Tag Archives: war stories

Have A Safe And Thoughtful Memorial Day Weekend

by Kimberly A. Cook                 (Twitter@    WarriorTales)

This Friday I wanted to let you know about an amazing place called Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. While most folks know the iconic images of this hallowed ground, to me it’s the honor and reverence by The Old Guard (3d US Infantry Regiment) and the cemetery staff that most folks don’t see that is truly respectful.

The first video shows The Old Guard performing the “Flags In” they do every year for Memorial Day, putting flags on every grave site on the more than 600-acre cemetery to remember and honor those at Arlington. The second is an hour-long National Geographic television special about Arlington National Cemetery and The Old Guard.

Have a wonderful long weekend for those of us not working this weekend. A thank you to those military and law enforcement personnel on duty across the globe so we can honor the sacrifice of our fallen this weekend. Be happy, be safe and hug somebody and your pets this weekend. Freedom isn’t free.

Here is the link to the National Geographic Special “Arlington: Field of Honor.”

https://youtu.be/EyOSpMjwZps

 

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Can You Be A Veteran Detective?

by Kimberly A. Cook           (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

With the holidays only hours away, perhaps you can be a veteran detective this year. What’s that? If you’re with family members or friends who are veterans, see if you can get them to tell you a story or two. Some may not want to talk about their experiences, perfectly okay, but if you can find out their military unit and what years they served, you can do research on your own.

Maybe someone will remember a stash of military letters this holiday season, like these found by my family in my Dad's dresser drawer.  Gold mine!

Maybe someone will remember a stash of military letters this holiday season, like these found by my family in my Dad’s dresser drawer. Gold mine!

Many times we don’t ask people about their military stories and they are lost forever.

When journalist Mark Bowden interviewed the soldiers and wrote the book about Somalia  titled “Blackhawk Down,” he found that out first hand. When he asked the military personnel involved why their amazing stories had not been told before, they replied, “Nobody asked.”

If you have time this holiday season, ask some questions and find out a few stories you can write down to keep for memories and t0 honor the veteran who told them, whether she or he even thinks they’re important. Truly listening to someone is an act of love. What better way to celebrate the holidays?

Update: Promised to let you know how the great military records hunt turned out. I filled out the forms and sent them off for my Dad’s World War II records. Found out his were in the fire which destroyed many WWII Army records. I paid $25 to have copies made of what they had and it turned out to be about six pages, two items we already have. So now, more hunting. I’ve actually got more than the archives from Dad’s personal record stash.

We requested my Mom’s military records and she received those. Now I am waiting for my grandfather’s and uncle’s.  Here is the link to the blog post I wrote about how to request military records. https://kimberlyacook.wordpress.com/2014/07/22/know-how-to-request-military-records/

Wishing all of you a safe and wonderful holiday season.

Blog Programming Note: I’m posting an early Quirky Friday blog post on Christmas Eve, so I’ll be posting again next Tuesday. Thanks for reading!

 

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Know How To Request Military Records?

by Kimberly A. Cook              (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

Sent off my snail mail request on Saturday to get copies of my Dad’s military and medical records. Have been meaning to do it for a couple months now, but finally made it happen. It’s a pretty simple process, but most folks won’t realize they need to deal with the National Archives, not the military branches.

New treasure! My Mom and sister discovered this bunch of letters my Dad wrote to his Mom during World War II tucked away in his dresser. More projects for me!

New treasure! My Mom and sister discovered this bunch of letters my Dad wrote to his Mom during World War II tucked away in his dresser. More projects for me!

Couple of things to know:

  • If the veteran is living, they have to request their own records.
  • If the veteran is deceased, only next of kin can request the records. Next of kin is limited to unremarried surviving spouse, father, mother, son, daughter, sister or brother.

Proof of death must be provided by a death certificate or obituary or death notice, coroner’s report of death, funeral director’s signed statement of death, or verdict of a coroner’s jury.

If you want to request military records for service completed before World War I, National Archives Trust Fund forms must be used to request those records. You can get the forms by email.

While there is a way to file electronically for the records if you’re next of kin, I went with old-fashioned snail mail. Filled out the pretty simple one page form, then figured out based on Dad’s service time where to mail it.

So that envelope is on its way to the National Personnel Records Center in St Louis, MO. They receive between 4,000 and 5,000 record requests a day, so they say not to even ask about status until 90 days have gone by. I will let you know what happens!

Link to National Archives veteran service records – http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/

Link to SF180 Request Form – http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/standard-form-180.html

 

 

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When Have Women Not Been In Combat?

by Kimberly A. Cook          (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

About damn time. The final lifting of restrictions on women in combat last week is about 237 years late. Women have fought and died for America since before it was a country. Women even dressed up as men to serve in the Revolutionary War. Better late than never, I guess.

Me and my M16 in the waiting area before heading out to the rifle range at Fort McClellan, Alabama, Fall 1975. (For safety, no ammo until we got to the firing range)

Me and my M16 in the waiting area before heading out to the rifle range at Fort McClellan, Alabama, Fall 1975. (For safety, no ammo until we got to the firing range)

The combat exclusion has always been a discrimination and generational issue to me. We have made strides since I entered the Army in 1975 as part of the new “all volunteer force” after Vietnam. The Army NEEDED women to fill out its ranks. Now, 38 years after I received “voluntary” M16 rifle training, military women will be able to achieve rank and advance alongside their warrior brothers without the handcuffs of unequal opportunity holding them back from combat duty.

These exclusions were never about women being capable to handle the jobs; it’s been about sexist male top brass and America being able to handle women coming home in body bags. Women have two choices when it comes to war, we can be warriors or victims.

One of my World War II veteran students asked me what I thought about women in combat many years ago. He thought women were “too pretty” to get shot.

“You have to look at it from my perspective,” I told him. “Who said it was okay to shoot our men? Bummer of a birthright. Besides, I am no less a citizen of this country because I have different plumbing.”

Is military service for everyone? No, less than one percent of our USA population serves in the military. So if a woman or man can pass the tests for a job, they should be allowed to do the job. When I served with the Fourth Infantry Division, we had Army cowgirls who could breakdown five-ton truck tires with a sledge-hammer and men in the same outfit who couldn’t pick up the sledge. Test for the job and not the person’s plumbing and it will all work out.

Combat should always be a last resort for our nation, but there are times when the bullies of this world will not back down and action must be taken. When that happens, all our citizens are needed to share the burden of national security.

While we welcome home all our returning veterans and take on the large job of veteran reintegration after two long wars, we need to listen and help them heal with love and understanding. We must let all our veterans, Reserve, Guard and active duty know that they and their stories are important. It’s the least we can do as we benefit from their sacrifices.

I especially encourage my fellow women warriors to write their stories because so often our female history is lost. I salute my warrior sisters past, present and future. Hoo-ah!

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