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Veterans Chronicles

Radio America

Veterans Chronicles tells the stories of America's greatest heroes in their own words.


Elkhart, IN


Radio America


Veterans Chronicles tells the stories of America's greatest heroes in their own words.






American Veterans Center 1100 N. Glebe Rd. Suite 910 Arlington, VA 22201 703-302-1012

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TSgt. Sonia Buchanan, Wisconsin Air National Guard, Afghanistan

Wisconsin Air National Guard TSgt. Sonia Buchanan first joined the Army National Guard and became an early member of a trailblazing program that helped special forces learn critical tactical information from the people of Afghanistan. Joining the Army National Guard in 2008, TSgt. Buchanan soon found herself making history as part of the first Cultural Support Teams. Buchanan explains how she trained with special forces and worked alongside them to befriend women in Afghanistan and learn...


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Capt. Paz Gomez, U.S. Navy, 9/11, Port Hueneme

Retired U.S. Navy Captain Paz Gomez shares her story of trailblazing military service in the U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps. In this edition of "Veterans Chronicles," Captain Gomez shares the story of her career, from being one of the few women in the Navy Civil Engineer Corps, to her story of survival at the Pentagon on 9/11, to making history when she was named the commanding officer at Port Hueneme in California. Join us for our conversation with Captain Paz Gomez.


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CMSgt. Jo Keller, USAF, Khobar Towers, Iraq

Retired U.S. Air Force CMSgt. Jo Keller joins us to discuss her 26 years of service. Chief Keller describes serving as an aeromedical evacuation technician in Iraq, the Balkans, and Saudi Arabia, among other assignments. Chief Keller also walks us through the horrible day in 1996, when Al Qaeda attacked the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, where she was stationed at the time. She describes her own injuries and her tireless efforts to help other wounded service members. Keller also describes...


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Justin Sheffield, U.S. Navy SEAL, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia

U.S. Navy veteran Justin Sheffield walks us through his 14 years of service, almost all of it as a a U.S. Navy SEAL, including many years with the elite SEAL Team Six. Sheffield gives us an amazing glimpse into BUD/s training to become SEAL and what separated those who succeeded and those who tapped out. He also takes us into the SEAL combat mindset and the mission his teams were asked to do in Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond. Sheffield also walks us through one of his declassified missions,...


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RDML Robert Shumaker, U.S. Navy, Vietnam, POW

In early 1965, U.S. Naval Aviator Robert Shumaker was deployed to Vietnam. He said goodbye to his wife and newborn son, never imagining he wouldn't see them for another eight years. In this edition of "Veterans Chronicles," retired RDML Shumaker shares the gripping details of being shot down and badly injuring his back as he parachuted to the ground. He also describes how he dubbed Hoa Lo Prison the "Hanoi Hilton" and how he and other prisoners developed the tap code that allowed them to...


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Lois Bouton, U.S. Coast Guard, WWII

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Lois Bouton asked to join the U.S. Coast Guard but was told it did not accept women. The very next year, the policy changed and the Coast Guard Women's Reserve was born. Bouton joined in 1943, became a boot camp instructor and later served as a radioman along the Atlantic Coast. Almost 30 years later, in her role as a schoolteacher, Bouton began visiting recovering servicemembers at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center, where she brought cookies...


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Vincent Okamoto, U.S. Army, Vietnam

Vincent Okamoto was born in a Japanese internment camp during World War II and later became the most highly-decorated Japanese-American soldier to survive the Vietnam War. In this edition of Veterans Chronicles, Okamoto walks us through the harrowing combat against North Vietnamese forces on August 24, 1968, at Dau Tieng near the Cambodian border. He shares his thoughts and the decisions he made under withering fire to gather his men, fight back, and miraculously survive. Okamoto also...


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Andrew Napier, Combat Medic, Afghanistan

Andrew Napier joined the Kentucky Army National Guard as a way to get a college education. Soon he was trained to be a combat medic and he volunteered to be deployed. He soon spent a life-changing tour as a medic for a route-clearing platoon. Within his first four days in theater, Napier faced soldiers with fatal wounds, an ambush of his unit, and assisting in treating some of the most gruesome injuries he would see in Afghanistan. He also describes the day he was injured in another ambush,...


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Col. James Riffe, U.S. Army, WWII, Okinawa

Retired U.S. Army Col. James Riffe joins us to discuss his 30 years of service to the United States, with a focus on his many roles during the critical and costly battle of Okinawa in 1945. In this edition of "Veterans Chronicles," Col. Riffe explains how he went from an enlisted man to an officer and he shares the painful memories of great loss on Okinawa. He also explains how his experience in the war impacted his approach as an officer for decades to come. Finally, Col. Riffe shares his...


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Will Chesney, U.S. Navy SEAL, Afghanistan & Iraq

U.S. Navy veteran Will Chesney shares his story of service from the rigors of BUD/S training to become a Navy SEAL to two tours in Iraq and countless more in Afghanistan. Chesney also describes his role as a dog handler within the SEALs and the very special bond he shared with a military working dog (MWD) named Cairo. Chesney explains the amazing contributions Cairo and other MWD's made in the war in detecting explosives and insurgents lying in wait. Finally, Chesney takes us on Operation...


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Thiele Fred Harvey, USMC, WWII, Iwo Jima

Thiele Fred Harvey describes his service in the Pacific theater in World War II, including the brutal battle of Iwo Jima. Harvey shares the story of how his mother made major sacrifices to get him a weapon when the Marine Corps could not provide one. He also describes coming shore at Iwo Jima, engaging in combat with the Japanese, and the wounds that ended his World War II service.


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Luis Alvarez, U.S. Army, Iraq, Healing Heroes

U.S. Army veteran Luis Alvarez joins us to discuss his revolutionary work to help heal the bones and other tissue of our wounded service members beyond what the human body can often do on its own. Alvarez explains how he was inspired to make this his mission, how his innovative approach works, the promising research already done, and the work yet to be done. Alvarez also discusses his time at West Point and his service in Iraq. Don't miss this fascinating conversation.


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Cade Courtley, U.S. Navy SEAL

U.S. Navy veteran Cade Courtley describes his relentless push to become a SEAL, despite three serious injuries during training. He discusses his training to become a sniper and how he put his elite skills to use in Bosnia in the late 1990's. Although, he left active duty months before 9/11, Courtley explains how he still went to Afghanistan and Iraq as a private security contractor for a government agency and how the rules of engagement worked as a civilian rather than a SEAL. Finally,...


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SFC Michael Schlitz, U.S. Army, Iraq

Michael Schlitz joined the Army in 1996 and immediately "fell in love" with life in the military. He soon passed the grueling test to become a U.S. Army Ranger. Michael's life changed dramatically in February 2007, when a roadside bomb in Iraq nearly killed him and left the vast majority of his body severely burned, In this edition of Veterans Chronicles, SFC Schlitz describes his time in uniform, that horrific day in Iraq, and the physical and mental fortitude it took to recover. He also...


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Art Spaulding, U.S. Army, WWII, Battle of the Bulge

U.S. Army veterans Art Spaulding shares his story of serving in the Battle of the Bulge and beyond in the European theater of World War II. Mr. Spaulding served in the 91st Chemical Mortar Battalion and was attached to Gen. Patton's march to Germany when they all suddenly veered north to help repel the Nazis' last major offensive. Spaulding describes the brutally cold journey to the front and the inhuman conditions during the battle. He also tells us about the action that earned him a...


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Elwood Hughes, USMC, WWII, Iwo Jima

Elwood "Woody" Hughes shares his story of service in the Pacific theater of World War II and his vivid memories from the Battle of Iwo Jima in early 1945. Woody explains what it was like waiting to come ashore, how he served as a runner delivering messages during the battle, his work with the Navajo Code Talkers there, and more.


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Don Irwin, U.S. Navy, WWII

Don Irwin joined the U.S. Navy months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and over the next four years, he was witness to some of the most momentous events in the Pacific theater of World War II. In this edition of "Veterans Chronicles," Mr. Irwin describes arriving at Pearl Harbor one day after the attack, watching the launch of the Doolittle Raid, and his service at Midway, Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and more.


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Harry Martin, USMC, WWII, Iwo Jima

U.S. Marine Corps machine gunner Harry Martin shares his story of the bloody battle of Iwo Jima. Martin came ashore in the first wave. Despite being shot in the face and temporarily losing vision in one eye, he continued fighting every day of the battle, which lasted more than a month. Martin describes the challenge of shooting at the Japanese without being able to see any of them, what it was like going in the Japanese caves, and his thoughts about the flag raising atop Mt....


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George Ciampa, U.S. Army, WWII, D-Day, Battle of the Bulge

George Ciampa wanted to be a military pilot but instead he was assigned to the U.S. Army's 607th Graves Registration Company, which was responsible for retrieving fallen service members and finding temporary resting place for Americans, allies, and even enemies as the battles of World War II unfolded. Ciampa shares why he got sent to Europe sooner than he expected, takes into the work of identifying and caring for the fallen, and what it was like to serve in the midst of the invasion of...


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SFC Ramon Padilla, U.S. Army, Iraq & Afghanistan

SFC Ramon Padilla served in both Iraq and Afghanistan while in the U.S. Army and his service in Afghanistan would change his life forever. In this edition of "Veterans Chronicles," Padilla explains what combat was like for him in both theaters. He also recounts the attack that resulted in severe injury, the grueling surgeries and recovery that followed, his battle with post-traumatic stress, and how he emerged from all of that with an even greater desire to serve and raise a new generation...