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Handcuffed

In 1969, I was stationed at Ft. Bragg, N.C. for a short period. I had a one week leave and wanted to make the best of it, so I made arrangements to leave on Friday as my leave time started on Monday. One of my buddys would pick up my leave papers on Monday and sign me out then. Everyone was doing that then, so I tried it too.

I wasn't going AWOL, I was just leaving early for leave. I took a bus, made several stops and was at a bus stop in Atlanta, Ga.waiting for my next connection, when two young MP's came up to me and asked for my leave papers, well I didn't have them on me as I have left early.I had just put a cig. in my mouth and was attempting to light it when they came up to me. needless to say, I never got it lite, when they hand cuffed me, with hands behind my back, and they put my class A cap on my head side ways like a drunkman and was lead to their little room at the bus stop. Everyone that was in the bus stop, which was quite full at the time , looked like they could stare a hole in me....like I was a deserter or something. It made me fill lower than a snake. I love my country and at that time in the 60's well you know the rest of the story there. I'm proud of my country and would go thru it again if I had too, even thru the hurt that it did.

Anonymous
jonesville, LA

Lost Detachment

USMC 1973 - I was in the GOT with the "Lost Detachment", no replacements in sight. I remember looking at the stars, a pitch black night, watching them flicker and dance on the ocean. I was awestruck and felt inconsequential surrounded, horizon less, by nature. As a man of faith, not religion, I asked a higher power to confirm my belief that I'd make it home - "I'm only 19, I haven't fallen in love yet. I have to love before I go - right."

Until I came home - I believed I couldn't be taken.

Alan L. Chappell - USMC 1971-1974. Flag and Country no greater Honor - Semper Fi.

Alan L. Chappell
Springfield, MO

Respect and Admiration

I have a really good friend who recently was able to attend a Veterans honor flight. Prior to his trip and after his return I was able to speak with him quite a bit about his service. He is a Korean war vet and to talk with him he really did nothing special. I disagree, his service provided a safe place for me to raise a family in a wonderful country full of freedom and opportunity. I don't care if he was a decorated soldier or a cook at the base. When he enlisted, he did not know what roll he would play and he made the ultimate commitment by signing up. The turning point for me was seeing the humble attitude my friend has. I view him as a hero for putting his life on the line for my family. He does not see it that way, he had a responsibility to his country and simply did what he felt needed to be done. Recently I was approached by a Veterans charity to help them fund hunting, fishing, and outdoor opportunities to Veterans and active duty Military personnel. I continue to see this attitude with each and every Veteran I am exposed to through their organization. As a society now, I feel like some folks have lost touch with what it is that these folks do and have done for us. I feel like it is my obligation to the dept I owe these people for the freedoms they have ensured to each and everyone of us to do my part to give back to them. I run a small business and have made it a priority to give back to the ones who defended and continue to defend my freedoms. I think it is high time we the people give these folks the respect and admiration they deserve for the sacrifices they made and continue to make. Together we can show them that they are all true Hero's!

Travis Fox
Kahoka, MO

Going home for Christmas.

While serving in the Army in 1982 I was stationed at Fort Stewart, Georgia. I had received orders to go to Korea but I was going home for Christmas and my brother's wedding in mid-December. I booked a flight from Atlanta to Kansas City with a plane/carrier change in Nashville. I took off with my Class A's on about an hour and a half late. When I got to Nashville the flight to KC was full and boarding. I got bumped from the flight and now had to go standby. Since it was the last flight to KC that night, I was sleeping at the airport. After I sat there a couple of minutes, a gentleman walked up to me and said "Did I hear you were going to KC"? I said "Not tonight, I got bumped.” He said "Come with me". We proceeded to check in. Remember, 80's. No PCs, no online check-in. It was in-line check-in back then. He talked to the attendant and said he wanted to give up his seat to a standby, but only if he could give it to me. I was flabbergasted. I told him he didn't have to do that but he insisted. The attendant said there was no rule that stated he couldn't do that, so she did. I thanked him and he said one more night in a hotel on his company was worth it for a military man. I thanked him again and he was on his way. I went to the gate and gave the attendant my boarding pass. Only then did I look at the pass for the seat number, seat 3D. Now this was the 3rd time that I had flown and I still didn’t know seat arrangements. When I boarded and found the seat, it was first class. I flew home in comfort. I didn’t get the gentleman’s name, I wish I had, but I’ll never forget what he did for a young kid that just wanted to go home.

Greg Slack, SSG

United States Army

1980 - 1988

Greg Slack
Sparks, NV

Unexpected Moment

My story is short but my eyes still leak when I think about it. I was shopping at my local Costco, browsing the isles as one does when they've left the shopping list at home. I had stopped in one of the main isles to think. An older man came towards me, wheeling himself in his wheel chair. He was a Marine. I'm partial. My grandson is a Marine.

My gaze followed him as he turned into a side isle. A young man and his children stood in that isle checking out the snacks. As the vet turned into the isle, the young man guided his children to the side and immediately came to attention and saluted, holding his salute as the old man passed. The old man returned the salute and continued on.

My eyes filled with tears at the respect and appreciation shown by this young man, an example to his children. I wanted a "replay" so everyone could see it. I wanted to shout it across the store. "Did you see that? Did you see that? Thank you, God, for this young man. Thank you for this old vet. Thank you for all our servicemen. Thank you for my grandson."

That's my story. It's short but the memory is sweet.

Anonymous
Rancho Cucamonga, CA

The Veterans Administration Medical System, Boise, Idaho

"WELCOME TO THE BOISE VA HOSPITAL"

Imagine "Peripheral Neuropathy", having no feeling in your feet, checked by a specialist and his answer when you ask "What can we do" he replies "I DON'T KNOW" and nothing further is done.

Imagine extremely sharp pain 2" above your heart, you are scared as "Hell", your doctor orders an MRI, they perform the MRI, 5&1/2 months have passed and you are not contacted with results.

Imagine losing a daughter, contacting your doctor and then state you need a increase in your medicine for increased chest pain and shortness of breath. The doctor states he doesn't feel comfortable giving out that medicine and to call Mental Health. You again explain your situation, she states she doesn't want to give the medicine anymore and says she is immediately stopping the medicine for you have for major chest pains.

Imagine getting a broken ankle. The ER doctor gets an ankle X-Ray and states it may be cracked. Weeks later, you have a follow-up with a Orthopedic PA. He wants an MRI. He finds ankle bone shaped like a hockey puck, between your foot and your two leg bones, is one-third destroyed and ask to have a specialist come in. The specialist reviews the MRI. You ask "What are we going to do?" he replies "I DON'T KNOW!" You never receive a reply. Later you have a appointment to get a knee scooter for mobility. You go to the VA, major construction going on for a "Hospitality House". There is absolutely "No Parking", after driving around for 25 minutes, so you park in a yellow-lined zone. You have to slowly hobble 82 yards with a cane, to the appointment. (NOTE: If you were to walk from off-site parking in a residential housing area, that adds another 207 yards.) Then you come out and find a ticket and then notice you have been in a hit-n-run. You refer the accident to the VA Director who says that you have to fill out a form. What, he doesn't have authority to make a decision? He's the "Boss!" I thought!!!!!!

Jeff Worthen, US Air Force Technical Sergeant, Retired
Boise, ID

From Military Police Officer to Fine Jewelry Artist?

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.

Tara Hutchinson
San Antonio, TX

Courtney Niles and the Men of Detachment 5, AFVN, Hue

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.

Derek L.
Los Angeles, CA

MY HUSBAND AND HERO

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.

Alice Scanlan
Goshen, NY

VA Help

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

Kenneth Sapp
Lake City, FL
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