Growing up as a child, and since my first memory that I can remember, I always heard my Mother who had Served in the United States Marine Corps and the Great Pride of being a “MARINE” during service and after; she had started as a Model in Hollywood and was contracted for Billboard Pictures for WOMEN to Join the Marines allowing Men in Desk Jobs to Go out and fight the Japanese. My Mother was SO Proud of the Uniform that she Enlisted before going home.
Service Reflections of CWO4 Charles Rathgeber, U.S. Coast Guard (1971-1999)
When I became aware that I was not interested in finishing college in my sophomore year, I sought out the local Coast Guard recruiter, but they were not looking for entry-level recruits at that time. As my draft number was low and I was soon to be status 1A, Dad had served in the Navy in WWII, so I talked to the Navy recruiter and enlisted in December 1971.
Rise and Fall of the SR-71 Blackbird
During the last few years of World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union - both long weary of the other - became unlikely allies against Adolf Hitler's takeover of Eastern Europe. Following the defeat of German in 1945, however, the wartime allies became mortal enemies, locked in a global struggle to prevail militarily, ideologically, and politically in a new "Cold War." To learn of the other side's military and technical capabilities, their actions and intentions, both sides used...
Blue Boy by Buck Cole
Every veteran has a unique and interesting story to tell. Many of us are plucked out of our lives in the United States and sent to join our chosen branch of service, where we often travel around the country and around the world, engaging our senses in a series of new experiences. Air Force veteran Buck Cole is one of us. Cole is not only a veteran; he's a retired history teacher, which gives him a unique perspective on what to teach us about the lessons he's learned and - more importantly -...
Service Reflections of Maj James Webber, U.S. Air Force (1972-1992)
Interestingly, back in August of 1968, when I first walked around the sign-up tables in the Washburn University gym, I decided on a whim to join the Air Force ROTC unit. The sales pitch was it was really easy for the first two years, plus you could take military science classes (which were espoused to be easier than most). It sounded good to this Kansas country boy who was just trying to stay out of the draft. I never dreamed that quick decisions would turn into a wonderful and rewarding career! That one decision formed and still rewards my life to this day!
Cold War Double Agents Within the CIA
How much do you know about Cold War double agents within the CIA? Just recently, news has been released by a CIA analyst that, during the Cold War, there were double agents who worked for the CIA while remaining secretly loyal to communist spy agencies. There were nearly 100 fake CIA “agents” in East Germany, Cuba, and the Soviet Union. These “agents” made up false intelligence that was then passed on to the U.S. policymakers for years.
Bread and Water Punishment
Many civilians will have trouble understanding some facets of military life. The one thing they may never understand is the plethora of ways military personnel can face punishment. Every veteran has a story about either witnessing a bizarre punishment forced upon a troop (or themselves) that seems so outlandish; it's hard to believe - to those who didn't serve, that is. Troops have been ordered to sweep sunshine off the sidewalks, vacuum the flight line, and pretend to be a ghost; or my...
Cold War – 1983 Beirut Bombing
In 1975, a bloody civil war erupted in Lebanon, with Palestinian and leftist Muslim guerrillas battling militias of the Christian Phalange Party, the Maronite Christian community, and other groups. During the next few years, Syrian, Israeli, and United Nations interventions failed to resolve the factional fighting, and in August 1982 a multinational force arrived to oversee the safe and peaceful withdrawal of Yasir Arafat and the PLO from positions within Beirut and ensure the safety of the...
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...
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.
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.
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.