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1. Veterans Heroes : Michael Rose. Gary
Gary enlisted in the Army in 1967 and became a Special Forces combat medic. He served in Lopburi, Thailand, where he trained Thai soldiers and border police medics. In 1970 he requested transfer to Vietnam and was based in Kontrum where he treated the wounded and local civilians. Gary was wounded on his first mission in June 1970, where he received his first Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
On Sept. 11, 1970, Gary was with a company-sized exploitation force consisting of Americans, Vietnamese and indigenous parliamentary Montagnard personnel. They were inserted inside enemy territory in Laos and were moving in. Before long, they were met by enemy forces, which would set off a four-day battle.
Over the course of the battle, Gary repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire to save his comrades, at one time dragging a wounded Montagnard to safety with one hand while fighting off the enemy with the other hand. Gary also received many wounds, but it did not stop him. He never took time to eat, rest, or care for his own wounds while treating other soldiers.
On the last day of the battle, he boarded the last extraction helicopter after fighting off the enemy only 50 meters away. Soon after the helicopter lifted off, it was hit by anti-aircraft fire. The door gunner had been shout through the neck, and Gary rendered lifesaving medical treatment to him before the helicopter crashed. Gary was thrown from the helicopter before it crashed, but still managed to crawl back into the wreckage and pulled out the wounded and unconscious. He continued to treat them until another helicopter came to rescue them.
Only three men died during the four days of almost constant contact with a superior enemy force deep in enemy territory. He was credited with treating between 60 and 70 wounded and saving many lives.
Gary continued his career in the Army and graduated from Officer Candidate School, becoming a field artillery officer. He reached the rank of captain before retiring.
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2. Veterans Heroes: Orville Lee Planck
Orville was born in Cadillac, Michigan on July 10, 1932, and moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan at the age of 12. After graduating high school, he worked in a factory and for a brass company. On May 2, 1952, Orville joined the Navy, three days before receiving notice of the draft at the age of 19. He completed boot camp at Great Lakes, Illinois, and additional training at a combat information center in Illinois. Orville requested to be assigned to an aircraft carrier, and in 1953 he joined the crew of the USS Randolph.
Orville worked as a plane director and mechanic for several years on the carrier, and in 1953 the USS Randolph reached Korea. The crew was informed that the Marines needed extra men for a rescue mission near the Korean city of Pusan, now known as Busan. Orville was selected to join the mission and assisted in the successful rescue of many endangered troops.
Orville continued to serve on the USS Randolph after the war and shipped to many ports across Europe. In 1954, his crew sailed through Hurricane Edna. Orville recalls the storm having wind speeds over 150 miles per hour and waves high enough to reach over the carrier’s flight deck. Orville remained in the Navy until May 1, 1960 and joined the Army Reserves the next month.
Orville moved back to Grand Rapids and married in 1962. He remained in the Reserves until 1968, then rejoined from 1975 to 1983, and again until he turned 60 in 1992. While in the Reserves, Orville served two months in Germany with a transportation unit. He received a Distinguished Service Medal and a Good Conduct Medal for his service.
Orville passed away on Feb. 3, 2012.
3. Veterans Heroes: Donald Dewar
In an interview with the Veteran’s History Project, Donald describes being sent to Curtis Bay, Maryland for training after joining the Coast Guard in 1942. He spent several months in Maryland before being deployed on the USS Joseph T. Dickman.
Donald’s first mission was the invasion of Normandy, France on June 6, 1944. He was part of a crew that landed on Utah Beach. Donald’s boat made several trips between Utah Beach and the larger ships farther offshore, transporting additional soldiers the beach. Donald’s ship also rescued crew members of other ships hit by enemy fire.
After D-Day, Donald was deployed to England, Scotland, Africa, Pearl Harbor and Okinawa. He was part of an effort made to bring Allied soldiers being held as prisoners of war back to the United States.
Donald was married in 1942 and founded a manufacturing service company with his wife. Donald passed away on March 20, 2013.
We honor his service.
4. Veterans Heroes: William Darwin
William served as a Swim Instructor in the Navy during World War II. His most proud accomplishment is teaching young men how to survive in the water.
He currently works part-time at the Las Vegas Convention Center. William recently turned 100-years-old and he attributes his longevity to eating healthy, laughing a lot and loving hard.
Thank you for your service, William!
5. Veterans Heroes: Ramon Viera
Ramon was born in 1928 and grew up working in a sugar factory in his hometown of Caguas, Puerto Rico. He enlisted in the Army in 1945, an experience he describes as very exciting. Ramon completed his training in Puerto Rico before going to advanced training at Fort Wolters near Dallas, Texas. After the war ended, Ramon was sent from Texas back to Puerto Rico, where he remained in the Army until May of 1946.
In October of 1950, now with a wife and a young child, Ramon again enlisted with the Army to provide for his family—this time during the start of the Korean War. He trained in both New York and Japan before travelling to Busan in modern-day South Korea and then to the front lines. Ramon was assigned to a Puerto Rican regiment and trained as a demolition specialist. After a year in Korea, he was briefly sent to Germany before going back to Korea a second time. Ramon cleared paths of explosives for tanks and once, after becoming separated from his company, saved a wounded and stranded civilian.
After the Korean War ended in 1953, Ramon stayed in the Army until 1956.
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5. Veterans Heroes: Robert D. Hales
Robert applied what he learned in his Air Force days to his life and in teaching his two sons. “Our unit motto—displayed on the side of our aircraft—was ‘Return with Honor,’” he said. “This motto was a constant reminder to us of our determination to return to our home base with honor only after having expended all of our efforts to successfully complete every aspect of our mission.”
After serving in the Air Force, Robert earned an MBA from Harvard and became a successful business executive for several major national and international companies. Through his life Robert served in volunteer church positions, and for the past 42 years had been a senior leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Robert exemplified his squadron motto throughout his life, and has returned with honor.
Robert passed away Sunday at age 85. We honor his service.
6. Veterans Heroes: Air Force Veteran Anthony Philip Bevacqua
Anthony served from 1952 to 1973 during the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1932 and enlisted in the Air Force in the midst of the Korean War. He completed basic training at Sampson Air Force Base in Geneva, New York. In 1953, he trained as a cadet and pilot at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. On April 14, 1954 Anthony graduated from his last stage of flight training as a second lieutenant pilot.
After completing gunnery school, Anthony received his first assignment with the 508th strategic fighter wing at Turner Air Force Base, Albany, Georgia. It was at this time that he married his wife.
Joseph embarked on his first reconnaissance mission during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, flying from Mariana, Florida, over Cuba in a U-2 plane. He continued to pilot reconnaissance missions during the Vietnam War. He completed several tours at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan.
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In 1973, Anthony retired from Beale Air Force Base, Yuba City, California, after more than 20 years of service. He remained in Yuba City and raised his family. After his service, he worked as a real estate agent and mortgage lender with his son. Anthony also served as the chairman of the Beale Military Liaison Committee, and became a member of the Air Force Association and the Military Officers Association of America.
Thank you for your service, Anthony!
7. Veterans Heroes: Ronald Ansel Austin
Ronald served during World War II as a petty officer third class from Oct. 1943 through Oct. 1945.
Ronald was born in Princeton, Indiana, in 1906 and was drafted into the military when he was 38 years old. Leaving his wife behind to serve his country, Ronald completed basic training at Camp Perry, Virginia, before joining the 130th Seabee Battalion. Ronald’s service took him through the Panama Canal, Hawaii and eventually on to Okinawa (Ryukyu Islands) where he remained until the end of the war.
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In an interview with Library of Congress Veterans History Project , Ronald recalled how he provided aid during a rescue mission on his first day in Okinawa before the end of the war. A Japanese Kamikaze plane dove into a nearby Marine ship and thankfully the LST naval ship that Ronald was on was nearby, and his crew was able to rescue more than 60 Marines.
Ronald currently lives in Indiana.
8. Veterans Heroes Kermit Tony Bushur.
In an interview with Veteran’s History Project, Tony discussed his life and time in the military. He was born March 22, 1924 in Neoga, Illinois. While Tony was a freshman in college, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He finished his first year of college before completing a government-provided machine shop school followed by a job in a Chicago plant. Tony never received notice of being drafted, and upon visiting the draft board he was told he was needed in the factory to support the war effort. After the news, Tony quit his job, wishing to serve in the military. However, he was again passed over when the draft board determined he should work on his family’s farm. This time Tony decided to enlist in the Army. He completed basic training in Little Rock, Arkansas, and was assigned to Sharon, Pennsylvania.
Tony saved money by ironing his fellow soldiers’ clothes and bought a train ticket to attend his brother’s wedding in Chicago. Upon returning to Sharon, he discovered that his unit had been shipped to Europe. Tony was assigned to a new unit and while sailing to the Mediterranean, their ship was attacked by German bombers. Their ship was sunk by a torpedo, killing over a thousand men. Tony was rescued from the attack and was sent to a new convoy in India. While in Calcutta, he volunteered for a combat mission in Burma and joined the famous 5307th Composite Unit, also known as Merrill’s Marauders.
Tony’s unit saw frequent combat in the jungles of Burma and during a successful mission to rescue a surrounded unit under siege, he was hit in the right thigh with over a dozen bullets. He was flown to a nearby hospital and feared he would lose his leg. The surgeon was instructed to amputate the leg, but instead decided he could save it. Tony’s bones and muscles were completely repaired and he was soon walking again.
After surgery, he was sent back to the United States. Upon return, Tony met and married a member of the Women’s Army Corps.
Tony passed away on July 11, 2009 in Clermont, Florida.
We honor your service, Tony.
9. Veterans Hero : David Patterson Sr. David
David was a member of the Navajo Tribe and was a code talker during World War II. The Navajo code talkers would transmit secret messages to each other in the Navajo language that the Japanese could not understand. They communicated valuable tactical information from the battlefield to command stations.
David was deployed to Japan during the war and served in Iwo Jima, where the code talkers played a key role in the United State’s victory. He and his fellow code talkers conveyed more than 800 crucial messages throughout the battle. David also served in Saipan and the Marshall Islands. He received the Congressional Silver Medal of Honor for his service.
In 1945, David was honorably discharged. He worked as a social worker and become a foster grandparent. Throughout his life, he attended as many code talker events as he could.
David passed away on October 8, 2021.
We honor his service
10. Veterans Hero :Tony Fileff
Tony was born on August 7, 1921 in Gary, Indiana. After graduating high school in 1940, he worked in a mill for a year to save up for college and enrolled at the University of Indiana in 1941. Tony enlisted in the military on June 20, 1942 and was accepted into an officer program. He continued attending college until he was called to a B-12 program for the Navy and Marines at Purdue University. Following his completion of the program, Tony completed boot camp in 1944 at Parris Island, South Carolina and Officer Candidate School at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia.
After Tony’s last round of training in January of 1945, he spent time in Hawaii and Guam before he volunteered to serve in Okinawa and was assigned to the 3rd Battalion. He frequently saw combat, and after the end of the war was assigned to Tsingtao, China to guard railroads and airfields. Tony returned to the United States and became a reserve officer before being called to Korea in January, 1951. During the Korean War, Tony served as the executive officer of a division reconnaissance company.
Tony was discharged from Korea in June of 1952 and joined the Marine Corps Reserve Detachment in Hobart, Indiana. He volunteered through the Marine Corps with Toys For Tots, and soon became the co-chairman for the Lake and Porter County branches of the program.
Tony passed away on June 2, 2021 at the age of 95.
We honor his service.
We honor his service.
11. Veterans Heros: Milton Skipper.
Milton served during World War II and went on to volunteer at the VA Hospital in Amarillo, Texas for nearly a decade.
As a volunteer at the VA Hospital, Milton traveled many miles to bring Veterans to their health care appointments. He served at the information desk with a smile and was described by the hospital as a “true friend.” He volunteered from 1998 to 2021, contributing over 30,000 hours of service.
Milton passed away on July 27, 2021 at the age of 92.
We honor his service.
12. Grace Elizabeth Farley
Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Nurse Veteran Grace Elizabeth Farley. Grace served in the Army Nurse Corps as a member of the 231st Station Hospital in Norwich, England.
Originally from Quebec, Canada, Grace came from a large tight-knit family. Growing up, they had a family orchestra that traveled around the region of Quebec even into Montreal to perform at parties. Later in her adult life, she moved to the United States.
When World War II peaked in 1942, rumors spread that the Army was going to have to enlist or call in nurses and doctors to serve. After talking to her brother, a World War I Canadian Air Force veteran, Grace decided to enlist by herself at age 35 into the Army Nurse Corps. Having trained to be a nurse in 1929, Grace climbed the ranks quickly to become chief of the operating room. She was placed in Norwich, England, about ten miles in from the North Sea.
She recalls that on her first night in England she was greeted by German planes dropping bombs on a near by town. Everyone she had arrived with realized, in that moment, that they were in a combat zone. When she was asked about USO shows, she remembers soldiers talking about them and recalls a few names. But as nurse in the operating room, she only left to sleep and eat.
13. Scott Sullivan
Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Scott Sullivan. Scott served from 1997 to 2006 as a physician assistant.
Scott attended 2 ½ years of college before joining the military. He was subsequently trained as a physician assistant. His first duty station was at Ft. Hood, Texas. He was deployed one year after the invasion of Iraq began.
As a physician assistant, Scott was faced with 10 to 20 patients to care for at a time. On April 4, 2004, Scott helped to care for 65 patients over the course of the night. He was honorably discharged from the Army in 2006. Upon Scott’s return, he began to work in an emergency room before transferring to a family medicine practice.
After his time serving, Scott became involved with Operation Song. Operation Song connects Veterans with song-writers to discuss issues with PTSD. Scott and Reggie Hamm wrote the song, “We Got Lucky,” which is now available for download. “We Got Lucky” and other projects through Operation Song have helped Veterans become more comfortable talking about PTSD.
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