Veterans Day Free Access to World’s Largest US Military Records Collection via Ancestry

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Ancestry special Veterans Day promo picture

In honor of Veterans Day, Ancestry, the global leader in family history and consumer genomics, is allowing everyone to search their archive of US military records for FREE from November 8 at 7:00PM EST through November 17 at 11:59PM EST.

For the past 30 years, our focus has been digitizing and making historical content accessible for everyone – today, we offer more than 10 billion historical documents, including an unmatched collection of more than 250 million military records. As America celebrates Veterans Day this year, and its service members who have fought (and still fight) to uphold American values, we are encouraging Americans to discover more about the role their families may have played in our nation’s military history.

With more than 260 million US military records, people will be able to find inspiring stories about family members who served our country from draft cards, enlistment records, soldier pension indexes and more, covering almost 400 years of American history at: ancestry.com/honor

Army Sergeant Seeks Help to Bring Two Rescue Dogs Back to America

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Army Sergeant in uniform playing outside in a dirt area with her two dogsdogs

Being stationed overseas when you are in the military can leave you longing for home. One of the great things that happen to soldiers is when they are able to befriend a stray dog.

Sergeant Corina Kimball knows all too well the joy that it brings while she is there. But she also knows the heartache of having to leave them behind when it comes time to returning to the U.S., which has made her desperate to get them back home with her. She’s turned to Paws of War, because they have helped many soldiers relocate their dogs when it was time to head back to the states.

“We know how important these relationships are to our soldiers and how the dogs help them get through challenging times,” explains Robert Misseri, co-founder of Paws of War. “We also know how important it is that they get to bring the dogs home with them. We make it our mission to ensure that it happens, but we can’t do it alone. We need the public to help contribute to this mission if we are to be successful with it.”

Kimball, who has now made it back home to the US, is eagerly waiting for her dogs to join her. While stationed overseas, she found two stray dogs who would roam around, struggling to survive. They were malnourished and afraid of people. Over time, they came to trust her, and the three of them formed a strong bond. She fell in love with the two dogs, which she named Cinnamon and Pepper, bonding and finding companionship with them.

The remote Army base where Kimball was stationed is located in area of the world that can be dangerous for stray dogs. She knows that by leaving the dogs behind they are being put in a dangerous situation and their future will be bleak. She is desperate to have the two dogs make their way from overseas to her home, where they can live out the rest of their life in a loving family.

“Timing is crucial in a situation like this,” added Misseri. “Without Sgt. Kimball there to care for Cinnamon and Pepper the dogs are in a dangerous situation. Together, we can make bringing the dogs back to Montana a reality for this soldier.”

While relocating a dog from overseas to the USA is possible, it’s not easy and it’s not cheap. Paws of War works with other local animal organizations to ensure the mission takes place and that the dog is legally and safely brought to live with the soldier they are helping. Those who would like to make a donation to help relocate the dogs can log online:

pawsofwar.networkforgood.com/projects/online/campaign.

Paws of War rescues dogs, provides them with proper training, and then pairs them with veterans, all free of charge. They also help soldiers bring their dog back to America after serving overseas. Those who would like to learn more about supporting Paws of War and its mission can go online to: pawsofwar.org.

About Paws of War

Paws of War is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization that provides assistance to military members and their pets. To learn more about Paws of War and the programs provided or to make a donation visit its site at: pawsofwar.org.

RedWhiteandCool Program Draws Vets into Refrigeration Industry

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Five RedWhiteandColl founders stand in line together smiling

The Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians Association (RETA) and Smithfield Foods, Inc. are pleased to announce RedWhiteandCool, an initiative focused on recruiting, training and hiring transitioning military veterans into the natural refrigeration industry as refrigeration technicians.

“There is a shortage of skilled labor in our country, and the commercial and natural refrigeration industry is not exempt,” said Lois Stirewalt of RETA. “There are currently more than 40,000 jobs open nationally for refrigeration technicians. At the same time, many veterans remain unemployed once they transition to civilian live. RedWhiteandCool is taking action to address this very issue.”

The RedWhiteandCool program will work hand in hand with the Department of Defense and transitioning military personnel, family members and veterans to recruit them into the commercial refrigeration industry. The partnership, administered by RETA’s non-profit arm— RETA-Training Institute (RETA-TI)—in conjunction with the Department of Defense SkillBridge program, is the organization’s newest Career Skills Program (CSP).

Transitioning military veterans met with program staff during an information session in February to learn more about the training program and refrigeration industry. Participants will receive certification testing at the end of the program and have the opportunity to interview for a career with Smithfield Foods as part of the company’s veteran hiring initiative.

“Supporting the men and women who have served our country is core to who we are as an American company,” said Keira Lombardo, executive vice president of corporate affairs and compliance for Smithfield Foods and president of the Smithfield Foundation. “We owe a debt of gratitude to our veterans; this training and transition program is just one way we demonstrate our appreciation.”

For more information, please visit: www.RETA.com and/or www.smithfieldfoods.com

Photo:
Bruce Owens, Director, Infrastructure Engineering (Smithfield Foods); Clarence Scott, Talent Acquisition Specialist (Smithfield Foods); Lois Stirewalt (RETA); Jim Barron (RETA executive director); Troy Vandenberg, Military Talent Acquisition Manager (Smithfield Foods)

Marine Corps Marathon canceled for first time in 45-year history because of pandemic

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large group of Marine Corps marathon runners

The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed yet another event for long-distance running enthusiasts.

The Marine Corps Marathon, with its picturesque course that takes runners through some of the most historic parts of Arlington, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., will not be held in person in 2020 for the first time in its 45-year history. The main event had been scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 25.

“We explored various approaches to safely execute a live event and held numerous meetings with Marine Corps leadership, local government and public health officials,” said Rick Nealis, director of the Marine Corps Marathon Organization (MCMO) in a statement. “We understand this is disappointing news for many, but we could no longer envision a way to gather together in compliance with safety guidelines.”

Race organizers will instead offer participants opportunities to register and complete distances for certification via the Marine Marathon website.

“Health and safety are our top priorities during this challenging time,” said Libby Garvey, Arlington County Board Chair. “The Marine Corps Marathon is a treasured event and tradition in our community that Arlingtonians look forward to each year. As we celebrate the race’s 45th anniversary this year, we will be enthusiastically and virtually cheering on each runner. We can’t wait to welcome these dedicated athletes and fans back to Arlington in person in 2021.”

Continue on to USA Today to read the complete article.

Navy Announces First Black Female Tactical Aircraft Pilot in 110 Years of Aviation

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Lt. Madeline Swegle standing in front of NAVY aircraft in uniform smiling

Lt. Madeline Swegle is soaring to new heights in the U.S. Navy as she will soon become the service’s first Black female fighter pilot.

UPDATE:

The US Navy’s first Black female tactical aircraft pilot, Lt. j.g. Madeline Swegle, received her “wings of gold” on Friday, marking a historic milestone for naval aviation.

Swegle was named a naval aviator and awarded her gold naval aviator wings with 25 classmates during a small ceremony at Naval Air Station Kingsville in Texas, according to the Navy.

“I’m excited to have this opportunity to work harder and fly high performance jet aircraft in the fleet,” Swegle said. “It would’ve been nice to see someone who looked like me in this role; I never intended to be the first. I hope it’s encouraging to other people.”

Recently, the Chief of Naval Air Training congratulated Swegle on Twitter for “completing the Tactical Air (Strike) aviator syllabus,” praising her with a “BZ,” meaning Bravo Zulu or well done.

“Swegle is the @USNavy’s first known Black female TACAIR pilot and will receive her Wings of Gold later this month. HOOYAH!” the tweet read.

Along with the message, the post included two pictures of Swegle wearing her pilot’s uniform.

In one of the images, Swegle smiles next to a T-45C Goshawk training aircraft and in another photo, she is seen exiting the plane after completing her undergraduate syllabus.

According to military newspaper Stars and Stripes, the Virginia native graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2017.

Swegle is currently assigned to the Redhawks of Training Squadron 21 in Kingsville, Texas, and will be awarded her wings of gold during a ceremony on July 31, according to the Navy.

Rear Adm. Paula D. Dunn, the Navy’s vice chief of information, also applauded Swegle on social media, writing that she is “very proud” of the graduate. “Go forth and kick butt,” she wrote.

Swegle’s sister shared the post on Twitter, writing, “Just my older sister being a boss everyday of her life.”

“Proud of her doesn’t even cover it,” her sibling added.

Continue on to People to read the complete article.

Marine Corps veteran catches 3-year-old dropped from burning building

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U.S. Marine Phillip Blanks sitting in a car smiling

Catching a child who was dropped from a burning building was just Phillip Blanks doing his job.

The U.S. Marine Corps veteran and former football player at Kalamazoo Central High School doesn’t want special recognition for helping save a 3-year-old boy from an apartment fire in Phoenix, Arizona. Blanks, a body guard today, said protecting others is just part of his job.

Blanks credits his training as a Marine and security officer and instincts for his reaction.

“Ultimately, this is my job,” Blanks said. “It was all fast, it was a blur. It was tunnel vision as I was running. I didn’t see anything but the baby.”

Blanks, 28, caught the young boy who was dropped from an apartment balcony Friday, July 3.

According to ABC15 in Arizona, the boy and an 8-year-old girl were both taken to the hospital with injuries. The children’s mother died in the fire, ABC15 said.

Blanks was captured on video helping to save the boy’s life.

The video was shared by WWMT’s Andy Pepper.

The Kalamazoo native served four years in the military after completing one year at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Blanks said in an interview with MLive. Prior to college, he played four years as a wide receiver and linebacker at Kalamazoo Central.

He moved to Arizona about a year ago and currently works in executive protection, or as a body guard, he said. He was at a friend’s apartment for a workout Friday morning when he heard people yelling outside and he jumped into action, Blanks said.

“I wasn’t able to grab my shoes,” Blank said. “I ran down the stairs barefoot…” and then he started looking to see who needed help.

“As I was running, I see the baby getting ready to be tossed out of the patio,” Blanks said. “Next thing you know, he’s helicoptering in the air and I catch him.”

Blanks said the child’s foot was injured in the fall but that his head and major organs were protected.

Continue on to Stars and Stripes to read the complete article.

Indian Motorcycle Continues Support Of Veterans Charity Ride & Motorcycle Therapy Adventure To Sturgis For 2020

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two military veterans riding on a side car motorcycl with others following behind during the event

Indian Motorcycle®, America’s First Motorcycle Company, today announced its continued support and sponsorship of the sixth annual Veterans Charity Ride (VCR) to Sturgis.

This year, in addition to using the organization’s unique brand of motorcycle therapy to aid combat veterans dealing with PTSD, the veteran-operated, non-profit organization will implement a “service before self” initiative to show appreciation to first responders who have been working on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Veteran’s Charity Ride uses “motorcycle therapy,” a proven remedy that provides therapeutic solutions to help fellow veterans move forward and adjust to civilian life. The 2020 ride will include 15 total veterans – nine new veterans, along with six returning veterans who will serve as mentors.

“During these extraordinary times, getting our veterans out of the house and supporting them with the liberating power of motorcycle therapy is more important than ever,” said Dave Frey, U.S. Army Veteran and Veterans Charity Ride Founder. “To be able to combine those efforts and honor our selfless and invaluable first responders during this unprecedented pandemic makes this journey even more gratifying. In light of COVID-19, we will be implementing necessary precautions to stay safe and healthy, as we come together to heal and support one another on our ride to the legendary Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.”

This year’s ride to Sturgis will start on July 29, 2020 in Moab, Utah where the group will cruise through the mountainous roads of Utah, stop in the cities of Craig and Fort Collins, Colorado and ride through some of the nation’s most scenic backroads and highways before arriving at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota on August 7, 2020. The travelers will be riding a variety of Indian Motorcycle models, outfitted with ReKluse auto clutch systems and custom-built Champion Sidecars for amputee and paraplegic veterans. The journey provides an experience for veterans to bond by implementing team-building exercises that allow riders to share stories and memories of their service during a two-week, mind-cleansing motorcycle ride.

For years, VCR has supported veterans by creating a healing atmosphere through motorcycle riding and camaraderie when stopping at several small towns to commemorate and honor our nation’s veteran heroes. This year, the event will have an added focus on lives outside of veterans, extended to first responders who have courageously held the frontlines in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.  By following strict safety and sanitary guidelines, VCR will extend an additional hand out to these frontline workers by providing personal protection equipment and hosting barbecues at select tour stops.

“Our nation’s veterans and healthcare workers are an inspiration, and we’re grateful to be a part of an experience that honors their selflessness and sacrifices for our country,” said Reid Wilson, Vice President for Indian Motorcycle. “We’re honored to continue supporting the Veterans Charity Ride and are humbled by their work and positive impact on our veterans.”

The Veterans Charity Ride to Sturgis was conceived and developed by veteran Army Paratrooper Dave Frey and Emmy Award-winning producer and director Robert Manciero, leveraging the therapeutic effects of motorcycle riding to create an adventure of a lifetime for wounded veterans.

To support the Veterans Charity Ride, donate, or to learn more visit IndianMotorcycle.com and VeteransCharityRide.org. Riders can also follow along on Indian Motorcycle’s social media channels: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and Veterans Charity Ride’s social media channels: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

ABOUT INDIAN MOTORCYCLE®

Indian Motorcycle is America’s first motorcycle company. Founded in 1901, Indian Motorcycle has won the hearts of motorcyclists around the world and earned distinction as one of America’s most legendary and iconic brands through unrivaled racing dominance, engineering prowess and countless innovations and industry firsts. Today that heritage and passion is reignited under brand new stewardship. To learn more, please visitindianmotorcycle.com.

ABOUT VETERANS CHARITY RIDE

Veterans Charity Ride (VCR), started by veterans for veterans, is a non-profit organization that delivers Motorcycle Therapy and additional life changing, life-saving holistic programs specifically designed to assist wounded and amputee combat veterans with their needs and the issues they deal with on a daily basis. Helping our fellow veterans through outreach, action, activities, education and follow-up is what drives our organization. The end result of our program is a healthier and happier, more capable individual, who is now living life in a much better physical and mental condition, and able to help and support other veterans to do the same. Visit veteranscharityride.org to learn more and support this worthy cause.

FATHER SOLDIER SON—WATCH THE TRAILER!

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FATHER SOLDIER SON promo poster featuring three side views of a child, teen and father in uniform

Duty. Country. Family. From The New York Times comes a documentary 10 years in the making. FATHER SOLDIER SON releases globally on Netflix this month.

This intimate documentary from The New York Times follows a former platoon sergeant and his two young sons over almost a decade, chronicling his return home after a serious combat injury in Afghanistan.

Originating as part of a 2010 project on a battalion’s yearlong deployment, reporters-turned-filmmakers Catrin Einhorn and Leslye Davis stuck with the story to trace the longterm effects of military service on a family.

At once a verité portrait of ordinary people living in the shadow of active duty and a longitudinal survey of the intergenerational cycles of military service, FATHER SOLDIER SON is a profound and deeply personal exploration of the meaning of sacrifice, purpose, duty and American manhood in the aftermath of war.

FATHER SOLDIER SON releases globally on Netflix July 17.

Directed and Produced by:
Leslye Davis & Catrin Einhorn

WATCH THE TRAILER!

2020 NCOA Military Vanguard Award Recipients

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NCOA seal-and logo

The Military Vanguard Award of the Non Commissioned Officers Association is awarded annually to a single member from each of the Armed Services who has distinguished himself or herself through acts of heroism.

The selection is done through a rigorous nominating and screening process within each of the military services.

These awards commemorate and honor an enlisted Medal of Honor recipient from each branch of service.

As it says on Military service is based on a sense of duty, on the assumption that the common good is more important than the individual.

The actions meriting the receipt of the 2020 NCOA Military Vanguard Awards personify the spirit and intent of this most prestigious recognition.

 
 
Recipients of NCOA’s 2020 Military Vanguard Awards were announced via a Zoom Meeting on June 24.

Read the accounts of the heroic actions of our 2020 Military Vanguard Award recipients:

SSG BENJAMIN J. ROBERTS – US ARMY https://ncoausa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/VG-Story-USA.pdf
US ARMY Vanguard Award

 
 
SSGT SAMUEL S. MULLINS – US MARINES https://ncoausa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/VG-Story-USMC.pdf
US MARINE Vanguard Award
 
 
SO1 MARK T. PALMER – US NAVY https://ncoausa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/VG-Story-USN.pdf

 
 
CMSGT JAMES M. TRAFICANTE – US AIR FORCE https://ncoausa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/VG-Story-USAF.pdf
US AIR FORCE Vanguard Award
 
 
EM2 DANIEL M. PETERS – US COAST GUARD https://ncoausa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/VG-Story-USCG-1.pdf
US CG Vanguard Award

Foundation Trains Shelter Canines as Service Dogs for Disabled Veterans

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service dog trainer pictured with service dog in his arms

Miracles happen every day at CAMO Foundation, and the angels who perform them are the 4-legged variety. Dedicated to providing service dogs specifically trained for the unique needs of disabled veterans, the nonprofit organization in Palm Beach Gardens, FL is the only organization in the country that uses mature dogs rescued from local pounds.

The brainchild of Mike Lorraine, a professional dog trainer with 20 years experience, the foundation is located on a picturesque farm in south Florida, co-owned by Lorraine and a local area businessman, Joe Mullings. Their mission is simple: Provide military veterans who are physically or emotionally challenged with shelter dogs who have the right qualities—intelligence, focus, drive—to be service animals.

Yes, shelter dogs! Most service dogs are raised as puppies. However, Lorraine believes that there’s a certain fearless, stoic quality that makes select shelter dogs the perfect match for injured combatants. You might say that they’ve both seen conflict and survived.

One of CAMO’s biggest success stories so far is 26-year-old Matt Kleemann, a former Navy diver who specialized in underwater repairs on submarines. While driving home along a snowy road, he swerved to avoid a deer and plunged over a cliff. When he awoke, he was paralyzed from the chest down. Wheelchair-bound, he says, “The original plan was for me to just get my dog, Charlie Brown, but Mike saw potential in me. So, I started to come down every day.” Today, Matt serves as a mentor to visiting veterans.

Continue on to CAMO Foundation to learn more.

Meet the Active Pearl Harbor Veteran that Just Turned 100

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veteran witha huge grin in a shriners hat waving with U.S. flag in the background

On the morning of December 7, 1941, in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Adone “Cal” Calderone had just finished his breakfast aboard the USS West Virginia, when his ship was attacked by eight torpedoes and four bombs from a Japanese air raid.

The 21-year-old soldier was trapped and wounded on the ship from the attacks, taking shrapnel to the face along with other injuries. “The doctors wanted to keep me longer,” Calderone said of his injuries, “I wanted to get back out there.”

Calderone would go on to serve the Navy for a total of six years.

Now a World War II veteran and a survivor of the Pearl Harbor bombings, Calderone resides in Stark County, Ohio, where he just celebrated his 100th birthday.

Calderone enjoys music, driving, staying active, and sharing his experiences from the war. “Dad really gets around,” Calderone’s son, Greg, told Stars and Stripes. “It’s amazing that he’s 100 years old.” Calderone’s 100th birthday officially makes him the oldest known living Pearl Harbor survivor.

“If feels good to be 100,” Calderone said, “It’s so nice, very nice.” Calderone spent the day celebrating with about a dozen of his family members and friends, including his wife of 75 years, Carrie, at a surprise birthday gathering in front of his house.

When asked what the secret was to his 100 years, Calderone gave a smile and reported without hesitation, “Good wine.”

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*Please be sure to check event websites for latest updates on postponements or cancellations due to COVID-19 precautions.