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Military November 11, 2011

Appreciation

Tradition of honor

GrandForksHerald.com

Supplement to the Grand Forks Herald, Friday, November 11, 2011

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By Ann Bailey

Herald Staff Writer

Submitted photo

 The members of the Thief River Falls American Legion Post 117 Color Guard, march in parades, attend funerals and burials of veterans and hold annual dignified flag disposal ceremonies. They also hold flag ceremonies at schools.

Answering the call

A total of about 180 students in their freshman, sophomore, junior and senior years at UND, are enrolled in UND’s Army ROTC program I

By Ann Bailey

Herald Staff Writer

Being at war hasn’t deterred UND students from signing up for Sauls the ROTC. A total of about 180 students in their freshman, sophomore, junior and senior years at UND, are enrolled in UND’s Army ROTC program, said Lt. Col. Josh Sauls. “We’re one of the one of larger programs in the country.” They are a group of cadets with a strong sense of patriotism, he said. “The biggest reason is they want to serve their country, which is somewhat surprising since our country has been at war for several years,” he said. “I think a large part of it is because of the values and beliefs in this part of the country, where military service is looked on as favorable.” UND ROTC students are good recruiters for the program, Sauls said. “Our cadets are our best advertisers. They say, ‘You ought to try this.” The ROTC program is demanding, so the students who make it

through all four years are motivated, Sauls said. During their training, students take military science courses, military laboratory courses and do military conditioning.

Head of the class

“They’re just quality students. They’re the ones, you looked at their biographies, they’re going to have higher GPAs, lower drop-outs. They’re just solid, solid citizens.” Between the students’ junior and senior years at UND, they go to Fort Lewis, Wash., where they are accessed on their leadership ability and are ranked to see how they stack up against other cadets across the United States. The total number of cadets nationwide is 5,646. “We had No. 3, we had No. 12, we had No. 6 and several more who were in the top thousand,” Sauls said. “Our cadets do amazingly well.” After they graduate, the cadets are required to do eight years of service which can be active duty, U.S. Army Reserve, or a combination of the two. “The vast majority ask for active duty,” Sauls said.

The Thief River Falls Color Guard was formed 28 years ago

THIEF RIVER FALLS — Serving as a color guard is an honor for 24 Thief River Falls American Legion members. The members of the Thief River Falls American Legion Post 117 Color Guard, march in parades, attend funerals and burials of veterans and hold annual dignified flag disposal ceremonies. They also hold flag ceremonies at schools. The Thief River Falls Color Guard was formed 28 years ago. Today it has two dozen members between the ages of 24 and 92. Six or seven color guard members typically attend funerals. They attended 34 funerals in the Thief River Falls area last year and have attended 29 so far this year. The funerals now mostly are Korean War veterans. Besides marching in parades, attending funerals and burials and holding flag disposal ceremonies, color guard.

color guard “for the honor and respect of a fellow veteran,” he said. “Everyone who belongs to this feels it’s an honor.” “They gave the ultimate sacrifice and that’s the least we can do for them,” said Bill Hume. Color guard members hope to recruit younger members so the tradition of honoring veterans will carry on. “We would like to see more young people join when they have fulfilled their military duty,” Mattson said.

Loyal members

John Lovly, a member who is a Vietnam War veteran, believes that, while younger veterans aren’t joining in large numbers, there always will be a Thief River Falls Color Guard. “I don’t think the Color Guard will ever dissolve,” he said. “If it comes to push and shove, we’ll have to push and shove harder.” Lovly is impressed by the dedication and commitment that his fellow members have to the color guard. “These guys are the best. They are the most dedicated people I’ve worked with.”

Commendable service By Ann Bailey

Herald Staff Writer

Military service runs in Miranda Alexander’s family. Alexander’s father, paternal grandparents and maternal grandfather also served in the same branch of the service, she said. Alexander, a U.S. Navy information systems technician senior apprentice, enlisted in the Navy in February 2011. That May she graduated from Red River High School in Grand Forks and a month later went to Chicago for eight weeks of boot camp. After Alexander finished boot camp, she went to Pensacola, Fla., for training in military information systems. She now serves in the U.S. Pacific Fleet and is stationed in Hawaii, near Pearl Harbor. The Pacific Fleet is the world’s largest fleet command and is made up of 100 million square miles, about 2,000 aircraft and 125,000 sailors, Marines and civilians, according to the U.S. Pacific Fleet website.

Honors

Admiral Patrick M. Walsh, U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, has commended Alexander for her service in the Navy, giving her an admiral’s coin after she helped on his barge when he was giving a tour of the USS Arizona. Alexander also was honored recently as Sailor of the Month for her work as information systems technician. “You have to do a better job than the other 30 peo-

Privilege

Jim Mattson said he serves in the

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Miranda Alexander has been commended for her service in the U.S. Navy

Submitted photo

 Miranda Alexander, a U.S. Navy information systems technician senior apprentice, enlisted in the U.S. Navy in February 2011. ple your division,” she said. She says she has become more patriotic since joining the U.S. Navy. “You see everything the military does. There’s a lot more to it than people see,” she said. For example, her U.S. Navy division helped with the relief effort to Japan after the tsunami hit, she said.

“You see everything the military does.There’s a lot more to it than people see.”

Photo by Ann Bailey

 Admiral Patrick M. Walsh, U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, has commended Alexander for her service in the Navy, giving her an admiral’s coin after she helped on his barge when he was giving a tour of the USS Arizona.

French remember World War II pilot, honor NC kin By Michael Barrett Associated Press

GASTONIA, N.C. — After her brother was killed while piloting a plane in World War II, 6-yearold Patricia Ross held onto what little memory she had of him through the decades. She relied heavily on old photographs and accounts that her parents and older relatives passed along, though even they were told little about the circumstances of his death. Only this year did Ross come to realize how well regarded Lt. Ferris Suttle’s name is among an entire city in northern France, where residents there have es-

tablished a memorial in his honor. And during a recent trip overseas to attend the monument’s dedication, she was finally able to meet many of the people who — like her — have refused to let her brother’s legacy die. “It was the most awesome thing in the world,” said Ross, a resident of Gastonia, her voice welling with emotion. “It was as if my brother’s presence was right there with us.” Suttle was born and raised in Lancaster, S.C. But several of his kin now live in Gaston County, including his sister, and her sons, Tom Ross, 49, a Gastonia insurance agent, and Jamie Ross of

Miranda Alexander

Dallas. The memorial that honors Suttle features a stone base, mounted with a propeller from his plane that French historians uncovered last year from the field where he crashed in 1944. The blade has given residents there a tangible artifact to place with the name they have revered for so many years. It is now the focal point of a newly named square that commemorates Suttle for saving their city from German destruction before his death.

Mission

Ferris Suttle, one of five chil-

dren, was an adventurous teenager who joined the Army Air Corps to fulfill his dream of piloting a P-51 Mustang. He was paired with the 359th Fighter Group Association, 369th Squadron. On Aug. 28, 1944, his team was charged with taking out a convoy of German trucks and trains that were carrying munitions and field guns toward the French city of Dombasle-sur-Meurthe near the borders of Germany and Switzerland. Suttle flew low, strafed the convoy and destroyed it. But after he failed to return to formation with his squadron, his superiors learned his plane had crashed, killing him.

In 1965, Ross and her mother received a letter from a French villager who had witnessed the crash and wanted to share what he knew of it. He traveled here to meet them in 1972 and shared an eyewitness account of Suttle’s heroism. After destroying most of the convoy, Suttle had attempted a second pass. But when the tail of his plane clipped a tall cypress tree, he was ejected and killed instantly. Suttle’s mother gained comfort from learning her son had not suffered, and that a priest and grateful villagers had conducted a burial service. His PILOT: See Page 2


By Martha Groves Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — They amble in with overgrown manes and beards, looking as if they’ve spent the night on the street. Some of them have. Eyes downcast, they climb three metal stairs, duck through the doorway and sink into the black vinyl chair, where the proprietor begins to snip. By the time he has brushed their necks with talc and patted their cheeks with clove-scented after-shave, they could pass for anyone’s impeccably coiffed father or brother or uncle. In reality, they are veterans whose haggard faces reflect the psychic scars of service in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan and of their ongoing battles with addiction, grief and pain. The Freedom Barber Shop, a star-spangled trailer anchored in a parking lot on the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs campus, is their haven. Barber Tony Bravo, aka the Dreamer, is their shaman, helping to heal them with clippers, corn-pone humor and Patsy Cline. Few people understand the plight of homeless veterans the way he does. Like many of them, he served in the military. And, although he owns what he describes as a 200-acre cattle ranch in Benson, Ariz., the Dreamer lives several days each month on the street, voluntarily, in Los Angeles — in solidarity, he says, with the rootless vets he meets and in memory of his unfettered youth. “Don’t let them know you’re hurting,” he advises his fellow gypsies. “The key is to stay invisible.”

Back in the day

Starting in the 1970s, Bravo owned a succession of San Vicente Boulevard salons that catered to a different clientele: the Westside elite. Political movers and shakers, venture capitalists and film honchos shelled out $100 or more for a cut and styling. Today, the Dreamer is much more likely to take payment in apples or oranges, or a ball made of rubber bands. Outside his 1950s-vintage Terry trailer, a barber pole stands before an American flag. The 28-foot vehicle is painted with red, white and blue stripes and blue stars. Camouflage spatters and netting decorate one end. “Command Post” reads a sign over the door. “No smoking. Explosive ammunition” says another. A blue awning shades a couple of picture windows, one of which showcases a sign featuring two neon peace symbols and proclaiming “Peace! Victory!” The trailer’s interior is an ever-evolving exhibition of objects, many of them mystically or patriotically themed and donated in lieu of tips. A poster shows Native Americans cradling weapons: “Homeland Security, Native Americans, Fighting Terrorism Since 1492.” There’s also a lifesize cardboard cutout of Elvis Presley in his Army uniform. Bravo’s typical work ensemble includes a westernstyle navy shirt with white piping and stars (naturally) and the word “Dreamer” embroidered across the back in hot pink. He wears cuffed and faded jeans over polished two-tone wingtips that resemble spats, like something Fred Astaire might have worn. The shoes are two sizes too big, to allow for multiple pairs of socks for comfort and warmth as he makes his nighttime rounds. His black, wavy hair is slicked back and combed close to his scalp over his brown, weathered face. To amuse himself and his customers, he sometimes wears yellow-lens goggles

McClatchy Tribune

 Tony Bravo, known as Dreamer gives a haircut to Roberto Conte, 49, at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in West Los Angeles. Dreamer is a volunteer barber who gives free haircuts in the VA Hospital. and a black Billy Jack hat — after all, he says, he’s half Yaqui and half Apache. On a recent afternoon, Tom Walton stepped into the Freedom Barber Shop wearing a red straw cowboy hat over long, straggly hair. The 62-year-old Navy veteran had spotted a flier for free haircuts at the VA and stopped by without an appointment. It was his lucky day. The Dreamer was in. “I don’t want a Marine haircut,” Walton said as he settled into the barber’s chair. With the Everly Brothers’ “All I Have to Do Is Dream” playing over the sound system, the Dreamer went to work. Walton, a self-described alcoholic with missing teeth, told the Dreamer he once worked in the mortgage business, making as much as $12,000 a month, before the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s and ’90s. In 1975, he said, he watched as a friend on the deck of an aircraft carrier “got squeezed like a grape” when a helicopter toppled onto him. Today, Walton lives on about $3,100 a month from a military pension and payments for post-traumatic stress disorder. He has been homeless for much of the last eight years. The Dreamer put the finishing touches on Walton’s haircut and turned the chair so that he could see his reflection. “When you look in the mirror, what do you see?” the Dreamer asked him. “Tom Cruise,” Walton replied.

Free haircuts for vets

Anthony Bravo Esparza was born in 1944 in Corona, Calif. As a youngster, he said, he picked tomatoes with his father, napping under oak trees, bathing in canals and sleeping under the stars at night. “To me, it was like heaven,” he recalled. “I was good for $10 a day, 40 boxes of tomatoes by 2 in the afternoon.” One day truancy officers called a halt to his outdoor lifestyle, saying it was cruel and inhumane for a child. “To this day I have contempt for that observation,” he said. “It was a beautiful time and place.” Unable to read or write, he entered school, wearing scruffy, oversize clothes from an Army surplus store. Children toting Hopalong Cassidy and Flash Gordon lunch boxes made fun of him. According to California National Guard records in Sacramento, he joined the guard in 1965, training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., where as a private he received a citation for “outstanding accomplishments

in physical fitness.” He was among the troops called up to help bring order to Watts during the 1965 riots. After six years of service, he was honorably discharged as a specialist in 1971. After Bravo established himself as a stylist in Brentwood just blocks from the VA campus, he began getting visits from vets. Word spread that he gave free haircuts to those in need. Several years ago, he contacted Marianne W. Davis, chief of voluntary service for the West Los Angeles VA, and said he was a semi-retired veteran who wanted to give back.

Kismet

It was kismet. He arrived as the VA was struggling to find funds to cover its $35,000-a-year contract for barber services. Each month, the Dreamer provides 100 to 150 free cuts to veterans. In exchange, he gets to park his trailer on campus and take in paying members of the public, including many of those wellheeled fellows who frequented his San Vicente salons. “He’s an awesome fixture on campus,” Davis said. “The vets all come out of there feeling kind of uplifted … and looking so cool. He listens to them and lightens their burden a little bit.” The trailer’s down-home atmosphere works its magic on the wealthy guys, too. “He treats everybody exactly the same, whether millionaire or homeless,” said Berge Kipling “Kip” Hagopian, a venture capitalist who migrated from Bravo’s salon to the trailer. “He’s a very good barber,” said director-producer Roger Corman, who was thrilled to rediscover his old stylist from the boulevard at the VA campus. Not all of the Dreamer’s clients are ambulatory. Some are confined to the VA hospital. When they can’t make it to the trailer, he packs his shears and goes to them. One recent morning, the Dreamer visited Victor A. Goldbaum, 54, of La Puente in his four-bed room at the VA hospital. Cancer in

Goldbaum’s spine left his legs paralyzed. The Dreamer leaned over the back of the former Army specialist’s raised hospital bed and began to clip Goldbaum’s locks. “How about the eyebrows and ears?” the Dreamer asked. “That’s one thing guys in captivity don’t see. Nostrils, eyebrows, ears. Engineers have hairy ears.” Goldbaum smiled at his barber’s banter. “President Lincoln said: ‘Never underestimate the power of a haircut,’ ” the Dreamer said. “Intellectuals say he never said that. Well, he should have.”

PILOT/

Continued from Page 1 gravesite was adorned with flowers afterward.

Famed propeller

Last year, Char Baldridge, a group historian for the 359th Fighter Group Association, was contacted by Gerard Louis, a World War II historian and resident of Dombaslesur-Meurthe. Louis’ friend Jacky Guillaume had found a P-51 propeller in a meadow near the town of Luneville years ago, and working with Baldridge, they soon realized it belonged to Suttle’s plane. The Frenchmen began making plans to incorporate the propeller into a memorial. With Baldridge’s help, they made contact with Pat Ross and her brother, Phillip Suttle of Ecuador, and invited them to attend the recent dedication. “These gentleman are very thankful to this day of what America did for them and their freedom,” said Baldridge. Ross traveled to the dedication ceremony last month with her brother, a cousin, a niece and several other relatives. Guillaume first escorted them to the field where Suttle’s plane had crashed, and explained what he had witnessed of the convoy attack as a wide-eyed, 13-year-old boy. While they were there, another 83-year-old villager approached them. He told Ross he has a daughter who lives in Sanford, N.C. And he described running with others to recover Suttle that day in 1944, helping to wrap his bloodied body in his parachute and carrying it to the local

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Hard life

When he locks the trailer each evening at dusk and ventures out to the boulevards of Brentwood, the Dreamer wears layers of denim and fleece topped by his “New York coat,” a long, dark wool garment that falls almost to the ground. “It’s going to be a long night, a cold night,” he said one recent unseasonably chilly evening. “This is the time of the evening where it’s hardest.” He sleeps no more than an hour at a time on a stoop or behind a tree, striving to stay out of sight of all but the other sidewalk ramblers. If he wants to hang out undisturbed in a 7-Eleven parking lot, he wears a shirt bearing the convenience store’s logo. “People think I’m an employee,” he said. “It’s all part of staying invisible.” To keep onlookers guessing, he alters his gait. “There’s the old-man gait, the wounded-warrior gait, the power gait,” he said. “If people see a guy limping, it can be a defense. They figure he’s already messed up.” At a coffee shop on San Vicente at Barrington Avenue, he greeted Jon Wyninegar, 63, a homeless veteran who had lost half his tongue to mouth cancer. The Dreamer asked how he was doing and offered some encouraging words. “We look out for each other,” the Dreamer said. “Regiments need to stick together.”

morgue on a cart. The man produced a rusted hose clamp he had recovered from the battered aircraft. “He said, ‘I’ve had this for 67 years, since I was 16 years old. And I want you to have it,’” said Ross. “I thought that was the most wonderful gesture.” Another villager who was 9 years old in 1944 pulled a folded, dog-eared piece of paper from his pocket and showed it to Ross. The copy of her brother’s death certificate was further proof of how much the townspeople there appreciated what he had done. Ross visited the cemetery where Suttle was first buried, before the Army later relocated his remains to the nearby Lorraine American Cemetery. Guillaume told them that German soldiers in the area had told nearby townspeople they were not allowed to come to his initial funeral. But they turned out in full force anyway. “There was nothing the Germans could do to stop them,” said Ross. “I just thought that was so remarkable.” The dedication of the new memorial took place in a section of the town now known as Ferris Square. It was held as part of several annual liberation ceremonies, which included attendants in period military uniforms, and authentic World War II vehicles. Ross said she is proud and grateful that her brother’s sacrifice continues to mean so much to townspeople in northern France. “It was a huge event. You could not have asked for people to be nicer or more appreciative,” she said.

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Soldier has exit strategy for dog he adopted in Afghanistan

Grand Forks Herald/Friday, November 11, 2011 3

By Brian Slodysko Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — There is much about his deployment in Afghanistan that Army Sgt. Tim Johannsen can’t discuss, including where he’s stationed and why a tank specialist such as him is serving in a mountainous region where tanks can’t operate. But those secrecy requirements didn’t stop Johannsen from talking about his adopted dog — a loyal mutt named Leonidas, who whines outside Johannsen’s hooch while he’s gone. The dog brings a touch of normalcy to an otherwise challenging environment, the soldier says. “You’ll come back and you’re walking up to the chow hall, and he comes over, eyes big, happy as all get-out to see you,” Johannsen said recently from Afghanistan, where he has been stationed since early this year. “You forget about the stuff that’s going on over here.” When his tour ends in 2012, Johannsen wants to bring Leonidas — Leo for short — home to his wife, Kaydee, in Downers Grove, Ill.

Rescue mission

That kind of commitment by a serviceman to an animal is increasingly common, said Anna Maria

Cannan, of the nonprofit Puppy Rescue Mission, a Colorado-based group that raises money to bring soldiers’ dogs back from Afghanistan. So far, about 130 adopted dogs have been sent stateside, she said. “Soldiers from all across the U.S. are finding these lovely companions they don’t want to leave behind,” Cannan said. “To leave them there, left to die, is hard.” The dogs can be therapeutic in helping soldiers readjust to civilian life, said Cannan, who started the program after her husband brought a dog home from a deployment in Afghanistan. She said that if the military made it easier to send dogs home, there would be fewer cases of post-traumatic stress. Although soldiers officially aren’t allowed to adopt pets while serving overseas, strict enforcement of that order isn’t always a priority, especially in a war zone, said a spokesman for U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla. Those loosely enforced rules leave troops on their own if they want to bring an adopted animal home. And that can be a long journey, Cannan said. First a dog has to be transported by courier from a soldier’s outpost to a shelter in a departure city, where it’s vaccinated

“I have to find a way to get (Leo) to Kabul without locals or the Taliban finding out,” Johannsen said. “I know I can give him a better home back there than he can ever get here.” A few months into his deployment, Johannsen saw a group of dogs ganging up on a puppy who wandered into camp looking for food. “Average hoodlums,” he said, describing the pack. So he peeled the dogs off, fed the pup and gave him a flea bath. The two quickly became inseparable. Having a dog helps him “escape the reality of being deployed, being away from family and friends,” Johannsen said. “You’re stuck with the same guys all the time,” he said. “It’s like being in a fraternity or a club. You have a dog, and it breaks up the monotony.” Leo has gradually been accepted by the other dogs at the compound, though it took awhile. “He’s like me,” Johannsen said. “No matter who attacks him, he will stand his ground, he won’t give up.” There’s an old battlefield truism, he says: “Leave no man behind.” The soldier said the same goes for his dog. He has no plans to leave Leo behind.

McClatchy Tribune

 Army Sgt. Tim Johannsen poses recently with his dog, Leonidas, in Afghanistan. The Downers Grove man says he plans to have the dog sent home when his deployment is up. and quarantined to ensure it doesn’t harbor disease. It can take time to arrange a flight home because the nonprofit is limited to shipping two to four dogs a week, Cannan said. A backlog of 20 animals is waiting to go to the states, she said. There also are fundrais-

ing hurdles. The Puppy Rescue Mission pays $3,500 per dog for kenneling, vaccination and the air flight, Cannan said. The soldiers have to raise the money to pay the local couriers — many of whom are forced to drive the dogs hundreds of miles through often dangerous

country. This can cost as much as $800 — a financial challenge for many military families, Cannan said.

Covert ops

Johannsen and his wife are working to solve that problem, he said, and have set up a website to accept donations.

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Frank Buckles was the last American veteran of World War I 4 Grand Forks Herald/Friday, November 11, 2011

By Dennis McLellan Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — Frank Woodruff Buckles, a onetime Missouri farm boy who was the last known living American veteran of World War I, in February died. He was 110. Buckles, who later spent more than three years in a Japanese POW camp as a civilian in the Philippines during World War II, died of natural causes at his home in Charles Town, W.Va. A total of 4,734,991 Americans served in the military during World War I. When 108-year-old Harry Landis died in Sun City Center, Fla., on Feb. 4, 2008, Buckles became the war’s last standing U.S. veteran. “I always knew I’d be one of the last because I was one of the youngest when I joined,” Buckles, then 107, told the New York Daily News. “But I never thought I’d be the last one.”

Honors

Earning that distinction resulted in numerous honors for Buckles in 2008. In March 2008, he met

with President George W. Bush at the White House, then attended the unveiling of an exhibit at the Pentagon of recent photographic portraits of nine World War I veterans, including himself, who had lived to age 100 or older. In April, then-West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin formally dedicated a section of the new, four-lane state Route 9 in honor of Buckles, who lived with his daughter, Susannah Flanagan, and her husband on a cattle farm near Charles Town, a small community in West Virginia’s eastern panhandle. And on Nov. 11 — the 90th anniversary of the signing of the armistice — Buckles was recognized by the secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs as “our last living link” to World War I. He was born Feb. 1, 1901, on a farm near Bethany, Mo., and moved with his family to a farm in Oklahoma’s Dewey County as a teenager. When the United States entered the war in April 1917, Buckles was eager to enlist — even though he was only 16. After being rejected by

McClatchy Tribune

 The casket of U.S. Army Corporal Frank Buckles arrives at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia March 15. Buckles who was the last verified American veteran of World War I, died on Feb. 27 at the age of 110. Marine and Navy recruiters, Buckles tried the Army. When the recruiter asked to see his birth certificate, Buckles said Missouri didn’t keep birth records when he was born and the only record was what was written in the family Bible. His word was good enough for the Army.

‘Snappy soldier’

Buckles enlisted on Aug. 14, 1917, and went through

basic training at Fort Riley, Kan. “I was a snappy soldier,” he told USA Today in 2007 while looking at a sepiatoned photo of himself in his uniform. “All gung-ho.” In his Daily News interview, Buckles recalled that an old sergeant told him, “If you want to get to France in a hurry, then join the ambulance service.” He shipped off to England in December 1917 on

the RMS Carpathia, the ocean liner that had rescued survivors of the Titanic in 1912. Initially stationed in England, where he drove dignitaries around, he successfully hounded his officers for an assignment in France. He never got close to the action. But, as he told columnist George F. Will in 2008, “I saw the results.” When the war ended, Buckles remained in Europe to help escort prisoners of war back to Germany. After returning home a corporal, he attended a business school in Oklahoma City for several months and, among other jobs, worked for a bank. But he grew bored. Satisfying a desire for adventure, he got a job with the White Star Line shipping company and traveled the world. He was in Manila when the Japanese attacked the Philippines on Dec. 8, 1941, and was among the Western civilians later taken prisoner. Buckles spent about 3 ½ years at the Santo Tomas and Los Banos internment camps. At Los Banos, he

said in a 2009 interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer, he once saw three prisoners nearly beaten to death. “There was no mercy as far as the Japanese were concerned,” he said. Buckles, who led daily fitness classes in the camp, said food became scarce as Japan began losing the war. He had gone in weighing 140 pounds and had lost more than 50 pounds by the time the camp was liberated in February 1945. After returning home, Buckles married Audrey Mayo, whom he had met in California before the war. In 1954, they moved to the 330-acre West Virginia cattle farm. “I had been bouncing around from one place to another for years at sea,” Buckles told the Charleston Daily Mail in 2007. “It was time to settle down in one place.” As for living long enough to be the last U.S. military veteran of World War I, he grinned and said, “If it has to be somebody, it might as well be me.” He is survived by his daughter, Susannah Buckles Flanagan.

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50 years later, Congress honors Bay of Pigs veterans

Grand Forks Herald/Friday, November 11, 2011 5

By Lesley Clark

McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — Fifty years ago, a group of Cuban exiles who eagerly volunteered for a clandestine mission to topple Fidel Castro were left largely abandoned in Cuba when U.S. support for the mission evaporated. The Bay of Pigs would go down as one of the United States’ biggest strategic blunders: More than 100 men were killed, including four U.S. pilots, and Castro remained at the helm. His brother, Raul, succeeded him five years ago. But the survivors of Brigade 2506 have never lost their resolve. On April 13, eight of the estimated 1,100 surviving members basked in a congressional salute: a resolution put into the Senate record and remarks from the floor of the House of Representatives. “Though the operation was not successful, the dedication and commitment that these brave individuals illustrated during the conflict was exceptional,” Rep. Ileana RosLehtinen, R-Fla., said on the House floor. “The men who fought courageously on that historic day came from many backgrounds, but all cared for the freedom and liberty of Cuba.”

McClatchy Tribune

 Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen rests her hands on Felix J. Rodriguez, 69, from Miami while Maximo Cruz, 73, also from Miami, watches during a lunch at the Florida House on Capitol Hill for a small group of veterans of the Bay of Pigs who meet in Washington D.C. for the 50th anniversary of the failed invasion of Cuba under President John F. Kennedy.

‘Proud patriots’

The men were in their teens and 20s when they left to fight Castro. Their hearing has faded now and they’re not as spry as the infantrymen, paratroopers and frogmen they once were. But they beamed as Ros-Lehtinen took them around the Capitol, intro-

ducing them as “proud patriots” to everyone from Capitol Police officers to her fellow members of Congress. The veterans mark the anniversary of the invasion every April 17 and honor those who died. But they said it was the first time they had been so touted in

Congress. “In 50 years we’ve not had anything like this,” said Max Cruz, 73, as he sat at lunch listening to a series of senators and House members thank the veterans for their service. “This one is really special.” They heard from CubanAmerican members of Con-

air cover. “I always thought we were going to go back.” With the Castros still firmly in power, some said they were pessimistic about changes to Cuba. But they’re buoyed by the explosion of Cuban bloggers and activists taking on the government. Several said they remained confident that they would see democracy in Cuba in their lifetime — or those of their children and grandchildren. “This event has given us hope that Washington is still wanting Cuba to be free,” said Julio Rebull Sr. “It’s late for us, but there’s another generation.” The optimistic include Jorge Gutierrez-Izaguirre, who showed the curious the bullet hole in his chest, sustained a month before Bay of Pigs when his unit was in Cuba doing surveillance for the operation. After Cuban troops shot him in the side, the bullet exited his chest and left a gaping wound. He was captured after the shooting and Fidel Castro commuted his death sentence, but he spent 18 years in a Cuban prison. Still, the 75-year-old said, “I never have lost my hope, not at all. That’s the last thing they can take away.”

gress, including Florida Republican Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and David Rivera and Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, as well as Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and independent Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, who called them “an inspiration.” “I’m leaving the Senate in two years,” Lieberman noted. “And I’ll tell you, I’d sure like to see Castro go before I leave.” Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who was born in the U.S. to Cuban parents a decade after the Bay of Pigs, credited the veterans for “keeping watch over this issue.” “Younger people, like myself, who have never known Cuba, have never visited there, feel aligned with that cause because they kept it alive,” Rubio said.

Keep hope alive

Amado Cantillo, trained as a frogman for the assault, said he never expected the CIA-trained, U.S.-led exile group to lose to Castro, though at one point the 1,300 men faced 60,000 members of Castro’s military. “Unfortunately, we all know what happened,” he said, referring to the U.S. decision not to order more

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the 319th Air Base Wing. The community would not be the same without you.


Veterans learn to cook better, eat well 6 Grand Forks Herald/Friday, November 11, 2011

By Joe Bonwich

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Operation Food Search

When the VA recognized the need for classes in basic food-shopping and cooking skills, KnoblockHahn saw Cooking Matters as a natural fit. Once the first set of classes had been scheduled, KnoblockHahn set out flyers in the

“I don’t think any food is off limits. It’s about doing it all in moderation.”

Leslie Bertsch nutritional education manager

McClatchy Tribune

 Donnie Korn, of French Village, prepares a yogurt and cinnamon sauce for fresh cut fruit during a cooking class at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis. The class marks the beginning of a partnership between the VA and Operation Food Search, a St. Louis-area food bank.

primary-care clinics that serve veterans. The sixweek course is free, and Operation Food Search requires attendees to commit to attending at least four of the classes. Afterward, Operation Food Search follows up to see whether they attendees are making any of the recommended changes in diet and lifestyle.

In addition to basic food safety and knife skills, the first class included an overview of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate system, which replaced the Food Pyramid as a template for a healthy diet. One of the attendees asks, somewhat in jest, about what kind of oil to use in a deep-fat fryer.

Bertsch, who is teaching the class with the help of Hansmann and several other volunteers, uses the question as a teaching moment to reinforce three goals that Cooking Matters stresses for daily dietary choices: variety, balance and moderation. “I don’t think any food is off limits,” she says. “It’s about doing it all in moderation.” The class later moves on to preparing quesadillas and a simple yogurt dip for fruit. Some people use their new knife skills while others help to mix or cook the food. Everyone samples the food, and on their way out, class members get groceries suitable for preparing the recipes at home, minus perishables such as yogurt.

Learning

George Loeschner, 62, served 8 ½ years in the Marines, including duty in Vietnam. He recently retired after 34 years of driv-

ing trucks. “You kind of get in a rut,” he says. “I’m hoping maybe to learn some new ways to cook.” This class is for veterans with patient relationships with the VA, and as part of the sign-up process, Knoblach-Hahn identified health issues that better diets could help to address. During the upcoming weeks, Bertsch will include tips and recipes tailored to the attendees’ medical profiles. And although she’s had relative ease finding volunteer instructors who, like Hansmann, have nutrition and dietetics training, Bertsch has one group of culinary professionals that she’d really like to tap. “I’d really like to recruit some chefs,” she says. “I realize that we often hold classes when chefs would typically be working, but they can add so much to the program.”

R001642928

ST. LOUIS — Fourteen military veterans and spouses sit behind a Ushaped set of tables, about to receive some basic training. Their mission: Shopping healthily and on a budget, and then learning or relearning techniques for cooking healthful meals. Instructor Kayla Hansmann identifies one of the objectives of today’s training and sets out one of the rules of engagement. “We want to prevent food-borne illnesses,” she says. “But we don’t want to chop off any hands in the process.” This meeting, in an auditorium at the Jefferson Barracks Division of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, marks the beginning of a partnership between the VA and Operation Food Search, a St. Louis-area food bank. Operation Food Search is the local coordinator for a program called Cooking Matters that provides nutritional, cooking and foodbudgeting classes to community organizations. “This is part of a new model of disease-prevention health care on the outpatient side for us,” says

Amy Knoblock-Hahn, health promotion and disease prevention program manager for the VA. (“HPDP for short. People call me the hippie dippie,” she jokes.) “Typically, we’d see people who were attending nutrition classes but didn’t know how to shop or cook on a budget — or sometimes didn’t even have basic cooking skills,” Knoblock-Hahn explains. “About 90 percent of our patients are men, many of whom just never learned how to cook.” Knoblock-Hahn had met Leslie Bertsch, nutritional education manager for Operation Food Search, when both were graduate students in Saint Louis University’s School of Public Health. Operation Food Search has been holding Cooking Matters courses since 2000 and hosted 61 of them last year.

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We thank our military personnel for all their service and sacrifice.

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Military Appreciation 2011