Cold War

Service Reflections of MKCS George III Shoffstall , U.S. Coast Guard (1973-1994)

Service Reflections of MKCS George III Shoffstall , U.S. Coast Guard (1973-1994)

I had every intention of joining the U.S. Navy as an enlisted man after HS graduation. I didn’t have the grades to entertain the academy appointment process. My father and his two brothers voluntarily enlisted in the Navy at the outset of the Korean Conflict in 1950. Two served on New Jersey class battleships, and my father trained as an Aviation Electricians mate assigned to a tactical squadron in country.

My aspirations took a slight course change in the spring of my senior year. One day I received a long-distance call from a friend and former classmate. He had been looking into joining the Coast Guard after graduation and mentioned maybe enlisting as teammates in what was called the buddy program. Being a kid from central PA, I hadn’t heard or even considered the CG.

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LCDR Montel Williams, US Navy and USMC (1974-1986)

LCDR Montel Williams, US Navy and USMC (1974-1986)

Montel Williams is best known as the Emmy Award-winning host of The Montel Williams Show, which aired nationally for seventeen years. Montel Brian Anthony Williams, known to most as simply “Montel,” is also an actor and motivational speaker. But did you know that Montel Williams served in the military? His decorated military service spanned 22 years in two branches of the service—the United States Marines and the United States Navy. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1974 and later became the...

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Service Reflections of ETNSN John W. Ditmar, Jr., U.S. Navy (1970-1973)

Service Reflections of ETNSN John W. Ditmar, Jr., U.S. Navy (1970-1973)

The village I grew up in had a population of around 2000 and was almost surrounded by water, so swimming, fishing, and boating were a natural progression. I loved to watch the bigger boats on Spring Lake and freighters that would come into Grand Haven at a young age. My early years growing up were not much fun.

My father was a good man but was an alcoholic and was mean to my mother and me when he had too much to drink. There was physical violence. My parents never attended church, but some kind neighbors took me a few times with their kids, which opened my eyes to another world. In those days, there was a stigma attached to being an alcoholic, and despite several attempts by myself and others, my father refused any help. This was a time when my conflicting emotions were off the chart.

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Service Reflections of SSGT Ken Christeson, U.S. Marine Corps (1971-1977)

Service Reflections of SSGT Ken Christeson, U.S. Marine Corps (1971-1977)

My dad and all of my uncles were veterans of WWII. My dad and some uncles served in the Pacific, while others served in Europe. I grew up watching the war programs on TV and playing combat with the kids in the neighborhood. I read Leon Uris’s book BATTLE CRY in high school, which started considering the Marine Corps.

After school, I had a part-time job and worked alongside a couple of active-duty Marines working off duty for extra spending money.

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Service Reflections of ET2 Alan Spielman, U.S. Coast Guard (1979-1988)

Service Reflections of ET2 Alan Spielman, U.S. Coast Guard (1979-1988)

I was interested in electronics but found it difficult to work 8 hours, go to school 8 hours, and study at least 4 hours a day, and I burnt out. I researched all the services and found the Coast Guard electronic technicians trained on everything, and they only specialized between aircraft and all others.

So I joined to get electronics school where I could work on everything from small boats to large cutters, buoy tenders, ice breakers, Loran (long-range aids to navigation), lighthouses, shore stations, communication stations, and remote aids/high sites.

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A1C Morgan Freeman, U.S. Air Force (1955-1959)

A1C Morgan Freeman, U.S. Air Force (1955-1959)

Morgan Freeman, recipient of the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award, is an American actor, director, and narrator. Noted for his distinctive deep voice, Freeman didn't get his first big break until age 49. Most readers know Freeman for his perfromance in Shawshank Redemption, Million Dollar Baby, or Driving Miss Daisy. But did you know that acting was not Freeman’s first love? As a young man, he dreamed of being an Air Force pilot, turned down an drama scholarship to enlist...

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Service Reflections of GySgt Dan Edick, U.S. Marine Corps (1978-2000)

Service Reflections of GySgt Dan Edick, U.S. Marine Corps (1978-2000)

I am a fraternal twin. I knew my parents couldn’t afford to send us both to college, and I personally didn’t want to go. I felt as though my whole life had been spent in school already, and I wanted to do something different.

My father and several uncles served in the military. Some of them retired from the service. I respected them for serving and decided that I wanted to serve my country. My original choice was the Army, so I set an appointment with the Recruiter while a sophomore in high school. They showed no interest in me because of my age, so I left. The following year, I tried again. I sat with the Army and Air Force Recruiter. The Army didn’t impress me as much as the Air Force. The A.F. Recruiter said I was still too young and to come back in another year.

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Service Reflections of SMC Rick N. Riggins, U.S. Navy (1973-1997)

Service Reflections of SMC Rick N. Riggins, U.S. Navy (1973-1997)

My decision to enlist in the Navy was solely based on the draft that was in effect at the time, and I went in knowing that my number would be called. The funny thing is after I enlisted, the draft was abolished, but it was the best decision I ever made. My family’s history was Army, and I really wanted to change the paradigm, so I went into the Navy.

Those along the way influenced me, like BM1 Mundell, who retired as either a BMCS or BMCM, as he could see something in me that others at the time could not. Also, SMSN Booker T. Arradondo and SN Cap Tasali were with me on my first unit, the USS Tripoli (LPH-10). SMSN Arradondo challenged me at all times to be the best I could be while we were together at our watch station. SN Tasali was always even-tempered, quiet, and a kind shipmate and I learned a lot from him as well. Later in my career, our paths crossed again along my military journey.

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Service Reflections of MSgt Ricky Hudson, U.S. Air Force (1971-1992)

Service Reflections of MSgt Ricky Hudson, U.S. Air Force (1971-1992)

I had always wanted to enlist in the Air Force from my younger teenage years. Chuck Yeager was a hero of younger times.
When in high school my football coach, Max Townsend was a great influence on my enlisting. He had served in the Air Force and used the GI Bill to get his teaching degree. He pulled me aside and provided invaluable information and related experiences that only reinforced my desire to enlist.
I enlisted at age 17 under a program that was called delayed enlistment in December 1971 and did not report for basic training until June 1972. Coach Townsend gave me a heads up on this program as it provided a guaranteed job

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PVT Jimi Hendrix, U.S. Army (1961-1962)

PVT Jimi Hendrix, U.S. Army (1961-1962)

Jimi Hendrix, an American guitarist, singer, and songwriter, widely regarded as one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music is one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century. Did you know Jimi Hendrix briefly served in the U.S. Army? James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix was born in 1942 in Seattle while his father Al Hendrix, drafted into the Army during World War II, was imprisoned in an Alabama stockade. Drafted just three days after marrying Jimi’s...

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Service Reflections of ETCM Gene Treants, U.S. Navy (1966-1996)

Service Reflections of ETCM Gene Treants, U.S. Navy (1966-1996)

It was the summer of 1966, and I was between my Sophomore and Junior years at College. I knew I might be in trouble with my deferment since I majored in beer and girls with a minor in partying. One of my best friends had decided to go into the Navy but had not yet joined. He worked on a survey crew, and I worked construction with my dad’s company. I was doing everything from electrical work, plumbing, carpentry, swimming pools, and you name it, but the work was never-ending. The days began at about 0700 on the job site and ended at too damn late.
One particularly hot and miserable day, after I had worked in an attic, removing insulation from a fire area, I had just about had it. My dad had left about noon for some meeting and left me in charge, and we had lots of work to finish. We finally completed the job at 6:30 pm, cleaned up, and left. When I got home, my dad was pissed it had taken so long and told me that I was not doing a good enough job. I told him if he spent time on the job instead of going off and doing other things, maybe we could have finished on time. Of course, he was not happy with my answer and told me that I was not working hard enough. I said that was fine and that I was done. I quit. The next day he asked me why I was not dressed, and I said I had quit since I was not a good enough worker. He left in a huff, and that was all it took.

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Notable Encounters by Chris Adams

Notable Encounters by Chris Adams

For most of us, our time in the military takes us to new places, teaches us new things, and introduces us to people we otherwise would never have met. One retired Air Force officer, Maj. Chris Adams documented the memorable people he encountered throughout his military career and compiled his recollections in his new book, "Notable Encounters." About the Author of Notable Encounters Adams is a retired USAF major general, a Vietnam War pilot, former Chief of Staff at Strategic Air Command, and...

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