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I have a small collection of veteran stories that I hope warm your heart and bring you a deeper appreciation of our fine men and women who are serving and have served our nation unselfishly and with honor and dignity. I hope you can pause today for a few minutes to think good thoughts or say a prayer for our many unsung heroes.
A third-generation soldier, Vermont National Guard Captain Zachariah "Zac" Fike received a gift on Christmas Day 2009 from his mother, Joyce - a Purple Heart medal that she had found in a local antique shop. Zac, who collects antiques, was fully aware of the sentimental nature of the Purple Heart as he earned one himself when he was wounded in Afghanistan in September of 2010.
Fike noted the name engraved on the medal, Corrado A.G. Piccoli and immediately took to the internet hoping to find clues to help him locate Piccoli. Zac learned that Piccoli had served and died in France during WWII. With other information and records he then found Piccoli's sister, Adeline who lived in Watertown, NY and called her with his news.
“I had the conversation with Zac and it was like opening a door in a closet that’s full of secrets — memories and everything just floats out,” Adeline said. “And the memories came back, they were very vivid.”Since this first experience two years ago, Zac has made it his mission to find purple hearts for sale online and in antique stores and do his best to reunite them with their owners or the owners' families. He has established a nonprofit which can be found on facebook: Purple Hearts Reunited INC.
Sending Vets' Lost Medals, And Memories, Home
Don Rose of Winchester, Kentucky was a Marine in the Korean War era in the early 1950s and when he learned that over a thousand American military vets die every day, he was disturbed that their personal stories would be lost to history.
Beginning in 2003, Don and his friend, Richard Doughty decided to seek out many of these veterans to audio and video tape their stories: accounts of lost buddies, the fears they faced, their homesickness and their injuries. Thus the history of our wars would also be preserved for future generations. Don and Richard spend about 35 hours for each interview.
Don works out of his home in Winchester through several organizations: the Library of Congress Veterans History Project, the American Folklife Center, and the national AARP.
The sessions are archived at the Clark County Public Library in Winchester and at the Morehead State University History Department.
Grateful for what Rose has done, Dr. Yvonne Baldwin, chair of the history department at Morehead State said:
I was amazed at his dedication to the cause, but also by his demeanor. she said. He simply wants the stories told and wants them to be accessible for future generations.Seldom receiving any help with costs, Don thinks what he spends is tiny in comparison to the price paid by America's veterans. Suffering from prostate cancer the last few years has not deterred Don who says like a Marine who knows and accepts his mission:
As long as I have names given to me, I will continue to interview.Wincester veteran preserves stories of those who served
This week at Mayport Naval Station in Jacksonville, Florida, the USS Bataan was visiting from her homeport in Norfolk, Virginia. The amphibious assault ship's deck was being temporarily converted into a basketball court in order to host the Navy-Marine Corps Classic game held on Friday between the University of Florida and Georgetown University.
Commanding officer, Captain Erik Ross welcomed Ganio and Abalos aboard, calling them "heroes". During a short ceremony he said:
This ship wouldn't have been commissioned were it not for your heroism. You sir, both of you, are true heroes.Ross added that the men stationed aboard the Bataan have the “humbling challenge of living up to” the example set by men like Ganio and Abalos.
Carter had been scheduled to speak on Wednesday at a veterans celebration in Gadsden, Alabama but was unable because he was hospitalized.
Carter, who flew 77 mission with the Tuskegee Airmen during the war with only a single crash, was one of the last remaining 33 original Airmen who trained as a segregated unit in central Alabama at Tuskegee Institute. Carter was in the first group that trained for the 99th Fighter Squadron. Once admitted to the Army Air Corps, they were prohibited from fighting alongside their white counterparts and faced extreme prejudice, yet they went on to become one of WWII's most respected fighter squadrons.
In an interview with the AP in 2008 Mr. Carter spoke to the adjustment of being a respected soldier on base, then having that dignity snatched away once off base, where they were "just another Negro in Alabama in the eyes of the civilian population."
Lt. Col. Carter retired from his 25 years with the Air Force in 1969 after having earned his B.S. degree and a master's degree in education from Tuskegee Institute while on active duty. After his military retirement, Carter was associate dean for student services, associate dean for admission and recruiting, and financial aid counselor at Tuskegee Institute.
A midair courtship: Tuskegee's historic love story tells the incredibly moving story of Herbert Carter and Mildred Hemmons who would become known as the first couple of the Tuskegee Airmen. It covers Mildred's history making as a Tuskegee Airman which was mostly ignored and how she wasn't allowed to "officially" earn her wings because she was a woman and black. The couple married in 1942 and Mildred died in 2011.
Tuskegee Airman retired Lt. Col. Herbert Carter died today, reports state (video). The video, entitled "My Greatest Challenges" was taped when Carter was 92.