In the 1965 World War II movie classic In Harm’s Way, the character Commander Paul Eddington, played by Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas, describes the coming war in the Pacific as “a gut bustin’, mother-lovin’ Navy war.” All the men who served on ships in the Pacific theater from the start of the war at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, to the end of the war in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945, know just how true that statement was. One of those men was Seaman First Class Edward Collins, U.S. Navy, who joined the fray in 1943 aboard the USS San Jacinto (CVL-30), a light aircraft carrier that participated in all the major Pacific War Navy campaigns in 1944 and 1945. Manning his station on the USS San Jacinto’s flight deck during everything from hurricanes to kamikaze attacks, he lived and breathed the history that has inspired generations of Americans ever since. This is his story.
Posts by David Grogan:
Many people who serve in the military are inspired to do so by a family member or friend who served before them. Oftentimes the role model is a parent or grandparent, an aunt or uncle, or even a brother or sister. Technical Sergeant Mark Himmer, U.S. Air Force, had two family members in whose footsteps he followed. He also had the unique experience of serving with one of them for fourteen of the fifteen years he spent in the Minnesota Air National Guard. This is Mark’s story.
Less than five years after the end of World War II, the United States again found itself at war, this time on the Korean Peninsula fighting Communist aggression. Despite 1.8 million U.S. military members serving in the theater of operations during the bloody three-year conflict, Americans know little of their service and sacrifice. Aviation Boatswain’s Mate Second Class Keith Bunton, U.S. Navy, experienced the Korean War off the shores of Korea onboard the aircraft carrier USS Essex (CVA-9), which launched airstrikes against enemy targets during two Korean War deployments. This is Petty Officer Bunton’s story.
It takes courage to enlist in the military. Once you raise your right hand and take the oath to serve and defend the Constitution, you must go wherever the military says you are needed most. When the nation is at war, that need could very well be in a war zone where your life is at risk. Such is the case with Specialist Andrea Marshall, who enlisted in the Army in 2008. Four years later, she found herself assigned as a combat medic at a Forward Operating Base in Afghanistan. This is Andrea’s story.
Sometimes in life we are presented with choices where the “right” choice is obvious. Sergeant Jim Elsener, U.S. Marine Corps, was given such a choice in January 1966. He could finish out his enlistment at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, having served in the Marines with honor, and return to civilian life in the Midwest. Or he could choose a course that promised many unknowns. Jim chose the latter, and as the poet Carl Sandburg so eloquently expressed, that choice has made all the difference. This is Jim’s story.
Destiny has a way of just happening, whether you want it to or not. Staff Sergeant Dean Moss, U.S. Air Force, knows that all too well. No matter how many times he tried to point his life in a particular direction, destiny kept bringing him back to where he was meant to be. He was destined to serve our country in Vietnam,
Some people have a knack for telling stories. When you listen, you can’t help but share in their excitement as they reveal an unexpected outcome or describe an event that made a difference in their lives or the lives of other people. Petty Officer Third Class Eugene Walker, U.S. Navy, has the storytelling gift.
Veterans influence and inspire us, often to follow in their footsteps. Such was the case with Command Chief Master Sergeant Dave Himmer, U.S. Air Force (retired), who looked up to his high school history teacher – a Marine in World War II – and said, “I want to be like him”. Although
Sometimes when you’ve got your heart set on something, that’s all you can see. Your focus can cause you to miss even better opportunities that might present themselves in unexpected ways. Staff Sergeant Howard Berger had that kind of focus in February of 1946, looking forward to going home from Austria after […]
One of the most common reasons young men and women join the military is to get an education. In fact, the post-World War II GI Bill changed America, making a college education available to millions of veterans who otherwise could not have afforded it. This new cadre of college graduates helped drive the U.S. economy, […]