VETERANS & MILITARY
A collection of stories published at VFW magazine and AmeriForce Media.
January 11, 2023
In 1967, as the Vietnam War neared its height, child actor Jerry Mathers stood on stage at the Emmys in full military uniform, shortly after he graduated from boot camp.
“I was very proud to be in [the military], and it’s something I thought I should do,” said Mathers, star of “Leave it to Beaver.” “At that time … a lot of people were not very happy with people in the military. I was very proud to be in the military. My dad was in the military. So I was very proud to do it.” READ MORE
May 21, 2021
The day “don’t ask, don’t tell” was repealed, Maj. Gen. Tammy Smith expected to catch the eye of someone who might give a knowing glance of appreciation and acceptance.
“I was actually in Afghanistan on the day that repeal occurred,” Smith said, “and I just remember I woke up that day, and it was like a burden had been lifted.”
Looking back, Smith said she realizes “how perfect” the response – or lack thereof – at Bagram Air Base was because it was just another day. READ MORE
AFGHANISTAN EVACUATION: UNCERTAINTY GIVES WAY TO RHYTHM OF 12-HOUR SHIFTS FOR ONE GUARD UNIT
Aug. 15, 2022
When the suicide bomber hit Abbey Gate at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) last August, Army Lt. Col. Jake Helgestad rushed to the scene.
Along with a surgeon, a physician assistant and two medics, the Minnesota National Guardsman and his team helped the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, in the mass casualty event that followed.
“That was very unique, just a moment in time where I had that capacity and had the expertise to be able to help with that whole situation,” said Helgestad, a former 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 194th Armor Regiment commander who led a portion of his task for into Afghanistan to assist with the evacuation of Afghan citizens. READ MORE
LOUISIANA NATIONAL GUARD RALLIES BEHIND SOLDIER IN CANCER FIGHT
June 6, 2021
Lt. Col. Taysha Gibbs’ first routine mammogram saved her life.
She was diagnosed last December with Stage Four metastatic breast cancer and has had her Human Resources staff by her side every step of the way. READ MORE.
ARMY VET CHAMPIONS WRESTLING 'LIKE A GIRL'
After a failed Olympic bid, wrestler Sally Roberts set her sights on the Army. If she hadn’t, she never would have volunteered for deployment to Afghanistan or met the women who inspired her nonprofit, Wrestle Like A Girl. READ MORE.
'I COULDN'T STAND TO HEAR THE BABIES CRY'
Vietnam War veteran Billy Terrell has had a successful music career, recording with artists such as Bobby Rydell and Frankie Avalon. The draft halted his aspirations, but also presented opportunities to help children at a Vietnamese orphanage. READ MORE.
'TO HONOR MY 74'
Vietnam War veteran Bill Thibeault deployed aboard the USS Frank E. Evans in March 1969. Three months later, the destroyer was split in two after colliding with an Australian aircraft carrier in the South China Sea between Vietnam and the Spratly Islands. It's a moment stuck in Thibeault's mind forever. READ MORE.
'NO ORDINARY DONKEY'
VFW life member John Folsom served in the Marine Corps Reserves for three decades and worked with a number of "characters" throughout his service. But in the months following his retirement, the fate of one -- a loyal and playful donkey -- "nagged" at him. READ MORE.
SHE WASN'T A HORSE, SHE WAS A MARINE
She was a beer-drinking, scrambled-egg loving Marine who saved countless lives. She earned two Purple Hearts, a National Defense Service Medal and Navy Unit Commendation, among other honors. But before that, she had to complete ‘hoof camp.’ READ MORE.
FROM P-FUNK TO THE MEKONG DELTA
Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer Calvin Simon was drafted into the Army in 1966. While serving in Vietnam, his band, Parliament Funkadelic, saw its first hit, “I Wanna Testify,” rise to the top of the charts READ MORE.