The Christy Collection

Military Stories and Articles

SSgt John (Johnny) R. Cash, U.S. Air Force (1950-1954)

SSgt John (Johnny) R. Cash, U.S. Air Force (1950-1954)

The legend who would become Johnny Cash was born in 1932 into the Cash family of poor cotton farmers in Kingsland, Arkansas. Known simply as J.R. growing up, Cash graduated high school in 1950 and joined the US Air Force with the Korean War raging. Unable to sign up under an initial, he gave his name as ‘John R. Cash’. He completed basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, which is the same time he met the young woman that would become his first wife, Vivian Liberto, at a roller rink....

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Col Merryl Tenesdal, U.S. Air Force (1994-2017) – U2 Pilot

Col Merryl Tenesdal, U.S. Air Force (1994-2017) – U2 Pilot

Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Merryl Tengesdal is the first African American female U-2 pilot in history and is the first African American woman to fly the Air Force's U-2 Dragon Lady Spy Plane. She is the only black woman alongside five white women and two black men to fly spy planes. Tengesdal was born Merryl David in 1971 in the Bronx, New York. She excelled in math and science classes in grade school and high school and graduated from the University of New Haven in Connecticut in 1994...

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Destroyed Military Records. A Disaster with Long-Lasting Repercussions

Destroyed Military Records. A Disaster with Long-Lasting Repercussions

In 1973 a devastating fire in the National Personnel Records Center destroyed about 17 million military personnel files. A loss with long-lasting repercussions, it affects our understanding and knowledge of many individual WWII stories. Here in New Orleans, the destructive power of fire and especially water is well known. Large disasters such as floods, earthquakes, and fires affect our national consciousness, and their devastating power often goes beyond the destruction of buildings and...

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Explaining U.S. Military Rank Structure

Explaining U.S. Military Rank Structure

Since the time of the Revolutionary War, the United States military has had a formal structure. Over time, that has helped it develop from a stoic collection of patriots with a cause to the world’s most powerful armed forces. Over time, new branches of the Armed Forces have been added to the United States Army and Navy, and its structure has been altered, but the tradition of proud service has not abated. Military Rank Charts This is a series of charts depicting the ranks and insignias for the...

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Vietnam War Veterans

Vietnam War Veterans

Frequently Asked Questions about Vietnam War Veterans There are several misconceptions and assumptions about Vietnam veterans. This collection of frequently asked questions may help to straighten out any confusion. Q: How Many Vietnam War Veterans are Still Alive? A: In 2020, there are fewer than 850,000 veterans who served in Vietnam still alive. This is down from the 2.7 million service members who were on active duty in Vietnam. Q: How Old are Vietnam War Veterans? A: In 2015, the US...

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Explaining Air Force Basic Military Training (BMT)

Explaining Air Force Basic Military Training (BMT)

Joining the United States Air Force requires comprehensive training to become a proficient Airman. Air Force basic training is considered by some to be the ‘easiest’ of the branches. While it is shorter than the Marine Corps’ and Army’s basic training programs, it is still an exceptional test of a young recruit’s physical and psychological fortitude. Not everyone can become an Airman. Reports have found that over seven in ten young people are incapable of even becoming a recruit. The Air Force...

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Preserving Military Service History

Preserving Military Service History

Many military veterans are, rightly, proud of their service to their country and want to record it for future generations to note. Others might take it further and indulge an interest not only in their own service history but of their whole unit history. Of course, the US Armed Forces keep detailed military records to the extent that they are able. Multiple buildings house substantial military service records, from the United States’ founding to modern-day. Records from the Revolutionary War...

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