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The Veterans Site is a meeting place for people who support veterans, our troops, and one another. We encourage you to share your story with a community that cares. It might be about your own homecoming, your family's experience, or even the story your great-grandfather told that's been passed down the generations.
Your story is one of those rare treasures that increases in value every time it is shared. Help us build our community.
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On Valentine’s Day, 2006 I was on patrol with my squad in Baghdad, Iraq. About halfway through our mission, my truck hit an improvised explosive device, and the shrapnel from the blast instantly severed my right leg above the knee. The slash through my leg lead to my femoral artery being exposed to the open air, and bleeding profusely. That day I ended up without a heartbeat for almost 20 minutes.
To my horror, I realized my leg was missing when I woke up 3 days later. My doctors eventually realized that the time my heart wasn’t beating caused part of my brain to die, leaving me with a permanent brain injury similar to Parkinson’s disease. This was the beginning of a 3 year long depression that was so dark, I had no hope.
One day during occupational therapy, my therapist suggested I try a hobby that used my fine motor skills to gain some of the control back in my hands. This prompted me to try making jewelry. I had not been a previous jewelry aficionado, as it isn’t authorized in uniform. But something took a hold of me that day and gave me the tenacity and curiosity to continue.
It took me 4 years to figure out why this horrific event happened to me, and in 2010 I started Tara Hutch Fine Jewelry with the following mission statement: Help women of all backgrounds find their own inner strength and confidence through the beauty Tara’s jewelry brings.This has been a healing journey for me to share my story with other women, and help them find their own internal brave warrior.
My grandfather Courtney Niles, a 10-year Army veteran, arrived in Vietnam in 1967. He was employed as an engineer for NBC International in Saigon, where he traveled around South Vietnam setting up communications at various American Forces Vietnam Network (AFVN) radio and television stations.
When the Tet Offensive was launched, he was working with Detachment 5, AFVN in Hue. The station came under fire on January 31, 1968. My grandfather assisted the eight Army and Marine service members stationed there in holding off the enemy for nearly a week. A full-scale attack began on the night of February 4, and by the morning of February 5, they had run out of ammunition, food, and water. The station was shortly overtaken, but not before the servicemen made the station unusable to the NVA.
The men were forced to flee through rice paddies toward a compound over a mile away. Only one man escaped and found refuge with the aid of local Catholic priests. Six men were captured -- one executed and five held as POWs for over five years. Courtney Niles and one other man were killed from wounds sustained during the defense of and subsequent escape from the station. My grandfather was said to have fought with the bravery of the soldier he had once been.
SFC Harry Ettmueller, who was captured that day, later wrote that Courtney Niles "…nailed one [enemy soldier] just as he was trying to sneak into the bunker area. Too bad his name is not on The Wall, but he deserves to be recognized."
The men of Detachment 5, AFVN, along with my grandfather, were inducted into the U.S. Army Public Affairs Hall of Fame, class of 2007, at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.
PHOTO: Courtney Niles (in white, third from right) with service members of Detachment 5.
Jack was born in Brooklyn, NY on January 2, 1919. He was always interested in history and politics, and this led him to enlist in the National Guard in 1940.
Jack and I met at a VFW dance in 1941. He sent me a note asking for the “next nice fox trot”. We dated briefly after that and then with the attack on Pearl Harbor, Jack’s unit was federalized. He was sent to Ford Ord, California and then to Kauai, HI, as a radio operator. In 1943, he was assigned to Fort Monmouth, NJ for Signal Corp training.
We were married in September of 1943 and shortly after, Jack was shipped overseas to England. He was assigned to the 291st Combat Engineer Battalion as Communications Chief until the end of the war in 1945.
This was a time of great pride and anxiety as we waiting for mail, radio and newspaper reports. In June, 1944, our first baby was born and radios announced the D-Day invasion. In the hospitals, many new mothers were awaiting news of husbands overseas.
When the war ended in 1945, my husband was in Germany, and he along with many others returned on a troop ship to Newport News, VA. It was a joyous time and I remember watching the Victory Parade in NYC.
There were some tense times with nightmares and Jack yelling “hit the dirt!” In time, these faded and Jack sought out his army comrades and began attending reunions to share each other’s lives.
I began attending many of these reunions with Jack, and after he passed away, I continued to seek these friendships joined by many in my family. They knew him as “Grandpa” "Great Grandpa" or “Dad”, but the reunions gave them all a chance to learn more.
Jack and I were fortunate. It was “a wonderful life” and I have loving memories of “my hero”. I still have the note from that night in October, 1941.
I know my husband would be greatly pleased to know that his Army Service is being preserved in such a special way.
While on active duty many years ago, I injured my back while I was a Crash Rescue Fire Fighter. Over the years my back has worsened and now I am 50% disabled and have trouble getting around. When at home, getting around is a little difficulty, but still able to hobble around inside. If I go outside, I will use my mobility aid to get around. The VA made it possible to have my main bathroom renovated for my ease in getting in and out of the shower, use of the toilet and vanity. A VA approved contractor came in and did the demo and fixed anything that needed to be repaired and then when the bathroom was finished, I could not believe what I was seeing. Before, my shower was so small. Now my shower gives me all the room I need. The toilet is designed to be higher and more comfortable. Thank you VA for helping me !
SSgt KC Sapp
The Honor Guard
He did not know the Man he watched,
When told he did not ask why.
He watched the hero in solemn silence,
As quiet as the minutes that ticked by.
He knew not of his family,
Nor from whence he came.
His sole duty was to honor the hero,
Though only God knew his name.
His relief arrived, a new watch started,
He left the hero where he lies,
A tear held back in united strength,
With those that have to die.
They do not know the ones they watch,
When told, they never ask why.
They watch their heroes in solemn silence,
As quiet as the minutes tick by
one time was hanging on the wall in the office under the ampitheater/ If it fits your plan to use please feel
When Johnny was in 3rd grade he wrote a report about how he wanted to be in the Military. I just blew it off. His junior year he told us he wanted to be a Marine. Again, I blew it off. His senior year we took him to the recruiting office. My husbands dad, 2 of his brothers and a nephew all joined the Navy. In fact one of his uncle's graduated from Annapolis. He is a retired Captain. We tried and tried to talk him into joining the Navy. But, he told us no. Johnny has always been the glue that has held us and his friends together. So, when he left we were all kind of lost. I think I got 3 letters from him during the 13 weeks he was in BC. Finally it was graduation time. The night before graduation at a get together with the other families whose sons were graduating with him one of his Drill Instructors noticed our name tag and asked if we were Johnny's parents. He informed us that Johnny had been given a Meritorious promotion. His dad, sister and I and 17 of his friends could hardly contain our excitement when they finally dismissed him. What an amazing man he has turned out to be. We couldn't be prouder
This picture was taken by my daughter, Jessica Davis, who was following 75 + motorcycles as we made our way from Albany, OR stopping in Salem, OR, next Gladstone, OR onto Troutdale, Hood River and The Dalles picking up more riders as we went. We crossed over the Columbia River at Biggs Junctions making our way to Stonehenge Veteran War Memorial. If you have never been there it is worth the drive. The view of the Columbia River to Mt Hood is breath taking.
This Silent ride was to raise awareness of PTSD in memory of Sergeant Kevin Ross who left us on Sept 14th, 2014. He was a 27-year-old young man from Corvallis, OR who did 2 tours of duty and when he came home in mental and physical pain, life as he knew before, just was not the same. He was polite, kind hearted and volunteered at the local animal centers "playing with the kitties" and dogs. We miss his beard, his tattoo's and the joy he brought to our daughter, Megan. We were hoping he would become our son-in-law. That is just how special he was to us.
Please reach out to a friend, to a fellow Veteran or to a loved one. So many of us live with Kevin's act everyday and I know he never meant to cause that pain to any of us. God bless our Veterans. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your service and to our country.
If you would like, you can check out other pictures/videos on Facebook - The PTSD Awareness Silent Ride.
Sacred prayers are said
As haunted eyes relive
As Sadness, Grief, and endless Horror
Flash silently in dreams abhorred
Then cries of anguish, doom, despair
Escape from lips into the air
As simple sounds disturb the night
Startling them with unknown fright
Dawn brings the sun, a fresh new day
Yet weary eyes can’t look away
And ears can’t deafen to the sounds
Of piercing tones from whistling rounds
Then smells return to fool the mind
Of another place, another time
The burden’s heavy and takes
To traumas burned
And as the pain refreshes, and hope
The scars may never show
Restless demons full of fight
Torment me thru endless night
Spirits’ screams are incoherent
Their purpose though is so apparent
Waking hours filled with fear
Distrust to all whom dared to near
Paranoia rears its’ ugly head
Replacing hope with doubt and dread
I did not ask this for my life
To be wounded sharp by pain and strife
But I’d gladly bear the brunt of all
And proudly suffer standing tall
For my life was serving others first
So bring pain on and do your worst
You’ll find though broken I will emerge
With nervous tension on the verge
I’ll bear my scars as best I can
And with honor shining here I stand
Before you now I humbly try
To look you squarely in the eye
To tell you I, though tattered, torn
Will not mock you, will not scorn
I too feel pain, I feel the hurt
From playing in the “sand box” dirt
And gladly do it all again
With pain my partner, fear my friend
To rise each morning with pride and say
I’m here for you, and I’m here to stay
From sweaty jungles and gritty sands
To stinking trenches in far off lands
From tunnels built for smallest man
To shrapnel skies in a flying can
Fighters, soldiers, sailors all
Have stood for us when heard the call
Some paid the price that war demands
Or made down payments with legs and hands
With determined chin they try to heal
But no one told them just how to feel
When coming home to peace and love
And to never fearing the skies above
To never need check behind each door
Or take a dive and hit the floor
When sounds so common to you and me
Fill that same vet with anxiety
The creaking floor, the coffeepot dripping
Could slowly start his facade to slipping
What once was calm and loving man
May have changed in him what he can’t understand
And without more help, understanding and grace
That saddened troop may have to face
A jury of 12 that have no clue…
Of what PTSD and war can do to you
They’ll convict without hearing all of the facts
And call him a Rambo because of his acts
The 12 would forget he would have laid down his life
For every one’s mother, brother, sister and wife…
They’ll sit on the court benches dictating his end
Till the gavel hammers in the final judgment to rend
And the life of a hero is cut short once again
But not from the actions in wars he’s been in
You see War called the shots and it knew it would win
To a troop whose coming home was his only real sin.