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ALSO: Affection for ‘Sweetheart’ Keepsakes Diversity and Inclusion in the Air Guard

The Power of Music COVER PRICE $5



It Captivates Our Imagination

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28 Contents It Captivates Our Imagination

The Power of Music pages 11–17


An Affection for Keepsake Jewelry

‘Let Me Call You Sweetheart’ pages 18–23

Diversity and Inclusion in the Air Guard

It Takes All Of Us pages 24–27

DEPARTMENTS The Briefing: VA Creative Arts Festival / 2-3 On the Homefront: Utah@Ease / 4 Community Relations: Terry Schow / 6-7

11 on the cover :

Service and Sacrifice: Robin’s Tool Bin / 8-9 WWII Talks: Nurse Donna Mecham, 100 / 22 R&R: Riding to Honor / 28-29

Utah-based The Benson Sisters salute the music of World War II.

courtesy of the benson sisters

WWW.UTAHVALOR.COM UTAH MEDIA GROUP / 4770 South 5600 West, West Valley City UT 84118 / utahmediagroup.com To subscribe: 801-204-6100 / To advertise: 801-204-6300 PROJECT TEAM / Brent Low, Publisher / Megan Donio, Publications Manager / Michelle Bridges, Project Editor / Utah Media Group Creative VALOR: A Salute to Utah’s Veterans and Military is a publication of Utah Media Group and distributed in partnership with Deseret News and The Salt Lake Tribune. Copyright © february 2019. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any format without consent of Utah Media Group. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this publication and assume no liability for errors, inaccuracies or omissions.

va l o r : a s a l u t e t o u ta h ’ s v e t e r a n s a n d m i l i ta r y


The Briefing U ta h h a s a n e n ga g i n g m i l i ta r y c o m m u n i t y w i t h d e e p r oo t s a n d b ra n ch e s t h a t r e a ch f a r a n d w i d e. O u r m y r i a d o f s to r i e s a r e tol d i n o u r s ch ool s , l i b ra r i e s , m u s e u m s , a c t iv i t i e s a n d h o m e s . E ve r y n o w a n d t h e n VA LO R c o m e s a c r o s s i n te r e s t i n g “ b i t s a n d p i e c e s ” t h a t w e w a n t to s h a r e w i t h o u r r e a d e r s .

FOLLOW US at facebook.com/ utahvalormag or online at utahvalor.com


Help Us Help You

A new military report shows that Utah citizen soldiers are the healthiest in the nation. The 2018 Health of the (National Guard) Force report focuses on measuring various factors that can affect mission readiness for soldiers in Army National Guard units throughout America and its territories.


The Army National Guard Health Index ranking by state and territory found the Beehive State in the top spot, above Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, South Dakota and Wisconsin, in the top five. Utah also ranked first in dental readiness and second in medical readiness, just behind West Virginia, according to the report. “We place special emphasis in all of our training exercises and all of our focus on readiness for soldiers to be medically and physically ready to deploy,” said Maj. D.J. Gibb, public affairs specialist for the Guard. Gibb said the report offers insights into how Utah trains soldiers for military success “because of our mental and physical readiness.” “It says a lot about, not just our organization, but also the people of Utah,” Gibb said. “We rank high on a lot of parameters because of the people of Utah and the way they raise their kids.” —UTANG



he Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs has released a new survey in Utah for veterans, military and family members of those serving, or who have served. Utah has an impressive record of military service to our nation throughout the state’s history. Brave men and women, with the support of their family members have sacrificed their time, effort and sometimes their lives, to serve and protect our nation and its citizens. It is a priority of the UDVMA to ensure that those sacrifices are recognized and that those service members and veterans, along with the family members who support them, are given every opportunity to succeed in Utah. We have designed a survey that should help us ensure that the right services are available, at the right time, for the right need. This comprehensive survey addresses benefits and needs in a variety of areas including healthcare, disability compensation, education, employment, homelessness and more. Additional demographic information will help to better understand and prioritize veterans issues related to location, age, service era and other criteria. This survey is being distributed via multiple methods to better reach all of our active duty military and veterans, as well as their family members, throughout the state. We hope you will take several minutes of your valuable time to fill out this survey, so we may better understand and address the needs of our community moving forward. Click this link to go to the survey: https://utahgov.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_2aHoKyjoDB44VmZ

The UDVMA has launched an updated website making it easier to access information and benefits. Come and revisit us at veterans.utah.gov. —UDVMA







Celebrate the service of Utah’s women veterans and military. Inspirational words by Denise Rohan, the first woman commander of the American Legion. Social and refreshments. Capitol Rotunda, Utah State Capitol, 350 N. State Street, 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday. Free with RSVP. veterans.utah. gov/calendars

Vietnam Veterans of America Northern Utah Chapter will hold a wreath laying ceremony at the monument at 10 a.m. Utah State Capitol. A tribute will be at Vietnam Memorial Wall Replica, 508 Constitution Circle, Layton Commons Park, 1 p.m. Friday. veterans.utah.gov/calendars

Connecting veteran entrepreneurs with business resources. Keynote by Jeff Kirkman of Black Rifle Coffee Co. and Readyman. Larry H. Miller Campus, Salt Lake Community College, 9750 S. 300 West, Sandy, at 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday. $30. Register at slchamber.com/mac

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rt enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” This quote from Catholic Monk Thomas Merton sums up the therapeutic and healing value of the creative arts, and two Utah veterans from different eras agree.

“When I am in the creative process, either planning a piece of art or in the process of creating a piece of art, it gets me out of myself and I don’t think about my life,” said Army veteran Buddy Measles. “I just think about this piece of art that I want to do and the outcome that I want to achieve.” Nationwide, Veterans Affairs medical facilities use the creative arts for rehabilitative treatment to help veterans cope with physical and emotional disabilities. The medical centers also host a local, creative arts competition for those veterans enrolled at VA health care facilities. The competition includes categories that range from oil painting to leatherwork to paint-by-number kits and writing, as well as dance, drama and music. Winning entries advance to national competition. In 2019, the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival will be held in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Vietnam veteran Jack Johnston and his award-winning old American Indian man, called “The Last Warrior.”

Measles, a Cold War veteran, exhibited three pieces at the 2018 Creative Arts Festival at Salt Lake City’s George E. Wahlen VA Medical Center. He took up painting just two years ago, but he already sees its benefits. “It takes the fear of people away from me,” explained Measles, who suffers from PTSD connected with military sexual trauma. “Momentarily at least … because I am still thinking about that piece of art. It’s gotten me to the point that if it is something that is related to my art, or art in general, I don’t have so much anxiety leaving my home.” The best of show winner from the local 2018 Creative Arts Festival, Vietnam veteran Jack Johnston, served as an illustrator for the Army and was sent to Vietnam to document the war. “When we came back we didn’t admit that we had a problem,” Johnson said. “I didn’t admit that I had a problem for over 30 years.” That problem — PTSD. Jack has been getting help for his PTSD through the Salt Lake City VA for the past dozen or so years, and art helps. “It [art] is very meticulous,” Johnston said. “As a result, when you are doing it time passes, the world passes. The good things are within and the bad things go away. The art brings you a calmness that you can’t get in any other way of life.” His award-winning sculpture of an old Native American man dressed for war, called The Last Warrior, is very personal and reflective. “I named him that because I feel like I am the last warrior. When the battles come around the world, or even in our own nation or in the schools, I feel like I want to jump in and become a guard and help, but I know I can’t,” Johnston explained, pointing to his sculpture. “But this old character is the same thing — he wanted to get in and help his people. So, it has been psychologically good for me.” —BY JEREMY LAIRD, VA GEORGE E. WAHLEN MEDICAL CENTER





Events include commemorative ceremony, a historical reenactment, entertainment, locomotive demonstrations and more. Check calendar for statewide events. Golden Spike National Historic Site, Brigham City, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday. spike150.org/statewide-events february

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An inspiring and community-focused event honoring our men and women in uniform featuring Choral Arts Society of Utah and Utah National Guard’s 23rd Army Band under the direction of Sterling Poulson. Gallivan Center, 239 Main Street, SLC, 5-9 p.m. Saturday. Free. veterans.utah.gov/calendars

02/27-03/01 24TH ANNUAL CREATIVE ARTS FESTIVAL Veterans at the SLCVA use creative arts for healing and theraputic reasons. This festival showcases their efforts. n Visual Art Exhibit. Wednesday, Feb. 27, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Artist interaction at 1:30 pm n Performing Arts. Thursday, Feb. 28. Matinée 2-4 p.m., Evening 5-7 p.m. n Creative Writing. Friday, March 1, 2 p.m. George E. Wahlen VA Medical Center, Multipurpose room, Bldg. 8, 500 Foothill Drive, SLC. Public invited to attend. saltlakecity.va.gov/calendar

Decorative wooden jewelry box.

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getty images / michal chodyra



hen veterans are away, or just coming home from deployment, life can get extremely stressful — especially when issues arise, such as the loss of a job while they’ve been away or having a lemon vehicle sold to the veteran’s family during deployment. Trying to find affordable legal help to alleviate those situations can be difficult. Consequently, the state has launched a program called Utah@ Ease, a referral program led by the Office of the Utah Attorney General in conjunction with the Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs and the Utah State Bar. Named after the military term for “stand down,” Utah@Ease offers pro bono legal assistance and representation to veterans and current service members for issues with military rights, wills and power of attorney, property and landlords, creditor and debtor, consumer fraud, immigration, predatory lending and employment. The program does not cover criminal, family law, personal injury or legal matters against a state or the United States. For veterans and service members, there is often a gap between what the JAG Corps can do for them and what needs to be done. When Director of Utah@Ease Larry Schmidt was on active duty with JAG Corps, he was bound by regulations. “I could give lots of advice, but I couldn’t really leave the building to go downtown and finish the process,” said Schmidt. “We had limits on our representation and scope, which meant we lost the authority to go to court and attend hearings.” The idea for Utah@Ease first began when District Attorney Sean Reyes was working as a young lawyer for the Utah State Bar, helping with the Wills for Heroes program. “Many of them came in for help with wills and trusts, but they also had other questions such as getting their job back after a deployment,” said Reyes. “I realized there were not a lot of resources for our men and women in uniform and wished we could do more for them.” A couple of years ago Reyes started discussing the idea with several other state attorneys to harness the volunteer pro-bono hours from major law firm sponsors in Utah as a way to help men and women in uniform. Reyes said the response, upon reaching out to the state’s legal community and the Department of Veterans


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SEEKING ASSISTANCE? Veterans looking for assistance will need a referral by contacting their local veteran service officer from the Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars or American Legion. Current service members in need of legal assistance must contact their local judge advocate general office. Applicants need to be current service members or, if a veteran, must have an honorable or general discharge, and have a legal issue that is covered by Utah@Ease

and Military Affairs, was overwhelming. “Without even thinking, the response was, ‘Yes, our men and women could use this.’” Reyes and his team began putting together a program similar to those in other states. As the program started coming together, they discovered the particular needs of veterans and service members: applying for loans or benefits, filing taxes and help with government documents. “Some of our veterans joined right out of high school, so they may not have had as much experience maneuvering through the process; so now they need advocates to help them bulldog through the process to get what they need,” Reyes said. Utah@Ease was launched on July 1, 2018, when Gov. Gary Herbert signed the resolution with resounding support from the legislature. Since then, the program has closed 36 cases and has 13 cases currently being represented by Utah@Ease. Retired from the Utah National Guard, Gen. Brian Tarbet, chief civil deputy at the office of the Utah attorney general, says it was important to partner with the governor’s office and UDVMA to make sure the program was successful. “There was clearly a delta out there between what veterans get and what the JAG can do for them,” Tarbet said. “We see this as a long-term program since this problem is not going to go away. Just like gardening, there will always be issues and we will be there to take care of the weeds.” —BY DANA RIMINGTON FOR VALOR february

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OUR STAFF OF TRAINED PROFESSIONALS STAND READY TO ASSIST YOU IN MANY WAYS Outreach Activities Help with VA Pension, Aid, and Attendance. Service Connected Disability Claims.

VSOs (Veteran Serive Officers) That Travel The State Assistance in filing claims and receiving benefits.

Job Fairs Getting you employed, skills workshops, etc.

The Homeless Veterans Stand-Down Providing food, shelter, and clothing.

Benefit Information Programs Health & education eligibility, state benefits, etc.

The Utah Department of VMA is here to serve you. We operate the Utah Veterans Cemetery and Memorial Park, Four Veterans Homes from Ogden to St.George, and the State Approving Agency for Veterans Education.

Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs | 550 Foothill Dr. Ste 150, SLC, UT 84113 | 801.326.2372 | veterans@utah.gov | www.veterans.utah.gov




Join the Utah Veteran Owned Business Coalition to learn about what it takes to become a successful Veteran-Owned business, the local and national resources available, and to connect with other entrepreneurs and business owners. Keynote Speaker: Jeff Kirkham, Black Rifle Co-Owner and Readyman Owner General Session: 8:30am-1:30pm | Mentoring & Networking Roundtables: 1:30pm-3:30pm Individual Admission: $30 RSVP ONLINE AT SLCHAMBER.COM/MAC Salt Lake Community College Larry H. Miller Campus | Karen Gail Miller Conference Room 9750 South 300 West, Sandy, Utah 84070 Questions? Contact Jackie Sextion at 801-328-5053 or jsexton@slchamber.com

Community Relations M a n y s e r v i c e m e n a n d w o m e n o n t h e f r o n t l i n e m a k e s a c r i f i c e s to d e f e n d o u r h o m e s a n d c o m m u n i t i e s . I t i s i m po r ta n t f o r t h e m to k n o w t h a t o n t h e h o m e f r o n t w e a r e “a l l i n t h i s to ge t h e r. ” VA LO R s h i n e s t h e s po t l i g h t o n t h o s e w h o w o rk t i r el e s s l y to s h o w o u r s u p po r t a n d ap p r e c i a t i o n .



veteran of the Vietnam War, Terry Schow began helping veterans shortly after he returned home from serving in Southeast Asia. “I was fortunate that the military had allowed me to get an education and a home. I felt an obligation to pay them back, so I did volunteer work in the veteran community,” he said. However, while Schow was serving on the state’s Veterans Advisory Council, his efforts to help serve veterans became increasingly challenging when the legislature voted to shut down the veterans office in Utah just a few years after the Vietnam War ended. “I was struck by the fact that the legislature felt the state didn’t need a VA. It was a short-sighted decision because all of the other cabinets continued to grow while the veterans were left out.” Schow recognized that the federal Veterans Affairs program helped, but with the state office closed there was no one in the state advising veterans or helping them out. As a result, he felt a strong urge to try resurrecting the state veterans office so veterans could get the help they deserved. “I just saw a need and I have a great love for these veterans, many of whom are my dearest friends. I felt like they were left out in the cold,” Schow said. “I was lucky enough to develop the skill set and understanding of the political process, along with the persistence to make a difference.” He began martialing veterans from across the state, many of whom were reluctant to honk their own horn, but he convinced them to help speak to the legislature.


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From the late 1970s through the 1990s, Schow was able to restore the state Veterans Affairs Office and keep it going until the state government once again officially recognized the department. For more than 40 years, he has utilized his many connections with veteran service organizations to push both the state legislature and national Congress for bills and february

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(LEFT) Terry Schow at dedication of North Ogden Vet Center with ( seated ) Dorothy and Casey Kunimura, WWII veteran 442nd RCT, ( standing ) Alex Aerts, American Legion State Commander and Richard Fisher. (RIGHT) Schow with Jack Wahlen and Melba Wahlen, son and widow of WWII Medal of Honor Award recipient George E. Wahlen. photos courtesy of terry schow

laws for veterans funding, healthcare, education, recognitions, cemeteries, veterans homes and centers. At the time Schow first started his uphill battle, Utah was below the national average for veterans receiving funds for disabilities or injuries that occurred because of their military service, or those enrolled in VA healthcare. “I was probably not smart enough to realize how hard the process of helping veterans was going to be. One of the senators on the floor of the Utah senate said I was pain in the butt. Another time a senator told me they weren’t happy with me because I pushed too hard,” Schow said. “I didn’t take offense, but rather saw it as a badge of honor. I knew my veterans, the public and the media were supporting me through it all, so I just kept my head down and kept pushing. I knew it was right, especially since Utah was below the national average in helping veterans. I was doing the Lord’s work by looking after veterans.” Schow says he can’t underscore how difficult it was to go from a small office to a cabinet level position. “Cabinet members were astounded that we were able to do that, but the public loves the military and the governor supported us, so even though there was turmoil getting us there, we were able to successfully open up the Department of Veterans Affairs.” The governor appointed Schow as the department director of the newly reconstituted office, so he began working in earnest to beef up operations. “We had been severely underfunded, so it was difficult to get what we needed when we were still just a small office, but as a separate department, we got to present our february

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own needs,” Schow said. Since then, he admits the situation is better than it was all those years ago, but it’s still just important to make sure the veterans aren’t forgotten. Among his greatest accomplishments, Schow counts the building of four veterans homes and the state’s veterans cemetery. “It took so many years prior to even getting to that point, building up relationships and understanding the process.” Currently, Schow is working hard to push for questions about veterans affairs in the 2020 census. A few years ago, Schow helped set up a veterans database in Utah. The numbers currently show 180,000 veterans in Utah, which is larger than the 140,000 veterans currently on record by the federal government. “When we can get the hard, imperial data with increased numbers, we can get more allocations for veterans funding,” Schow said. Schow looks back to when he first began pushing for help with veterans affairs and is struck by how far those initial efforts have come. “Back then, some said this day would never come. When we finally resurrected the State Veterans Affairs Office, I worked for long hours for low pay, but I just kept on pushing,” Schow said. “Now, the Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs is a full cabinet position. Who would have realized we could have done all this? I’m proud to serve in some small way, as this is indeed noble work.” Dana Rimington has more than 12 years covering stories involving education, military, government and business in northern Utah. She focuses her efforts as a marketing content writer for businesses across the country. va l o r : a s a l u t e t o u ta h ’ s v e t e r a n s a n d m i l i ta r y


Service and Sacrifice



obin’s Tool Bin is a young and plucky charitable organization that is making a difference for veterans all over Utah, one project at a time. Through their mobile workshop — a trailer filled with tools for woodworking, yard work, mechanic repairs and more — they have already completed several projects for veterans and military families in the Utah County area. Projects range from fulfilling immediate needs by building home fences and wheelchair ramps, to providing things that simply improve one’s quality of life, such as installing garage shelving or creating challenge coin holders for veteran hobbyists. Robin’s Tool Bin is a total grassroots operation. All time, work and effort put into the institution is 100 percent contributed by volunteers. Any physical or monetary donations the nonprofit receives goes directly into funding for projects. Administrative overhead costs sit an impressive zero percent. What’s even more incredible is how it all started, and the “why” behind how this organization came to be in the first place — it all began with one very special woman, Robin Perez. Robin Perez, also known as “Bin,” was a woodworker, craftsperson, sports fan and altruist. She grew up in a military family and always had a passion for military personnel and the services they provide to our country. She was a NASA employee, and on her own time she volunteered for the Provo Veteran Center. She was married to David Samuel Smith, whom she met at NASA, and who also grew up in a military family. They both had a deep understanding and appreciation for veterans and it was something that drew them closer in life. When Robin passed away, David knew without hesitation that she would want her physical belongings to be of service to others, just as she had been throughout her life. He decided the tens of thousands of dollars worth of tools she had so lovingly used with her own hands to help others would be donated: they


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NEED HELP WITH HOME WORK? Applications for consideration to be a project recipient can be submitted to Robin’s Tool Bin board at robinstoolbin. org. Whether you need a major repair or simply want to borrow a toolbox, all needs will be considered. For larger projects, Robin’s Tool Bin is always looking for willing and able volunteers with a vast range of skill levels. To contribute to the cause, contact Leslie at robinstoolbin@gmail.com

could continue to serve the veterans she so loved. David connected with Randy Edwards, who agreed to work with him on making the tool bin donation a sustainable reality. Edwards, a member of the American Legion Post 13, and retired Army Special Forces master sergeant began using his scrappy resourcefulness to raise funds to acquire a trailer. Yet, it wasn’t enough and the project stalled. Edwards asked for help from the Utah County Veterans Services group that he chairs. Retired Army medic Leslie Zimmerman stepped up and reached out to her network, starting with her immediate family — her sister Julia Carlson, a retired USMC master sergeant and their brother Andrew Watson, a retired wild land fire captain, all became integral parts of the charity. “I’m a doer. I like solving puzzles. And this was a puzzle that Randy needed help with,” said Zimmerman. “I first asked Andrew to help me find a good deal on a trailer, something I could convince someone to sell for a better price.” With a generous company donation, Watson Motor Works donated and retrofitted a trailer to create a workshop on wheels, the perfect solution to bring onsite services to veterans or single parents in need of assistance. Doc ‘n’ Gunny’s helps source funding for veterans, military and first-responder programs and has become a signature february

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Robin’s Tool Bin is a mobile workshop filled with tools and landscaping equipment available year-round to help improve quality of life for veterans and single parents in need. Learn more at robinstoolbin.org. photos courtesy of leslie zimmerman

sponsor. As a company they have been to every event with their “sweet treats” and volunteers, which range from entire families to 30-plus “poolies” from the local Marine Corps recruiting station. Zimmerman says the sponsor onsite makes an event become more than just service project; it becomes a fun and family-friendly activity anyone can help with.

individuals became involved and turned the opportunity into a real entity with 501(c)(3) status, a functioning website and marketing efforts to get the word out. Their efforts, along with the continued involvement of the American Legion and Edwards, have made the organization an impactful part of the Utah County veteran communities.

Carlson believes the opposite of war is art, and healing comes from being creative, being busy and doing something. “So whether through woodworking, landscaping or service projects, it’s all art. There’s an element of healing either for the person doing the service or the person receiving the service,” Carlson said. “Doc and Gunny’s focus is helping veterans through the arts. The foundation of Robin’s Tool Bin is doing and helping veterans. It’s been a good fit for all of us.”

“Robin gave us an opportunity to help veterans by giving back,” Edwards said. “It is an honor to fulfill Robin’s dreams and we are proud of what we are doing to continue her legacy.”

With the setup now set to start doing good for the community, the organization quickly grew and began to take shape. More february

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The trailer filled with tools and landscaping equipment is available year-round to help, free of charge, for veterans and single parents in need. Katie Sullivan Porter is a Utah-born writer that has created works for the Utah County and Salt Lake County areas. Her writings can be found in print and online in Utah Spaces Magazine and the Sundance Resort blog among others. She is the wife of a loving husband Jacob and the mother to two human boys, Lincoln and Rockwell, as well two dog children, Goose and Brenda. va l o r : a s a l u t e t o u ta h ’ s v e t e r a n s a n d m i l i ta r y


I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.


—Billy Joel

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THE POWER OF MUSIC WHAT IS THIS CONNECTION BETWEEN US AND MUSIC? by Lee and Russell Wulfenstein w i t h m i c h e l l e b r i dg e s fo r va lo r maga z i n e


usic has been an integral part of all cultures throughout the saga of human history. From the Stone Age to our modern era, music has been used to express deep emotions, create shared experiences, heal wounded hearts and facilitate spiritual growth. It provides gaiety at festive times, sobriety at others. It influences ideas, for better or worse, and lends legitimacy or support to any number of emotions we are feeling or want to feel. Music is a tool that has been used for all these purposes and more throughout the generations of humanity.

MUSIC CAPTIVATES THE HUMAN IMAGINATION From China’s ancient Qin music to lyres, Gregorian chants to protestant hymns, Mozart to John Williams, Buddy Holly to Guns N’ Roses, and Eddie Fisher to Michael Bublé, music has been involved in all aspects of life: work, relaxation, religious ceremonies, dances, war and peace. There is something about music that captivates the human imagination. It almost feels like a physical necessity to many. Lee Wulfenstein and his brother, Russell, are co-founders of The Seguine Music Foundation which provides music programs to long-term care facilities. They also make presentations on the benefits of music exposure. The Wulfenstein brothers grew up playing music, toured with various folk groups to destinations all around the globe, and played in a family band. Lee has worked in several assisted living facilities over the years and pursued his passion in college, leading him to research benefits of music and eventually create his own study to assess the longterm benefits of following a music regimen. If you sit down with Lee, you will hear phrases like, “Hearing a tune can change our mood almost instantaneously” and “it can trigger memories we haven’t thought of in years.” He is convinced that there is a real power in music. He shares a poignant story from his first night touring with the live band of a dance group in the mountains of Mexico. A low, almost chant-like song began to rise up in the distance. The song grew louder, the crowd grew more restless and began funneling down a nearby street, slowly at first, but as I reached the bottleneck I noticed the pace quicken. People were dancing in the dark streets, singing at the top of their lungs, “Ay, ay, ay, ay, canta y no llores, porque cantando se alegran, cielito lindo los corazones.” I turned to find Russell, who was nearby, and asked him what they were singing. He told me it was a song called “Cielito Lindo,” and the words were basically “Ay, ay, ay, ay, sing and don’t cry, because in singing it gladdens, my little darling, the hearts.”

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The Benson Sisters have grabbed stuff from all genres but have created a signature sound with 1940s military approach. photo courtesy of the benson sisters




The Benson Sisters — Lisa, Connie and Julie — grew up performing as a family. Their parents met in college where they were both singers and dancers in a performing group. They passed their passion down to their children. “Music was our foundation. Everyday something musically happened,” said Lisa Benson, the oldest sister. “Mom was the catalyst. She was always encouraging us to use our talents.”

performance. What she can’t find or buy, she makes. When it comes to hairstyles and cosmetics, the internet has been most helpful. She says it has taken many hours and many tears to get the “right look” — pin curls in front, rolls on the sides, bun in the back, and lots and lots of hairspray. “It’s impossible to do your hair by yourself,” she stresses. “It’s nice to have your sisters to help,” Julie jumps in with “don’t get started with the eyelashes.”

“One of my favorite memories was to see mom and dad dancing in the kitchen,” said Connie Benson Starks. “It was special for us daughters to dance in the kitchen with dad. Even though we weren’t singing, it was a music moment and we were connecting.” When the girls grew up, they went on to do their own things.

The girls find inspiration in all kinds of genres, whether it’s country, African or hip-hop. Connie tends to wrap modern song lyrics with a 1920s vintage vibe as she deconstructs and recreates songs. Lisa thinks modern music is “chaotic noise” but applauds those who are willing to express themselves using music. Julie gravitates to movie music: original soundtracks, Broadway tunes and “funky stuff from the ’80s.” She sums it up with “we’ve grabbed stuff from all genres, but we’ve created our own style with a 1940s military approach.”

For many years, Jan and Laura Benson were cultural royalty in Cache Valley. They created “The Glenn Miller Show” which grew into today’s “Celebrate America Show.” Both programs are an established part of the community’s legacy. About three years ago, the girls went back to Logan to perform in the patriotic Celebrate America Show. Ben Johnson, from the Utah Military History Group, was there and invited them to be part of the group’s WWII display at a local gun show. “We did about eight bars of ‘Boogie Woogie’ and failed horribly,” said Julie Benson Surjopolos. Luckily, Johnson encouraged them to put together a longer songand-dance program. Lisa is a professional actress, and that experience helps with the group’s logistics. Connie focuses on getting their “act just right” with the right music, tempo and sound. “I can be really picky,” she says. As the youngest sister, Julie is the organizer and promoter. Connie tries to dress the trio as “true” as possible to their


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“We’ve built our repertoire around the Andrew Sisters’ classic, ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B,’” Lisa said. “The audience really lights up when we sing it.” However, the girls feel that “Sisters” from White Christmas is truly their signature song. “After all,” Connie says, “we are sisters.” The girls do a couple dozen shows a year – car shows, veterans programs, Christmas shows and private parties. “Anything you really want, we’ll figure it out,” Connie said. “It’s fun to get different types of events because it spurs the imagination.” For inquiries, contact The Benson Sisters at 801-889-0811 or by email: 3BensonSisters@gmail.com —BY MICHELLE BRIDGES FOR VALOR february

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I marveled as we were swept through the city in this lively river of people; dancing, singing and drinking well into the night. Sometime after midnight we found ourselves crammed into a courtyard with thousands of other people. We could feel the music as everyone sang along. In the eddies of movement, there were brightly colored folk costumes from all over the world — China, South Africa, Chile, Mexico, Poland and the United States. Yet everyone was singing this song at the top of their voices, feeling the same emotions, effortlessly sharing joy and happiness with total strangers, because of a simple children’s song — a happy sound.



1. K eep the Home Fires Burning (John McCormack) 2. P ack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag (Felix Powell) 3. Over There (George M. Cohan)

This cross-cultural communication is perhaps a hint at how deep the human-music connection runs. “Not only does music bring cultures together when communication would otherwise be impossible, but it also helps us identify our emotions by relating them to tone, and common ideas that are presented in a powerful way,” Lee said. Think of movies and video games, where music is used to create an “atmosphere.” It refers to a situation with expectations, in the same way that we have an internal expectation of what is going on around us at any given time. This is a way to subtly communicate what the appropriate and expected feelings are to the viewer and immerse them in the experience as much as possible. “Music is our own metacommunication about our lives,” Lee said. “We listen to what suits our definition of ourselves and avoid the dissonant tones of other music that fits us poorly or simply doesn’t speak to us.” According to the “Journal of Contemporary Music Ethnography,” music creates bonds within subcultures and with people who have experienced similar things in life. Many of us relate so closely to music that we begin to thoroughly define ourselves by it. It also tells us that what we are feeling is okay, because not only does someone else feel similarly, but they are okay sharing those feelings with the world. As Lee explains, “Music has power over the soul, and it has been this way throughout known history.” Music attaches to specific memories and creates connections in a part of the brain that is last to deteriorate in the progression of dementia, as noted in “The Journal of Music Education Research.” This is similar to how smells are tied to memories and can bring them back suddenly and from seemingly out of nowhere. Music can change a person’s mood, thoughts and mindset faster than any medication. In fact, the transition is almost instantaneous. Aside from memories attaching to a song in a certain time and space — which can be revisited by hearing the music again — music also inherently conveys emotion, even if it is entirely unfamiliar to us or sung in a different language.

MUSIC THROUGH THE AGES Throughout the many wars of the 20th and early 21st centuries, music has continued the historic tradition of being inextricable from culture. Reviewing the most popular songs from each period of war is like looking inside a time capsule: the sentiments, ideas, predominant culture and feelings of the U.S. population during these time periods can be easily observed through their music. An interesting fact to note: while in the two world wars and the Korean War, musical preference was generally shared by soldier and common citizen alike, but a gulf begins to emerge during the Vietnam War. By the time of the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts, soldiers have a very different, eclectic, playlist that is generally much less constrained by contemporary popular taste. The preference also broadened over the course of time. While in the first few wars there seems to be a fairly clear consensus of the best songs, by later conflicts it becomes apparent that no two lists are quite alike. february

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4. I f You Were the Only Girl in the World (Henry Burr) 5. Roses of Picardy (John McCormack)



1. We’ll Meet Again (Vera Lynn) 2. I magine Me on the Maginot Line (George Formby) 3. Moonlight Serenade (Glenn Miller) 4. As Time Goes By (Dooley Wilson) 5. Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree (Andrews Sisters)



1. Rag Mop (Aimes Brothers) 2. The Third Man (Anton Karas) 3. Tennessee Waltz (Patti Page) 4. Unforgettable (Nat King Cole) 5. W hen They Dropped the Atomic Bomb (Jackie Doll and his Pickled Peppers)

DON’T SIT UNDER THE APPLE TREE I wrote my mother I wrote my father And now I’m writing you too I’m sure of mother I’m sure of father Now I wanna be sure of you Don’t sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me Anyone else but me, Anyone else but me. —excerpt from Andrew Sisters

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ife has not always been easy for Ryan Stream. Born in East Los Angeles to drug-addicted parents, Ryan and his three brothers slept in a homeless shelter and foster homes. In time, their little family unit ended up in Utah, where they were torn apart and separated from one another, with each feeling helpless and alone. Eventually, they were reunited and adopted by the Stream family. The Streams already had seven kids of their own. They raised Ryan and his brothers, along with their own seven kids, to be righteous warriors and have God in their lives. Ryan, however, chose a different path and did what “he wanted to do.” He eventually “lost everything” due to poor decisions and wound up having to overcome numerous obstacles, challenges and drug addictions. The Streams had a piano in their house and encouraged Ryan to take lessons, but he realized he saw music differently and began creating music his own way, through songwriting. Ryan doesn’t know how to read music but honestly prays for the talent to write it. “It’s a blessing that the guy upstairs gave me,” said Ryan. “He knew I was going to struggle in life.” Ryan turned his life around and honorably served his country. He’s a good representation of a “true citizen soldier” — he’s done two deployments for a total of 608 days in country; he lost one and had 23 comradesin-arms injuried by an IED; he’s fought “demons of addiction and anger” to keep his family together; and he battles the effects of war on his body and mind. He respects the military and uses it as a creative force in his music. He knows the military has helped him, but he is “exiting because it’s time.” Having seen war first-hand, Ryan is now on a new mission to make a difference through the music that he creates. Ryan’s music and his videos are a bit autobiographical. He said, “you’ll find parts of me in most of my songs.” “On My Own” is about finding out how strong of a person you are. “The Perfect Storm” is about a homeless guy that changes his life and ends up accomplishing his dreams. “Change” came about because he needed to make changes in his own life. “Daddy” is about coming home to what’s important. “When I came back from war, I was forced to make a choice between my ‘crazy life’ or my family,” said Ryan. “I chose my girls. They ground me.” He says when he’s having a bad day, he goes to the piano and writes. “I write about war, I write about things that are happening now.” Ryan knows he has a unique story and wants to share it with people. “It’s positive, it’s impacting, it’s changing lives,” he said. “There comes a point where you change, and you grow, and you go in a different direction, and hopefully it is in an upward direction. Ryan Stream is a motivational speaker, musician, American soldier and family man. He does anything and everything he possibly can to make a difference in the world. His music is available for download. For inquires, visit facebook.com/ ryanandrewstream —BY MICHELLE BRIDGES FOR VALOR

Ryan Stream and his wife Elizabeth are the parents of two girls.


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All of that being said, here are some top five song lists, most compiled from songfacts.com, one set for each major conflict American was involved in over the past 100 years.

WORLD WAR I (1914-1918) The songs of the Great War reflect the proper, patriotic, humorous, down-home sentiment of the age. There was a lot of pomp and gusto, along with some sober and longing hits, such as Roses of Picardy. In April of 1917, the United States entered the war, and pro-war songs quickly proliferated. Though it was not yet the national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner” was recorded several times, with Irish-born tenor John McCormack’s version being the most popular. “Over There,” by George M. Cohan, was the most enduring song. Irving Berlin wrote the humorous “Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning,” as the lament of a weary soldier in training camp.



1. Fortunate Son (Creedence Clearwater Revival) 2. What’s Going On (Marvin Gaye) 3. Chain of Fools (Aretha Franklin) 4. Green Green Grass of Home (Porter Wagoner) 5. Gotta Get Out of This Place (The Animals)

WORLD WAR II (1939-1945) According to “The Chronical World,” the race-obsessed Nazis of World War II Germany saw anything from other cultures as lesser. In the case of jazz music specifically, it was noted to be “inferior music” for originating from Black American culture. The Third Reich referred to such music as “Negermusik” and it was prohibited in Germany. It has been conjectured that Americans loved jazz for the satisfaction of knowing the Nazis hated it — perhaps it was also a way to see themselves as more human, while the Germans listened only to what was strictly allowed. During this war, the United States would transition into a fully-fledged super power wielding significant influence on the world stage. The nation was just coming out of the Great Depression, and citizens were wary of war because of the previous great conflict. However, they were simultaneously full of patriotic zeal, and the music of the time reflects these feelings through the beautiful medium of jazz and big band music. Morale was maintained throughout the war with dances, romances and music that provided a constant and steadying identity.

KOREAN WAR (1950-1953) Interestingly, much of the popular music during the “Forgotten War” hailed back to bluegrass and country. However, this era also continued the tradition of jazz music, with the advents of classic singers such as Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra. This is a time where American citizens wanted peace, and there are significantly fewer popular, patriotic or war-themed songs from this era than in the previous wars. Probably the most popular was a song of emotional pain by Jean Shepard and Ferlin Husky called “A Dear John Letter,” recorded just before the truce at Panmunjom was signed. The song is about a soldier who has received a letter from his sweetheart, notifying him that he has been jilted by his lover, who has wed not just another man, but his brother Don. The term “Dear John Letter” had been used since WWII as a term to describe such breakup letters (coldwarstudies.com).

VIETNAM WAR (1965-1973) From Korea to Vietnam, jazz had decreased in popularity and begun to change in form, from the clean classical sounds of the past to the more earthy and percussive style of singers like Marvin Gaye and Jimi Hendrix. Likewise, the resurgent bluegrass music of the Korean War transformed into a wave of folk-rock music like The Grateful Dead, and the more rock ‘n’ roll of Creedence Clearwater Revival. The Vietnam War saw the initial divide between soldier and citizen in musical preference, as well as in worldview. The aforementioned bands, in addition to the likes february

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GOTTA GET OUT OF THIS PLACE Midnight finds me cryin’ Day time finds me cryin’ too I’ve got to get out of town This whole city just brings me down, yeah Gotta get away, Gotta get away I made a promise to you such a long time ago Now baby, now baby, now baby, It’s time to make it come true yeah Come true yeah, come through yeah In this dirty old part of the city Where the sun refuse to shine People tell me there ain’t no use in me trying, No, little girl you’re so young and you’re so pretty And one thing I know is true Your going to be dead before your time is due —excerpt from The Animals

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fter a memorable participation in the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor back in December 2016, the Park City High School marching band decided they wanted to take a new direction for their trips going forward. Rather than touring to compete, the band faculty and students wanted to share their music in experiences that would be substantial and meaningful. “Experiencing Pearl Harbor was a turning point for us. We came back from that tour and had conversations with the student leadership, who wanted to continue touring with the marching band, but not the traditional, vacation style,” said Park City Music Director Bret Hughes. “We wanted to have a purpose and musical meaning behind our trips.” Coincidently, shortly after the band’s return from Hawaii, they received an invitation to Europe for the 75th D-Day celebration — a fitting trip to mark the end of World War II after participating in the anniversary commemorating the start of the United States’ entering the same war. A total of 85 PCHS band members will be headed to France this June for the event. Preparing for the trip is similar to the approach they took for Pearl Harbor, so Hughes says they regularly go over the historical aspects of the event with the band. “We want these kids to have a respect for this historical site and for those still alive who will be there, so they can respond with proper respect when they are there. Sure, we are playing music, but we are really going to honor those who participated in D-Day,” said Hughes.

(TOP) Drum Majors Molly Hanrahan and Bryan Croce, Class of 2017, participating in events during the 75th anniversary commemoration of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. (BELOW) Members of PCHS Color Guard also participating in events in Hawaii. The band is raising funds to go the Europe in recognition of D-Day’s 75th anniversary. photos courtesy of pchs

The band will be playing several performances commemorating the historical event and choosing the right music isn’t always easy. “Pearl Harbor was an American event, which meant we played very patriotic music. Since D-Day is such a world event, we feel that if we played only American patriotic selections, we would only pay tribute to a small portion of the event,” said Hughes. “We’ve been informed that most people in France participating in the D-Day celebrations enjoy hearing upbeat pop and dance music, so that is where we are focusing our pieces so everyone can appreciate the moment. We’ll pay tribute to the American soldiers more through our actions than our music.” The Park City band will combine with the 10 other marching bands visiting from across the United States for a performance at the Brittany American Cemetery in Normandy, France, where the remains of over 4,000 World War II American soldiers are buried. All of the bands will together play “Hymn to the Fallen,” composed by John Williams, who has given permission for the bands to perform his piece. Drum major Kyle Sedgwick is most looking forward to seeing the actual grounds where the events of World War II unfolded. “I believe it will be a very powerful experience to be in a place with so much history and importance to how we view the world today,” said Sedgwick. For color guard member Kasey Kirklen, the experience will be an honor. “It’s quite the opportunity for the students to go on a trip like this. We get to experience the importance and significance of


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D-Day first hand, and it’s important for us as a band, as a school, to truly learn and understand why they commemorate the event,” said Kirklen. The band will be in Europe for nine days, with stops in Normandy, Paris and London. The trip is costing students about $4,000 for each student. The band is holding fundraising events to help pay for the trip, including the costly expense of checking the instruments onto the airplane. Anyone interested in more information or donating can visit pcbands.net —BY DANA RIMINGTON FOR VALOR


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of The Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel, came to represent a new and more liberal cultural mindset of the common citizen that refused to countenance war. Music was increasingly used as a political platform to educate the masses and denigrate the more conservative message propagated by the government leaders. Foreign influence began to grow with “the British invasion,” and music generally became more global during this time. This war also saw significant expansion in rock ‘n’ roll, with heavier sounding and more electronic groups such as Queen, Journey, The Rolling Stones, ACDC, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and others. By the time Desert Storm came around, members of the military cut a clearer distinction from the general public, reflecting the cultural dissonance in the nation at the time, and perhaps even projecting a pre-emptive defense mechanism to the potential for another wave of social backlash like that of the Vietnam War. Whether the music was current or not became significantly less important than in wars past, and soldiers really created their own popular culture regarding music that leaned more heavily toward rock and roll and country.

2. Ripple (Grateful Dead) 3. Highway to Hell (George M. Cohan) 4. Soldier’s Thing (Jarhead) 5. Voices That Care (U2)


1. Sunday Bloody Sunday (U2) 2. All Summer Long (Kid Rock) 3. School’s Out (Alice Cooper) 4. Superbeast (Rob Zombie) 5. The Catalyst (Lincoln Park)




The music preferred by soldiers of the more current conflicts is heavier; it’s also less concerned with political correctness, current sounds and dance-ability than ever before. There have become such a wide variety of bands, in so many different genre’s, that preferred song lists become much less consistent overall, but there are still themes: particularly of strength, patriotism, grit and war. The rock and roll is closer to the category of “metal” now, and is used to pump up emotions and energy for working out, numbing out and readying for combat. Public sentiment about war has progressed from a wide, negative feeling directed at both soldier and military that occurred during Vietnam, and at the beginning of the war in Afghanistan, to a general mode of support for individual soldiers, even if social support for specific engagements is lacking.

COMMON DENOMINATOR BRINGS US TOGETHER While music styles and preferences have changed dramatically over the past century, the common denominator is always music itself. The fact is that no matter where or when we live, we love and relate to music. We share our culture through music. We use it to create and curate our identities, experience the social sentiments of our times, and influence and validate our emotions. The power of music allows us to immediately relive a memory or an emotional experience by hearing a mere sound. This ability lies deeply rooted in our biology, and these memories that are attached to music are among the last to deteriorate with brain diseases such as dementia. Music brings us together within our own social circles, and with cultures outside of our own. This has been the case for millennia, and we can use the power of music to create an atmosphere, influence our emotions, modify our thinking, validate our experience and come together through the simple power of sound. Lee Wulfenstein discovered his passion for helping people while working in long-term care. He formed a research team with grants from UVU where he studied the long-term effects of music in the lives of residents in facilitated care. The ideal that drives Lee is one of changing the way we age in the United States. Russell Wulfenstein grew up playing old-time country western music at senior citizen centers and went on to work in the long-term care industry. A graduate of Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Business he has experience helping to grow new and established business. Together they created The Seguine Music Foundation to bring an intensive music immersion program to care facilities. They share the vision of widely implementing a research-based turnkey creative aging program with measurable, reproducible results.

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1. Thunderstruck (AC/DC)


DESERT STORM (1990-1991)




1. Death or Glory (Social Distortion) 2. It’s a Long Way to the Top (AC/DC) 3. Thunder Kiss ‘65 (Rob Zombie) 4. Hey Man, Nice Shot (Filter) 5. Soldiers (Drowning Pool)

SOLDIERS Lock tide, hold steady, there it goes, stand ready There is no compromise, your pain, your worth, your sacrifice. On your feet, Who’s with me, On your feet, Let’s go Every time I see inside you I see myself within you Let’s go. This is for the soldiers. — excerpt from Drowning Pool

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Marrin and Ryan Ricks are living historians with the Utah Military History Group. Here, they represent a couple saying goodbye before the husband ships out with the 3rd Infantry Division during WWII. Marrin is wearing an U.S. Army sweetheart pin in a trumpet shape to keep her loved close to her heart. photo by alyse almond


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mages. Images of women who took up the call to serve, to support and to sacrifice for the war efforts.

Famous images of a young woman with a red polka dot scarf wrapped around her head, wearing blue dungarees with her fist up in the air, calling others to come and work fabricating and welding. Or, four WASPs (Women Air Service Pilots) with devil may care attitudes, walking away from their B-17 — “Pistol Packin’ Mamas” — carrying their parachutes and with a quick smile for the camera. All doing a key job to free up men to fight overseas. Not-so-famous images of a singular Army nurse gracing the cover of Yank magazine’s March 3, 1944 issue, up to her knees digging a dirt pit during the setup of the 33rd Field Hospital at Anzio, Italy, putting herself near the front lines to save the men fighting. Or, three Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service) mechanics working on a T-6 Texan airplane with the cowling off the engine with their tools close at hand, in order to make sure all equipment was safe for the men to fly.

These are the images typically associated with the nearly 400,0001 women serving in the American Armed Forces during World War II. By 1945 there were approximately 19 million2 women working in war industries and other civilian jobs. History tends to focus on women with military service and women who went to work for companies like Boeing, Lockheed or Newport News Shipbuilding. Yet, what about those women who kept home and hearth going? The mothers, wives and sweethearts who supported their sons, husbands or beaus serving in the armed forces? These women had ways to show their support with a photograph proudly displayed, a pillow on the couch or a banner hung in the window. Some ladies held their love a bit closer with a small item carried in a purse, tucked into a pocket or pinned to their blouse. Women rarely let the war retreat far from their thoughts and surroundings. february

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A husband and wife’s pair of sweetheart cuff-style bracelets with Naval Pilot wings.

STORIES LOST TO HISTORY At an antique show, in a small box on a table, sat four pieces of sweetheart jewelry. The items caught the eye of two collectors because it was something not often seen and they were unique in many ways. Two of the pieces were practically identical — a pair of slightly tarnished cuff-style bracelets. The only difference being size, one was small, the other large. According to the seller’s story, all four pieces belonged to a couple and the man had served as part of a naval aviator crew in the Pacific during WWII. Beyond that, little else was known about the jewelry, which is most often the case with of these small pieces. One can only imagine this young pilot wearing his bracelet while his sweetheart back home wears hers, connecting them across continents and oceans. She might have worn it to the market, to church or while volunteering. When she wore her bracelet, those around her knew she was missing someone, supporting someone, keeping them close to her heart; just as those watching her were doing with their own sweethearts. —ALYSE ALMOND FOR VALOR va l o r : a s a l u t e t o u ta h ’ s v e t e r a n s a n d m i l i ta r y


(CLOCKWISE) 1. Sweetheart pillowcases from two Utah camps: Fort Douglas and Camp Kearns. 2. U.S. Coast Guard earrings with mother-of-pearl, heart-shaped backing. 3. Army Air Forces “wing-and-prop” bracelet. 4. Silver locket with U.S. Army symbol. 5. Cosmetic compact with U.S. Army officer’s cap on top of lid. 6. Army Air Forces sweetheart powder compact made of wood. 7. Blue star “son-in-service” medical pin. 8. U.S. Army Infantry pin with heart shapes with engraved initials. 9. U.S. Army Air Forces enamel pin with Oversea Service Scroll and Victory V. 10. Shield-shaped Merchant Marine Award of Merit pin. 11. Army Air Forces sweetheart pin in the shape of the Hap Arnold Wings. 12. An enameled U.S. Army sweetheart pin in trumpet shape with braid, tassel and cap badge. 13. Purple-hued handkerchiefs: “Sweetheart” for the U.S. Marine Corps, and “Wife” for the U.S. Navy. all items from the alyse almond collections .


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SWEETHEART JEWELRY During World War I, many young American men serving overseas wanted something unique to send back home to their wives and girlfriends so they wouldn’t be forgotten. Thus, began the tradition of “sweetheart jewelry” that continued on into WWII. Early on, many of these “trinkets and treasures” were individually handmade by the serviceman and then sent back home to their loved one. The pieces were made out of materials the men found lying around their camps — spent ammunitions, discarded mess kits, broken barb wire, or just bits and pieces of metal, wood, glass. During down time, they would mold and shape the piece. Often men would “fancy up” their pieces by incorporating something of their branch of service, unit or rank.


The “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” exhibit will showcase vintage sweetheart jewelry and other household goods that brought loved ones together when living apart during World War II. On display through April 14 at Fort Douglas Military Museum, 32 Potter Street, SLC, noon to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Come and chat with living historian Alyse Almond at an Evening at the Museum 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19.

Eventually, retail caught on and began to manufacture large quantities of all kinds of different “sweetheart jewelry” for the women in the serviceman’s life — mothers, wives, sisters, grandmothers and girlfriends. Those serving overseas purchased these items in record numbers and sent them back home or even to their sweetheart who may be serving herself.

Each piece ended up telling a story on behalf of the woman wearing it. People instantly knew her sweetheart was in the 77th Infantry Division or was a medic in the Army; a chief petty officer in the Navy; a member of an air crew in the Army Air Forces; or he served aboard a Merchant Marine ship. It became an essential way many women showed their support for their loved ones.

THE SWEETHEART’S PURSE The 1940s were a decade of functionality and practicability. With more women working and serving outside the home, women’s purses became more about duty than fashion. They needed to carry more items beyond a coin purse and cosmetics. Ration cards, keys, scarves, gloves, mirrors and combs became daily essentials. During the war years, women also carried reminders of their sweethearts. In a time when almost every woman carried a handkerchief, many had one stuffed into their purse or pocket proclaiming what service branch their sweetheart was in. Some “hankies” were silk, many were cotton and others dripped with lace. Some were hand-embroidered, others mass-produced. They came in every color imaginable from purple to yellow and every hue in between.


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was born in 1918 in Shelbyville, Michigan. The little town I grew up in had about 100 people. The whole town was your family. If you needed or wanted anything and you didn’t have it, you just went next door. Everybody shared everything. Most girls wanted to be schoolteachers but I wanted to be a nurse. It was during the Great Depression and nobody had any money. So, after graduation, I worked around people’s homes doing everything I could to make ends meet. One day I came home and there was a stranger in my grandmother’s living room. My grandmother introduced us and then went out to the kitchen. This lady turned to me and said, “And, so what are you going to do?” I said I wanted to be a nurse but didn’t have the means. She told me about a nursing program at the mental hospital in Kalamazoo. The next morning my grandmother had my cousin drive me down there, so I could learn all about it. After two hours of talking to Miss Muff, I left there all signed up to start nurses training in the fall.

Now, I’ve always said my cousin Mildred drove me down there in the car, but I DONNA C. MECHAM basically flew home, because I was going NURSE to be a nurse and I was so excited. I flew U.S. ARMY, IST LIEUTENANT through the next few years until I got through training. I trained in a mental WWII TALKS hospital, and at affiliated hospitals, in women’s health, contagious diseases, surgical and pediatrics. I always felt I was entirely ready for whatever I had to do. At that time war had broken out all over Europe, so many girls left to work in larger hospitals. But I stayed right there. I intended to join the Army. They needed nurses. I wanted to help and to do my part. America wasn’t in the war yet but I knew it was coming. It was almost a year before Pearl Harbor was bombed and I signed up. My first station was Fort Sheridan, Illinois. I checked the bulletin board every day, waiting for just the right assignment. There were requests from all over; everybody wanted nurses. One day I went in early and saw a new notice for Camp Cooke. I signed up as number one on the list. On Saturday night, five of us we’re waiting for the 7:25 train to California — and that was the beginning.


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We were there all summer before we got orders for overseas. The 34th Field Hospital crew shipped out to upstate New York to Camp Shanks. We had the whole train to ourselves and it took a week to get there. A week later we headed to New York City. For three days we stayed on the train; we weren’t allowed to go anywhere. We were headed overseas. I mostly stayed alone on deck writing letters or reading. I was never seasick. I had a wonderful trip; I loved every minute of it. I never once thought about the biggest submarine waiting to sink us the first chance they got. We finally got to the Strait of Gibraltar and got in line to go through. We picked up an aircraft carrier there and, as luck would have it, it got in line right behind our ship. That evening some German planes came over and bombed us, but they didn’t hit anything. They torpedoed us the next night. I was up on deck when the MPs told everybody to get below deck. I didn’t go, and finally they said, “Get the hell off the deck!” I stood just inside the door. I thought if this ship goes down, I’m not going to be downstairs. I’m going to be right here where I can jump into the water. It didn’t hit us. The next morning I stood on deck and I saw a torpedo go past. It just went whoosh — right in front of our ship. Again, it didn’t hit anything. I met Jack, my future husband, in California as we were shipping out. He had been in the Pacific on Guadalcanal and his commanding officer was sent stateside, so Jack went to Texas for officers’ school. After he graduated, he went home to Utah where he got to stay one night before he was reassigned to our group. He was headed right back overseas, only in the opposite direction. I didn’t pay him any attention at first, but by the time we landed in northern Africa, we were spending most of our time together. The two of us decided we wanted to be “in the action.” So we transferred: he went to the 56th EVAC and I went to the 15th EVAC. Jack was stationed out in the field and I went to Florence. We first landed in Toronto and were loaded onto a weapons carrier that went on to a field hospital at Cerignola. We had to go into town to replace our supplies because the Germans sank our ship. All we had was what we carried in our bags. Well, the PX was also waiting to be resupplied: we were all out of luck. Jack was a registrar in charge of the vehicles, so we’d go exploring whenever we’d get a three-day pass. We saw Italy’s famous places: february

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Another necessity for women to carry was the increasing assortment of cosmetics — powder compacts, lipsticks, eyebrow pencils and perfumes. Sweethearts remembered their serviceman whenever they reached for their makeup for a quick touch up. Compacts came adorned with a flyer’s wings-andprops insignia on top or shaped like a naval or army officer’s cap.

SWEETHEART PILLOWCASES If the key to decorating a home is in the accents and personal effects one fills their rooms with, then many women supporting their sweethearts during the war knew exactly what to add. One of the most popular decor items was a decorative pillowcase. These cases bore messages of love and remembrance. One case from Utah’s Camp Kearns had the following message:

(FAR LEFT) Donna Curie Mecham sightseeing in Italy, 1945. (MIDDLE LEFT) Jack and Donna on their wedding day, May 16, 1945, in Bologna, Italy. (LEFT) Medical group, 1944. (ABOVE) While stationed in Cerignola, Italy, Donna made the cover of Stars and Stripes. She was chosen from a group of American nurses to receive a bouquet of red poppies from some local children. photos courtesy of mecham family Bologna, Florence, Milan and Rome. We saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Coliseum and rode in a gondola. We tried crossing the border into Switzerland but got turned back. I had my Brownie camera with me and took lots of pictures. In 1944, I was in Spinazzola for my birthday. I wrote home asking for a civilian dress and shoes. They sent me a plain cotton dress and a pair of saddle shoes. I walked everywhere in those shoes. We had gotten our marriage license in Italy but decided to wait and get married stateside. One week after the war ended, we got married in Bologna. We settled in Milan. I stayed with my hospital and Jack stopped by every chance he got. I found out I was pregnant and headed home alone while Jack stayed overseas. I waited in New York to be discharged. And waited and waited and waited; I didn’t think we would ever be let go. Afterward, I spent a week in Chicago with my mom and the next in Michigan with relatives. My aunt’s neighbor came over and said, “Chicago’s calling. You’re wanted on the phone.” Jack had been discharged early. I went back to Chicago and we headed to Salt Lake together. We bought a house on Morewood Drive and lived there more than 50 years. We raised four kids. Jack worked for the phone company and I worked as a nurse at the County Hospital, and then at the new hospital at the university. Being a nurse opened doors my whole life. I loved taking care of people. I loved nursing. Turing 100 is just like most anything else. There are some things I can’t do anymore, but you can’t think about that, at least I don’t. I just sort of live my life as it comes. I’ve had a very good life, a very busy life, a very rewarding life. I really can’t say there’s much that I haven’t done that I’ve wanted to. I’ve done most everything. If I had it to do over again? In a heartbeat. —BY MICHELLE BRIDGES, INTERVIEW WITH VALOR, SEPTEMBER 2018 february

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“Sweetheart; I thought that you would like to know that someone’s thoughts go where you go, that someone never can forget the hours spent since first we met. That life is richer, sweeter far, for such a sweetheart as you are, and now my constant prayer will be that God may keep you safe for me.” These pillows were front and center on sofas and settees in many homes when women entertained, or kept in bedrooms for more private moments of worrying and seeking peace. Smaller, pocket-sized pillows were also popular with children or sweethearts away from home working or serving in different women’s branches of the military.

SIGNIFICANCE OF SWEETHEARTS For those serving in the military, their sweetheart was one of the most important people in their lives; and for those living on the home front, the sentiment was returned. They wanted to show that support and sacrifice in a tangible way. They wanted a connection with each other. These are the images that should be added to the famous ones and not-so-famous ones of World War II. Women, representing with a small piece of jewelry, compact or a hankie, what the country was fighting for at home and abroad: freedom and love. They f ight not for the lust of conquest. They f ight to end conquest. They f ight to liberate. They f ight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home. —President Franklin Delano Roosevelt3 Alyse Almond is a high school history teacher. She earned a Bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University and a Master’s degree in history from the University of Utah. She spends her free time educating people about World War I and World War II with the Utah Military History Group, a living history organization. 1. The New York Times, December 26, 1991, p. 1. 2. The National Guard State Partnership Program: Forging and Maintaining Effective Security Cooperation Partnerships for the 21st Century, p. 1., nationalguard.mil/ portals/31/Documents/spp_publication/ The_National_Guard_SPP_Publication.pdf. 3. State Partnership Program, p. 2. va l o r : a s a l u t e t o u ta h ’ s v e t e r a n s a n d m i l i ta r y


ROLAND R. WRIGHT AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE. (ABOVE) Nov. 7, 2018. Approximately 100 members from the 109th Air Control Squadron deploy. (LEFT) OCTOBER 2018. For Hispanic Heritage month, Utah State Sen. Luz Escamilla visited the base and spoke about her personal journey to become the first Latina elected in the Utah State Senate and first immigrant elected in the Utah State Legislature. (BELOW) OCT. 24, 2018. Air Commander Brig. Gen. Christine Burckle ( center ) speaks with Guard members during ASIST training, an intensive skills-based training designed to train members on how to help somebody at risk for suicide. photos courtesy utah air national guard


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n November 2011, the Utah National Guard began a proud tradition of honoring veterans at their annual Veterans Day Concert with the “Stories Untold” program that highlights the sacrifices made by everyday military veterans and their families. Amongst that group was Nell Bright. Bright grew up in Texas and entered college at the age of 15. While working for a newspaper in Amarillo, she joined a local flying club and paid $1.50 an hour for flying lessons. She received her pilot’s license in 1942. It was the beginning of a lifelong love of flying that eventually led Bright into service during World War II as part of the legendary Women’s Airforce Service Pilots. Her job involved, among other things, towing targets behind B-25s for the men’s live-fire, anti-aircraft training. In 1944, before the war was over, the WASPs were disbanded after learning that they would not receive veteran status for their wartime service. It would take another 33 years before the WASPs were afforded military benefits or given veteran status. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter signed the bill giving veteran status to the ladies. On March 10, 2010, the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives recognized and awarded the remaining WASPs with the Congressional Gold medal for their service, record and “revolutionary reform in the Armed Force” during World War II. Nell Bright’s story is but one tale, as we seek diversity and equality amongst our nation and our American Armed Forces. Like Nell, we have pioneers who have served, or are serving today, as members of the Utah Air National Guard (UTANG). Their journey has paved the way for airmen of all backgrounds to reach their highest potential. february


SENSE OF VALUE OF HARDWORK AND A LIFE OF SERVICE Andrew Ocana has overcome many obstacles in his lifetime to become the first in many areas: He was first in his family to attain a bachelor’s degree, first to become an air traffic controller and first to attain a management position. He was also the first Hispanic American human resource advisor for the Utah Air National Guard. Ocana credits his parents for instilling the hard work and discipline in him that enabled him to reach his fullest potential and led him to a life of service. “My father served as an infantry soldier in World War II and became a prisoner of war in Germany. He was a very humble, proud and patriotic man who seldom spoke of his experiences as a POW,” Ocana said. “His service to our country was very instrumental to me when I voluntarily joined the Army during the Vietnam conflict.” “My mother instilled a sense of value, of hard work and the importance of higher education in all of their children, lessons that I have carried with me my entire life,” added Ocana. “When I became the first Hispanic American command chief for the State of Utah ( July 2002 to July 2005) it was the most humbling and proudest moment in my career,” said Ocana. “Being Hispanic American is my heritage and culture, which I am very proud of. I was an example to all Hispanic men and women [of ] what hard work and commitment can do for you.” “The Utah Air Guard has broken down barriers and glass ceilings and elected to become a premier inclusive organization,” said Ocana. “To commit to a diverse workforce, including management, embodies what our country should represent.” va l o r : a s a l u t e t o u ta h ’ s v e t e r a n s a n d m i l i ta r y










OPPORTUNITIES EVERY STEP OF THE WAY Brig. Gen. Christine M. Burckle is the assistant adjutant general-air, and she also serves as the commander of the Utah Air National Guard. She is responsible for the command, control and operations of plans and programs for more than 1,400 personnel at Roland R. Wright Air National Guard Base. In August 2016, Burckle became the first female to serve as a general officer in the Utah National Guard, and the first woman to serve as commander of the Utah Air Guard. This was never a goal for Burckle. She was simply given opportunity every step of the way and she made the most of that opportunity. “My mother raised me to believe that I could do anything that I put my mind to, so I never thought twice about pursuing my career in the military,” she said. “As I navigated my career, I always felt that I was treated the same as every other person, and that I was always given the same opportunities. As I look back, maybe it was ignorance is bliss, but when you grow up believing you can do anything, you just do it. And her lasting legacy? To entrust a great organization to future airmen — free of barriers so that all members can be successful. “It is important for airmen to see a diverse leadership, so they can see those possibilities for themselves,” she said. “When you see people of similar ethnicity, gender or cultural backgrounds who have succeeded in your field, it shows that it is possible for yourself as well.”

THERE IS A PLACE HERE FOR YOU Brian Garrett has served in the U.S. Air Force for more than 30 years. He has an impressive resume, both in his military and civilian capacity, and has worked tirelessly in support of military members, veterans and their families. In his civilian capacity Garrett manages the military relations program for Zions Bank where Utah Governor Gary Herbert has appointed Garrett to serve on the State of Utah Veterans Advisory Committee, Governor’s Emergency Management Advisory Committee and Utah Commission on Volunteers. He has also been appointed by state legislative leadership to serve on the Utah State Legislature’s Veterans and Military 26

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Affairs Commission. Garrett serves as chair of the Salt Lake Chamber Military Affairs Committee, past chair of the Top of Utah Military Affairs Committee and as a member of the Utah Defense Alliance. In August 2016, Garrett was selected as the state command chief master sergeant for the UTANG. He is the first command chief to openly serve in that role. It has been as recent as 2009 where Department of Defense policy changes and congressional actions have allowed individuals to serve openly with recognition for their same-sex spouses as dependents for the purpose of military benefits. Garrett, like any leader in his position, wants to leave the organization in a better place than he found it. But more importantly, he wants the airmen of the Utah National Guard to know that their leadership embraces diversity, and that there is opportunity here for everyone. “What I want people to know across all of the communities of culture, is there is a place for them here,” said Garrett. “If you’re Hispanic, if you’re African American, if you’re a Caucasian Mormon with deep roots in the state, if you’re LGBT, there is a place here where you will be welcomed, where you will be accepted and respected, and where you will be provided opportunities to excel to the best of your abilities.”

UTAH AIR NATIONAL GUARD DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION PROGRAM In 2015, the Utah National Guard created a joint diversity council designed to enhance resiliency and readiness in the organization, to enhance professional development and advancement opportunities for all airmen, and to advise senior leadership about diversity needs and issues identified through the council. In 2017, the UTANG developed a program specific for its organization based off the Zions Bank’s model. “My hope with the Diversity and Inclusion Council is that we’re creating an environment of respect and inclusion on our base, that people of all backgrounds feel safe, and that their contributions will be valued,” said Burckle. “It’s about creating an environment to allow all airmen to feel comfortable, and that february

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ROLAND R. WRIGHT AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE. June 2018. Utah Air National Guard Diversity Council’s held its first ever Pride Week, a celebration of all our LGBTQ members as well as our advocates and allies. courtesy utah air national guard

they can succeed without regard to their race, gender, sexual orientation or cultural differences.” The Air Council is made of made up of approximately 45 volunteers. The council members come from different units throughout the base, and the rank range from airman private first class to colonel. Chairs and co-chairs are assigned for each of the observances and they are asked to put together programs for their specific event. The council has put together programs to help bridge the cultural, racial and generational differences that exist in our organization. The council meets every Sunday during drill, always with maximum participation. “Being able to see things from different people’s points of view, based on their life experience, their culture, their ethnicity, their gender, is important,” said Col. Andrea Van Leeuwen, state diversity initiatives advisor for the Air National Guard. “Diverse leadership gives our soldiers and airmen a more expansive view of their potential.” For Hispanic Heritage month, Utah State Sen. Luz Escamilla visited the base and spoke about her personal journey to become the first Latina elected in the Utah State Senate and the first immigrant elected in the Utah State Legislature. “One of the things that we learned from Sen. Escamilla’s speaking engagement — from something as simple as a recruiting perspective — is that if you want to pursue a recruit, you’ve got to have the family bought in,” said Garrett. “If the recruit’s mother or grandmother are not bought in, you’re not going to get the recruit. I looked at Mario Reeve, our superintendent for recruiting and retention, and we just had this ‘ah ha’ moment. So, we continue to learn.” “We’ve also seen an interesting dynamic with our LGBT community as a result of our Diversity and Inclusion Council february

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outreach and engagement efforts,” Garrett added. “We’ve started to see more parents who are heterosexual begin to participate with that group because they have LGBT kids, and because they can relate to, at an airmen level, other members of the team. I’ve had several parents tell me that it’s given them a greater understanding how they could be a better parent, so the impacts of this council are far reaching.” Other direct impacts come in the form of an open and safe dialogue with leadership to identify diversity needs for airmen on the base. “One of our very young mothers came to me one day and said we don’t have any place on this base that we can breast feed or pump, unless they can borrow an office from someone or go to the bathroom,” said Garrett. “As a male, that’s not something that I have thought about.” Following that discussion, the leadership team was able to use innovation funds to purchase a portable mothers room where nursing mothers can have an appropriate and private space to tend to the needs of their newborn.“It was a perfect example of why we need to be able to have open and hard conversations so that we can fix a very simple problem,” said Garrett. Having a successful diversity and inclusion program has incorporated a broader range of perspectives, experiences and ideas, which has already produced better results for our organization,” added Burckle. “We have learned that we are a stronger, more agile, and a more capable force when we do this together — all ranks and ages, races and religions, sexual orientations and identities — all of us.” Ryan S. Sutherland is a contributor to VALOR magazine. He is a public affairs specialist with the Bureau of Land Management and is an officer with the Utah National Guard. va l o r : a s a l u t e t o u ta h ’ s v e t e r a n s a n d m i l i ta r y





harlie Harrington has been riding motorcycles for so long he’s not quite sure he should mention the exact age he started. Harrington’s love for riding and his military service during the Vietnam War are big reasons his 55year hobby has an added dimension as a member of the Patriot Guard Riders. “There is a sense of camaraderie when you come together with fellow veterans to honor your brothers and sisters,” said Harrington, an Army veteran and La Verkin resident. “You understand their sacrifice and you know their commitment to our country.” Patriot Guard Riders is a nonprofit organization consisting of both veterans and non-veterans who ride to honor veterans — alive and departed — as well as first responders. PGR was founded in 2005, its initial purpose to “shield families of fallen heroes from those that would disrupt the services of their loved ones,” according to patriotguard.org. Other motorcycle groups of a similar nature in Utah include the American Legion Riders (legion.org/riders), Veterans Charity Ride (veteranscharityride. org), Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association (combatvet.us) and the Disabled Veterans Motorcycle Club (disabledveteransmc. net). Check each national organization’s website to find local chapters in Utah.


War and a Patriot Guard Rider. “There may only be four or five of us able to show up for a function, but we are there because we want to be there. It is a very meaningful thing.” One of the more notable PGR missions was the trip from Ivins, Utah, to Kayenta, Arizona, to honor World War II veteran Samuel Tom Holiday. Holiday was one of 400 Navajo Code Talkers recruited to relay what proved to be an unbreakable code during battles on Pacific islands. “We’ve got a lot of respect for these departing veterans,” Harrington said. “It’s a small way for us to show how important their service was to the United States.” Don Riddle, the director of Post 100’s American Legion Riders, and a Vietnam War veteran, said one of his most enjoyable experiences is helping the residents at the Southern Utah Veterans Home in Ivins. “It is rewarding to be able to help veterans,” said Riddle. “The camaraderie is still there, even though we served in different branches and different times.”

For the Southern Utah PGR, recent rides include escorting the Traveling Vietnam Wall in Cedar City as well as missions of shorter duration, such as holding flags during ceremonies for Veterans Day, Pearl Harbor Day and Memorial Day.

Then there is the feeling — an unfettered bliss — a person experiences when atop a motorcycle on the open road. For as long as he could remember, Moore “enjoyed the wind in my hair, the bugs in my teeth and a certain amount of freedom. You are not caged in — it’s nice to be there out in the open.” He dabbled off and on with motorcycles throughout his adult life, and as he neared retirement age he noticed a procession of approximately 100 PGR motorcyclists headed toward a military funeral. Moore knew he had to get involved with that group.

“What’s great is you are a part of a group that has so much heart,” said Dale Moore, an Air Force veteran of the Vietnam

Harrington, who thinks his experience with motorcycles as a teenager helped him get into flight school, flew the Bell UH-1

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(TOP) Riders taking part in the 3rd Annual Ride to Zero that benefits the National Center for Veterans Studies. (BOTTOM) Southern Utah’s Patriot Guard Riders take part in the 2018 Veterans Day parade. umg photos

04/06 RIDE FOR THE HEROES Patriots MC 8th Annual Poker Run & Benefit. Lunch, music and prizes. Benefits the Dove Center providing shelter, advocacy and counseling. 10 a.m. Registration. 11 a.m. Ride begins. $30 per rider, $10 additional hands. Zion HarleyDavidson, 2345 North Coral Canyon Blvd., Washington. zionhd.com/Info/Events

08/24 RIDE FOR ZERO 5th annual ride benefits the National Center for Veterans Studies. Ride and concert. Over $72,000 raised to benefit NCVS. Learn more at ridetozero.com

Iroquois “Huey” from 1968-71, and carried Army Rangers into combat in the jungles of Vietnam and Cambodia. Although the camaraderie he felt with veterans in combat cannot be duplicated in the civilian world, the comradeship he enjoys with his fellow riders is significant. Harrington said his participation with the PGR has been a tremendous help in his battle with post-traumatic stress disorder. “Joining a group or club was a difficult thing for me. I would be the last person you would think would get together with groups of people,” Harrington said. “Being able to help honor these veterans who have passed has helped me to get past that.” Riddle adds that riding a motorcycle can turn your day around. “It’s another way of experiencing freedom. You go for an hour’s ride and come back refreshed. It’s amazing what it can do.” David Cordero has been a professional writer for more than 15 years. He has won awards on a variety of subjects, including sports, education and military matters. Among his volunteer endeavors are serving as a board member for Utah Honor Flight and editing American Legion Post 90 newsletter. february

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09/21 SHOW & SHINE MOTORCYCLE RIDE IN SHOW Get ready for Barons 20th Annual Show. Family-friendly event, all ages welcome open to the public. Benefits both Fisher and Valor Houses at the VASLC. American Legion Post 112, 3900 S. 320 East, SLC, Noon to 9 p.m. Saturday. facebook.com/ BaronsEventsandShows

GET OUT AND RIDE SAVE THE DATES Reach out to your local motorcycle shops and rider groups to learn more about rides that benefits and advocates for veterans, and first responders.

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Valor Magazine - February 2019  

Valor Magazine - February 2019  

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