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Ageless WINTER 2014


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Winter 2014

Ageless Features The Fighter Pilot and Rosie the Riveter .......................7 A chance encounter with a B-17 at the Erickson Aircraft Collection museum sparked memories for Phil and Robbie Peoples.

A Man of Courage .................................................... 12 Robert D. Maxwell, who earned the Medal of Honor for his heroism during WWII, knows the value of life, liberty and friendships.

A Warrior’s Mission .................................................. 24 Severely wounded in Iraq, Brett Miller of Sisters has a new purpose: to help and support other veterans wounded in battle.

From Horror to Heroism ...........................................28 Jack Marsicano, a survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, has seen it all — and his story is not to be forgotten.

Information & Advice

Contributors ................................................................................. 4 Editor’s Note: Heroes Among Us ................................................. 5 Veterans Outreach & Service Directory ...................................... 6 Lyrical Expressions: SoldierSongs in Central Oregon ...............16 70 days, 4,000 Miles, One Goal.................................................. 20 Stockings with Care ................................................................... 32 Medicare Advice: Making Informed Decisions ......................... 34 Legal Advice: Estate Planning for Veterans .............................. 36

COCOA News On a Mission to Serve ............................................................... 38

A magazine featuring health, entertainment, lifestyles and advice for the active, 50-plus Central Oregonian. Ageless

is a product of The Bulletin’s Special Projects Division, 1777 SW Chandler Ave., Bend, OR 97702, and printed by Northwest Web Press, Ageless is produced in partnership with the Central Oregon Council on Aging. All content is the property of The Bulletin/Western Communications, Inc. and may not be reproduced without written permission.

Ageless Staff Members Martha Rogers, Special Projects Manager Althea Borck, Special Projects Editor Stacie Oberson, Special Projects Coordinator Kevin Prieto, Special Projects Image Coordinator Kari Mauser, Special Projects Editorial Assistant Clint Nye, Graphic Designer Jay Brandt, Advertising Director Steve Hawes, Advertising Sales Manager Story ideas may be submitted for consideration to Althea Borck, managing editor. Contact her at 541-383-0379 or via email at For advertising, call 541-382-1811. Published Saturday, November 15, 2014

To subscribe or learn more about all our publications, please call 541-385-5800 or visit us at Cover photo of Phil and Robbie Peoples by Kevin Prieto. Ageless | Page 3

Ageless CONTRIBUTORS ANNISSA ANDERSON, a freelance writer and public relations consultant, also studied culinary arts and worked as a pastry chef in another life. Though she’s lived in the Northwest for the past 20 years, she spent her childhood living abroad.

A refugee from Silicon Valley, BONNIE BURNS chose to retire in beautiful, eclectic Bend. She volunteers at the Deschutes County Historical Society and museum where she indulges her passions of history, research, reading and writing. She has recently taken on the challenge of gardening in the High Desert.

A lover of yoga, coffee and nature, LINDY CALLAHAN feels right at home in the Pacific Northwest. Originally from Utah, she fell in love with Oregon and moved here five years ago. When she isn’t writing or devouring a book on the alpaca farm where she lives in Bend, Lindy also enjoys hiking, paddleboarding, snowshoeing, and road tripping around the state with her husband Mike and dog Phil Collins. TARA LAVELLE is a native Oregonian who has been writing feature stories for local newspapers in Central Oregon for more than 10 years. Most recently, she ran the fine arts program at a local youth club. She stays busy playing with her 6-year-old son and his two dogs, who she affectionately calls the “numskulls.” Her family loves camping, riding dirt bikes, river walks and gardening. BILL MINTIENS is a freelance writer and podcaster. His show, Prineville People - Conversations with People Who Call Prineville Home, is heard bi-weekly on Mondays on KPOV 88.9 FM’s daily news program The Point. Originally from Boston, Bill has lived in Central Oregon for over 20 years. His passions include trail running, road cycling, and riding his horses on the many trails throughout Central Oregon. GREGG MORRIS is a local freelance writer and musician. You can find him around town finishing articles at the local tea shop, performing with his band Organic Music Farm or homeschooling his 10-year-old daughter. Supposed free time is spent in the woods with his wife and daughter or skillfully executing his duties as a member of the Deschutes County Search and Rescue team. After three decades in Seattle, SUE STAFFORD returned home to Oregon to put down roots in Sisters. The “dry side,” with its beauty, weather and slower pace, affords her the opportunity to pursue her gardening, hiking, and movie going. Sue’s experiences with motherhood, teaching, fundraising, horticultural and expressive arts therapies, and hospice case management inform her writing. Page 4 | Ageless



job is just a job. You have responsibilities, expectations and duties. You have deadlines that can’t be missed, assignments that can’t be ignored, meetings that can’t be forgotten. You’re trained to do the tasks handed to you, and you grumble and complain when things don’t go your way. You solve problems and make decisions. You do as you’re told because it’s your job. And at the end of the day, the job is set aside and you go home. Jack Marsicano, a Navy veteran and survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor, did as he was told 63 years ago. On that fateful December day in 1941, he strapped on his diving gear and dove down to the sunken battleships, searching and hoping for signs of life. It was his assignment and his duty, and he did it without complaint. He had been trained for this moment, and while the memories still haunt him, he knew it had to be done. “It came with the job,” he recalled. But it was more than a job. To him, and to Robert D. Maxwell, Phillip Peoples, Brett Miller, Bob Sanders and the more than 19,000 veterans now living in Central Oregon, the job they served and the orders they followed could mean the difference between life and death. There was always a risk that the next assignment would be the last. They might struggle through post-traumatic stress disorder or spend months in physical therapy for their injuries. Unlike us, they couldn’t just put the job aside until another day. Because serving this country in the Armed Forces is more than a job. It’s an honor. This past week we marked Veterans Day with parades and proclamations. We waved Old Glory and cheered the heroes that walk among us. We celebrated the Greatest Generation and the generations after that have sacrificed and still sacrifice to defend our liberty and our way of life. Ageless is dedicated to these men and women who served heroically and now live and work alongside us. On the next page, we list the local organizations that advocate, support and care for veterans, and while the list may not be complete, our hope is to continue adding to it in the future. Because for us, this is more than a job. It’s our way of saying thank you. — Althea Borck, editor Photo by Kevin Prieto

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VETERANS OUTREACH DIRECTORY CARE & COMFORT AMERICAN RED CROSS-OREGON MOUNTAIN RIVER CHAPTER 815 S.W. Bond St., Suite 110 | Bend 97702 541-382-2142 | about-us BATTLE BUDDIES OF CENTRAL OREGON 541-390-7587 | CENTRAL OREGON PROJECT HEALING WATERS 541-375-0749 | CENTRAL OREGON VET CENTER 1645 N.E. Forbes Road, Suite 105 | Bend 97701 541-749-2112 | CENTRAL OREGON VETERANS RANCH 503-789-0911 | | PORTLAND VA MEDICAL CENTER 3710 S.W. U.S. Veterans Hospital Road 503-220-8262 or 800-949-1004 RETURNING VETERANS PROJECT 503-954-2259 | ST. CHARLES HEALTH SYSTEM Veteran and National Service Liaison Wendy Rudy | 541-706-7770 VA COMMUNITY BASED OUTPATIENT CLINIC 2650 N.E. Courtney Drive | Bend 97701 541-647-5200 | WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT

SUPPORT & ADVOCACY AMERICAN LEGION POSTS • Stevens-Chute Post 4 (Bend) 541-312-3741 | Page 6 | Ageless

• Stevens-Chute Auxiliary Unit 4 541-390-4231 | • Redmond Post 44 | 541-548-5688 • La Pine Post 45 541-536-1402 | • Sisters Post 86 | • Madras Post 125 | 541-350-8009 • Crook County Post 29 | 541-447-5651 BEND HEROES FOUNDATION 541-388-5591 | BETHLEHEM INN 541-389-2820 |

The following is a guide to Central Oregon nonprofits & organizations that serve and support veterans and active-duty service members in Central Oregon. Not all local entities may be listed as of press time.

OREGON BAND OF BROTHERS 541-977-7883 or 541-312-3741 Chapters in Bend, La Pine, Prineville, Redmond, Sisters and Burns. OREGON VETERANS MOTORCYCLE ASSOCIATION | www.ovma-hde. com/ SOLDIERSONGS 206-227-0194 or 541-617-1911 | On Facebook “SoldierSongs Central Oregon”


VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS • Bend Ponderosa Pine Post 1643 541-389-0775 | vfwpost1643@bend | • La Pine Post 7242 | 541-508-2701 • Prineville Dexter Fincher Post 1912 541-447-4025 | • Redmond Post 4108 | 541-548-4108 | | • Sisters Post 8138 | 541-588-0192 • Warm Springs Elliot Palmer Post 4217 541-553-3025

DISABLED AMERICAN VETERANS: BEND #14 541-536-7575 | www.davmembersportal. org/chapters/or/14/default.aspx

VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA (VVA) 541-406-9237 or (Bend) | 541-536-2118 or 9fngrs@myway. com (La Pine) |






OREGON DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS 800-692-9666 or 503-373-2085 us.aspx

CARING FOR TROOPS 541-317-9040 or 541-549-4907 | | www.caringfortroops. com

OPERATION SANTA: MARINE CORPS FAMILY FOUNDATION or MaryElla Strelchun (Bend contact) Santa.html

OREGON EMPLOYMENT DEPARTMENT 1645 N.E. Forbes Road, Suite 100, Bend Disabled Veterans Outreach Program and Local Veterans Employment Representatives 541-388-6455 (Bend) | 541-548-8196 ext. 340 (Redmond)



The Wall of Honor had long been a vision of Hospice of Redmond as a way of honoring the many men and women who have served our country. Through the generosity of a bequest by a community member, the vision became reality when Hospice of Redmond constructed the Wall in 2013. It was dedicated at a ceremony on Veterans Day that same year. Today, the Wall of Honor is inscribed with more than 360 names of honorably discharged veterans, with a connection to Central Oregon; living or deceased, from all branches of service including the Merchant Marines, and all conflicts dating back to World War I. The Wall of Honor is open to the public and may be viewed at any time at 732 S.W. 23rd St. in Redmond. For more information on having a name added to the Wall of Honor, the required documentation and cost, call 541-548-7483. DESCHUTES COUNTY VETERANS SERVICE 1130 N.W. Harriman St. | Bend 97701 541-385-3214 | CROOK COUNTY VETERANS SERVICE 422 N.W. Beaver St. | Prineville 97754 541-447-5304 | or JEFFERSON COUNTY VETERANS SERVICE 860 S.W. Madison St. | Madras 97741 541-475-5228 | tom.weiss@co.jefferson. ImportantInformation/tabid/1402/Default. aspx OREGON NATIONAL GUARD FAMILY PROGRAM 503-584-2389 or 541-383-6856 (Bend)

The Fighter Pilot and Rosie the Riveter

A chance encounter with a B-17 at a local museum sparked memories for ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Phil and Robbie Peoples. ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ by Bonnie Burns, for The Bulletin Special Projects / photos by Kevin Prieto


ementos come in all shapes and sizes. For Phil Peoples and his wife Robbie, they just happened to be found at the Madras Air Museum, home of the Erickson Aircraft Collection. They walked among the WWII planes so familiar to both of them, especially a B-17, a P-47 and a P-51. Robbie had worked on B-17s when she was a teenager in Los Angeles in 1944. Wandering around a huge bomber, she came to a startling conclusion. “I knew that the last planes off the line hadn’t seen any action,” she said. “My last year on the line was in June 1945, and the plane’s date was May 1945. I was so excited that I exclaimed to Phil, ‘I worked on it!’” Robbie Mann was an active teenager in Los Angeles when the war broke out. “Everyone wanted to do something on the home front to contribute to the

war effort,” she said. So at 16, she joined the Civil Air Patrol. “I wanted to go to a military academy, but women weren’t allowed in those days,” she said. At 17, she was too young to work at the Lockheed plant in Burbank so she got an after-school job. “If you had a job, you got extra credits, and would be released earlier.” She found a job at Southern California Air Parts where she made parts and was taught how to rivet. “One day I was working on a drill press and put my head too low and it grabbed a bit of my hair,” she said, laughing. “They (her coworkers) took the hank of hair and displayed it on a board. My supervisor was horrified, but I wasn’t hurt, just a little bit of blood. But I had to wear my bandanna over my forehead from then on.” When she turned 18, she was finally

old enough to apply at Lockheed. She became a riveter on the B-17 line, a job she felt that “aided the war effort.” But she doesn’t consider herself a real-life “Rosie the Riveter,” the name of a fictional character that came to symbolize the millions of real women who filled America’s factories, munitions plants and shipyards during World War II. “I did wear slacks and a bandanna, but I always felt that the term applied mostly to the women who worked on warships,” Robbie humbly replied. “They used a big riveter and mine was much smaller.” The Lockheed plant was 10 miles from Burbank. Robbie didn’t have a license so she signed up for the sharea-ride program. The only person in her area was a man who rode a Harley motorcycle. They became good friends, and he taught her how to operate the Harley. “He drove to work with me on the

back, and I drove home with him on the back. It was thrilling, but I still didn’t have a license and there I was, riding a Harley!” Meanwhile, Phil and his older brother, Sam, enlisted in the Army Air Corps after graduating from Bend High School. They were two years apart, but they both enlisted in 1942. They were called to duty six months later but trained at separate bases. Not until 1944 did they discover they both ended up stationed in Italy. Sam was stationed at Madna. He flew a P-51 Mustang escorting bombers into Germany and Romania. Phil, in Pisa, was a fighter pilot in support of the Allied armies’ advance through northern Italy. “Dive bombing specific targets and strafing on the way back to the base was our basic mission for the duration of the war,” Phil said. His P-47 carried two 500-lb. bombs Ageless | Page 7

Sam and Phil Peoples, Pisa, Italy, 1945 and 300 rounds of 50 caliber ammunition. When he became 1st Lieutenant, he was assigned his own plane and named it “Bend-er-Bust.” “I was pretty homesick,” he said. “I had two things on my mind. I wanted to return to Bend or bust trying. And being a fighter pilot, it was a matter of bending the plane to my aggressive commands.” By the end of the war, he had flown 83 missions and accumulated 199 combat flying hours. He was responsible for more than 40 tons of bombs and 24,000 rounds on various targets in northern Italy. He earned four Air Medal Citations and the Distinguished Flying Cross … and, at age 21, he finally came home to Bend.

Family Roots

Phil’s roots go deep in Bend. His father, Ray Peoples, was the manager of the box factory for Shevlin-Hixon Mill. His mother, Mabel Lorence, was a Bend school teacher from 1915-1919. He and Sam and their brother, Leonard, all attended Reid School (now the Deschutes County Historical Museum). Leonard was younger than Sam and Phil so was still in high school during the war. “Poor Leonard,” said Phil. “By the time he was drafted, the war was over. While we were celebrating, he was in boot camp. He ended up stationed in Hawaii, so it wasn’t too bad after all.” After the war, Phil and Sam continued their education. Like many returning vets, they took advantage of the GI Bill. Sam already had a full scholarship to California Technical Institute, but when they insisted that Physical Education was a requirement for graduation, he returned to Oregon and joined Phil at Oregon State University, then Oregon State College.

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Lt. Phil Peoples with his P-47 “Bend-er-Bust,” 1943-1945 “He’d been through the war and figured that was plenty of exercise,” Phil said. Sam graduated with a doctorate in physics. Phil earned a masters in mechanical engineering with an aeronautical option. Still together, they found themselves both working at the Boeing plant in Seattle. The brothers had long careers there and raised their families alongside each other. Sam was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the late 1980s and died in 1995. “We had always been close growing up, did everything together. He was genius level, you know,” Phil hesitated. “I was more athletic. We complemented each other.” Phil retired from Boeing after working there 35 years. He was divorced for the second time in 1989 and so returned to Bend. Being an avid golfer, he joined the Bend Country Club — and that’s where he met Robbie.

Traveling Companions

Robbie was recently widowed. Her

“We were just friends but found we both liked to argue ... We fought so much, we might as well be married.” second husband had been a foreign-service officer for USAID (United States Agency for International Development). She found work in the consulates and offices wherever they traveled. “During the fall of Saigon in 1975, my children and I were evacuated to Bangkok,” she said. The family went on to travel to Cypress, Nicosia, Tehran, Ecuador, Quito, and the Dominican Republic. Upon their retirement Robbie and her husband moved to Portland where his brother and sister lived. “We came on a visit to Sunriver and

decided to move to Central Oregon, but we wanted to be closer to everything so we built a house in Bend.” When she became a widow, she decided to join the Bend Country Club. She ended up on the board of directors where she met Phil. “We were just friends but found we both liked to argue in the meetings,” Phil said. “We fought so much, we might as well be married.” Robbie smiled and said, “I was a thorn in his side.” “What drew us together was when Robbie took a trip to China and wrote me letters,” Phil said. “I found I was looking forward to those letters. I realized how badly I missed her.” Phil and Robbie were married in April 1993. Phil was 69 and Robbie was 67. “I was so mad when the paper published our license and reversed the ages,” said Robbie. They lived in Bend until the winters were too cold for them to golf or ski, so they moved to Arizona in 1996, residing there for 17 years. But they missed Bend, their families and friends, so once again, it was Bend-er-Bust. Another thing they had in common was their interest in Thailand. Robbie had lived in Bangkok and Phil’s grandparents were missionaries in Siam in the late 1800s. While Phil and Robbie were cleaning out the basement of Phil’s family home in downtown Bend, they discovered his grandparents’ steamer trunks. They found hundreds of pictures and letters. “Robbie was entranced with the photographs, but I was more interested in the letters of my father to my grandparents,” Phil said. “I hadn’t known much about his childhood except he caught malaria in Siam so his parents shipped him back to the States to live with a family he didn’t

know. I always felt he was abandoned. Those letters were the closest contact I had between my father and grandparents.” They gathered up the trunks’ contents and created a 100-page album. They were so inspired by the project, they visited Nan, Thailand (Siam), in 1995 to join the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the mission established by his grandparents. They presented the church leaders there with a copy of the album. The Siam album generated Robbie’s passion in saving old photos. She became the archivist for both families, gathering photos and scanning them for posterity and albums that she produces with Photoshop. “It is so important to save old photographs, especially if you have children,” she said. “After I retired, I realized my kids had taken photos from our family albums for themselves.” With all the work and research they put into the photo albums, it was only natural that it would lead to writing. Phil and Robbie have collaborated on four books, including his autobiography, “Life Has Been Good.” “One of my kids said, ‘Dad, you need to write an autobiography so we know what you did.’ My stimulus was Robbie. If it hadn’t been for her I wouldn’t have done it.” Phil says that they intend to adjust to the Oregon cold winters by sitting by the fireside and gazing at the winter scene outside the picture window. “That fireplace over there has an off and on switch. Makes it easy.” Easy perhaps, but considering their interests and energy, that peaceful scene by the fireside won’t be any time soon.

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he Erickson Aircraft Collection, started by Jack Erickson in 1983, is among the top five private collections in the world. Originally housed in a blimp hangar in Tillamook, it was decided by The Erickson Group, a family-owned company, that they needed a larger space for their growing collection. The company had recently purchased an air-tanker operation at the Madras Municipal Airport and decided that Central Oregon’s dry climate was a much better place to store the vintage aircraft. “I think moving the airplanes is a great thing because the climate over there (in Tillamook) is pretty harsh on the airplanes and the metals,” Madras Air Museum’s manager, Michael Oliver, said. “Over here in a drier climate, you can preserve the airplanes a lot better.” They decided upon the facilities in the Madras Municipal Airport, which began in WWII as Madras Army Air Field as a training base for the B-17 Flying Fortress and Bell P-63 Kingcobras. Today, the 65,000-square-foot museum hosts more than 20 rare

aircraft, many known as “war birds,” most of which are still in flying condition. As a tribute to its early beginnings and an abiding connection to Central Oregon, the pride of the collection is a B-17. It was renamed the “Madras Maiden” in honor of the people of Madras who made the B-17’s construction possible.

How to Get There: The Erickson Aircraft Collection Museum is located at 2408 N.W. Berg Drive, a few miles north of Madras off U.S. Highway 26. • Open Thursday-Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas. • General: $9; Seniors: $8; Veterans: $7; Youths (6-17): $5; Children 5 and younger: Free For more information on the Erickson Air Collection and the museum, check out their website, www.ericksonaircollection. com and their Facebook page, — Bonnie Burns, for The Bulletin Special Projects

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A Man of


For WWII veteran Robert D. Maxwell, a Medal of Honor recipient, life and friendships are valuable and precious. by Tara LaVelle, for The Bulletin Special Projects / photos by Kevin Prieto In the deadly battle zone of Anzio, Italy, in 1944, two young American soldiers were moving rolls of communications wire across the beach when they were approached by a German soldier with his hands in the air. Knowing the command orders were to take no prisoners, Robert D. Maxwell turned to his comrade Jack Miller and asked what they should do. “No way we can shoot him,” Miller replied. Maxwell stood there with his M1 service rifle in his hands clicking the safety on, then off, then on again, then off until he finally put the gun on his shoulder Page 12 | Ageless

and motioned the German soldier to keep going. Maxwell knew the enemy soldier would eventually surrender to someone with the authority to take him as a prisoner. “It was very difficult to know you might be taking a life innocently,” said Maxwell. “Knowing that this person was just a young kid like me. He was through with the war. Yet the order said take no prisoners. Once in awhile you have to disobey a command in favor of the moral issues.” Nine months after that profound moment on Anzio beach, Maxwell would again make a decision that demonstrat-

ed courage in order to spare a human life and earn him the Congressional Medal of Honor. On Sept. 7, 1944, Technician 5th Grade Maxwell, a wireman with the 3rd Infantry Division of the Army, was laying telephone wire across the roof of an abandoned house in Besancon, France, when a nearby German infantry unit opened fire, shattering the slate roof in an explosive firestorm. Maxwell narrowly escaped death when he jumped off the roof onto the cobblestone yard below. “That kind of started the evening off with a bang,” he recalled.

Over the next several hours, Maxwell and three other wire and radiomen huddled down behind a four-foot stone wall in the courtyard outside of the house, which had been converted into a battalion command post. As darkness crept in, the American GIs, armed with only .45-caliber pistols, were pinned under a hailstorm of fire from machine guns, pistols and grenades. “(The Germans) were close enough they could throw grenades,” said Maxwell. “They were firing on us, we were firing back with our 45s, making a big racket but not hitting anything. We could only fire at muzzle flashes and

whatever we could see in the darkness.” A German grenade finally made it over the top of the wire that ran along the wall, landing between the American soldiers. Maxwell tried to feel around for the grenade in the inky blackness to no avail. Then, in a flash decisive moment, with only a blanket and his body as a shield, he dropped squarely on the grenade seconds before it exploded. The blast knocked Maxwell unconscious. When he came to, he was alone. Assuming Maxwell had been killed, his comrades had fled. He heard a noise inside the house so he staggered in and found the platoon leader. He remembers grumbling because his foot was hurting, but his platoon leader insisted they move fast because the Germans were right behind them. Germans continued to pelt the area with grenades and gunfire and occupied the house almost immediately after the two Americans left. “We were the last ones out,” Maxwell said.

April 1945, Maxwell said. As history shows, war can forever change the lives of soldiers. Today, the after-effects of combat are often referred to as post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. In the days following World War II, it was called “battle fatigue,” said Maxwell. Maxwell stayed busy after the war, which he says helped him overcome any negative emotional residue. “If you get to thinking about it, and dwelling on your war experiences, the bad parts, you’re susceptible to PTSD. Don’t keep your mind occupied with things that don’t matter.”

makers for they shall be called the children of God.’ It doesn’t say blessed are the peacekeepers. The soldiers of our country are peacemakers. They go to destroy tyranny and make peace. “We have to look at it that way. What we did in World War II is even more so. We destroyed a whole generation of evil people. Not the German population themselves, but those who followed Hitler and his beliefs.”

the fields like he had before. He earned his GED, and then used the GI Bill to study auto mechanics at the Eugene Vocational School. The trade school was integrated into Lane Community College in the 1960s. He moved to Redmond in 1947, where he met his wife Bea. They were married on Aug. 15, 1951. “She’s the best wife in the world,” he said with a gentle smile. They have four daughters, seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Family History

Maxwell was born in Boise, Idaho, in 1920. He grew up on a farm in Kansas and moved west with his family as a young man. His grandfather, a Quaker, influenced Maxwell’s Christian faith. The farm chores often kept them too busy to attend church on Sundays, but his family found other ways to worship.

“The war taught me to value every human life. Even though you have to be involved in combat, you don’t have to hold hate in your heart for people.” The blast blew away most of the bottom half of Maxwell’s right foot, and destroyed a large part of his left bicep. “That was the end of the war for me,” he said. “I had enough serious injuries, and I couldn’t walk on my foot for many months.” He had been drafted into the U.S. Army in 1942, and before that eventful night in Besancon, Maxwell fought in North Africa, the French Morocco and Sicily. He was hit by shrapnel in the leg during the Battle of Anzio in January 1944, and was recuperating in a hospital in Naples, Italy, when his division captured Rome on June 5. Maxwell was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his extraordinary courage during the battle in Besancon in the spring of 1945. The signed certificate was still on President Roosevelt’s desk when the president died in

“Grandpa insisted that each one of us boys read a chapter of the Bible every night,” he said. “We would take turns. It became so much of a habit that I took the New Testament with me when I went into combat.” Maxwell’s commitment to the Christian faith caused some hesitation at times during the war, he said, when faced with the reality of taking another human life. But he also believed that the cause was extremely important. “I knew we were going in to the service in defense of our country and our freedoms,” he said. “What we stood for was more important than worrying about being a Quaker.” As he reflected on the spiritual quandary that can affect a Christian during times of war, Maxwell shared this Biblical perspective: “One of the Beatitudes in the Bible says ‘blessed are the peace-

It was this well-grounded faith that Maxwell says thwarted any feelings of fear or dread during the war. “I realized God was my protector. That was more valuable to me than my training and ability to survive on my own.” After the war, Maxwell tried to return to his family’s business of farming near Creswell, but the damage to his foot was too severe and he couldn’t move around

After completing vocational school, Maxwell taught auto mechanics at Bend High School, Central Oregon Community College and Lane Community College for a combined total of 32 years. He felt that teaching auto mechanics was a better occupation choice than being a full-time mechanic. He “officially” retired in 1986, but continued to teach Ageless | Page 13

part time until 1988. Maxwell’s inspiring story continued late into his life. He missed out on earning a high school diploma because of the war. But, at the age of 90, he received his high school diploma from Bend High School and walked across the stage in cap and gown. “The state of Oregon says you can give a high school diploma to people who didn’t get one because they went off to war,” said Dick Tobiason, Maxwell’s close friend and fellow veteran (Tobiason served in Vietnam). Although Maxwell never attended Bend High School as a student, Tobiason convinced the school’s principal to

give his friend a diploma, considering the many years he served as a teacher there.

Wisdom to Impart

Maxwell and Tobiason are a good team. They have worked closely together with the Bend Heroes Foundation and Hero Flights in Central Oregon. Maxwell serves on the board of directors while Tobiason is the chairman. “I never had anything to do until you came along,” Maxwell once told his friend. Through the foundation, the pair was instrumental in creating the Bend Heroes Memorial Plaza on Newport Avenue in downtown Bend.


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Stars, a Bronze Star and a Good Conduct. “I want to do show and tell,” Bea said as she presented the collection. Maxwell bragged about her as well, motioning to a large quilt draped over a chair. “That is the first one Bea made and did every bit of it by hand,” he said. Bea, an avid quilter, often solicits her husband’s help with projects. “I mostly do the cutting,” he said with a chuckle. Bea also made her husband a Medal of Honor quilt, which rests on their bed. With age often comes wisdom, and in the 94 years he has been alive, Maxwell has summed up what he’s learned into a few simple, yet meaningful lessons. Number one is the value of life itself, he said. “The war taught me to value every human life. Even though you have to be involved in combat, you don’t have to hold hate in your heart for people.” Second, the Army taught him the importance of discipline. Neatness and doing things the right way are very important, he said. Thirdly is comradeship. “No matter who you are or where you are, the person next to you is important,” he explained. “The relationship with others ... to be willing to go to extreme lengths to help someone else who is in need of help.” After sharing his insights on life, he paused for a moment and added one more. “Then, most of all is depending on faith in God. The realization that you’re not the Supreme Being, God is. Everything we do somehow or another fits part of His plan or it doesn’t get done.”

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After the memorial structure was dedicated in 2009, they moved on to Salem to present an idea for a statewide World War II memorial. At that time there were no official memorials in the entire state honoring World War II veterans, said Tobiason. Eventually, Oregon legislators passed a law to designate U.S. Highway 97, from California to the Columbia River, as the official World War II Veterans Historic Highway. In all, there are 10 signs, each one placed at WWII training sites. The highway memorial was officially dedicated June 6, 2010. Maxwell and Tobiason also work closely with Honor Flights, a program that flies any World War II veteran to Washington, D.C., to visit the war memorial there, free of charge. “When we got involved, they were only flying out 10 people per year out of Southern Oregon,” said Maxwell. Together with Tobiason, Maxwell petitioned for additional “hubs” to be created throughout Oregon, enabling more flights and access to more Oregon veterans. To date, more than 1,000 veterans from Central Oregon and the valley have been flown to Washington, D.C., said Maxwell. As Maxwell shared his story, hands in his lap and his feet curled under the chair, he admitted that the attention he still gets for his heroism is “a lot of fuss over something that happened a long time ago,” but agreed that a story like his could be an inspiration to future generations. It was his wife Bea who excitedly presented a framed shadow box that held her husband’s array of service medals, which includes a Purple Heart, two Silver

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EXPRESSION SoldierSongs gives veterans and musicians alike a chance to create, learn and thrive. by Gregg Morris, for The Bulletin Special Projects photos by Kevin Prieto


s the old adage goes, “War is hell.” But for many soldiers, the horror of traveling to a far-off land to wage battle against enemies known and unknown, remains well after their return. Once home, a new battle begins with at best, simply being misunderstood, and at worst, post-traumatic stress disorder. However, since 2006 veterans have found an unlikely ally in local musicians wishing to honor the men and women who have served in our military through a national program called, SoldierSongs. The goal is to bring music to veterans, through free lessons and instruments, and help veterans write songs as a way to express themselves creatively. Last summer, local singer-songwriter and non-combat veteran Bill Valenti heard about SoldierSongs on the radio. In 2011, Valenti had channeled some of his experiences to write “Not Gentle Comin’ Home,” a

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song about an Iraq war veteran who commits suicide. Believing there were many musicians who were willing to connect with veterans, Valenti set out to create the Central Oregon chapter of SoldierSongs. “We have a lot of veterans here, and a strong, diverse songwriting community,” said Valenti, who moved to Bend from Seattle six years ago. “I wanted to bring the two groups together.” So Valenti contacted the Texas-based national SoldierSongs organization, started and operated by musicians Tony Rosario and Jay Burbank. They sent Valenti a starter kit while he contacted other local songwriters to see who would be interested in participating. Valenti then found a meeting spot at Bend’s Community Center and began pitching the group to organizations such as Central Oregon Veterans Outreach and the local Veterans Affairs office. One of the first songwriters to hop

on board was Mark Quon, who gigs regularly around town both in a duo with his wife Linda, and with their band, Parlour. Quon, now Valenti’s right-hand man in the project, immediately thought SoldierSongs was a good idea and was willing to donate his time to help area veterans. “Just seeing some of the small, and not so small, ways the program has made a difference in some of the veterans makes it all worthwhile,” explained Quon. Locally, SoldierSongs works to assist local veterans through music by offering monthly gatherings based around songwriting help, music lessons and jamming. The group, with up to a dozen or so veterans and a handful of local musicians, meets the third Monday of each month from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Kelly D’s Sports Bar & Grill in southeast Bend. While the initial meetings focused on songwriting, lately they have centered around song circles and more

jamming. Attendees range from experienced musicians looking to just play music to those wishing to work out their emotions and feelings through the cathartic process of songwriting. “A lot of veterans are struggling with depression,” explained Quon. “It’s nice to see some of my new friends break out of their shell through music.” Another important feature of SoldierSongs is their guitar loan program. Yamaha Guitars donated guitars to the national SoldierSongs, which, in turn, provided them to Central Oregon’s chapter. In addition, Valenti worked with Breedlove Guitar Company to offer a 45 percent discount on their entry-level guitars. The Central Oregon chapter of SoldierSongs purchases the guitars, at the discounted rate, and loans them to interested veterans. So far, they have loaned out five instruments to area veterans. “Interestingly, a neighbor in Bend

who heard about SoldierSongs gave me a guitar that was just sitting around in a closet,” said Valenti. “We’ve placed that one with a female vet a few weeks ago.” Nationally, SoldierSongs has chapters in Colorado, Texas, Arkansas, Idaho, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Oregon. The founders believe SoldierSongs should be more of a concept rather than a program, with individual chapters assessing the musical needs of area veterans. The national organization seeks only to provide assistance to the local chapters. They provide starter kits, like the one Valenti received, with

posters, CDs of songs from other chapters, and other support materials. In addition, they keep all of the chapters in the loop, emailing upcoming events and news of interest. All in all, SoldierSongs works to benefit both veterans and musicians alike. The meetings become an excellent stress reliever for the veterans through writing songs about their experiences, listening to songs by others, or just playing music. For the songwriters, SoldierSongs introduces another source for stories waiting to be turned into songs. The six regular songwriters are Valenti, Quon, Tom Hudson, Steve Neth, Lenny Ferris and JoAnn Mann. Valenti, Hudson and Ferris are veterans.

“I think music is a healing sort of thing, you can see the emotion pour out of the guys through the music. Bill and Mark are great guys, and I’m really proud to know them.”

band called Loose Gravel has emerged from the group and has begun to play gigs all over town. The band consists of John Rinehold, Dan Ericsson, Darin Darlington and Ferris, each with their own musical backgrounds. Rinehold, who served in the Air Force from 1966 to 1970, never saw combat, but experienced personal trauma, the loss of his daughter, after his service. SoldierSongs has given Rinehold an opportunity to get back into playing and performing after years away from music. For his effort, one of his songs will be included in the national organization’s next CD. Also included on the CD is a song called “Outside the Wire,” co-written by Quon and local veteran Chuck Hemingway. The song will be recorded in early November for inclusion on the CD. “Chuck came to me with some really powerful prose,” said Quon. “I

asked if I could put some music to it.” The majority of veterans who have participated have been from the Vietnam-era. Valenti would like to see this change to include more Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and notes that as one of his future goals. In addition, he will be searching out more performance opportunities for the members. He would also like to see a focus on collaborative songwriting and perhaps producing a local CD based on their songs. “I wouldn’t expect any of the vets to say that SoldierSongs changed their lives, but I’m pretty sure all would say it has been a positive experience,” declared Valenti. “I think music is a healing sort of thing,” agreed Rinehold. “You can see the emotion pour out of the guys through the music. Bill and Mark are great guys, and I’m really proud to know them.”

“There have been some really interesting songs crafted from vets’ stories that would have been outside the personal experience of the songwriters,” said Valenti. As the soldiers gain confidence and the songs take shape, bands are beginning to form and performance opportunities arise. There have been two SoldierSongs concerts at the downtown Hola! atrium during First Friday Gallery Walks, with six to eight of the members performing. In addition, a Ageless | Page 17

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Pray for me ma I feel so alone Pray for me ma I’m coming home Forgive the ignorance of men Forgive the place I’ve been Forgive the way I shudder and the hidden book of my sins Bring me the photo of my wife Bring me a drink of water, I can’t seem to swallow my spit

Ageless | Page 19

70 days, 4,000 Miles,

ONE GOAL by Annissa Anderson, for The Bulletin Special Projects

In honor of his brothers in arms, Bob Sanders, a Vietnam veteran, cycled his way to Washington, D.C., to raise funds for veterans’ programs.

Photo by Kevin Prieto

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ob Sanders is the kind of man who gives it his all. He gave it his all while serving in the Vietnam War and during his years working in local government development around the world. And after retiring, Bob Sanders began to give back to other Central Oregon veterans. Part of his efforts involved physically giving it all while cycling over mountain passes across the country. A volunteer with Central Oregon Veterans Outreach (COVO), Sanders regularly visits homeless camps throughout Central Oregon to check on the people living there and make sure they have the basic supplies they need. This homeless assistance program is one of several supportive services available for veteran families through COVO. So when Sanders spent this past summer cycling the nearly 4,000 miles from Bend to the Iwo Jima Memorial in Washington, D.C., it made sense for him to give all the proceeds from a fundraising campaign associated with the trip — Biking for Vets — to COVO. The 70-day cross-country trip was a culmination of a five-year plan devised when Sanders fully retired in 2010. Several previous cycling trips – the equivalent of two cross-country trips, in stages — contributed to his road cycling experience and enabled him to lighten his load each time. Sanders is a self-professed adventurer at heart. And these adventures on his bike, along with helping at COVO, said Sanders, have been gratifying ways to spend his early retirement years. Creating new challenges for himself is also a way, he said, of coming to grips with not being able to climb the (proverbial) higher mountains he used to. “You can’t meet the lofty goals you once had, so start by meeting realistic goals,” said Sanders. “For me, it was very satisfying to meet the challenge

that I set out for myself.” The challenge of biking across the country not only involved summiting mountain passes in the Cascades, Tetons and Rockies – including Hoosier Pass in Colorado at 11,542 feet – it meant traveling through 10 states and experiencing bits of Americana along the way. Surprisingly, said Sanders, the hardest climbs in the country were in the East, where elevations were less impressive but grades — such as 17 percent in the Ozarks and 19 percent in the Appalachians — were much steeper. “It was like a rollercoaster,” said Sanders. “The first time I hit a 17 percent grade, I had to get off and walk the end of it.” For Sanders, resting his body at night was done at a variety of locales. Roughly a third of nights were spent camping, a third at back roads motels and a third of the time he was invited into people’s homes – some of whom he knew previously and others whom he did not. At a farm outside of Idaho Falls, said Sanders, he was invited to sleep in a renovated sheepherder’s wagon when a bed and breakfast was full. Also in Eastern Idaho, Sanders spent a night in a horse stall offered up by a 4-H club. The ire of every cross-country cyclist is dog attacks, and for Sanders it was no different. This too, seemed to change by region as he crossed the country. Sanders made it through four Western states — Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming and Colorado — and Kansas with only one dog attack. In Missouri and Kentucky, he said, there were more than 30. “The people also changed,” said Sanders. “Westerners are much more likely to engage you than (people) in the East.” And Sanders met many people as he


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rode. Many were foreigners, also travelling, others were motorcycle groups, and some 200 to 300 people were also on cycling trips. Sanders wore a shirt labeled “Biking for Vets” during most of his ride, so people were able to easily identify what he was doing. In Illinois, said Sanders, he met an elderly woman whose husband was wounded in the Korean War. She thanked him and gave him a $20 bill. In another Illinois town, Sanders met a homeless man — an Iraq War veteran in his early 30s — and passed on the money given him by the elderly woman. This kind of kinship is what Sanders gets from his volunteer work at COVO. Being around veterans keeps him connected, said Sanders, and grounded. “Even though only a small percentage of the homeless in Central Oregon are veterans, the homeless are dealing with heavy things,” said Sanders. Social connections help everyone, and for Sanders, knowing his wife Kathryn fully supported his bike touring and would be there to meet him in Washington, D.C., helped him when he was alone for

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most of his route. “Knowing that (Kathryn) understands my wanderlust ways and restlessness gives me peace of mind when I am out and about,” said Sanders. Fundraising proceeds from Sanders’ trip are currently at $8,625, though supporters are still able to donate through the COVO website. Some of the funds have been directly allocated to local veterans (as requested by donors) while the majority has been designated to cover general operating costs for the veterans outreach programs. Photo by Kevin Prieto

CENTRAL OREGON VETERANS OUTREACH Central Oregon Veterans Outreach (COVO) is a community nonprofit corporation whose mission is to provide support and advocacy to Central Oregon veterans of all generations. COVO’s supportive services include homeless outreach, which provides potable water, food, clothing, and camping supplies to homeless people in Central Oregon. COVO also provides transitional and low-income housing to eligible veterans and their families, as well as assistance with access to public transportation and more. COVO is accepting donations to help cover costs of all its veteran programs. To donate, call 541-3832793, give online at www.covo-us. org, or visit their offices at 61510 S. U.S. Highway 97, Suite 100 in Bend.

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Brett Miller, severely wounded in Iraq, volunteers his time to help fellow service members injured in war get back on their feet. by Susan Stafford, for The Bulletin Special Projects / photos by Kevin Prieto

Page 24 | Ageless


he pride in Mitch Miller’s voice is evident, as he recounts his son Brett’s experience as a soldier, severely wounded on Aug. 11, 2005, when an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded six feet from his Humvee while serving as a convoy commander during Operation Iraqi Freedom. “I am most proud of the way Brett has handled his recovery. He still deals with problems being in crowds with loud noises, but that doesn’t stop him. He does it anyway because of his desire to help others.” Mitch Miller is referring to Brett’s serving as a volunteer for the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), often necessitating travel across the country to speak to groups large and small to raise awareness and enlist public support for the needs of injured service members. By telling his story of three-plus years of intensive inpatient treatment and two years of outpatient therapies, this retired sergeant puts a very personal face on the plight of hundreds of thousands of American service personnel. These wounded warriors are dealing with not only the physical injuries of war but also the invisible wounds, including combat-related stress, major depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which Brett Miller describes as “a natural reaction to an unnatural situation.” “Currently, 22 veterans a day are committing suicide due to PTSD and brain injuries,” said Miller. “If I can save just one veteran from taking their own life, this whole journey is worth it. I have lost 14 peers to suicide this year alone.” Like Miller, another 320,000 soldiers are believed to have experienced a traumatic brain injury while deployed in combat. These staggering numbers reflect the advancement in battlefield medicine and body armor, which has resulted in an unprecedented percentage of service members who survive severe wounds and injuries and then must return home to deal with the long-term aftermath of their military service. Miller himself was an early recipient of the unique direct programs and services offered to wounded service members by WWP. And he, in turn, is offering that assistance to other veterans. “We are grateful to Brett Miller for his service to this great country,” said WWP Warriors Speak manager Matt Cubbedge. “A combat wounded veteran, Brett truly exemplifies the WWP concept of living the logo. He has gone from the warrior being carried off the battlefield, to the warrior doing the carrying. On his journey to find

his new normal, Brett has taken part in every program WWP offers. He is an inspiration to other warriors with his ‘yes, you can!’ attitude.”

A Life of Service

Every facet of Miller’s life is involved in providing aid and assistance to others, especially his fellow soldiers. His life of service began at age 16 as a volunteer for the Williams volunteer fire department after watching his family’s home burn to the ground. He went on to become a wildland firefighter, reaching the level of Incident Commander. His former boss, Doug Gannon, who was the co-owner and chief of operations for GFP Enterprises of Sisters, described Miller as a very skilled firefighter. “Brett was probably the best crew boss we had,” said Gannon. “He was a billy goat who could cover lots of rough terrain. He had great concern for others on his crew and, like a mother hen, got them home safe.” Gannon highlighted a major cost to Miller of his war injuries. Due to a detached retina, a ruptured eardrum, and other permanent disabilities as a result of the explosion in Iraq, Miller is no longer able to serve as a wildland firefighter, a career he loved. Retired Shift Commander with the Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire Department (SCSFD), Gary Lovegren, was Miller’s direct supervisor when he served as a volunteer firefighter prior to his deployment to Iraq. He and Miller are also longtime fishing buddies and good friends. Lovegren said Miller loved the fire service, and it broke his heart to no longer be able to serve. When Miller returned from Iraq the department tried everything to accommodate his injuries, but his deficits in eyesight and hearing were a safety issue for him and the other firefighters. “I’m so proud of him and how far he’s come,” said Lovegren. “His attitude toward the other vets and toward his own life is amazing. He’s an inspiration.” Miller was able to show his appreciation to his fire brethren for all their support during his extensive hospitalizations and rehabilitation. At the 2009 SCSFD annual dinner and awards banquet, he presented the department with a fire ax he had made using the head of an ax that had belonged to a friend who perished in the collapse of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. The handle, crafted from South American purple heart wood, was inlaid with Miller’s own Purple Heart that had been awarded to him.

“Hunting, fishing and the outdoors have always been my passion, and I figured if I am going out, I might as well bring some veterans.”

Ageless | Page 25

Miller’s former career, military duty, service-related injuries and innate generosity, have coalesced into a life of giving to others as he continues to work on his own health and well-being. After cycling became a part of his recovery, Miller was asked to participate on the WWP Race Across America team. They raced from Oceanside, Calif., to Annapolis, Md., in seven days, two hours. Miller was hooked. After returning to Sisters, he became the coach of Outlaw Cycling, a mountain biking team for local youth.

A Beacon to Home

During Miller’s years of physical recovery and treatment for PTSD, each time he arrived in a new hospital, he was the recipient of a handmade quilt. His traumatic brain injury created short-term memory loss, making it difficult for Miller to find his room when returning from daily therapy. The quilt on his bed served as a beacon to home for him. “The quilts I received while in the hospitals were more than a marker for me to remember which room my bed was in. They provided warmth in the cold hospitals and some would come with a note of encouragement from those who made them. It was always nice to write them back and let them know how much of an impact it was for us. I still have all of them by the way.” When the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show issued a Stars Over Sisters Quilt Challenge this past year to local guilds, in which they would create quilts honoring military personnel, Miller personally shared with each guild the significance of quilts provided to wounded military personnel. His story inspired their creations and during the quilt show Miller served as one of the judges for the challenge. “I really enjoyed speaking with and meeting the local quilt guilds and being a part of the quilt show,” Miller said. “It really was a great way to span generations and hear from those who had veterans in their lives and the challenges they faced as well. I really appreciated the support and hospitality they showed me at the events.” Miller was honored in February 2014 by the Sisters Chamber of Commerce with their Pioneering Spirit Award, which recognizes an individual or business that expands the way Sisters is viewed across the state and beyond.

Nature’s Healing Power

As a WWP volunteer, Miller has several speaking engagements a month to veterans groups, a wide variety of organizations, donors and supporters, and Veterans Affairs clinics and hospital employees. One of those speeches led to Miller meeting a Vietnam-era vet for Page 26 | Ageless

whom he wanted to do something special. Miller called his father and asked if they could take the man duck hunting. Several weeks later, while on that trip, the veteran broke down and cried, sharing with Miller and his dad that in 40 years, this was the first time anyone had done anything for him in recognition of his service. From that point forward, the man’s demeanor changed and his wife called to thank Miller for acknowledging her husband’s service.

“(Brett) still deals with problems being in crowds with loud noises, but that doesn’t stop him. He does it anyway because of his desire to help others.” “When we finished the trip and finally got to sit down, it was as if a weight had been lifted off his soul after so many years,” Miller said. “His wife mentioned to me that she had never seen him with such a big smile and a tear in his eye. In the long run, it was a massive closure for him but gave him a new aspect of how different generations of veterans still go through the same things and still do help each other like a true band of brothers.” Mitch Miller has had numerous opportunities to witness Brett’s conversations with his fellow soldiers while getting them out in nature. “There’s lots of hurt there but lots of healing takes place.” One particular incident came to mind as he recounted the story of a veteran who had locked himself away in his house and was drinking himself to death. By getting him out of his darkness, out of his house, into a healing natural environment with other vets who understood his pain, a door to recovery was opened and that man is now a healthy, contributing member of his community.

From Trauma to Triumph

Miller has taken his passion for helping others, especially his fellow veterans, combined it with his passion for hunting and fishing, and his dedication to his own ongoing recovery and healing, and birthed Warfighter Outfitters Inc. “Hunting, fishing and the outdoors have always been

my passion, and I figured if I am going out, I might as well bring some veterans.” Miller financed these outings himself and when the number of warriors and the finances required became too large for him to handle alone, he reached out to others. “I gathered a few veteran friends in my community (Sisters) and told them of my vision. They loved the idea and we formed a board with a 501(c)3 corporation, and Warfighter Outfitters has been growing like crazy since then.” The board views their position as one of active participants in the programs and not simply advisors. They are hoping to offer 100 outings the first year. McKibben Womack, a retired Marine from Sisters who served two tours of duty in Iraq, believes with Miller at the helm that goal will be reached. “Brett is very passionate about getting veterans out and able to do stuff,” said Womack. “That’s what attracted us all (the board) to Brett — his passion. He is 100 percent open. You know going in where Brett stands.” In order to provide the trips free of charge to wounded/disabled veterans, Warfighter Outfitters is soliciting donations, and Miller is completing the paperwork required to become a participating partner of WWP and eligible for funding. Offers of help are coming in from vets, hunters, fishermen and landowners throughout Central Oregon. “Basically we need $30,000 to get everything off the ground, which includes the boat, rods, reels, waders, boots, and all the other items in order to provide a seamless day on the water for our vets,” Miller explained. “We are officially the only nonprofit state-registered guide and outfitter for veterans in the Pacific Northwest. This means that disabled vets can put in for high profile tags such as goats and sheep, and we can guide them for free.” Female veterans are included in their programs, as Miller indicated they are planning several all-female groups of wounded vets to go on duck and goose hunts, as well as fishing trips, in Central Oregon this winter. The organization is always looking for volunteers as well as donations of gently used fishing/hunting equipment. One critical need is for ATVs that can be adapted for use by severely disabled vets. Womack believes that fellow veterans can best understand and connect with their comrades, as they speak a familiar language and share similar experiences. When individually approached by Miller to be a part of his dream, each board member responded, “Let’s do this.”



For more information, visit or contact Brett Miller at 904-738-3678. Tax deductible contributions can be made at warfighteroutfitters.

The Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) is a national organization headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla., with additional program offices located throughout the U.S. It was established in 2003 to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in U.S. history. The logo of one soldier carrying another represents the heart of their mission. WWP is the hand extended to encourage warriors as they adjust to their new normal and achieve new triumphs. They take a holistic approach to nurture the mind and body, and encourage economic empowempow erment and engagement. They serve veterans and servicemembers who incurred a physical or mental injury, illness, or wound during their military service on or after Sept. 11, 2001, and their families.

In Central Oregon, there are two local organizations that are recognized providers of free WWP services: Healing Reins Therapeutic Riding Center in Bend offers Equine Services for Heroes. Using horses to aid in the recovery of psychological wounds is a successful new treatment model for returning veterans experiencing PTSD and other emotional issues. 541-382-9410 Oregon Adaptive Sports in Bend has received funds from WWP to offer winter and summer outdoor recreation opportunities for Oregon’s warriors wounded post-Sept. 11. For more information on Wounded Warrior Project, visit


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From Horror to

HEROISM WWII veteran Jack Marsicano remembers the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. by Bill Mintiens, for The Bulletin Special Projects

Photo by Kevin Prieto

Jack Marsicano is 97, a WWII veteran and survivor of the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which thrust the United States into the war. Marsicano has seen it all. And then some. Marsicano was out to sea off the Hawaiian Islands when the attack occurred. Speaking with the James Cagney-style gangster inflections common to men of that era, Marsicano explained how he wound up in the Hawaiian Islands. “Why was I stationed in Hawaii?” he said, laughing. “I don’t know, wasn’t my request. They just sent me there. You go where you’re told to go. “I was on a WWI minesweeper on another island, Johnson Island. They were used as tugs, and we were towing a dredger. The captain got us out Page 28 | Ageless

of bed about 4:30 in the morning and started hollerin’ ‘Get up, get up, we’re at war,’” recalled Marsicano. In charge of towing on his ship, Marsicano’s captain gave him explicit orders. “The captain told me to go and cut it loose, so I had to take an axe and chop the cable and let that dredger go,” said Marsicano. Marsicano’s ship headed directly for Pearl Harbor, not knowing whether they’d be fighting – or helping with the rescue. It turned out to be a rescue effort. A 1,800-pound bomb had smashed through the deck of the battleship USS Arizona and landed in her forward ammunition magazine. The ship exploded and sank with more than 1,000 men trapped inside. Torpedoes pierced the

shell of the battleship USS Oklahoma. With 400 sailors aboard, the Oklahoma lost her balance, rolled onto her side and slipped under water. By the time the attack was over, every battleship in Pearl Harbor had sustained significant damage. Marsicano was shocked when they motored into Pearl Harbor. It shook him to his very core. But he knew he had a job to do and, when his captain gave him his orders, he was ready. “Captain called me up and said, ‘You know what you gotta do, right?’ And I said, ‘What’s that?’ ‘Well you went to diving school, right?’” recalled Marsicano. Marsicano had been trained at a Navy diving school in Hawaii and was being ordered to dive down to search for survivors in the hulls of

the sunken ships. Suiting-up with the underwater breathing gear of the day, Marsicano dove down and rapped on the side of battleships … listening for signs of life. “I dove in a full diving suit, helmet, and all the gear,” said Marsicano. Marsicano’s emotions welled-up as he remembered that experience and, like many war veterans, he didn’t want to go into more detail about what he saw. Gathering himself, Marsicano quietly said, “It came with the job.” The Japanese attack crippled or destroyed 18 American ships and nearly 300 airplanes. Dry docks and airfields were destroyed. Almost 2,500 men were killed and another 1,000 were wounded. Marsicano stayed in the Navy an-

other 14 years following Pearl Harbor. Among his interesting post-WWII duties was patrolling the Yangtze River in China. Marsicano is no stranger to war. Born in August of 1917 in Berkeley, Calif., the U.S. had just declared war on Germany that spring. WWI would not officially end until 1920. Growing up in Oakland, Marsicano’s childhood was filled with images of war and national fear of attacks to the homeland. And if that wasn’t hard enough, during the fall of 1929 when Marsicano was 11, the stock market crashed causing the Great Depression to grip the country for the next 10 years. A realistic young man, in 1935 at age 18, Jack decided that enlisting in the Navy was the smartest thing he could do. “Why did I enlist? Nothing else to do. Hard to get a job in those days and I wasn’t doing good in school; sounded like it was interesting,” said Marsicano. Navy life suited Marsicano. It satisfied his desire to see the world while acquiring skills. But little did he know that, six years later in December of 1941, his courage and very existence would be tested. Marsicano retired from the Navy in 1955. He has no regrets about his years of service to his country. “I just stayed in the Navy, went wherever they went. It made me feel good,” said Marsicano.

Following his retirement, and the passing of his first wife, Jack met and married Margaret in California. Their move to Prineville in 2003 was prompted by a need to help Margaret’s mother who was struggling with health issues. Marsicano likes to joke about their move to Prineville. “She shanghaied me and brought me here.” During the spring of this year, Jack and Margaret, along with other WWII veterans from Oregon, traveled to Washington, D.C., with the Honor Flight Network, a nonprofit organization created solely to honor America’s veterans for their sacrifices. “Yeah, I learned things that I shoulda learned in high school, but I wasn’t paying attention,” joked Marsicano. Jack was clearly moved by the generosity of the Prineville community, which raised money to pay for their trip, and the Honor Flight Network. “It made me feel good that somebody likes you,” said Marsicano.

In His Own Words:

To hear Navy veteran Jack Marsicano tell of his experiences, visit http://prinevillepeople.blogspot. com/2014/09/jack-marsicanowwii-vet-and-pearl.html

Photo courtesy of Ray Holbrook

Ageless | Page 29



he Oregon Band of Brothers originated in Bend during the fall of 2006. WWII veteran Phil Bellefeuille started having coffee with about 30 veteran pals once a week. As the group grew, these informal gatherings became weekly organized lunches, and the name Band of Brothers was adopted to recognize their friendship and shared experiences. Since that humble beginning, new chapters have sprung up across both Central Oregon and the state, with the Bend chapter acting as the organization’s governing body. The stated mission of the nonprofit organization is “to provide veterans and current members of the military the opportunity to share friendship, camaraderie, and assistance.” “Phil Bellefeuille, who passed in 2011, made it clear there would be no dues and that every veteran was welcome at any meeting,” said Ray Hartzell, secretary/treasurer of both the Oregon Band of Brothers and the Bend Chapter. To this day every chapter abides by this rule. Chapters now meet regularly throughout Central Oregon with new chapters springing up across the state. Bend’s chapter has about 1,100 members, Prineville almost 500, La Pine and Redmond about 300 each, and Sisters about 50 members. Bill Britt, secretary/treasurer of the Oregon Band of Brothers Prineville Chapter, said that their mission is actually pretty wide in scope. “Our primary focus is helping military veterans in Crook County, but we’ll also help people that are not

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Photo courtesy of Ray Holbrook

military veterans, too,” said Britt. The Prineville Chapter recently donated money for the purchase and training of the Crook County Sheriff’s department’s new drug-sniffing dog and helped the Pine Theater with its conversion from traditional film to digital movies. “Veteran-wise, we have built wheelchair ramps in homes, paid electrical bills when money was tight, and we cut and donate firewood to veterans and their families so they can stay warm in the winter,” added Britt. Veterans memorials are community projects that many chapters invest volunteer time and resources. The Bend chapter helped with the Bend Hero Memorial Plaza on the Newport Avenue Bridge, as well as with obtaining U.S. Highway 97’s designation as the World War II Veterans Memorial Highway. The Prineville chapter is presently working to rebuild and replace the Veterans Memorial flag support at the entrance to the Crook County Fairgrounds. Pavers are being sold for $35 each and will bear the names, service and dates of service of each veteran on the bricks. Unique to the Prineville chapter is their Honor Guard. A dedicated and trained group of veterans honor a deceased veteran, when the family requests it at a funeral service, by wearing their uniforms, marching, flag folding, rifle saluting and bugling. “The honor guard is a real shining jewel of our chapter,” said Britt. — Bill Mintiens, for The Bulletin Special Projects

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with care by Lindy Callahan, for The Bulletin Special Projects photos by Kevin Prieto

Local group spreads holiday cheer to troops abroad with Operation Santa. The holidays are a time usually spent making memories and cherishing time with loved ones, but for deployed service members, that time is spent far from home, with only memories of holidays past to warm their hearts. To make this time a little brighter for service members, groups throughout the country are working together to send these brave men and women some holiday cheer from home in the form of holiday stockings. “Getting something small even from a stranger, can really help change your perspective,” said former Coast Guard member Matt Karas. “The first time I got a stocking while on duty, it reminded me that there are people out there thinking of me and my crew.” MaryElla Strelchun started one of these groups in Bend to assist the Marine Corps Family Foundation’s OperaPage 32 | Ageless

tion Santa program. Strelchun first got involved making stockings for soldiers with a group in Beaverton several years ago. After moving to Bend with her husband in 2011, she decided to start a similar group here, and membership has continued to grow ever since. The group meets once a month, usually every first Thursday. “This year we started off the project with a Christmas in July event,” said Strelchun, explaining that they don’t just work hard — they have a good time, too. “During the three-day event, we had holiday music, a Christmas tree, and holiday snacks to help create the mood.” Strelchun also recalls some women

bringing their children, who really wanted to help do something for the service members, so they helped sew buttons onto the stockings. Strelchun also explained that the goal of the group is to make as many stockings as possible to help ensure there will be enough for all service members. They are not the only group working toward this goal, but they know their contribution makes a difference. “Some groups knit or crochet their stockings, but ours are made from holiday cotton fabrics,” said Strelchun, noting that the fabrics are donated to the group. In order to increase production, they

“I love thinking about helping some man or woman in uniform, some place in the world.”

started an assembly line this year. “One person ironed while others cut patterns. Some gals sewed the seams, while some decorated cuffs, and we had a lot of fun doing it. So far this year we have completed over 250.” In early November each year, Strelchun takes the completed stockings, along with any donated items, to the Marine Corps Family Foundation in Salem. The foundation holds a big packing party each year to stuff all of the stockings. Volunteers and organization members fill them with fun items such as candy, hot cocoa mix and small games, as well as necessities such as phone cards and toiletries. To top it all off, each stocking is placed in a two-gallon bag, along with a larger gift item, such as a DVD or book, for the ser-

OPERATION SANTA The local Bend group is done sewing stockings this year, but they are always interested in new members. To volunteer, contact MaryElla Strelchun directly at

vice member to enjoy. For groups such as Strelchun’s, making the stockings has been a great way to bring community members together in a positive social environment. However, it’s also a very important way to contribute to a greater cause. “I got involved because I feel it’s im-

portant to support our troops in any way possible,” said group member Corle Hull. For many of the members, the reason for their involvement runs deep. Group member Jeanie Bean’s father served in the Army during World War II in Europe, her brother served in the Air

Force and her husband served in the Marine Corps. “The military and its veterans have been honored, respected and appreciated in my family my whole life,” said Bean. “I support any organization that encourages this feeling of admiration.” Strelchun also has a strong family connection to the military. Her father served in the Marine Corps, in World War II and Korea, while her brother served in the Air Force. Strelchun remembers times when she could tell that her father and brother were lonely while away from home. “I wanted to help bring a touch of holi-

To make monetary donations to the Marine Corps Family Foundation directly or for more information about Operation Santa, visit

day cheer into their hearts,” she said. Making these stockings is her way of giving love and support to the men and women who are in similar situations today. “I love thinking about helping some man or woman in uniform, some place in the world, who maybe doesn’t have a lot of family support, or who maybe doesn’t realize that there are people here who care about them and the work they are doing on our behalf,” said Bean. “If a stocking with treats can brighten their day, that brightens my day. The hours I spend putting stockings together are a small sacrifice

Ageless | Page 33


Making Informed Decisions MEDICARE PART B CAN HELP VETERANS RESOLVE SOME STICKY SITUATIONS. by William Shields, SHIBA Intern and Veteran, for The Bulletin Special Projects

Veterans, thank you for your commitment and service so a grateful country may enjoy the freedoms we have come to value each day. That being said, you are encouraged to review this information because it may make a world of difference for you and your health care options. An emergency room visit comes with hefty fees, but sometimes, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) denies the claim. In other cases, the VA’s answers may be different from what you were told a few days earlier. As a Navy veteran, I have experienced similar instances where an answer from one person at the VA may be the opposite or intangible compared to the answer given by another person. Consider the veteran that has received emergency care from St. Charles Health System in Bend and is now being billed because the VA denied his claim. He (or the hospital) failed to contact the VA within the allotted 48-hour time frame, or a VA representative determined no compensation was necessary. This would have warranted a trip to Roseburg or Portland for medical treatment. And, while filing appeal after appeal, the veteran starts receiving calls from collection agencies. The result? His credit is negatively impacted. Or consider the family of a veteran who chose to have his care done at a local hospital, assuming it would be

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paid for by the VA. He had just recently disenrolled from Medicare Part B thinking that his health care expenses would be taken care of. In the end, the VA determined the situation was not as serious as originally thought, and the veteran and his family are stuck with the hefty bill. Now, consider the possibility that both of the above veterans were enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B. With Medicare Part B in hand, the

veteran can seek medical services from a local clinic or hospital and not try to make a difficult drive in bad weather to get to the VA facilities. He would also feel secure about how his care would be paid for. Many veterans find themselves on a fixed monthly income that leaves little left after the necessities are paid. They assume they cannot afford Medicare Part B’s monthly premium of $105. But did you know Or-

egon could pay your Part B premium if your monthly income falls below a specific amount? It is known as the Medicare Savings Plan. Depending on your income level, household size and assets, you could get Part B paid, as well as possibly the coinsurance and deductibles. The agency that provides the applications for this program is the local senior and disability services office for your county.

A benefit of having Medicare Part B is building a relationship with a doctor in your local area in addition to saving you the cost of making the trip to the VA clinic. If it is not a life-threatening emergency, in most cases the VA will not pay your claim at non-VA facilities. Furthermore, if you do not have good transportation or someone to help you day and night for a trip to the nearest VA hospital, it is often difficult to get the care needed in a time of crisis. A benefit of having Medicare Part B is building a relationship with a doctor in your local area in addition to saving you the cost of making the trip to the VA clinic. The Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance (SHIBA) program can help decipher all the ins and outs of Medicare Part B and its benefits. We take the time to answer all your questions, inform you of what options would best serve your specific need(s), and how to get started. Our service is free, and our ultimate goal is to help you save money — and alleviate any worries — in the future.

CLARIFICATION In the Sept. 20 edition of Ageless, in an article titled “Following in their Footsteps,” there were some inaccurate statements regarding orthodontist Dr. Mike Shirtcliff and his family. Carmela Shirtcliff’s ancestors were Basque sheepherders. Mike Shirtcliff is of Irish, English and Dutch descent. Additionally, after attending pharmacy school and discovering it was not for him, Shirtcliff visited with dentists and

William Shields is a non-traditional student at Western Oregon University. He served honorably during the Vietnam Era in the U.S. Navy for seven years. He is currently completing his bachelor’s degree in gerontology and he plans to pursue a career serving the baby-boomer population.

Give us a call at 1-800-722-4134. We will stay on the phone for as long as it takes to address what is important to you. After all, having all the information to make an informed decision is good sound strategy.

discovered that they seemed to be the happiest. Knowing he needed to switch to a like major in the health care field, Shirtcliff chose dentistry. This was not a means to avoid the draft, but rather out of personal interest to pursue the profession after visiting with dentists who really enjoyed what they did. As a sophomore in dental school, Shirtcliff joined the Army Reserves and was honorably discharged in 1972. He was in the Army Dental Corp for three years. Ageless | Page 35


Preparing for the Future FOR VETERANS, ESTATE PLANNING AND BENEFITS ARE NOT TO BE FORGOTTEN. by Melissa Lande, for The Bulletin Special Projects My clients often ask me about planning for death and disability and the benefits that are available to them as veterans. Veterans have some considerations with respect to available benefits in addition to preparation of their estate plan.

Estate Planning that applies to Everyone including Veterans In regard to planning for death or disability, a veteran or the veteran’s spouse should have executed the following estate planning documents including a Durable Power of Attorney, Medical Authorization, Advance Directive and a Will or Revocable Living Trust. The Durable Power of Attorney will allow their agent to handle that person’s financial affairs when they are living but no longer able to handle their own finances. The Oregon Advance Directive allows the health care representative to make medical and end of life decisions for them when they are no longer able to make the decisions for themselves. The Medical Authorization allows the appointed representative to speak with his or her doctors and review medical records. These documents allow the veteran to select the person that they feel will make the best decisions for them. They can select the same person or different people for financial and medical decision-making. Many people do not have close Page 36 | Ageless

family relationships, so they may choose to nominate a trusted friend or a distant relative. Also some people have a stronger relationship with one child or a stepchild, and they may choose to nominate that person to avoid having family members argue about who should be making decisions. If the veteran has assets to be distributed at death, they should also execute a Will or a Revocable Living Trust to designate to whom their assets should be distributed. In addition, they should review any accounts that they co-own with anoth-

er person to determine if they want that person to receive those assets at death. They should also check their beneficiary designations to ensure that they have the correct beneficiaries named.

Veteran’s Benefits A veteran may be entitled to receive education and job training, home loan assistance and health care benefits. In addition, if the veteran has served 20 years of active service or is disabled, the person will receive retirement based on their salary and service information.

Veteran’s Pension As an additional benefit, the Veteran’s Pension provides supplemental income to low income veterans and their families. It is available to wartime veterans with low income who are older than 65, or permanently disabled. If the veteran served before Sept. 7, 1980, the veteran must have served 90 days on active duty to receive this benefit. If the veteran served after Sept. 7, 1980, the veteran must have served 24 months. At least one day of the service must have been during a wartime

period. It is important to review the periods that the government defines as wartime. In addition, the veteran cannot have been dishonorably discharged.

Survivor’s Pension If the veteran is deceased, the spouse or child may be entitled to receive a Survivor’s Pension. If a child of a veteran is applying for this benefit, the child must be either younger than 18, younger than 23 and attending a VA-approved school, or have been disabled before the child reached age 18.

Aid and Attendance In addition to the Veteran’s Pension, many veterans qualify for the Aid and Attendance benefit. Aid and Attendance is available to pay for inhome care, assisted living and nurs-

If the veteran has assets to be distributed at death, they should also execute a Will or a Revocable Living Trust to designate to whom their assets should be distributed. ing home care. Veterans who qualify are eligible to receive up to $1,758 per month, which a surviving spouse is eligible for up to $1,112 per month. Couples are eligible to receive up to $2,085. There are income and asset limitations to qualify for these benefits. The veteran’s income level is determined after deducting their current costs of care. There is no specific asset limitations although a veteran can typically not have assets greater than $50,000 for an individual and $80,000 for a

couple. The applicant’s primary residence, a car and personal belongings are not counted as part of their assets. The VA takes into account the applicant’s age and life expectancy in determining whether they qualify for the asset limits. Veterans have some important programs available to them. Veterans, like everyone else, should have a comprehensive estate plan. Care should also be taken so veterans are receiving all the benefits to which they are entitled.

Melissa P. Lande is a partner at Bryant, Lovlien and Jarvis in Bend. She focuses her practice on assisting her clients with estate planning, elder law, wills, trusts, probate, asset protection, guardianships and conservatorships. Melissa is a graduate of New York University and Washington and Lee University School of Law in Virginia. She is a member of the Oregon State Bar Estate Planning and Elder Law Sections. She and her husband, Mark, have a son, Griffin, and a daughter, Lila. Contact Melissa at 541 382-4331 or lande@


Ageless | Page 37


On a Mission to Serve Steven Guzauskis, a retired Navy commander, helps fellow seniors and veterans through his work with COCOA and SHIBA.

Steven Guzauskis is a U.S. Navy commander, who retired after serving 25 years (although still available for recall to service). It might have been easy to just go into retirement, travel and relax. But even after giving 25 years to his country, Guzauskis felt like he still wanted to do more. Thus began his second career. Guzauskis began his journey in 1999 as a volunteer Meals-onWheels driver, delivering meals and conducting wellness checks on homebound seniors. He soon added the role of Redmond Diala-Ride driver. In 2004, Guzauskis was selected to manage the Sisters Senior Lunch site for the Central Oregon Council on Aging (COCOA), followed by a promotion in 2006 to case manager for Redmond, Madras and Sisters. In 2007, he was appointed to direct the COCOA case managers who help seniors

make appropriate and cost-effective decisions regarding their care needs. In 2010, Guzauskis’ role was once again expanded when he became the Foster Grandparent Program Director. The Foster Grandparent Program is an intergenerational strategy that enhances the education for at-risk children while providing senior volunteers a way to make a difference, something Guzauskis is passionate about. In 2011, the task of being the SHIBA director was added to

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his duties. The Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance (SHIBA) is a free program that uses trained volunteers to help Medicare clients make health insurance decisions, which saves them money. Of course, Guzauskis has a soft spot for his fellow veterans and works to ensure that COCOA is known throughout Central Oregon as the place for seniors, including veterans, and their families to get the help they need or a way to get involved in the community. Despite

occasional funding and personnel constraints, COCOA strives to offer core programs to military and their families by working closely with the tri-county Veterans Service Offices. The leadership skills Guzauskis learned in the Navy has served him well in his various roles with COCOA, as well as his volunteer activities, both with the Central Oregon Veterans Council and as a Christian youth instructor. Guzauskis, married to Deborah for the past 24 years, also enjoys pursuing his model train hobby. If you would like to join the team as a Foster Grandparent or SHIBA Advisor, contact Guzauskis at 541-678-5483 or sguzauskis@


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