Everyone understands soldiers follow orders. They must or their military organizations will devolve into chaos and fail. What makes the U.S. military unique, however, is it expects its soldiers to think and take the initiative, seizing opportunities that might otherwise be lost. Such was the case with Sergeant Harold P. Jantz, U.S. Army. When a far superior enemy force engaged his platoon during the Vietnam War, he charged into the fray and brought to bear the necessary firepower to defeat his foe. Without his quick thinking and forceful action, his entire platoon might have been destroyed. In the aftermath, he left no U.S. soldier behind. The events of that day were the defining moments of his life, molding him into the man he is today. This is his story.
Those who come to America seeking a better life have a long and distinguished history of serving our country. Beginning with the Revolutionary War and continuing in every war since, immigrants have served in every branch of our Armed Forces, willingly putting their lives on the line for their adopted home. Aviation Machinist Mate Third Class Ignacio Rodriguez continued that proud tradition, enlisting in the U.S. Navy in 1964. He flew as an aircrewman on EC-121 Super Constellations hunting hurricanes in the skies over the Western Pacific and operating out of Da Nang and Chu Lai during the Vietnam War. He earned his U.S. citizenship the hard way – by serving our country during time of war. This is his story.
Much has changed on Navy ships over the centuries – sail converted to steam, steel replaced wood, and missiles supplemented guns, just to name a few. Yet with all these changes, fundamental truths remain. Navy ships carry the U.S. flag to the four corners of the globe, serving as ambassadors in the countries they visit and as strong reminders of U.S. military power and resolve. Navy ships also require a team of special people pulling together to accomplish the ship’s mission, enduring the perils of the sea, the long separations from family, and the risks associated with war. Captain Jack E. Helmann, U.S. Navy (Retired), knows these challenges all too well, having served on five Navy destroyers over the course of his twenty-four-year Navy career. He also knows the strains and responsibilities of command, having been the Commanding Officer of the guided-missile destroyer USS Berkeley (DDG-15) for over two years. This is his story.
Welcome to Episode 34 of the Voices to Veterans podcast. This episode features the story of Sergeant Kenny L. Esmond, U.S. Army.Kenny spent harrowing evenings standing perimeter guard duty at Phu Bai and Fire Base Bastogne near Hue City in the Republic of South Vietnam during 1970 and 1971. Holding his position with enemy rocket-propelled […]
It takes a special person to endure a long career in the military. Wartime deployments, long family separations with missed birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays, and the strain of command compete against the strong sense of duty, camaraderie, and public service officers feel as they decide whether to continue in the military or leave to pursue a civilian career. Colonel Tom Thompson, U.S. Army (Retired), experienced all these factors and more as he navigated his twenty-six-year career in the Army that included two combat deployments to Vietnam. Throughout it all, he balanced duty and family as best he could to make both sides win. This is his story.
Welcome to Episode 31 of the Voices to Veterans podcast. This episode features the story of Medal of Honor recipient, Colonel Walter “Joe” Marm, U.S. Army (Retired).With the Vietnam War intensifying, Joe knew he would be drafted after graduating from college. Instead of waiting, he took control of his own destiny and enlisted in the […]
Welcome to Episode 30 of the Voices to Veterans podcast. This episode features the story of Staff Sergeant Jim Belshaw, U.S. Air Force.Jim enlisted in the Air Force in 1962 shortly after graduating from high school. He volunteered to become a working dog handler during his first tour at a fighter base in England, charting […]
I’ve had The Other Side of the World by Dean Moss on my reading list for quite some time and finally picked it up to give it a try. Now I wished I’d read it earlier because I thoroughly enjoyed it. Here’s why.Dean Moss served in the Air Force in Vietnam from May 1968 through […]
Welcome to Episode 28 of the Voices to Veterans podcast. This episode features the story of Colonel, Hank Hoffman, U.S. Air Force (Retired). Hank’s Air Force career can only be described as extraordinary. A 1963 graduate of the Air Force Academy, he began his career by flying B-52 nuclear deterrence missions, including circling over the […]
Sometimes people are presented with options having life changing consequences. Such was the case with Sergeant Russell J. Wright, U.S. Army, when he received his draft notice in May of 1970. With the war in Vietnam winding down and protestors clamoring for draftees to flee to Canada, Russ could have evaded the draft and kept himself safe from a war that had already killed tens of thousands of Americans. Instead, he chose to do his duty and report for service because he knew it was the right thing to do. Now, looking back on his service in the jungles and rice paddies of South Vietnam over fifty years later, Russ is proud of his service and would do it all again. This is his story.