World War II, Nisei (second generation Japanese Americans born in the United States) raised their right hand to defend our nation despite tremendous cultural and racial prejudices. The 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a segregated Japanese American unit, became the most decorated unit for its size and length of service in U.S. military history. Following are highlights of their valor and bravery in the face of wartime prejudice.     

After the December 7, 1941, attacks on Pearl Harbor, there was a growing fear of Japanese Americans as a national security threat. On March 18, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, placing over 100,000 West Coast residents of Japanese descent into incarceration camps. At this time, racism was rampant against Japanese Americans, but despite this treatment, they felt the desire to serve their country. One year after Executive Order 9066 was activated, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team was formed due to a growing need for manpower. The U.S. then reinstated a draft for Nisei on January 20, 1944. More than 12,000 volunteers answered the call, but only 2,686 from Hawaii and 1,500 from U.S. incarceration camps were sent for a year of infantry training. While training, many men would be sent to Europe as replacements for the 100th Infantry Battalion, another Japanese American unit already fighting overseas. Their motto was “Go For Broke,” which was inspired by Hawaiian gambling lingo. They were willing to gamble everything fighting for their country. The unit, totaling about 18,000 men, earned over 4,000 Purple Hearts, 4,000 Bronze Strs, 560 Silver Star Medals, and seven Presidential Unit Citations for their bravery in Italy, southern France and Germany. Private First Class Sadao Munemori and Captain Daniel Inouye were two of the 21 soldiers awarded Medals of Honor.

Army Pfc. Sadao Munemori smiles as he poses for a photo in front of a painting of a U.S. flag. Photo courtesy of the Department of Defense.

Private First Class Sadao Munemori

Sadao Munemori was the first Japanese American to earn our nation’s highest award for valor. One month before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he volunteered for the U.S. Army. Along with all other Japanese American soldiers, he was demoted and removed from combat training and then assigned to menial labor. While he was transferred to a series of U.S. Army bases, his parents and siblings were incarcerated at Manzanar.  When Japanese soldiers were allowed to reenter service, Munemori volunteered for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. On April 5, 1945, near Seravezza, Italy, he took over command when his squad leader was wounded. He made frontal, one-man attacks through direct fire and knocked out two machine guns with grenades. Munemori almost made it to a shell crater where two of his men were hiding when a live grenade bounced off his helmet and into the ditch toward his comrades. Without hesitation, Munemori covered the explosive with his body and saved the two soldiers at the cost of his own life.

Captain Daniel Inouye

During the attack on Pearl Harbor, Daniel Inouye served as a medical volunteer and then in 1943, delayed his premedical studies to volunteer for duty in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Inouye was promoted to sergeant within his first year and was assigned to platoon sergeant. He served in Italy in 1944 during the Rome-Arno Campaign before his regiment was transferred to Vosges Mountains in France to relieve the “Lost Battalion.” He received a battlefield commission to second lieutenant for his actions there, becoming the youngest officer in his regiment.

Inouye as a first lieutenant in the US Army. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army.

On April 21, 1945, Inouye was grievously wounded while leading an assault on a heavily defended ridge near San Terenzo in Liguria, Italy. It served as a strongpoint for German fortifications known as the Gothic Line. With complete disregard for his personal safety, Inouye crawled to the nearest machine gun and hurled two grenades, destroying the emplacement. Before the enemy could retaliate, he stood up and neutralized a second machine gun nest. Although wounded by a sniper’s bullet, he continued to engage other hostile positions at close range until an exploding grenade shattered his right arm. Despite the intense pain, he refused evacuation and continued to direct his platoon until enemy resistance was broken, and his men were again deployed in defensive positions.

Daniel Inouye, senator from Hawaii. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Congress.

Although Inouye had lost his right arm, he remained in the military until 1947. He was initially awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery in this action, with the award later being upgraded to the Medal of Honor by President Bill Clinton on June 21, 2000. Inouye abandoned his plans to become a surgeon and returned to college to study political science under the G.I. Bill. He went on to become the first Japanese American to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives and the first Japanese American to serve in the U.S. Senate.

May is a month to commemorate the contributions and rich culture of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. For many Nisei Veterans, President Reagan’s signing of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 was one sign that their efforts and sacrifices during World War II had been recognized. In 2011, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team received the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of their World War II service. Congressional leaders shared, “These American heroes defended our freedoms and our ideals… even when these ideals were denied to them at home.” While their families were incarcerated, they still chose to fight for their country. This fighting spirit is what inspires us to this day.

AAPI Servicewomen: Fighting to be Recognized

Since 1977, May has been designated as a time to recognize the achievements and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI). Generation after generation of brave AAPI men and women have helped defend the United States, often in the face of tremendous racial and cultural prejudice. In fact, thousands of AAPI women have served in the military during war and peace, but only a small number of these women have told their stories. This month, we share their determination to be recognized as equals in the U.S. Armed Forces.  

Lieutenant Susan Ahn Cuddy, U.S. Navy

One of the most highly recognizable stories of AAPI servicewomen is that of military trailblazer, Lt. Susan Ahn Cuddy, the first Korean American woman in the U.S. military. The three Ahn siblings — Ralph, Philip and Susan — from one of California’s first Korean immigrant families, enlisted in the U.S. military in 1942. Lt. Cuddy shared, “A lot of people thought women didn’t belong in the service. That made us try harder.”

Despite discrimination and inequity, Cuddy worked her way up in the Navy, becoming a Navy LINK instructor in 1943, using a simulator cockpit to teach aviators how to maneuver, and later becoming the first female aerial gunnery officer in the Navy. In other words, she trained fighter pilots to shoot down enemy aircraft. During the Cold War, she oversaw a think tank of over 300 agents working in the Russia section. Cuddy worked on many top-secret projects for the Department of Defense and other agencies during her service with the United States government until 1959. Her perseverance helped open doors for women and Asian Americans in the military.

Florence Ebersole Smith Finch

Florence Finch, the daughter of an American soldier and a Filipino mother, worked for the U.S. Army during World War II while Japan occupied the Philippines. She joined the underground resistance movement and smuggled food, medicine, and supplies to American captives. Eventually, she was arrested by the Japanese, tortured, and sentenced to three years imprisonment. After serving five months of her sentence, Finch was liberated by American forces. Upon returning to the United States, she enlisted in the Coast Guard and was among the first Pacific Island American women to serve. As a SPAR during World War II, she was the first to be honored with the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Ribbon. At the end of the war, she was also awarded the civilian U.S. Medal of Freedom and shared at the time, “I feel very humble because my activities in the war effort were trivial compared with those of people who gave their lives for their country.”

Florence Ebersole Smith Finch, USCGR. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard.
Rear Admiral (lower half) Eleanor Connie Mariano, USN.

Rear Admiral Eleanor Mariano, MC, U.S. Navy

Rear Admiral Eleanor Mariano comes from a long line of naval service, dating back to 1920. Her father, a Filipino master chief petty officer, served 29 years in the Navy’s steward’s branch.

In June 1992, Dr. Mariano became the first military woman in American history to be appointed physician to the President. She was the attending physician to President George H.W. Bush and President Clinton. President Clinton promoted her to Rear Admiral in 2000, making her the first Filipino American to reach flag rank. Mariano shared, “It [was] important [for me] to be the first, because that can pave the way for others…If you have the education and the ambition, and work hard, you can achieve it.”

Major General Sharon K.G. Dunbar, U.S. Air Force

Major General Sharon K.G. Dunbar didn’t envision a career in the military until she dropped her older brother off at West Point  and saw women cadets. Her parents encouraged her to apply to an academy,  and a year later, she began her journey at the U.S. Air Force Academy, graduating in 1982. Her military career encompassed a series of procurement, manpower, political-military, and command positions. After a 32-year career, two Masters degrees and a Ph.D., she is the highest ranking Air Force officer of Korean descent and the first female in Air Force history to serve as Commanding General of the Air Force District of Washington, the Air Force component to the Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region, and Commander of the 320th Air Expeditionary Wing, both headquartered at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.

Air Force Major Gen. Sharon K.G. Dunbar, commander of the Air Force District of Washington, addresses members of the United States Air Force Band and Air Force Honor Guard before a dress rehearsal for the Inaugural Parade Jan. 11, 2013, at Joint Base Andrews, Md. (DoD photo by Claudette Roulo/Released)
Williams wearing an EMU suit, circa 2004. Photo courtesy of NASA.

Captain Sunita Williams, U.S. Navy

“I hope. . . that people see that anybody from any background, really, can do this job,” said Capt. Sunita Williams. As an Ohio native, U.S. Navy captain and astronaut, Sunita Williams grew up with dreams of becoming a veterinarian thanks to her father, a neuroscientist, and her mother, an x-ray technician. Her life took a different path after watching her older brother’s entry into the U.S. Naval Academy. After graduation from the Navy’s test pilot school, she embarked on a journey to be an astronaut. As a member of NASA, Williams has spent an impressive 50 hours and 40 minutes walking in space outside the International Space Station (ISS); and in completing two missions to the ISS, she has spent over 11 total months orbiting the Earth. She was the second American astronaut of Southern Indian heritage to go into space.

These five women are inspiring examples of what can be achieved with a commitment to something greater than oneself. Their journey carved a path for future generations of women to follow. Throughout AAPI Heritage Month, we invite you to celebrate their service and integral roles they have and continue to play in breaking barriers and shaping our nation.   

Staff Spotlight: Justin Locke, Business Development Manager

Each month, the Museum invites you to get to know the staff supporting our pillars to Honor, Connect, Inspire and Educate. Meet Justin Locke, our Business and Development Manager.

Q: How have you connected to the Museum?

A: I have been able to connect with the Museum in a number of ways. One way specifically is the exhibitions that have come through the Museum – the information and the stories they tell resonate so deeply with me since these are common experiences in service. You think, ‘oh what I do is not very special’ or ‘it is similar to everyone else surrounding me,’ but these stories are so incredible and powerful that it has pushed me to actually start telling them. Being here has inspired me to be more vocal about my own service in hopes of inspiring or connecting with others.

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

A: When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with my fiancé exploring and eating our way through the various restaurants of Columbus. We also spend most of our time spoiling our rescue husky, Dixie.

Q: What are three words that best describe you?

A: Determined. Ambitious. Adventurous.

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

A: I am actually reading two books at the moment, “Greenlights” by Matthew McConaughey, and “A Million Little Pieces” by James Frey.

Q: What is your favorite place within the Museum?

A: I am a huge fan of the Soldier’s Cross in Memorial Grove. It is such a powerful message and one that I hope no one must bear.

Q: Since you are still actively serving in the U.S. Army Reserves, how does it feel to also serve in the civilian world for a Veteran-focused organization?

A: It has been incredible to continue to give back to Veterans and to those whom I have served with. Many Veterans struggle when leaving the service since it becomes your entire identity, so working here allows me to still have purpose, connect with, and give back to all of those great individuals.

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

A: “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” – Lao Tzu

This Month in History (May 1-30)

Rear Adm. Mike Shatynski, vice commander of Naval Surface Forces, joins the Whittier City Council and American Legion Veterans in celebrating the city’s proclamation naming May 1 Silver Star Banner Day to honor America’s wounded combat Veterans. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Brian Brannon/Released)

MAY 1

Silver Star Service Banner Day

Silver Star Service Banner Day is celebrated. It is a time to remember the sacrifices of our service members who have been wounded, sickened or killed in combat. The tradition of a service banner with blue star covered in threads of silver began during World War I. However, it went out of use when gold and blue star service banners were adopted by the U.S. The color silver symbolizes the gallantry of service members, and blue symbolizes hope. An organization, the Silver Star Families of America, brought back awareness of the banner itself and also lobbied states and the United States Congress to name May 1st as the day to recognize it. In 2010, Congress and President Barack Obama acknowledged this date of recognition.

National Archive and Records Administration| Public Domain 
1st Lt. Linda Bowser, an Air Force nurse with the 8th TFW MEDCAP team, examines a Thai girl. 1/10/1974.

MAY 6

National Nurses Day

National Nurses Day honors our nation’s nurses, both civilian and military. We honor the men and women who put their lives on the line to care for the ill and wounded. The contributions of U.S. military nurses reaches as far back as the American Revolution when women cared for the fallen on battlefields and in camps. At the end of the 19th century, Florence Nightingale introduced strict hygiene practices while caring for wounded soldiers in the Crimean War. She helped usher in the foundations of modern-day nursing and inspired others through her commitment to patient care, example of compassion and diligent and thoughtful hospital administration.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army.

MAY 6

Military Spouse Appreciation Day

Military Spouse Appreciation Day honors our nation’s military spouses. Each year, the Friday prior to Mother’s Day is dedicated to U.S. military spouses across the globe. We are immensely grateful for all military spouses – their achievements, sacrifices and patriotism that help build and shape the communities we live in today.

Jubilant American soldier hugs motherly English woman and victory smiles light the faces of happy service men and civilians at Piccadilly Circus, London, celebrating Germany’s unconditional surrender.” Pfc. Melvin Weiss, England, May 7, 1945. Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Archives.

MAY 8, 1945

V-E Day marks an end of World War II in Europe

V-E Day marks the end of World War II in Europe. Victory in Europe or V-E Day celebrates the World War II Allies’ formal acceptance of Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces. Some 250,000 U.S. troops were killed in the fighting in the European theater. President Harry S. Truman announced V-E Day to the American people, saying in a radio address: “Our rejoicing is sobered and subdued by a supreme consciousness of the terrible price we have paid to rid the world of Hitler and his evil band. Let us not forget, my fellow Americans, the sorrow and the heartache, which today abide in the homes of so many of our neighbors – neighbors whose most priceless possession has been rendered as a sacrifice to redeem our liberty.”

MAY 13

Children of Fallen Patriots Day

Children of Fallen Patriots Day honors the families of our fallen. This day honors the more than 20,000 children who have lost a parent in service to our country. The date of May 13 was selected because it is also the day Arlington National Cemetery was established in 1864. This is the final resting place for many war heroes and serves as a reminder of their sacrifices.  

The Victory of Montcalm’s Troops at Carillon. Early 20th century painting by Henry Alexander Ogden (1854 1936). Fort Ticonderoga Museum, NY.

MAY 15, 1756

The Seven Years’ War conflict is fought over territory in North America

The Seven Years’ War conflict is fought over territory in North America. This war began between Great Britain and France when the British sought to expand into territory claimed by the French in North America. The war came to be known as the French and Indian War, with both the British and the French and their respective Native American allies fighting for control of territory. 

October, 2018 – National Veterans Memorial and Museum Grand Opening weekend, Columbus, Ohio. Photo by John David Helms, www.johndavidhelms.com

MAY 18

International Museum Day

International Museum Day was established in 1977 by the International Council of Museums to help unify the aspirations and efforts of museums across the globe and draw the attention of the public to their global activity. Museums are catalysts for cultural exchange, development of mutual understanding, cooperation, and peace among peoples across the world — last over 37,000 museums from 158 locations participated in International Museum Day.

October, 2018 – National Veterans Memorial and Museum Grand Opening weekend, Columbus, Ohio. Photo by John David Helms, www.johndavidhelms.com

MAY 21

Armed Forces Day

Armed Forces Day honors our nation’s service members of all U.S. military branches — past, present and future. Established in 1949, the day was conceived by President Harry Truman with inspiration by the recent unification of our military under the Department of Defense.

Clara Barton. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

MAY 21, 1881

The American Red Cross, a humanitarian aid organization, is founded

The American Red Cross, a humanitarian aid organization, is founded. The American Red Cross was founded by Clara Barton and Adolphus Solomons, and by 1882, the U.S. ratified the Geneva Conventions — laws that, to this day, protect the war-wounded and civilians in conflict zones. This later resulted in a U.S. congressional charter, officially recognizing Red Cross services. Barton served as president for 23 years and today, her legacy lives on through the volunteers and their enduring spirit of help and hope to many across the world.

Battle of Cantigny. Photo courtesy of the Marshall Foundation.

MAY 28, 1918

Battle of Cantigny marked the first major offensive for American Expeditionary Forces

Battle of Cantigny marked the first major offensive for American Expeditionary Forces. During World War I, the U.S. 1st Division, the most experienced of the five American divisions in France, led an assault on the town of Cantigny, France, making it the first divisional attack by the American Expeditionary Forces in the war. The objective was to both reduce the effectiveness of the German Army and instill confidence among the French.

NASA| Public Domain
President Barack Obama presents former United States Marine Corps pilot, astronaut and United States Senator John Glenn with a Medal of Freedom, Tuesday, May 29, 2012, during a ceremony at the White House in Washington.

MAY 29, 2012

Presidential Medal of Freedom is presented to Senator John Glenn

Presidential Medal of Freedom is presented to Senator John Glenn. On May 29, 2012, President Barack Obama presented U.S. Marine Corps pilot, astronaut, and Senator John Glenn with the Medal of Freedom. According to the Obama White House, “It is the highest honor awarded to civilians in the U.S. The medal was established in 1963 by President Kennedy and presented to those who have made an especially meritorious contribution to the security and national interests of the U.S., world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” See what the Medal meant to him: What the Medal of Freedom Means to Me: John Glenn | whitehouse.gov (archives.gov).

A woman visits the grave of a fallen loved one in Upstate New York on Decoration Day. (Library of Congress)

MAY 30, 1868

First official Decoration Day, precursor to Memorial Day, was celebrated

First official Decoration Day, precursor to Memorial Day, was celebrated. On May 30, 1868, Ohio Rep. James A. Garfield, a former general and future U.S. president, addressed a crowd of 5,000 gathered at Arlington National Cemetery. May 30 was a day touted by the Grand Army of the Republic, an association of Union Civil War Veterans, as an official day of remembrance for people across the country. The hope was to honor the war’s dead by decorating the graves of Union soldiers.

Major Walter Reed. Courtesy of the U.S. Army.

MAY 1900

Major Walter Reed discovers breakthroughs on yellow fever

Major Walter Reed, a U.S. Army physician, led the team that confirmed the theory of the Cuban doctor Carlos Finlay that yellow fever is transmitted by a particular mosquito species, rather than by direct contact. This insight gave impetus to the new fields of epidemiology and biomedicine, and most immediately allowed the completion of work on the Panama Canal by the United States. Seven years after his death in 1909, Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington, D.C. was opened.

Battle of Cold Harbor. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

MAY-JUNE 1864

Overland Campaign is fought over seven weeks

The Overland Campaign, a series of Civil War battles fought over seven weeks, began when Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, general-in-chief of all Union armies, directed the actions of the Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj. Gen. George G. Meade, against Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. The final major battle of the campaign was waged at Cold Harbor where Grant gambled that Lee’s army was exhausted and ordered a massive assault against strong defensive positions. Although Grant suffered severe troop losses during the campaign, it was a strategic Union victory and led to the eventual surrender of Lee in April of 1865.

Inspiring Stories of Service: Dead Reckoning Collective

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

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

“3495 Bailey”

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

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

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

Take a gulp
Cold and hot
Been here a lot

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

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

“Warned Me”

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

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

“Odes to the GWOT”

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

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

“22 October 2021”

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

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

“Fact & Memory”

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

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

“Hanging Up the Rifle”

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

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

Volunteer Spotlight: Kathy S.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NVMM Reads: “The Knock at the Door”

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

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

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

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

Staff Spotlight: Brianna Jones, Guest Experience Associate

Each month, the Museum invites you to get to know the staff supporting our pillars to Honor, Connect, Inspire and Educate. Meet Brianna Jones, our Guest Experience Associate.

Q: How have you connected to the Museum?

A: I started volunteering per my grandfather’s recommendation back in 2020, and eventually applied to a job as a Guest Experience Associate at the front desk!

Q: Tell us about your experience as a military child, and how it impacted your growth and career path.

A: As a child, I always loved to hear stories about my father’s travels and military experiences. He was an active duty airman, flying F-16s and later various UAVs. Upon hearing these stories and his genuine passion for service, I decided at a fairly young age that I wanted to join the service. However, after being medically disqualified from the Air Force, I’ve decided to continue my passion for service by working at the Museum and potentially joining the Army!

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

A: When I’m not working, I enjoy playing the piano and the violin. I also spend my time reading, writing, and playing Nintendo games.

Q: What are three words that best describe you?

A: Chaotic, Friendly, and Optimistic

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

A: I am currently reading “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe. It’s extremely informative of pre-colonial Nigerian culture!

Q: What is your favorite place within the Museum?

A: My favorite part of the Museum is the Remembrance Gallery. It’s so beautiful to see the light coming through the colorful windows, especially in the evenings!

Q: What is your favorite place in the world?

A: I love the Kettle Moraine National Park in Wisconsin. I accidentally found myself lost there after taking a wrong turn once and it ended up being a wonderful adventure. 

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

A: “Then just become stronger. I have my ambition, you have your ambition too. Which means you should just keep walking forward towards that goal.” – Monkey D. Luffy, ‘One Piece’.

Paying Tribute to the Resilience of our Military Children

This month we are honoring and supporting the children of military personnel by celebrating the Month of the Military Child. April was established as the month of the military child in 1986 by Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger who served in the U.S. Army as a private during World War II. By the end of the war, he had been promoted to the rank of captain and served on General Douglas McArthur’s intelligence staff. While he did not have any children himself, he did have a wife and parents waiting for him back home. Through their eyes, he understood that military life was hard on the entire family. By establishing April as the Month of the Military Child, Weinberger was honoring the daily sacrifices of children and families of military personnel even when their military family member is serving on the Homefront.

Children of service members can often face a variety of challenges and struggles in their lives as they grow and develop. During childhood, children with an active-duty parent will spend several months or years separated from at least one of their parents while the parent is deployed. This separation can be difficult as young children may not understand why their parent is gone, while older children are old enough to understand the serious danger faced by their parent. Additionally, military children’s lives are uprooted as they move to new states or countries every two to three years as required by the military, which can mean changing schools between six and nine times by the time they graduate high school.

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)

For generations, children of service members had to learn to adapt to the constant changes of military life with minimal assistance from their schools. Each new school had a different policy in place for integrating students from military families into their classes and coursework. These societal issues led to the creation of Purple Star Schools. The Purple Star Award was created by Pete LuPida who has been Ohio’s Commissioner for Military Children Interstate Compact Commission since 2012. LuPida, a U.S. Navy Veteran, was concerned that schools in America were not consistent for transitioning military children, which led to children struggling to adapt in their new environment. This new school designation requires schools to have a professionally trained liaison for military families who understand the struggles these students face. The liaison’s goal is to help students integrate into their new environment and flourish for however long they attend the school. Many schools across the United States now aid military families in recognition of their service and sacrifice for our country.

Even with the challenges they face, many children with military parents are proud of their parents and wear the title of “Military Brat” with pride. This month, please join us on April 15 for Purple Up Day. Wear purple to show your support for military children and their families and recognize their sacrifice for our nation.

The official flower of the military child is the dandelion, and here is why:

“Dandelions put down roots almost anywhere and it is almost impossible to destroy. It is an unpretentious plant, yet good looking. It is a survivor in a broad range of climates.

Military children bloom everywhere the winds carry them. They are hardy and upright. Their roots are strong, cultivated deeply in the culture of the Military, planted swiftly and surely. They’re ready to fly in the breezes that take them to new adventures, new lands, and new friends.

Military children are well-rounded, culturally aware, tolerant, and extremely resilient. They have learned from an early age that home is where their hearts are. That a good friend can be found in every corner of the world.

They learn that to survive means to adapt. That the door that closes one chapter of their life opens to a new and exciting adventure full of new friends and new experiences.”
Anonymous

Bonds of Service: Father and Son Medal of Honor Recipients

Gallantry in action. Intrepidity. Above and beyond the call of duty. Risk of life. Selflessness. Exemplary action. Unwavering devotion. Conspicuous gallantry. Extraordinary heroism. Those are the words used to describe the actions of our nation’s Medal of Honor recipients. Since its inception during the Civil War, the Medal of Honor is the oldest continuously issued combat decoration of the U.S. Armed Forces. In honor of the Month of the Military Child, we are sharing stories of the only two father and son duos who shared the heroic bonds of being Medal of Honor recipients: Arthur MacArthur, Jr. and Douglas MacArthur, and Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. and Theodore “Ted” Roosevelt III.

Civil War general Arthur MacArthur, father of General Douglas MacArthur.

Lieutenant General Arthur MacArthur, Jr. received the Medal of Honor for his actions on November 25, 1863, at Missionary Ridge, Tennessee. At only 18 years old, he was part of a 50,000-man contingent of Union soldiers who stormed Confederate defenses. When his unit’s standard bearer was killed and roped their flag, he is credited with seizing the colors of his regiment and running full speed at the Confederates rallying Union troops and being shot twice before he planted the flag over the crest of Missionary Ridge. After the Civil War, he would fight in the Indian Wars and the Philippine-American War before retiring in 1909. Three years later, he died giving a speech to the Veterans of Wisconsin’s 24th Infantry Regiment. They wrapped him in the flag he carried to the top of Missionary Ridge.

His son, General Douglas MacArthur, was nominated for the Medal of Honor in 1914 and 1918 before receiving it in 1942. MacArthur’s leadership during the Champagne-Marne Offensive and Counter-offensive campaigns during World War I were noted by General Gouraud when he said MacArthur was “… One of the finest and bravest officers I ever served with.” He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross twice and the Silver Star seven times. General MacArthur eventually received the Medal of Honor in 1942 for his leadership in preparing the Philippine Islands to resist conquest. MacArthur was cited for his gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond in action against invading Japanese forces and for the heroic conduct of defensive and offensive operations on the Bataan Peninsula. During World War II, he mobilized, trained and led an army which received world acclaim for its gallant defense against a superior enemy force in men and arms.

General of the Army Douglas MacArthur smoking his corncob pipe, probably at Manila, Philippine Islands, 2 August 1945. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army.

Historians consider President Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. one of the five best presidents to lead our nation. As a young man, Roosevelt was inspired by his family’s heritage of military service including First Sergeant George Washington Roosevelt who received the Medal of Honor for distinguishing himself at Second Battle of Bull Run and Battle of Gettysburg.

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. Roosevelt was determined to see battle and shared, “On the day of the big fight, I had to ask my men to do a deed that European military writers consider utterly impossible of performance, that is, to attack over open ground an unshaken infantry armed with the best modern repeating rifles behind a formidable system of entrenchments. The only way to get them to do it in the way it had to be done was to lead them myself.” Roosevelt was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions; the only president to have received the honor. Inspired by their father’s service, all four of his sons, Theodore “Ted” III, Kermit, Archibald and Quentin, served in World War I and II, but only one received the Medal of Honor.

At the outbreak of World War I, Theodore “Ted” Roosevelt III, who was recognized as the best battalion commander in his division, volunteered to go to France. He eventually commanded the 26th Regiment in the 1st Division as a lieutenant colonel and fought in several major battles, including America’s first victory at Cantigny.

Despite a heart condition and arthritis that forced him to use a cane, Brigadier General Roosevelt led the assault on Utah Beach.

During World War II, Roosevelt returned to active duty in April 1941, and was given command of the 26th Infantry Regiment, part of the 1st Infantry Division, the same unit he fought with in World War I. Late in 1941, he was promoted to the one-star general officer rank of brigadier general. Roosevelt landed with the first wave of the forces assaulting the enemy-held beaches in Normandy where he repeatedly led groups from the beach, over the seawall and established them inland. His valor, courage, and presence in the very front of the attack and his complete unconcern at being under heavy fire, inspired the troops to heights of enthusiasm and self-sacrifice. On July 12, 1944, a little over one month after the landing at Utah Beach, Roosevelt died of a heart attack in France. At the time of his death, Roosevelt had been recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross but was upgraded to the Medal of Honor.

Of the 40 million Americans who have served in the Armed Forces since the Civil War, only 3,511 have received the Medal of Honor. As we look at the legacy of military service within these two families, we are reminded of the value of being a part of something greater than oneself. Their patriotism continues to inspire generations to this day.  

NVMM Reads: “My Family: My Military Mom”

For those of us who don’t have a parent in the military, life as a military child may sound difficult. But for many kids across the world, it’s a normal part of their lives. Claudia Harrington’s book, “My Family: My Military Mom,” tells the story of a young boy who has just joined a new school. He shares with one of his classmates what an average day is like for his family while his mom is serving out of state. Throughout the book, the two boys bond over both having a parent in the military and share what their lives are like when one of their parents is deployed. What makes this book so special is that it focuses on how normal their lives truly are, and how they still have a strong connection with their parents whether their military parent is at home or deployed.

This Month in History (April 2-26)

Four F9F-2 Panther jet fighters roar past the carrier, with dive brakes, landing gear and arresting hooks down, preparing to land on board after returning from a mission over North Korea, 23 June 1951. The planes and their pilots are from Fighter Squadron 721 (VF-721), a Naval Reserve squadron formerly based at Naval Air Station, Glenview, Illinois. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy.

APRIL 2, 1951

First U.S. Navy jet aircraft utilized as a bomber

First U.S. Navy jet aircraft utilized as a bomber is launched from the USS Princeton. Two F9F-2B Panthers catapulted from the Princeton to attack a railroad bridge near Songlin, North Korea.

President Harry Truman signs the Economic Cooperation Act of 1948 surrounded by the Act’s supporters. (Left to right) Senator Arthur Vandenberg, Treasury Secretary John Snyder, Representative Charles A. Eaton, Senator Tom Connally, Secretary of the Interior Julius A. Krug, Representative Joseph Martin, Representative Sol Bloom, and Attorney General Tom Clark, April 3, 1948. Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Archives.

APRIL 3, 1948

President Harry Truman signed the Economic Cooperation Act of 1948

President Harry S. Truman signed legislation authorizing the Economic Cooperation Act of 1948. Today, we refer to this legislation as the Marshall Plan in honor of George C. Marshall Jr., a General of the U.S. Army and the Secretary of State when the document was signed. The goal of the Marshall Plan was to both stabilize and reinvigorate the economy of Western Europe after the destruction of World War II. The Marshall Plan provided over $12 billion dollars in economic assistance to the Western European economy. Eventually, the Marshall Plan was replaced with the Mutual Security Act of 1951, also enacted by the Truman Administration, with the goal of economically lifting less developed countries up to prevent the spread of communism throughout the world.

Official Gold Star lapel pin/button.

APRIL 5

Gold Star Spouses Day

Gold Star Spouses Day is observed. The first Gold Star Spouses Day began as Gold Star Wives Day in 2010. It was later changed to be more inclusive. The term Gold Star has its origins from the service flags and banners that were first flown by families during World War I. They represented a blue star for family members serving in the armed forces and a gold star if their family member made the ultimate sacrifice during service. This day brings awareness about the sacrifices and grief spouses face. It is a reminder for all of us to remember them and their loved ones on this day and every day.

Enlisted crewmen of USCGC Tampa, all killed in action (KIA), 1918. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard.

APRIL 6, 1917

Coast Guard service is transferred to the Navy

When the U.S. enters World War I, Coast Guard service is transferred to the Navy. The United States declared war on Germany, nearly three years after World War I started. On the same day, the U.S. Navy’s communications center in Arlington, Virginia, transmitted the code words “Plan One, Acknowledge,” to Coast Guard cutters, units and bases initiating the Coast Guard’s transfer from the Treasury Department to the Navy and placing the service on a wartime footing.

American survivors of the Battle of Bataan under Japanese guard before beginning the Bataan Death March. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corps.

APRIL 9

National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day

National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day honors all who were Prisoners of War (POWs). This day of remembrance occurs on the anniversary of the Bataan Death March. On April 9, 1942, U.S. armed forces surrendered to Japanese forces on the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines. On that day the Imperial Japanese Army forced American and Filipino POWs to march 65 miles. During this exodus, the POWs were beaten, robbed, starved, tortured and executed by Imperial Japanese service members. It is estimated over 20,000 men died during the march. Those who did not perish suffered cruel treatment for two years as POWs before they made it back to the United States. Today is a reminder of their service and sacrifice.

U.S. Army soldiers in a firefight near Al Doura, Baghdad. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army.

APRIL 9, 2003

U.S. forces captured Baghdad during the Iraq War

U.S. forces captured Baghdad during the Iraq War. The Battle of Baghdad, later known as the Fall of Baghdad, was a military invasion of Iraq that took place in early 2003. On April 9, just three weeks into the invasion, U.S. forces toppled a large bronze statue of Saddam Hussein overlooking Baghdad’s Firdos Square. With Hussein in hiding and much of the city now under U.S. control, this moment came to symbolize the end of the Iraqi president’s long, often brutal reign, and a major early victory for the United States.

Confederate forces bombarding Fort Sumter, Charleston, South Carolina, on April 12, 1861, in a lithograph by Currier & Ives. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

APRIL 12, 1861

First shots of the Civil War

The first shots of the Civil War occured when Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter. The resupply of Fort Sumter became one of the first crises of President Lincoln’s administration. He notified the Governor of South Carolina, Francis W. Pickens, that he was sending supply ships, which resulted in an ultimatum from the Confederate government for the immediate evacuation of Fort Sumter. Confederates bombarded the fort from artillery batteries surrounding the harbor, thus causing the Battle of Fort Sumter.

Lee surrenders to Grant at Appomattox. Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Archives.

APRIL 12, 1865

Confederate General Lee surrendered to Union General Grant at Appomattox Court House

Confederate General Lee surrendered to Union General Grant at Appomattox Court House. “It would be useless and therefore cruel,” Robert E. Lee remarked on the morning of April 9, 1865, “to provoke the further effusion of blood, and I have arranged to meet with General Grant with a view to surrender.” Rather than destroy his army and sacrifice the lives of his soldiers, Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia. Three days later, a formal ceremony marked the disbanding of Lee’s army. On April 9, 1865, at the home of Wilmer McLean in the village of Appomattox Court House, Virginia, General Lee formally surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant bringing an end to the bloodiest conflict in American history. This happened just over four years after the Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter, which then led to the first land battle at Manassas, Virginia, later that year.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force.

APRIL 14

Air Force Reserve Birthday

Air Force Reserve celebrates its 74th Birthday. Since President Harry S. Truman called for the formation of the Air Force Reserve in 1948, it has been a critical part of the nation’s defense. We honor the more than 82,000 men and women who provide combat ready forces to Fly, Fight and Win.

Emancipation Celebrations. Photo courtesy of the White House Historical Association.

APRIL 16, 1862

Emancipation Day is celebrated in the District of Columbia

Emancipation Day is celebrated in the District of Columbia. President Abraham Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act, which effectively abolished slavery in the District of Columbia. Slavery in other parts of the United States came to an end in 1865.

Boston Marathon runners nearing the finish line of the Boston Marathon, 2016. Photo courtesy of the Encyclopedia Britannica.

APRIL 18

Patriots’ Day

Patriots’ Day commemorates the battles of Lexington, Concord and Menotomy, some of the first battles of the American Revolutionary War. It occurs on the third Monday of April each year, including battle reenactments and the Boston Marathon in Massachusetts.

USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58) underway after the ship struck a mine on 14 April 1988. A USMC CH-47 Sea Knight helicopter is on the helicopter pad. Naval History and Heritage Command photograph.

APRIL 18, 1988

U.S. launched Operation Praying Mantis, the largest naval battle since World War II

The United States launched Operation Praying Mantis against Iranian targets, the largest naval battle since World War II. The operation was launched in retaliation of the placement of mines in the Persian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq War. The guided missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts struck a mine four days earlier, blowing a 15-foot hole in the ship’s hull. The ship should have sunk, but thanks to an extraordinary damage control effort by all hands of an extremely well-trained crew, the ship was kept afloat. Operation Praying Mantis was the largest of five major U.S. Navy surface actions since World War II. It was the first, and so far only, time the U.S. Navy has exchanged surface-to-surface missile fire with an enemy. In the one-day operation, the U.S. Navy destroyed two Iranian surveillance platforms, sank two of their ships, and severely damaged another. 

Battle of Lexington. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army.

APRIL 19, 1775

The Battles of Lexington and Concord were the first military engagements of the American Revolutionary War

The first military engagements of the American Revolution were the battles at Lexington and Concord. About 700 British Army regulars in Boston were given secret orders to capture and destroy Colonial supplies stored by the Massachusetts Militia at Concord. Through intelligence gathering, Patriot leaders had received word weeks ahead and moved most of it to other locations. On the night before the battle, warning of the British expedition had been rapidly sent from Boston to militias in the area by several riders, including Paul Revere, with information about British plans. The initial mode of the Army’s arrival by water was signaled from the Old North Church in Boston using lanterns to communicate “one if by land, two if by sea”. The first shots of battle were fired just as the sun was rising at Lexington. Ralph Waldo Emerson describes the first shot fired by the Patriots at the North Bridge as the “shot heard round the world.”

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army.

APRIL 23

U.S. Army Reserve Birthday

U.S. Army Reserve celebrates its 114th Birthday. In 1908, the Army Reserve began as a small corps of medical professionals held in readiness for duty. Today, they serve as the Army’s global operational reserve force with a presence in 50 states, five U.S. Territories and 20 time zones across the globe. We recognize the more than 188,000 soldiers that protect our nation.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army.

APRIL 23, 1908

Medical Reserve Corps is created

Congress passed legislation that created the Medical Reserve Corps, the Army’s first Federal Reserve force. Congress created the Medical Reserve Corps to increase the Medical Department of the U.S. Army’s efficiency. The Army’s Medical Department would now consist of both a Medical Corps and a Medical Reserve Corps thereby increasing the number of medical professionals available for soldiers serving on the front lines.

Captain Beach traces the route of Triton’s submerged circumnavigation. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Naval Institute.

APRIL 25, 1960

USS Triton completed the first submerged circumnavigation of the globe

The U.S. Navy submarine USS Triton completed the first submerged circumnavigation of the globe. Dubbed “Operation Sandblast,” the mission was conducted by the nuclear-powered submarine USS Triton, and was done for purposes of geophysical and oceanographic research. Commanding the submarine was Captain Edward L. Beach Jr., who already forged a stellar naval career to that point. The son of Edward L. Beach Sr., a U.S. Navy captain, Beach Jr.’s career spanned from 1939-1966, and during this time he was awarded the Navy Cross, two Silver Stars and two Bronze Stars, among other commendations.

General William T. Sherman (left) and General Joseph E. Johnston (right). Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Archives.

APRIL 26, 1865

Confederate General Johnston accepted terms of surrender to Union General Sherman at Bennett Place

Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston accepted terms of surrender to Union General William T. Sherman at Bennett Place near Durham, North Carolina. Following Lee’s surrender and the assassination of Lincoln, Sherman met with Johnston on April 17, 1865, to negotiate a Confederate surrender. At the insistence of Johnston, Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Confederate Secretary of War John C. Breckinridge, Sherman conditionally agreed to generous terms. On April 20, Sherman sent a memorandum of those terms to Washington to prevent Johnston from ordering his men to go into the wilderness and conduct a destructive guerilla campaign. However, Sherman proceeded without Grant’s authority as well as President Johnson’s and his Cabinet. Grant intervened to save Sherman from dismissal and offered Johnston purely military terms, like those negotiated with General Lee. Johnston accepted those terms and then formally surrendered his army and all the Confederate forces in the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida.

Inspiring Story of Service: The Litten Brothers’ 137 Years of Service

Our March Inspiring Story of Service connects you to the seven Litten brothers who served a total of 137 years in the United States Air Force. Vietnam Veterans Larry and Jerry Litten joined us to share more about their family’s legacy of service.

Commanding the Skies: Inspiring Women of Aviation

Did you know that women have contributed to the air and space industry since 1784? When powered flight was first introduced, female pilots dove right in and began breaking speed and altitude records. They were also competing and winning against men in air races. During World War II, women from every continent helped with the war effort even though the military restricted women’s participation. More than 20 years later, women were finally able to fly in the U.S. Armed Forces, beginning with the Navy and Army in 1974 and then the Air Force in 1976. On July 31, 1991, the U.S. Senate lifted the ban on military women flying in combat and by 1998, servicewomen were flying combat missions. We introduce you to a few of those pioneering women of flight.

Willa Brown helped create aviation school to incorporate African-Americans into aviation and later into the military. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force.

Lieutenant Willa Brown

Semper Vigilans . . . Always Vigilant. Lieutenant Willa Brown was the first African American officer in the Civil Air Patrol, the civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. In addition, to being an American aviator, she was a lobbyist, teacher and civil rights activist. In 1938, she was the first African American woman to earn her pilot’s license in the United States. She actively pushed back against the limited career fields open to African Americans. In fact, she trained hundreds of pilots, several of whom went on to become Tuskegee Airmen.

WASP Hazel Ying Lee

As America was drawn into World War II, it became clear that there weren’t enough male pilots to sustain the war effort at home. The Women Airforce Service Pilots or WASP were created in 1943, under the command of famed aviator Jacqueline Cochran. Hazel Ying Lee was the first Chinese American pilot to fly for the WASP. Upon graduation, Lee was assigned to the Third Ferrying Group, an assignment critical to the war effort. They delivered aircraft from the manufacturer to where they would be shipped to the European and Pacific fronts. She quickly emerged as a leader with her attitude, “I’ll take and deliver anything.” Fellow WASP pilot Sylvia Dahmes Clayton recalled: “Hazel provided me with an opportunity to learn about a different culture at a time when I didn’t know anything else. She expanded my world and my outlook on life.” In 2004, Lee was inducted into Oregon’s Aviation Hall of Honor, a fraternity of native Oregonians who made historic contributions to aviation. She left behind a legacy of inclusion, bravery and service.

Hazel Ying Lee, 1932. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force.
STS-93 Commander, Eileen M. Collins shown wearing an orange Launch and Entry Suit (LES) with helmet. Collins was the first woman to command a Space Shuttle mission. Photo courtesy of NASA.

Colonel Eileen Collins

U.S. Air Force Colonel Eileen Collins’ love for airplanes and flying began as a child. At age 19, she saved money earned from part-time jobs and began taking flying lessons. After completing her undergraduate degree, she was one of four women chosen for Undergraduate Pilot Training at Vance Air Force Base and became the second female pilot to attend the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School. As a NASA Astronaut, she then led the way as the first female commander of a U.S. spacecraft with shuttle mission STS-93.

Lieutenant Colonel Olga Custodio

Olga Custodio wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps in the military but knew the challenges she faced as a woman. She persevered and wouldn’t take no for an answer even after being turned down by two different military branches. In 1980, she entered the Flight Screening Pilot Officer Training School and went on to graduate from Undergraduate Pilot Training at Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas. Lieutenant Colonel Custodio became the first Latina to complete U.S. Air Force pilot training and the first to become a U.S. military pilot. Upon retiring from the military after 23 years, she became one of the first Latina commercial airline captains.

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 
Rosemary Mariner in the 1990s. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy.

Captain Rosemary Mariner

While growing up, Captain Rosemary Mariner enjoyed watching planes at Miramar Naval Station, and worked odd jobs, cleaned houses and washed aircraft to earn money for flying lessons and flight time. She graduated from Purdue University at 19 as the first woman to earn a degree in aeronautics. She was already a licensed pilot when she joined the Navy in 1973. She was selected as part of the first class of women for flight training and was one of six female aviators to earn wings in 1974. She also became one of the first female Navy jet pilots, flying the A-4C and the A-7E Corsair II. In 1982, she qualified as a surface warfare officer aboard the USS Lexington and became the first woman to command an operational naval aviation squadron when she led the VAQ-34 during Operation Desert Storm. She retired after 24 years of military service, 17 carrier landings with over 3,500 military flight hours in 15 different Navy aircraft.

Captain Vernice Armour

Before Captain Vernice Armour joined the U.S. Marine Corps, she became the first African American female to serve as a police officer in Tempe, Arizona. Earning her wings in July 2001, Armour was not only number one in her class of 12, but she was also number one among the last 200 graduates. She became the Marine Corps’ first African American female pilot. In March 2003, she flew with HMLA-169 during the invasion of Iraq becoming the Marines first black female combat pilot. She completed two combat tours in the Gulf.

Cropped image of United States Marine Corps officer Vernice Armour – first female African-American naval aviator and combat pilot in the United States military. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Defense.

“Never interrupt someone doing something, you said couldn’t be done.” -Amelia Earhart These pilots are shining examples of what women can achieve as members of the armed forces. They took on challenges with fortitude and never gave up. Join us in celebrating their accomplishments this Women’s History Month.

Blazing a Trail: Servicewomen Firsts

Since the Revolutionary War, women have been serving in the United States military. These women refused to accept the status quo and found ways to serve as nurses, cooks and seamstresses, and at times, disguised themselves as men to fight for their country. We explore the stories of courageous women throughout the decades who took the path less traveled and ultimately, paved the way for future generations.

Susie King Taylor, known as the first African American Army nurse. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Susie King Taylor

Susie King Taylor was the first Black U.S. Army nurse and tended to an all-Black Army regiment named the 1st South Carolina Volunteers (Union), where her husband served, for four years during the Civil War. Despite her service, like many African American nurses, she was never paid for her work. As the author of “Reminiscences of My Life in Camp with the 33rd United States Colored Troops, Late 1st S.C. Volunteers,” she was the only African American woman to publish a memoir of her wartime experiences.

Dr. Mary Edwards Walker

Dr. Mary Edwards Walker was a suffragist, prisoner of war and surgeon. Walker chose to volunteer at the beginning of the Civil War but was only given the opportunity to be an unpaid field surgeon near the Union front lines. She petitioned the War Department multiple times and was eventually employed by the Army of the Cumberland as the first female surgeon of the U.S. Army Surgeons. After the war, she was approved for the Medal of Honor, for her efforts to treat the wounded during the Civil War. She is the only woman who has received the Medal of Honor.

Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, wearing her Medal of Honor. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.
Private Cathay Williams. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army.

Private Cathay Williams

In 1866, six all-Black cavalry and infantry regiments were created after Congress passed the Army Organization Act. Private Cathay Williams was the first African American woman to enlist, and the only documented to serve in the U.S. Army, posing as a man, during the Indian Wars. She enlisted under the pseudonym, William Cathay, and was the only known female Buffalo Soldier.

World War I marked the first war in which American women were allowed to enlist in the armed forces. The first to sign-up were Opha May Johnson, the first woman ever sworn into the U.S. Marine Corps; Loretta Perfectus Walsh, the first active-duty U.S. Navy woman and the first woman to serve in any of the U.S. armed forces in a non-nurse occupation; and twin-sisters Genevieve and Lucille Baker, the first two uniformed women to serve in the Coast Guard.

World War II created an unprecedented need for soldiers. Women raised their right hand to support their country and free up men to fight on the front lines. In 1943, Private Minnie Spotted Wolf, a member of the Blackfoot tribe, was one of the first Native American women to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps. Olivia Hooker was the first African American woman to enter the U.S. Coast Guard in February 1945. She became a SPAR (Semper Paratus Always Ready), a member of the United States Coast Guard Women’s Reserve, earning the rank of yeoman, second class during her service. Second Lieutenant Elsie Ott, U.S. Army Nurse Corps, was the first woman to receive the United States Air Medal. She was awarded this medal in recognition of her heroism in determining a way to evacuate the wounded from the front lines. She helped pave the way for further innovation in aeromedical during World War II and beyond.

Brigadier General Margaret A. Brewer

In 1948, three years after the end of World War II, President Truman signed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act into law, officially allowing women to serve as full, permanent members of all branches of the Armed Forces. As opportunities opened, women wanted to establish themselves as capable service members. This was especially true for Brigadier General Margaret A. Brewer, U.S. Marine Corps. She actively fought to preserve women’s presence in the Corps and better integrate them with their male counterparts. She also played a crucial role as the Corps began to develop regulations for pregnancy and parenthood. These principles are still in place for female Marines today. In 1978, she became the first female to reach the rank of general officer.

Brigadier General Margaret A. Brewer, USMC. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corps.

As the 21st century ushered in, women proved their worth in the field as well as after service, becoming power advocates for Veterans. Sergeant First Class Leigh Ann Hester was the first female U.S. Army soldier to receive the Silver Star since World War II, and first ever to be cited for valor in close quarters combat. While in Iraq in November of 2004, Lieutenant Colonel Tammy Duckworth’s helicopter was shot down resulting in the loss of both her legs. She was the first American double amputee from the Iraq War. After retiring from the Army, she went to work for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and then became the first female Veteran to serve in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate.

Today, out of the more than one million active-duty service members, 17 percent are female. Women’s History Month provides an opportunity for all of us to honor and celebrate the vital role of women in American history and part of our military force. Join us as we highlight the incredible and courageous stories of women who have served our nation.

NVMM Reads: “Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History”

We all know the famous story of Amelia Earhart, the daring woman who flew a multitude of impressive flights and advanced the scope of possibility for female aviators. Her accomplishments are known throughout America, and her story is an inspiring tale for aviators everywhere. While she may be one of the most famous names in early aviation, she is by no means the only woman who battled the gales of opposition surrounding female pilots. To explore the stories of a few of these remarkable women, the NVMM Guest Experience Team strongly recommends adding to your reading list, “Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History,” by Keith O’Brien.

Throughout this chronology, Florence Klingensmith, Ruth Elder, Amelia Earhart, Ruth Nichols and Louise Thaden share the successes and setbacks in their careers, elements of their lives outside of aviation and fragments of their thoughts and opinions on their view of a woman’s “place” in society. O’Brien makes it clear in each chapter that despite their differing backgrounds, each woman shared a common moral ground, setting them up to become fast friends and to become a stable support system throughout their careers.

While the accomplishments of these women were vast, they also took on a dangerous endeavor each time they took to the skies. More often than not, machinery or simple human error was eventually the downfall of prominent aviators, and these women were no different. In addition to enduring an already harrowing task, women in aviation withstood the mounting pressure from their families, the media, and societal expectations for women’s behavior in the early 20th century. Despite these obstacles, the five women outlined in “Fly Girls” continued to defy all odds and accomplish a myriad of impressive “firsts” for women, in addition to aviation as a whole.

At the National Veterans Memorial and Museum, we celebrate those who made a difference in the world, and we respectfully honor their contributions to America. These women accomplished the impossible, and channeled their drive and intelligence in order to break down the barriers of impossibility, pushing themselves and others to aim higher than anyone could have expected. Despite their differences in background and personal lives, each of these five women shared a drive to succeed and found themselves in the pursuit of aviation.

Pioneering Women: Lieutenant Colonel Charity Adams Earley, U.S. Army

During World War II, military units were still segregated. Despite those challenges, many African American women wanted to enlist in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) to serve their country overseas. Due to pressure from several African American organizations, the War Department agreed to send a battalion of African American WACs overseas to sort and distribute the backlog of mail in Europe. This unit was known as the 6888th Postal Battalion which was given the nickname of “Six Triple Eight.”

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army

Lieutenant Colonel Charity Adams Earley

Leading the brave women of the 6888th was Major Charity Adams. She joined the newly formed Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) – later changed to the WAC – and completed her training in August of 1942. Adams was later promoted to the rank of major and placed in charge of the first WAC African American unit to serve overseas. The women of the 6888th had their work cut out for them; but Maj. Adams worked hard to keep her unit motivated and organized.