Military Medley

SSgt Bernice Frankel (Bea Arthur), U.S. Marine Corps (1943-1945)

SSgt Bernice Frankel (Bea Arthur), U.S. Marine Corps (1943-1945)

Bernice Frankel, better known as Bea Arthur, of the U.S. Marine Corps between 1943 and 1945, went on to be one of television’s best-loved sitcom stars. As one of the nation’s beloved Golden Girls, she was outspoken in and out of the character of Dorothy Zbornak, advocating for the rights of women and minorities. Yet she was also an intensely private person who kept many details of her life to herself for decades. Bea Arthur’s Military Career Bea Arthur was born Bernice Frankel in May 1922 to a Jewish family living in Brooklyn, New York. Her family relocated to Cambridge, Maryland in 1933, where her parents opened a women’s clothing store. Bernice developed a medical condition called coagulopathy at the age of 16. Her family sent her to boarding school for her health. After high school, she spent a year at Blackstone College for Girls in Virginia before entering the workforce. According to her official military personnel file, she had held previous jobs as a food analyst at a Maryland...

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Vietnam Beyond by Gerald E. Augustine

Vietnam Beyond by Gerald E. Augustine

When Gerald Augustine shipped off to Vietnam in 1966, he brought a 1949 Kodak Brownie Hawkeye box camera at the behest of his mother. It turned out to be a great decision.  About the Author of Vietnam Beyond He used the camera to document his experiences during and after the Vietnam War, and some of these images are included in his new book, "Vietnam Beyond." A Middletown, Connecticut native, Augustine graduated from high school in 1963 and went on to study at Central Connecticut State University and the University of Connecticut. He was soon drafted into the Army in 1965, serving with the 196th Light Infantry Brigade. On August 4, 1966, he was sent to Vietnam.  Augustine spent much of his time in Southeast Asia in combat. As a machine gunner, this meant ambush patrols, search-and-destroy missions, and helicopter assaults. He got a brief reprieve from the jungles only because an eye injury forced him to go to Saigon for surgery. There, he realized how far removed the...

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Blue Boy by Buck Cole

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 - how to go about teaching us.  As a veteran who served during the Cold War, he will tell you he was never stationed in a war zone and his only taste of combat came in the form of a bar fight with a sailor in the Philippines. One day, Cole watched a retired Army colonel give a Veterans Day speech to a group of middle schoolers. The colonel spoke in grand "platitudes" about moral conduct, sacrifice, and honor.  A great concept for a Veterans Day speech, Cole thought, but not something that would...

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LCpl Adam Douglas Driver, U.S. Marine Corps (2001-2004)

LCpl Adam Douglas Driver, U.S. Marine Corps (2001-2004)

Adam Driver is an accomplished actor with two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, and four Primetime Emmy Awards, among other accolades. But did you know that before he became the face of Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Driver served in the US Marine Corps? Inspired to join USMC shortly after the tragic events of 9/11, Adam Driver was preparing for active duty in Iraq, when he suffered an injury in a bicycle accident that prevented his deployment. Although his service in the Marines was brief, it was very impactful, and today Adam Driver is working to bridge the cultural gap between the United States Armed Forces and the performing arts communities by bringing the best modern American theater to the military. Adam Driver’s Early Life and Failed Juilliard Audition Adam Driver was born on November 19, 1983, in San Diego, California, the son of Nancy Wright, a paralegal, and Joe Douglas Driver. His father's family is from Arkansas and his mother's family is from...

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Everything You Need to Know About the Korean War

Everything You Need to Know About the Korean War

The Korean War was the first time the United States military engaged in a shooting conflict after the end of World War II; it was also the first of many sparks that really turned the Cold War hot. From 1950 to 1953, the Korean War was at the forefront of American minds and politics. A public emerging from the World War II years and weary of fighting didn't fully understand the threat of Communism or the Truman administration's "containment" strategy - which meant they didn't fully understand what happened in the first place. Initially, the war was popular because the threat of Communism had loomed over the U.S. and her allies since the end of World War II. It was popular for the United States to take action against it. However, as the war ground on, all the American public knew was that it certainly didn't end the way they wanted it to. The Beginning of the Korean War On June 25, 1950 - 70 years ago - North Korean tanks rolled across the 38th parallel and over the South Korean...

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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 first black man to graduate from the Naval Academy in 1980. Today, along with being a New York Times bestselling author, entrepreneur and philanthropist, Montel is a passionate advocate for veterans.  Montel Williams’s Early Years Born in Baltimore, Maryland, on July 3, 1956, Montel was the youngest of four children born to Marjorie and Herman Williams. Montel's father was a firefighter who in 1992 became Baltimore's first African American Fire Chief. Williams was raised as a Roman Catholic...

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SOG. The Secret Wars of America’s Commandos in Vietnam by John L. Plaster

SOG. The Secret Wars of America’s Commandos in Vietnam by John L. Plaster

John Plaster (The Ultimate Sniper), a retired Army major, served three tours with the secretive "Studies and Observation Group," aka SOG, during the Vietnam War-a background he has put to good use in this authoritative and insightful look at the now-defunct commando unit. Plaster does much to illuminate both this frequently misunderstood group and its extraordinary participants. Made up entirely of volunteers, SOG tackled a wide range of vital and dangerous duties, including missions deep into enemy territory and rescues of downed American pilots. Special Forces veterans, in particular, will delight in the descriptions of America's old tribal allies, the Montagnards of Vietnam. Specialists in poison-arrow warfare, the primitive "'Yards," Plaster explains, were both fierce fighters and a constant source of wonderment to the Americans. Plaster reveals the core of the relationship between 'Yards and Yanks in a telling anecdote in which two Green Berets win over a village chieftain with...

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I Never Left Anybody Up There by Keith Krejci

I Never Left Anybody Up There by Keith Krejci

During the height of the Vietnam War, Da Nang Air Base was one of the busiest airports in the world, if not the busiest. As if the stress of being an air traffic controller wasn't enough, U.S. Air Force Air Traffic Controllers in Vietnam had to deal with the same levels of traffic found in places like Chicago O'Hare International Airport while under fire. Amazingly, these no doubt stressed-out airmen were able to do their jobs flawlessly, often living in wartime conditions in the middle of enemy attacks and other challenging scenarios. Keith Krejci was one of those airmen, and he chronicles the stories of his year in South Vietnam in "I Never Left Anybody Up There: A Year In The Life Of An Air Traffic Controller in Viet Nam." About the Author of I Never Left Anybody Up There Krejci would spend more than 30 years in the Air Force, retiring with the rank of Chief Master Sergeant (E-9) in 1997. In this time, he worked as a controller at ten control towers and eight radar facilities in...

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Death In The Highlands by Keith Saliba

Death In The Highlands by Keith Saliba

Keith Saliba's book's real-life setting is an isolated, heavily fortified frontier outpost In Vietnam's West-Central Highlands near the Cambodian border and the Ho Chi Minh trail, the main conduit for troops and supplies from North Vietnam. "It was a 20th-century version of the Wild West frontier fortress," Saliba said, in territory Army Special Forces soldiers called "Indian Country"-remote, dangerous. In October 1965, the camp at Plei Me was guarded by a 12-man American Army Special Forces "A-Team," along with Montagnard fighters native to the region and a small contingent of South Vietnamese Special Forces soldiers. But by Oct. 19, almost 2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers had crept into position around Plei Me. An equal number were deployed to ambush any relief force sent to the camp's rescue. And so begins the battle he describes in "Death in the Highlands: The Siege of Special Forces Camp Plei Me." Vastly outnumbered, the Special Forces soldiers fought back with their Vietnamese...

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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 in the Air Force, where he served for four years. Morgan Freeman’s Early Years Morgan Freeman was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on the 1st of June, 1937. These were harsh years, with the Wall Street Crash leading through to the Dust Bowl and then the war in Europe. His father, Morgan Sr, was a barber, his mother Mayme a cleaner struggling to maintain a family that eventually included six children: five boys and one girl, Morgan being the fourth-born. When Morgan was very young, like so many other...

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Vietnam and Beyond: Veteran Reflections by Jenny La Sala And Jim Markson

Vietnam and Beyond: Veteran Reflections by Jenny La Sala And Jim Markson

Those who have fought on a battlefield often describe it as a combination of extreme excitement and gut-wrenching terror. It's also a huge assault to the emotions that can leave permanent mental health damage. Today, that condition is called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In the past, it has been known as battle fatigue (WWI) and shell shock (WWII).  This well-styled, organized, and powerfully written book is a compilation of first-hand accounts by warriors who suffer some aspects of emotional trauma as well as others who have full-blown PTSD. At the center of the book are a collection of letters co-author Jim Markson wrote home while serving in Vietnam with the U.S. Air Force 377th Security Police Squadron as security for the Tan Son Nhut Air Base. His tour was from March 1967 to March 1968.  His first batch of letters home were relatively placid, containing relaxed messages about arriving in Vietnam; going to the PX; the boredom; how he had gone into Saigon and had shrimp...

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