Incredible Military Stories
Cpl Valieria Lara, U.S. Marine Corps  (2017-2021)

Cpl Valieria Lara, U.S. Marine Corps (2017-2021)

Who or what influenced your decision to join the military? Which service branch did you select, and what do you remember most about joining up?:

I guess you could say the American Dream is what influenced me to join the military. As a daughter of Mexican immigrants, I experienced my parents building a dream for themselves that came true. They came to the United States with really nothing but hunger to better their lives for themselves and their children. I saw all these opportunities that were granted to my family to achieve this dream solely because they were on American soil.

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Sgt Ramon Aguilar, U.S. Army (1999-2007)

Sgt Ramon Aguilar, U.S. Army (1999-2007)

Who or what influenced your decision to join the military? Which service branch did you select, and what do you remember most about joining up?:

What influenced me to enlist in the active army was the overwhelming urge to escape the abusive and toxic home environment I was in. I figured that there was nothing worse than the physical abuse I was receiving from my dad and constantly being called worthless, a loser, or a piece of sh* by my mother. Due to the constant physical and psychological abuse, I had a very low self-esteem, and self-worth and no clear sense of self-identity.”

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HM2 Neath Williams, U.S. Navy (1999-2022)

HM2 Neath Williams, U.S. Navy (1999-2022)

Who or what influenced your decision to join the military? Which service branch did you select, and what do you remember most about joining up?:

You did what? Why?” That’s the question I got from my family and friends. I don’t think I had a simple answer for them at the time. I don’t think anyone who knew me in high school expected me to join the military. I don’t remember considering it an option; then again, I swam competitively 4 days a week at the local university and never considered going to college there. I just wasn’t a kid with a lot of foresight, especially in high school. I was coming up on graduation in 1999, and I knew I was expected to do something, but what that was, I wasn’t sure. I’ll never forget the day the recruiters started showing up in our cafeteria. Their uniforms pressed perfectly, their size, posture, tattoos, and overall confidence. They would always hand out stress balls or little nylon backpacks, and if you stopped and chatted with them for a bit, you might score a t-shirt or ball cap emblazoned with “Let the Journey begin,” GO NAVY or USMC or ARMY. Now, I can’t speak for the other kids in my class, but I didn’t have ties to the military. I had no idea about the differences between the Navy and the Marine Corps, let alone any of the other branches. With over 20 years of military service on my resume, now, I’d like to tell you that I did some research or deep soul-searching to make a decision about which branch to join. Still, if I’m being honest, the Navy recruiter was the coolest and most persistent out of them all, so I chose to let the journey begin and begin it did!

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MSgt Kevin Nichols, U.S. Air Force (1996-2017)

MSgt Kevin Nichols, U.S. Air Force (1996-2017)

Who or what influenced your decision to join the military? Which service branch did you select, and what do you remember most about joining up?:

It wasn’t that my oldest brother was a Marine or that another brother was a Sailor. It wasn’t that my Dad always talked about his DOD sanctioned school as a child during the Manhattan Project days.

That’s not why I joined; that actually influenced me NOT to join. After several calls from Marine recruiters who knew “Gunny Nichols,” I’d tell them I was going to college to make something of myself…so I did.”

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Sgt Raymond Vaughn, U.S. Marine Corps (1965-1971)

Sgt Raymond Vaughn, U.S. Marine Corps (1965-1971)

Who or what influenced your decision to join the military? Which service branch did you select, and what do you remember most about joining up?:

My favourite uncle was my inspiration to join the Corps, not an easy decision at the time because Vietnam was starting to really escalate. It was all over the news, and we were starting to see wounded vets returning, and views of flag-draped caskets with bugles playing taps were popping up frequently on the local news. My Uncle Brady, Uncle Caesar, and my Dad were all Merchant Marines but 180 degrees apart in demeanor. Dad and Uncle Caesar, a US Navy WW II vet, were settled homebodies. Uncle Brady was the happy vagabond with different kinds of stories to tell. We loved hearing their sea stories since my father had been part of the sea convoys carrying supplies and men overseas to Europe and the Pacific, and Uncle Brady had actually had feet on the ground. Dad had asthma and was not eligible for the military.”

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Spearhead by Adam Makos

Spearhead by Adam Makos

Have you read Spearhead by Adam Makos? When Clarence Smoyer is assigned to the gunner's seat of his Sherman tank, his crewmates discover that the gentle giant from Pennsylvania has a hidden talent: He's a natural-born shooter. At first, Clarence and his fellow crews in the legendary 3rd Armored Division thought their tanks were invincible. Then they met the German Panther, with a gun so murderous it could shoot through one Sherman and into the next. Soon a pattern emerged: The lead tank always...

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Sgt. William Harvey Carney, U.S. Army (1863-1864)

Sgt. William Harvey Carney, U.S. Army (1863-1864)

Today, we may remember the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, also Sgt. William Harvey Carney, at the Civil War Battle of Fort Wagner from the 1989 film "Glory." The critically-acclaimed film was released more than 30 years ago, but it stands the test of time for many reasons.  The most important reason is that it's reasonably true to the history of the unit, with a few of Hollywood's usual dramatic licenses. The 54th Massachusetts was the first all-Black regiment raised in the Union to fight in the...

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WW2 – The Battle of Monte Cassino

WW2 – The Battle of Monte Cassino

Allied forces landed in the Italian peninsula in September 1943. The Apennine Mountains divided the peninsula, and Allied troops split and advanced on both sides. They took control of Naples and continued the push towards Rome. Monte Cassino was the gateway to Rome. It towered above the city and provided unobstructed views. German troops occupied lookouts on the hillside but agreed to stay out of the abbey because of its historical importance. The precious manuscripts and antiquities housed in...

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Lt Tom Ewell, U.S. Navy (1942-1945)

Lt Tom Ewell, U.S. Navy (1942-1945)

Tom Ewell, of the United States Navy between 1942 and 1945, interrupted a successful career as a stage actor in order to protect the merchant shipping vital to the country’s war effort as part of the US Navy Armed Guard. Born Samuel Yewell Tompkins in Kentucky during the year 1909, he was expected to join the family professions (either law or tobacco and whiskey dealing) but instead pursued acting. In 1928, he began acting in summer stock while attending the University of Wisconsin. Determined...

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American Nurses in WWI

American Nurses in WWI

As a German plane buzzed overhead, nurse Helen Dore Boylston dropped face down in the mud. Boylston, an American nurse, serving at a British Army base hospital near the Western Front in 1918, had been running between wards of wounded patients that night, trying to calm their nerves during the air raid. Now, all she could do was brace herself for the hissing bomb that hurtled toward her. She covered her eyes and ears against the deafening roar and "blood-red flare." About a half-hour later,...

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Soldier and Writer
Lt Col Michael Christy (USA) Ret.

Many articles contained in this Blog were written by Together We Served’s former Chief Editor, Lt Col Michael Christy, and published in TWS’s Dispatches Newsletter.

Lt Col Christy’s military career spanned 26 years, beginning in 1956 when he joined the U.S. Marine Corps. Following two years active duty, he spent another two years in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves. In 1962, he joined the Army National Guard and in 1966 was called up for active duty with the U.S. Army. After an 18 year distinguished Army career, Lt Col Christy retired from military service in 1984.
Lt Col Christy saw action in Vietnam with Special Forces Units, including the renowned Delta Force, and was awarded two Silver Stars, six Bronze Stars (three with Valor), and two Purple Hearts.
As a military consultant and accomplished writer, Lt Col Christy has contributed to several TV military documentaries, including those found on the History Channel, plus significant military history publications, including Vietnam Magazine.