JAN 2021

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Note From the Editor

Greetings! Well, we made it through 2020! I hope you're well and staying safe. Our first edition of the new year features several stories for your reading pleasure. 

We hope you enjoy them.

Be sure to check out our Bulletin Board for the latest in VA News, Events, and Want Ads.

Please let me know your comments regarding your Dispatches - things you like and things you want less to see less. Also, please contact me with any stories or articles you would like considered for publishing. I can be reached at Mike.Christy@togetherweserved.com.

All information for Bulletin Board Posts and Reunion Announcements, Association News please send to Admin@togetherweserved.com.

A very Happy and Healthy New Year from the staff of Together We Served.

Lt Col Mike Christy U.S. Army (Ret)


1/ Profiles in Courage: Harold Agerholm
2/ Claim Your Free Military Service Mini-Plaque!
3/ Battlefield Chronicles: The Bombing of Balikpapan: August 13-18, 1943
4/ Preserve Your Old Photos: Let Us Help for Free!
5/ Military Myths & Legends: Vietnam War's longest Continuously Serving Ranger dies at 77
6/ Do You Still Have Your Boot Camp/Basic Training Photo?
7/ Sailors Who Stopped Corpus Christi Gunman Receive Awards
8/ Have A Military Reunion Coming Soon?
9/ Oldest living Marine veteran celebrates her 107th birthday
10/ Association News
11/ TWS Bulletin Board
12/ TWS Person Locator Service
13/ Two Army Recruits Save Fellow Trainee's Life at Basic Training
14/ Book Review: Once a Warrior

Profiles in Courage: Harold Agerholm

Harold C. Agerholm had a quiet start to his life. After qualifying from school in Racine, Wisconsin, he worked as a multigraph operator for the Ranch Manufacturing Company. Then in July 1942, he joined the Marine Corps Reserve.

Upon completing his recruit training in San Diego, California, Agerholm was sent to the Headquarters and Service Battery, 4th Battalion, 10th Marines, and 2nd Marine Division. He received further training for eleven months with his battalion in Wellington, New Zealand. In January 1943, Agerholm was promoted to Private First Class.

In November 1943, a year and a half after first signing up, the young marine took part in the war, engaging with Japanese forces on Betio Island, Tarawa Atoll.

It was the first time American forces faced serious opposition to a landing. The 4,500 Japanese soldiers on the island were well prepared and fought to the last man. They extracted a high price for their deaths. Throughout the incredibly intense battle, which lasted for 76 hours, the defenders killed 1,696 and wounded 2,101 US servicemen.

The main Japanese defensive plan was to stop the attackers on the beach or in the water. To do so, a large number of pillboxes and firing pits had been constructed - all of them with an excellent field of fire over the shoreline. Despite the challenges and the fierce resistance put up by the Imperial Japanese forces, the Marines won the day.

Agerholm then traveled to Hawaii to train for the impending invasion of Saipan. On June 9, 1944, just days after the D-Day landings in Europe, he sailed for Saipan.

In the build-up to the invasion, 14 battleships had fired 165,000 shells at the beaches, although fear of mines had kept the craft 5 miles out to sea. Also, the inexperience of the artillerists resulted in the bombardment not being as efficient as it could have been.

On June 15, 3000 LVTs landed 8,000 Marines on the Island's west coast, while 11 boats gave fire support to cover the operation.

The battle to take the island raged for three weeks as the Japanese displayed the courage and fanatical approach to war as they had shown previously. The defenders launched counter-attack after counter-attack. On July 7, a battalion neighboring Agerholm was overrun.

As the Marines had been mown down by the Japanese attack, the 19-year-old offered to evacuate casualties. Single-handedly, Agerholm commandeered an ambulance Jeep and made repeated trips, under heavy fire, loading and unloading wounded men. For three hours, he battled through Japanese sniper and mortar fire to move 45 of his comrades to safety before he was cut down in the prime of his life by a sniper.

The final day of the battle on July 9 witnessed the largest banzai attack in the entire Pacific War. The suicide charge involved 3,000 of the remaining fighting Japanese and, incredibly, the walking wounded behind them.

The Soldiers surged over the front line of the Americans, killing or injuring 650 members of the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 105th Infantry Regiment. During the fifteen-hour attack, over 4,300 Japanese were killed. Three men of the 105th Infantry earned a posthumous Medal of Honor.

The victory was costly for the American forces, which lost 2,949 men killed and 10,464 wounded. It was much worse for the Japanese. The defenders, who fought so fiercely to resist the invasion, had almost their entire garrison of 30,000 killed. Among the dead were around 1,000 civilians who committed suicide. Emperor Hirohito ordered them to do so as he did not want the generosity offered to them by the Americans used as propaganda against Japan.

Agerholm was awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor. His citation read:

"Locating and appropriating an abandoned ambulance jeep, he repeatedly made extremely perilous trips under heavy rifle and mortar fire and single-handedly loaded and evacuated approximately forty-five casualties, working tirelessly and with utter disregard for his own safety during a grueling period of more than three hours. Despite intense, persistent enemy fire, he ran out to aid two men whom he believed to be wounded Marines but was himself mortally wounded by a Japanese sniper while carrying out his hazardous mission."


Claim Your Free Military Service Mini-Plaque!

Have you claimed your FREE Military Service Mini-Plaque yet? This attractive custom presentation, which can be accessed via the 'Mini-Plaque" button on your Profile Page, contains a visual summary of your military service including service photo, ribbon rack, badges, and insignia.

Your Mini-Plaque is very versatile. It can be printed out on regular 8 1/2" x 11" photo paper as a 11"x 6" landscape print, or at any smaller size depending on the frame you choose. You can also upload your Mini-Plaque to your Mobile Phone, which is perfectly sized to display as a convenient Veteran ID or, if you use Facebook, you can upload this to your Facebook Page and display this as your Facebook Page Cover - a nice touch for Veterans Day!

Login to Together We Served today to view your FREE Mini-Plaque and add any information needed to complete.


Battlefield Chronicles: The Bombing of Balikpapan: August 13-18, 1943

In the early morning hours of August 13, 1943, twelve US B-24 Liberators from the 380th Bombardment Group (also known as the Flying Circus), began a low approach over the harbor of Balikpapan, Borneo. They were about to break records for the longest bombing run in history. Their 17-hour non-stop flight would take the Japanese completely by surprise and result in destruction in Balikpapan.

Intelligence had suggested that Balikpapan refineries were producing half of Japan’s WWII aviation fuel.

Under the command of Lt. Col. William A. Miller, a risky plan was conceived for a bombing run to Balikpapan. Pilots would need to cover 2600 miles - roughly the distance between Los Angeles and New York City.

The planes and crews were readied at the Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin in Northern  Australia. Each plane was loaded with six 500-pound bombs, 3500 gallons of fuel, and weighed nearly 66,000 pounds.

The runway at Darwin was especially short and ground crews watched nervously as the planes, including one piloted by Lt. Col. Miller, took off. They cleared the tree line by just inches.

Approaching the harbor, the first plane dropped its load without encountering any resistance. A massive explosion ensued. The next 11 planes encountered flak but managed to successfully drop their bombs on refineries and ships. The harbor exploded into a ball of flame. Burning oil ran down the hillsides. Lt. Col. Miller found the heat so intense that he was forced to drop his load from 7,000 feet.

After the successful run came the challenge of returning to Darwin. The planes headed back to Australia but as they crossed over a Japanese base on Timor, a B-24 piloted by Capt. Doug Craig was engaged by enemy fighters. Craig was forced to take evasive maneuvers all the way back to the coast of Australia. He was short on gas and 100-miles off course when he touched down on a stretch of sand. As they deplaned, they found themselves surrounded by a large group of Aborigines. Craig tried to communicate using exaggerated sign language but was surprised when the Aboriginal leader asked him, "What are you trying to say?" The Aborigines protected the crew until a rescue party arrived.

Days later, the 380th participated in a risky daylight flight to Balikpapan to assess the damage. Another Liberator performed a high elevation photo run of the harbor before dropping his load. The element of surprise was gone, and the Japanese scrambled to engage the B-24. Though riddled with bullets and running on fumes, the plane successfully returned to Darwin. Photos revealed more ships in the harbor and a third bombing run was planned for August 18th. The Liberators successfully bombed the harbor again. They were under heavy attack that resulted in bullet-riddled planes and wounds but managed to return to Australia. The Flying Circus received a Distinguished Unit Citation.


Preserve Your Old Photos: Let Us Help for Free!

Do you have old photos from your service days stashed away in a drawer or in a shoe box in your attic? Old photos fade with time and if they are not scanned and preserved digitally, they risk eventually being lost forever.

This is where TWS can help. We have just invested in a high quality Fujitsu book and photo scanner that can scan any size of photo or yearbook. As a service to our members, we would like to offer you a free photo scanning service for your most significant photos from your service which we will then return to you, in original condition, along with a CD containing your photo files.

In addition, we can upload your photos for you to your Photo Album on your TWS Service Profile which will also appear in your Shadow box and available to you to access or download at any time.

Please contact us at Admin@togetherweserved.com for full details on this Free Service.

Military Myths & Legends: Vietnam War's longest Continuously Serving Ranger dies at 77

A 30-year Army veteran who was the longest continuously serving Ranger in Vietnam and one of the war's most decorated enlisted soldiers died.

Patrick Gavin Tadina served in Vietnam for over five years straight between 1965 and 1970, leading long-range reconnaissance patrols deep into enemy territory - often dressed in black pajamas and sandals and carrying an AK-47.

The retired Command Sergeant Major died May 29, 2020, in North Carolina. He was 77.

"Early this morning, my Dad ... took his last breaths and went to be with all the Rangers before him," his daughter Catherine Poeschl said on Facebook. "I know they are all there waiting for him."

He is survived by his wife, two sisters, two daughters, four sons, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren, the family, said in a brief online obituary. A funeral had not yet been scheduled.

A native of Hawaii, Tadina earned two Silver Stars, 10 Bronze Stars - seven with valor - three Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry, four Army Commendation Medals, including two for valor, and three Purple Hearts.

After the second Rambo movie release, he was profiled in Stars and Stripes, where he was contrasted with Sylvester Stallone's beefy - often shirtless - portrayal of a Vietnam combat veteran.

 "The real thing comes in a smaller, less glossy package," wrote reporter Don Tate in December 1985. "Tadina stands just over 5-feet-5and swells all the way up to 130 pounds after a big meal." His small stature and dark complexion helped him pass for a Viet Cong soldier on patrols deep into the Central Highlands, during which he preferred to be in the point position. His citations describe him walking to within feet of enemies he knew to be lying in wait for him and leading a pursuing enemy patrol into an ambush set by his team.

In Vietnam, he served with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol, 74th Infantry Detachment Long Range Patrol, and Company N (Ranger), 75th Infantry.

Tadina joined the Army in 1962 and served in the Dominican Republic before going to Southeast Asia. He also served with the 82nd Airborne Division in Grenada during Operation Urgent Fury in 1983 and with the 1st Infantry Division during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

A 1995 inductee into the Ranger Hall of Fame, he served with "extreme valor," never losing a man during his years as a team leader in Vietnam, a hall of fame profile at Fort Benning said.

Some 200 men had served under him without "so much as a scratch," said a newspaper clipping his daughter shared, published while Tadina was serving at Landing Zone English in Vietnam's Binh Dinh province, likely in 1969.

Tadina himself was shot three times, and his only brother was also killed in combat in Vietnam, Stars and Stripes later reported.

The last time he was shot was during an enemy ambush in which he earned his second Silver Star, and the wounds nearly forced him to be evacuated from the country, the LZ English story said.

As the point man, Tadina was already inside the kill zone when he sensed something was wrong, but the enemy did not fire on him, apparently confused about who he was, the article stated. After spotting the enemy, Tadina opened fire and called out the ambush to his teammates before falling to the ground and being shot in both calves.

He refused medical aid and continued to command until the enemy retreated, stated another clipping, quoting from his Silver Star citation.

"When you're out there in the deep stuff, there's an unspoken understanding," he told Tate in 1985. "It's caring about troops."

He was not one to boast of his experiences, his daughter said in a phone interview Monday.

After retiring from the Army in 1992, he continued working security jobs until 2013, Poeschl said, including stints in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

In recent years, he'd been struggling with dementia and other ailments, she said, and he often believed he was back in the Army with his buddies.

He always seemed most at home with his "Ranger family," his daughter said. She was trying to get word of his death to as many as she could.

"He was my dad, but he belonged to so many other people," she said.


Do You Still Have Your Boot Camp/Basic Training Photo?

Together We Served has a growing archive of more than 15,000 Boot Camp/ Basic Training Graduation Photos which we now display on your Military Service Page and Shadow Box. We also have a growing collection of Yearbooks which we will be making available on the site shortly.

We are still searching for Boot Camp/ Basic Training Photos and Yearbooks. So if you have yours available, please contact us at Admin@togetherweserved.com.

Either you can send us a scanned file of your photo or you can send it to us for scanning. We will add this for you to the Recruit/ Officer Training section of your Military Service Page.

All photos and yearbooks will be returned to you in original condition along with a CD containing your scanned photo.

Sailors Who Stopped Corpus Christi Gunman Receive Awards

It could have been the third deadly shooting on a naval base in a six-month span. But thanks to a dozen brave Naval Security Forces personnel, it never got that far.

This month, 11 sailors and one civilian attached to Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas, were recognized with commendations and awards for stopping an armed suspect who tried to gain access to the base on May 21.

In an Oct. 8 ceremony at the base, two sailors received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, the service's highest non-combat lifesaving award. Seven more received Navy Commendation Medals for heroic service under fire; another two were recognized for responsiveness to the scene; and the civilian security officer, Federal Officer Stuart Levitt, received the Distinguished Civilian Medal for Valor.

"I am honored to be able to present these awards today," Gregory Slavonic, acting undersecretary of the Navy, said, according to a Navy news release. "Five months ago, these individuals' rapid, decisive actions, and their courage under fire, ensured no loss of life. This surprise assault could have been deadlier, but they utilized their training and responded swiftly and exceptionally thwarting the nefarious intent by the intruder."

For these security personnel, the call to action came around 6:15 a.m., May 21, when the suspect tried to force his way into the base at the Naval Air Station Ocean Gate. He was in his personal vehicle and began firing a handgun at the gate guard as he accelerated toward the entry point.

Master-at-Arms Yaisa Coburn, a Petty Officer 2nd class, was hit, taking bullets in her protective vest, but still managed to activate a "final denial barrier" to stop the vehicle from getting through the checkpoint.

 She also radioed dispatch and began firing on the vehicle. Another gate guard, Petty Officer 3rd Class Levi Milligan, got into a chase vehicle, risking incoming rounds so that he could go after the gunman's car if it got through.

"When the barrier stopped the vehicle, the gunman got out of his car and started shooting at Milligan with semi-automatic rifle fire," Navy officials said in the release.

Other members of the security forces team arrived on-scene in response to Coburn's call, and they began firing at the gunman, even as he continued shooting with his semi-automatic rifle. Coburn and Milligan were ultimately to kill him; his attempt to do harm was an utter failure.

The gunman would later be identified as Adam Alsahli; FBI investigators would confirm the attack was terrorism-related. Coburn was taken to a medical facility and examined but quickly released.

Coburn and Milligan received the prestigious Navy and Marine Corps Medal on Oct. 8, signifying lifesaving heroism at personal risk.

Those who earned Navy Commendation Medals include:

Petty Officer 1st Class Candace Dickson, watch commander/incident commander; Petty Officer 2nd Class Jamie Moore, patrol supervisor/on-scene commander; Petty Officer 3rd Class Daniel Wallace; Petty Officer 2nd Class Lorne Mayfield; Petty Officer 2nd Class Robert Delgado; Petty Officer 2nd Class Franko Hunter; and Petty Officer 2nd Class Gregory Listman.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Colby and Seaman Edmond Cristales also received recognition for assisting with lockdown procedures and creating an emergency entry for responders.

Levitt, the civilian security officer, identified a package in the gunman's passenger seat that looked like it could have been an improvised explosive device and directed the evacuation of all personnel to safety.

"I am extremely proud of our Security personnel," Capt. Chris Jason, NAS Corpus Christi commanding officer, said in the release. "The Sailors who first encountered the shooter displayed tremendous courage and took immediate action under fire that allowed Naval Security Forces to respond quickly and effectively. The NSF team promptly contained the situation and prevented the suspect from gaining access to the base, its employees, and residents. They definitely saved lives."

That statement is underscored by recent events; the Navy suffered two deadly shootings at service installations in Dec. 2019. On Dec. 4, a sailor at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, Hawaii, killed two men and wounded a third before turning the gun on himself.

And on Dec. 6, a Saudi officer training at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, went on a shooting rampage, killing three and injuring eight others before being killed by law enforcement officials. That attack would also be deemed terror-related.

"We constantly train to ensure the safety of our base," Master-at-Arms Chief Petty Officer Scott Fiske, NSF senior enlisted advisor, said at the award ceremony this month. "Our drills are varied so that we may prepare for any contingency. And the training paid off in stopping the perpetrator. I am very proud of their actions."


Have A Military Reunion Coming Soon?

TWS has over 1.95 million members who served in a wide range of units, ships, squadrons and duty stations. Get more people to your Reunion by sending your Reunion information to us in the following format and we will post it for free in our Reunion Announcements on Together We Served, in emails that go to our members and in our Newsletters.

Please contact us at admin@togetherweserved.com with the following details of your Reunion:

Your Reunion Name:
Associated Unit or Association:
Date Starting:
Date Finishing:
Place Where Held:
Contact Person:
Contact Phone Number:
Contact Email Address:
Other Comments:

Oldest living Marine veteran celebrates her 107th birthday

Dorothy Cole, the oldest living Marine, proudly wore the service's Eagle, Globe, and Anchor as she celebrated her 107th birthday.

Cole was born on Sept. 19, 1913, in Warren, PA. A service video showed her wearing her Marine Corps League attire from Detachment 1175 in Concord, N.C.

Cole enlisted in the Marines immediately after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Everyone was out doing something, the women helping the Red Cross or even in churches they were knitting things," said Cole in the video released Sunday. "So, I decided that I wanted to do something and I would go into the Marine Corps."

At the beginning of the U.S. involvement in World War II, the Marine Corps was reluctant to accept large numbers of women, according to the National WWII Museum's website.

This changed with the establishment of the Marine Corps Women's Reserve and by the end of the war more than 18,000 women had joined up.

Initially, the response from women wishing to enlist was so overwhelming that the service could not provide them with adequate uniforms during training.

Many of them like Cole, who was stationed at Quantico, served in administrative roles.

Cole was part of a program the service called "female integration" into some fields to allow more men to serve in combat roles in the Pacific.

The first woman to join the Marine Corps was Opha Mae Johnson, who joined during World War I in 1918 - two years before women had gained the right to vote nationally, according to the World War One Centennial Commission.

Currently, about 8.4% of the 185,000-strong Corps are women.



Association News


Book the Dates: 23 - 26 September 2021, with Departure Date of 27 September (Please Note: Thursday - Sunday)

GENERAL INFORMATION:  We’re going to the Washington, D.C. area, hosting at the Sheraton Pentagon City Hotel in Arlington, Virginia. The room rate is $139 + tax; doubles and kings available. Breakfast will be included. Group rate available 3 days pre and post based on availability. Group members staying three days pre and post after the main event days will be given breakfast vouchers to be redeemed at the hotel restaurant. The hotel has a free shuttle to and from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

Book the dates: 23-26 September 2021, with departure date 27 September. Note that this is a Thursday – Sunday time frame in contrast to the Sunday – Wednesday schedules of prior Reunions. We are doing so for lower hotel rates over the weekend compared to the start of the week.

MAKING HOTEL RESERVATIONS:  Book your hotel reservations by clicking HERE.


14th Cavalry Regimental 2021 Reunion, September 1-5, in Crystal City (Arlington), Virginia. - A "not-to-be-missed" event!
Tours of The Old Guard’s stables and Sentinels’ Quarters at the Tomb of the Unknowns, and a wreath-laying at the Tomb.

 Visits to monuments dedicated to wars from WW II to Desert Storm/Desert Shield.

Visits to the National Archives, Smithsonian museums, and, on the final day, to the new National Museum of the U.S. Army.

A completely free day to do as you please.

Plus a Welcome Stable Call, Watering Hole gatherings every night, and a concluding Regimental Honors Banquet.

Arrive and register Wednesday, September 1st. Depart Monday, September 6th (Labor Day).

Host Hotel
The modern, finely appointed Crowne Plaza Hotel is our host. Just 15-minutes from Ronald Reagan National Airport, the hotel offers a free shuttle service from and to the airport.

Crowne Plaza Crowne Plaza Hotel in Crystal City (Arlington), Virginia

The hotel’s Veranda Cafe and Potomac Bar & Grill serve three sumptuous meals and a variety of drinks daily. It also has a Starbucks with breakfast and lunch offerings, an indoor fitness center, an outdoor pool, and underground parking ($20/day; a 50% discount).

And it offers a free shuttle service to and from the many nearby restaurants and Metro stop for the Blue & Yellow lines (about a five-minute walk away).

How to Reserve a Room
Make your reservation BEFORE August 2, 2021, to assure the special room rate of $89.00 plus fees and tax single or double occupancy. After this date, the rate cannot be guaranteed or may increase.
Call toll-free 1-800-2-CROWNE (or, 1-800-227-6963).
Tell the respondent you are a member or guest of the 14th Cavalry Association and give him or her Group Code “CAV.”
How to Register
To Be Published When costs verified

Click here for updates.


Coast Guard Combat Veterans Association

Announcing A Change In Venue! Check Out The Next Quarterdeck Log For Details

CGCPOA/CGEA Reunion/Convention 
June 9-13,  2021
Holiday Inn
Virginia Beach/Norfolk 
Hotel & Conference Center 
Convention Dates: June 9, 2021 To June 13, 2021
Here's the new link for the AFRI registration for this new hotel! 





CPOA/CGEA Convention To Be Held in Muskegon/Grand Haven, MI August 2021 During Coast Guard Festival Week!

We're all sad to have missed out on our Seattle Convention this year but we're hoping to make up for it by scheduling our 2021 Convention at the Shoreline Inn & Conference Center, Muskegon, MI, during the 2021 Coast Guard Festival. Just minutes away from Grand Haven, we'll be able to conduct our business 2 – 5 August and attend the Coast Guard Festival main activities 6th & 7th of August. Make it a family event and ensure to enjoy all that Grand Haven has to offer, and enjoy the Festival as well!
National Convention Committee Chairman
CWO2 Amy Ponce (Ret)
More Info Coming soon! Click here for updates.



Veterans Last Patrol

Mission Statement
Last Patrol: Serving veterans by bringing new friends to veterans in hospice.

America’s veterans served their country. They protected us and our way of life. We must stand by them.

Our veterans know about patrolling land, sea, and air. Veterans in hospice are on their final fight and in their last patrol.  Whether it goes by the name “battle buddy” or “shipmate” or “wingman” - all veterans understand that tough assignments are best faced together.

How We Make A Difference
Last Patrol connects veteran volunteers to veterans in hospice. We cooperate with medical providers of hospice care to connect volunteers to the patients so that their last patrol isn’t alone. It’s hard to underestimate the importance of friendship during end-of-life care. Last Patrol brings new friendships when friendship matters most.

When America’s veterans go into hospice care they often lose contact with family, friends, and with the military community. Some are alone. Some sit quietly in nursing homes. Many families are loving and attentive to their hospice patient but appreciate getting the support, connection, and information that a friend from the military community can provide. Last Patrol helps provide that support.

Some stories are only shared between veterans. The exceptionality of military experience is such that a special bond of service results. Many veterans describe their military service as a singularly unique period of their lives. As many veterans approach death, meeting a new supportive friend, sharing stories, and reawaking memories of “patrolling” with their buddies can be richly rewarding for both the patient and their families, as well as veteran volunteers. Last Patrol brings that service.

How Can You Help?
Be a Friend to a Patient in Hospice​
Tell Us About a Patient in Need​
Provide Financial Support

Click HERE to find out more about this organization.



TWS Bulletin Board

If you wish to make a post to our new Bulletin Board - People Sought, Assistance Needed, Jobs Available in Your Company, Reunions Pending, Items for Sale or Wanted, Services Available or Wanted, Product or Service Recommendations, Discounts for Vets, Announcements, Death Notices - email it to us at admin@togetherweserved.com.

Service Reflections Video of the Month

#TributetoaVeteran - GMC Daniel Winstein U.S. Coast Guard (Ret) 1966-1996

Are You a Writer?
As you know, TogetherWeServed is always looking for interesting articles to post to our forums and in this newsletter. Have you written any military-related articles you would like to share with a broader audience? Send your submissions to admin@togetherweserved.com, and you may see it in an upcoming issue.


Do You Know PhotoShop?

One of the many things that our small team of admins does every day behind the scenes is to fix all of the service photos uploaded every day. As photos age, their color fades, they end up bent or scratched. Some are uploaded cockeyed, so they have to be straightened. 

We do this so that when your family sees your photo on our Roll of Honor, it is the very best it can be.

If you have a near expert-level knowledge of PhotoShop Elements and have a few hours a day you can devote to the project, email us at admin@togetherweserved.com, and we'll get you started.

Attention Associations

Would you like to reach more than 2 million vets in one publication? We have added a section for our associations for just that. Write up your latest news. Tell us about your association. Send it to us at admin@togetherweserved.com, and we'll include it in our next issue.

TWS Flyers Available
Do you have a reunion coming up and would like to spread the word about Together We Served? We now have flyers available that help explain a little bit about who we are and what we do.

Send your requests to admin@togetherweserved.com. Please include your name and address along with how many flyers you require.

NEW TWS Invite Cards
Did you know we have Together We Served invite cards that you can hand out to any veteran you meet? It even has a place to put your name, service branch, and member number, so you get credit for the invite.

If you would like some cards, email us your name and address to admin@togetherweserved.com, and we will get them in the mail to you.

Do You Have a Reunion Planned for the Norfolk Area?
If you do, please contact Diane Short at admin@togetherweserved.com to discuss doing a presentation for your reunion.


Did You Know?

That as a full member of TWS, you can build a page to honor any member of your family who served, even if they served in a branch other than your own?

This video will help you through the process. Click HERE to view our help video.

VA and Other News

National Guard distributing coronavirus vaccine in 26 states

On Monday, Dec 14tn - as the first coronavirus vaccines went into arms across America - senior National Guard officials from Ohio, Oklahoma, and West Virginia detailed the critical role their troops are playing in distributing the vaccine despite its extreme storage temperature requirements.

"Currently, governors in 26 states and territories are planning to use the National Guard in some capacity for COVID-19 vaccine distribution," said Nahaku McFadden, National Guard Bureau's chief of media operations.

"The first doses of the Pfizer vaccine are arriving currently," said Army Brig. Gen Murray "Gene" Holt, assistant adjutant general of the West Virginia National Guard. His state has tapped around 100 troops, including healthcare professionals, to assist with distribution, he explained in Monday's press conference.

None of the three states participating in the Monday press conference will have troops administering the vaccine, said the Guard officials. Nor will they be escorting the shipments.

The Ohio National Guard's main role in the distribution process is repackaging large shipments of the Pfizer vaccine at the Ohio Department of Health's warehouse facility, said Army Maj. Gen. John Harris, the Ohio National Guard's adjutant general. "Our job will be to take those large Pfizer shipments and break them down in smaller increments," said Harris. "We'll have about 30 people here in Ohio working on that."

The repackaging process is complex, explained Harris.

"It's a very scripted and very disciplined process for getting it out of those ultra-low temperature coolers," he said, citing detailed training and "specialized PPE" as a requirement for troops supporting the mission.

West Virginia's troops will fulfill a similar role, said Holt. "We have 100 [personnel] who will be supporting that," he explained. "We are only breaking down those [vaccine shipments] that are not going to be direct ship [to healthcare providers]." For any transportation requirements, the troops will utilize rental vehicles rather than military vehicles, said Holt.

According to Army Brig, approximately 15 guardsmen in Oklahoma are assisting in repackaging and transporting doses the last mile to health-care providers. Gen. Cynthia Tinkham, assistant adjutant general of the Oklahoma National Guard. They will "support [the Oklahoma Department of Health] by safely transporting the vaccine, breaking it up from five pre-positioned sites, and distributing those to the [Oklahoma Department of Health] satellite sites," said Tinkham in Monday's press conference.

The additional duty comes amid an extremely busy year for the National Guard.

"So far in 2020, the National Guard has mobilized more Guard members, for longer, than at any times since World War II," said Air Force Lt. Col. Devin Robinson, director of public affairs for the Air National Guard, in a statement emailed to Military Times. In addition to the more than 30,000 Guard troops who have mobilized under Title 10 this year, members of the National Guard have spent more than 8.4 million days activated under state and Title 32 authorities for domestic operations in 2020, according to data shared in a media release Friday.

"I'm just humbled by the sacrifices each day that our men and women make when they serve our communities," said Harris, Ohio's adjutant general. "It's just an honor to serve with these dedicated professionals."


Coast Guard did not warn US fishermen about Russian military exercises.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The U.S. Coast Guard's second-highest-ranking officer assumed some of the blame for Russian military intimidation of Bering Sea commercial fishermen this summer.

Adm. Charles Ray told a U.S. Senate panel Tuesday that the Coast Guard knew Russia was conducting military exercises in August and failed to inform members of the U.S. Bering Sea fishing sector, Alaska Public Media reported.

"This was not our best day with regards to doing our role to look after American fishermen," Ray said. "I'll just be quite frank: We own some of this."

The Coast Guard now holds regular meetings with Bering Sea industry representatives, Ray said.

At-sea Processors Association Director Stephanie Madsen said commercial fishermen fear being caught in the crossfire as Russia and the U.S. vie for dominance in the Arctic.

Madsen told the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Security that a fishing crew was harassed by the Russian military for five hours during one event, including threats from a warship and a military aircraft.

"A Russian warplane flew overhead for two hours, issuing warnings and threats via radio in broken English," Madsen said.

The captain of the fishing vessel, Northern Jaeger, believed he had no choice but to comply and sail five hours south, Madsen said.

In another instance, Russian planes repeatedly buzzed two American vessels and warned of live missile fire. Those ships also left the area, and one captain had to abandon his fishing gear so he could leave quickly, Madsen said.

Madsen said the financial loss for the companies that own the ships is in the millions of dollars.

Republican U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska warned that the Arctic is the next arena of great military power competition and said Russia has built up more infrastructure in the region than the U.S.

"Without further investment in our polar capabilities, our adversaries' influence will grow," said Sullivan, who chaired the hearing. "And if that happens, we risk our ability to protect U.S. vessels conducting commerce, to enforce international law, and to defeat threats to our national security."

Congress is advancing Arctic projects, including a deep-draft port at Nome and a new icebreaker, with five more plans, Sullivan said.


Marine Corps to let armor Marines out early as it prepares for a tankless future.
Marines in tank-related fields could qualify to leave the service up to one year early under a "surgical reduction in personnel" as the Corps sheds its heavy armor in favor of a lighter, more agile force.

Eligible enlisted armor Marines, senior armor staff noncommissioned officers, tank officers, and main battle tank repairer/technicians may be approved to separate up to 365 days before the end of their expiration of active service, the Marine Corps announced last week.

The programs are part of the Corps' efforts to pare down its armor job fields, which began this spring after Marine Commandant Gen. David Berger announced plans to divest the service of its M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks and M1150 Assault Breacher Vehicles.

Early this year, Berger announced plans to shutter the service's tank battalions as part of a 10-year redesign.

"As we implement Force Design to modernize the force for naval expeditionary warfare … we will begin a surgical reduction in personnel and realignment of specific capabilities and units," said Col. Christopher Escamilla, branch head for Marine Corps Plans, Programs, and Budget, in a statement last week.

Plans also call for eliminating law enforcement units, slashing the number of cannon artillery battalions, reducing and restructuring infantry battalions, and disbanding aircraft squadrons. The service aims to trim 12,000 troops from its ranks by 2030.

Some of the cuts are meant to free up resources for modernization without asking Congress for more money.

"These redesign efforts will enable the Marine Corps to reinvest time, money, and resources into higher priority areas, which includes emerging technologies and significant changes in force structure," Escamilla said in the statement.

Tank battalions began casing their colors this summer, including combat logistics, engineer support, and wing support units. The 2nd Law Enforcement Battalion of the North Carolina-based II Marine Expeditionary Force is expected to deactivate Thursday.

Earlier this year, the service began allowing service members in the four tank-related specialties to change jobs, change services, or retire early for those with 15 years of service.

By the end of the fiscal year in September, some 130 Marines in those fields had applied to switch job fields; six had requested early retirement, and 46 had asked to change services, Marine Corps data showed.

Nearly 650 Marines had yet to submit requests for any of those options. Marine Corps officials have not said how many troops would be eligible for the early release program.

Separate administrative messages published last week outlining the program requirements said they are expected to minimize involuntary separations.

An earlier message gave Marines in tank fields and some law enforcement officers until April 2022 to choose what course they'd take, or the Marine Corps would reassign them to new job fields based on its own needs.

Marines must be eligible for an honorable or general discharge under honorable conditions to qualify for early release, the messages stated.

Approved release from active service under the programs does not exempt participants from reserve or inactive ready reserve commitments, the service said.


Missile drill momentarily triggers false 'air attack' alarm at Ramstein Air Base.
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany - Americans living on and near Ramstein Air Base may have thought 2020 was about to pack yet another punch when sirens wailed and the "giant voice" shouted to take cover because of an incoming aerial attack.

Sirens sounded on the base's loudspeaker system Saturday morning, followed by the warning: "Aerial attack, aerial attack, seek cover, seek cover."

Missing were the words that typically accompany such messages - "Exercise, Exercise, Exercise" - sending some who heard the giant voice into a momentary panic.

A Russian nuclear submarine's test-firing of four intercontinental ballistic missiles - launched from the western Pacific region - was likely the trigger for a brief real-world scare in the Kaiserslautern military community on Saturday, Dec 12th.

The Russian dummy warheads hit their targets in the Arkhangelsk region in northwestern Russia more than 3,400 miles away, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement, according to The Associated Press.

The warning "made my heart skip a beat for a second," said a comment on Ramstein Air Base's official Facebook page Saturday.

Another person responded: "me too. I ran into the (base exchange) and started yelling at folks to take cover."

The 86th Airlift Wing said on Facebook that its command post "was notified via an alert notification system of a real-world missile launch in the European theater."

The all-clear was given after the missile launch was "assessed to be part of a training exercise and not a threat to the KMC area," the Air Force said in the post while thanking command post members "for their quick response.

Air Force officials Monday would not say exactly why the alarm was triggered.

U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa said Monday that "the control center followed proper procedures … to provide rapid and accurate notifications to all required personnel," both when the initial alert was received and "within minutes" after the missile launch was determined to be part of a training exercise.

"We consistently and routinely monitor for any threats to our forces and our allies," USAFE spokeswoman Erica Vega said in a statement.

At least one person took the false alarm in stride and thanked the command post on Facebook for "keeping Team Ramstein on their toes," adding: "The commissary might need to restock TP after that warning."

'Unsolvable': Forensic sleuth says he's identified a long-dead WWI doughboy, but whose job is it to bring him home?
When Beverly Dillon's home phone rang on a late summer evening in 2019, she ignored it. She didn't recognize the number and assumed it was a pesky marketing call to her home in a small Montana town near Glacier National Park.

But as the caller began leaving a message on her old-fashioned answering machine - mentioning the surnames Vincent and McAllister - Dillon raced to pick up the phone.

"Yes! I was a Vincent before I was a Dillon, and my grandmother's maiden name was McAllister," the self-described "genealogy nut" recalled saying. "I nearly jumped out of my skin. I was so excited."

On the other end of the line was Jay Silverstein, a forensic anthropologist who said he believed he had identified the remains of Pfc. Charles McAllister, her great uncle who died in battle during World War I.

Silverstein had just retired from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency in Hawaii. The U.S. government's official agency tasked with bringing home the remains of the nation's missing war dead, but this was the one case he could not bear to leave unresolved. The remains had been stored at the agency's Hawaii lab for 15 years.

Dillon, now 80, and her son, Sean, submitted DNA samples to the Department of Defense DNA Registry in August 2019, for which she received a letter of receipt a few weeks later. It was the last contact she had from the government concerning the samples, she said. More than a year later, the case has gone nowhere.

Silverstein, who now teaches forensic anthropology in Russia, is frustrated with what he regards as DPAA's foot-dragging on a case he insists could have - should have - been completed years ago.

Silverstein's criticism of how the Defense Department operates its accounting effort is nothing new. He had been among the internal whistleblowers who complained of failings of the agency's predecessor, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, sending a memo, for example, to the agency's commander in 2012 describing shortcomings in efforts to recover World War II remains on Tarawa.

His complaints were among those that led the Defense Department to reorganize the effort to account for the nation's missing warfighters by creating the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, or DPAA, in 2015.

In a civil lawsuit he filed that same year in U.S. District Court in Hawaii, Silverstein alleged that certain agency personnel had retaliated against him over his complaints and other matters, a case he lost by jury trial in 2017.

Nevertheless, when Silverstein was leaving the agency last year, he was presented the Meritorious Civilian Service Award by Rear Adm. Jon Kreitz, then deputy director of DPAA.

‘Not authorized by statute.'
DPAA Director Kelly McKeague outlined the agency's position on the World War I case in a Nov. 23 letter to U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., in response to the lawmaker's query.

McKeague wrote that the agency is not authorized by statute to account for remains in conflicts before World War II.

"At the same time, acknowledging Dr. Silverstein's efforts, DPAA is coordinating with the [Defense Department] components to hopefully facilitate an identification," he wrote. More DNA samples are required from "other known family members," but the U.S. Army Casualty and Mortuary Affairs Operation Center had not yet located them, he wrote.

Silverstein contends that DPAA has an overwhelming amount of physical, circumstantial, and historical evidence indicating the remains are those of Charles McAllister. He also argues that the agency has an obligation to account for pre-World War II remains that come into its possession - as has been done in past cases.

"Once these remains are accessioned into the laboratory, in my opinion, the agency has accepted the responsibility to treat them with the dignity, respect, diligence, and honor due to their sacrifice for our nation," Silverstein said in a Dec. 5 email to Stars and Stripes in response to the McKeague letter. "I am frankly befuddled by the dancing around of scientific and bureaucratic excuses for years, rather than vigorously seeking a way to do what is a moral imperative and what should be an honorable tribute to someone lost as [missing in action] while fighting for our nation."

McAllister's remains have been stored in a box in DPAA's Hawaii laboratory since 2004 after being exhumed, along with a second set of remains, from a construction site by archaeologists in France the year before.

In 2005, Silverstein successfully identified that second set of remains as being those of Pvt. Francis Lupo, a case resolved in part because a wallet embossed with Lupo's name had been found among the artifacts.

The first set of remains defied quick identification. Silverstein completed his analysis and passed the case to a historian at the lab, which at that time was part of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command or JPAC.

"He said it was unsolvable," Silverstein said during an interview via Skype this fall.

In response to a query about the case from Stars and Stripes, DPAA spokeswoman Maj. Leah Ganoni said in an emailed statement that Silverstein's recollection was accurate.

Silverstein's attention over the following years turned to recovery efforts in North Korea, Vietnam, and Tarawa. Still, as America approached the 100th anniversary of its entry into World War I in April 2017, he pulled that unsolved case out for another look.

"The case always bothered me because I felt there was enough information there to follow up on," he said.

He scoured the available clues, including uniform insignia that indicated the soldier had been a Washington National Guard member. He retrieved and reviewed a history of that Guard unit.

He used geographic information system mapping to reconstruct the Second Battle of the Marne, which coincided with the site on which the archaeologists had found the remains. He searched the American Battle Monuments Commission website for cross reference for soldiers missing from World War I.

He narrowed the search by considering where and when Lupo had been killed, surmising that their deaths had commonality. He came up with a list of 30 missing service members fitting the general criteria for the remains - but considered only five to be real possibilities.

At this point in his career, Silverstein was heading up a geographical information systems unit for DPAA, and he could not get official authorization to work the case, he said. His requests for records from the National Archives for the men on the list were repeatedly rejected by the contractors working for DPAA at the archives.

Ganoni said in the statement that Silverstein's recollection of these events is accurate.

"In 2017, Mr. Silverstein's supervisors did not want him to work on this incident using government time because DPAA is not authorized under relevant laws and DPAA's charter to work on WWI cases," she said.

Narrowing the list
Silverstein said he spent his own time and money retrieving National Archives records in an effort to identify the remains. Volunteers helped with genealogical work to track down descendants of the five service members on his list.

McAllister and Pvt. Rudolph Ulrich possessed the closest physical matches to the remains. Silverstein crossed Ulrich off the list when a DNA sample from one of his descendants did not match.

A dental record for McAllister stored at the National Archives set him apart from others on the shortlist: his first and second molars from both sides of the lower jaw were missing.

"He had very distinct tooth extractions that matched up to the skeleton perfectly," Silverstein said. "I don't recall seeing that particular dental pattern previously."

The height and build between the remains and records also "matched perfectly," he said.

But McKeague said in his letter that "there are a number of individuals who could be associated with the remains." That necessitates the use of nuclear DNA testing, as opposed to the mitochondrial DNA testing used on samples submitted by Dillon and her son, he said.

The genetic code in mitochondrial DNA is passed from mothers to children in almost unaltered form through generations. But nuclear DNA possesses roughly 3.3 billion more base pairs than mitochondrial DNA, making it a vastly more unique identifier.

Ganoni, the DPAA spokeswoman, told Stars and Stripes that the mitochondrial sequence found in the samples from Dillon and her son are "fairly common and not unique to make an individual identification."

Silverstein said a process of elimination has winnowed the list down to only McAllister, making further DNA testing unnecessary.

"The statistical coincidence of the biological profile, the dental record, and the circumstances of loss of soldiers from the Washington State National Guard, 2nd Regiment, Company D, makes it highly improbable and next to impossible that these remains could belong to someone else," Silverstein wrote in the Dec. 5 email. "Certainly, the cumulative evidence in this case is consistent with the highest level of legal and forensic precedent for accepting the identification of an MIA."

An innocent letter
The case took on greater meaning to Silverstein after his initial hourlong conversation with Dillon last year.

On Dillon's family room wall hangs a framed letter that her great uncle sent to his sister Effie - Dillon's grandmother - on Dec. 3, 1917, from New York before shipping out for France. She read it to Silverstein during that first call.

"I'll do everything I can for my country," wrote McAllister, who enlisted at 23 while living in the Seattle area. He concluded, "From boy gone away to war, remember me in the sweet by and by, and I'll come home when the war is over."

"Poor Jay was almost in tears by the time I finished reading the letter," Dillon said. "It was just such an innocent letter."

As of early December, Dillon had not been contacted by anyone from the Defense Department seeking leads on family members or additional DNA samples, she said.

Silverstein said in his Dec. 5 email that if DPAA has determined it is unable to "fulfill the responsibility our nation owes to Pfc McAllister, it is incumbent upon them to transfer the remains to another military mortuary authority as expeditiously, transparently, and respectfully as possible."

"I don't think the family is concerned about what government authority oversees the identification of Charles McAllister," Silverstein said. "They do, however, think that his remains sitting in a cardboard box for 16 years in Hawaii is simply unacceptable and that further hesitation or indecision on how to treat the remains is intolerable."


Wreaths Across America to go on in national cemeteries with COVID restrictions
Veterans and their families can participate in Wreaths Across America in national cemeteries, but there will be restrictions due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

For several years, the National Cemetery Administration (NCA) has partnered with Wreaths Across America (WAA) to plan and support the annual WAA program of laying wreaths for our Veterans NCA’s national cemeteries.

In previous years, these events drew hundreds of thousands of community coordinators and volunteers. This included families who wish to come and visit loved ones on their own at NCA cemeteries. NCA’s involvement in the annual WAA program has two distinct parts: The Branch of Service – POW/MIA wreath-laying ceremony and placement of wreaths at the gravesite. Both parts of the program are organized and managed by WAA volunteer coordinators. Community volunteers support by placing wreaths on individual gravesites.

This year, because of the pandemic environment, WAA and NCA have adjusted and implemented certain measures. This will minimize the number of people at national cemeteries to ensure all participants' safety. The Branch of Service – POW/MIA wreath-laying ceremonies will not be open to the public. Local WAA organizers are modifying the gravesite wreath placement activities to incorporate health and safety precautions while still honoring Veterans. In these cases, WAA organizers and volunteers will place wreaths for those who wish to honor Veterans by sponsorship of a wreath.

In some locations, WAA coordinators have elected to not hold gravesite wreath placement activities. For these locations, private visits to gravesites by the public will still be allowed.

NCA’s goal is to ensure a safe environment for those who wish to visit NCA cemeteries. National cemeteries will follow state, local, and CDC COVID-19 guidelines while visiting or participating in wreath placement activities. This includes limiting group size, keeping physically distant, and wearing masks.

More information
For information on locating a participating cemetery or how to sponsor a wreath, please see https://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.


The Coast Guard Lady

It’s official, friends: Our Coast Guard Lady has formally transitioned to her new abode in Rogers, Arkansas, at Innisfree Senior Living. Yesterday, several volunteers from the CGC Muskingum and MSD Fort Smith helped Mrs. Lois Bouton pack her final items and assist her with settling into her new place.

Lois lived in her home for over 40 years, where she dedicated countless hours to loving on the men and women of our service through the simple act of letter writing. She has written more than 40,000 letters to over 40,000 Coasties. These past few years have offered our local service members a special opportunity to (attempt) to return that kindness, which could honestly never be matched.

To help Mrs. Lois get acquainted with her new arrangements, we are seeking to return the favor! If you can find a spare five minutes, a pen, paper, envelope, and a stamp, we would love to shower her with letters for her own encouragement, enjoyment, entertainment, and recognition for all she has done not only through her service to our country but her perpetual dedication to continually pay it forward - 40,000+ times over.

If you wish to write to the Coast Guard Lady, her new mailing address can be found below:

Mrs. Lois Bouton

“The Coast Guard Lady”

Innisfree Senior Living

300 S Innisfree Cir, Apt A21

Rogers, AR 72758


For all the latest updates on how the worldwide Covid-19 crisis, click here:

Member Contributions

Cold Warrior?

A fellow Cold War vet called me a "Cold Warrior," and I pointed out that I was only a flunky. So, who would qualify to be labeled a "Cold Warrior"?

Would it be a Navy SEAL who served as a sniper from his hidden perch in the trees? Or would it be the draftee who crawled up a hill with bullets buzzing by? Is a pilot dropping bombs more of a warrior than the pilot flying reconnaissance missions? Is a pacifist medic who serves with the Army in heavy combat less courageous than the soldiers beside him? Is a tank driver less brave than the man who drives a jeep along a mine infested road? In actual combat, is the guy knocked out by the percussion of a shell less worthy of praise than his buddy who charged forward and destroyed the enemy mortar crew?

There are thousands of other military personnel doing the jobs they were ordered to do for every combat veteran.

A friend of mine served in Vietnam and spent the entire tour in an air-conditioned building doing clerk work. Should he not be proud of his service? Another friend of mine spent two years in the Navy and never went to sea.

How can a man who serves on a sub be compared to one who puts a plane safely onto the deck of a swaying surface ship? Is the crew of a supply ship somehow of lesser value than the crew of a battleship that launches shells to a coast several miles away? Should the lone wolf ships' crews ships Northampton and Wright, be considered more heroic than the aircraft carriers' crews, which were heavily protected by escort ships? Were the officers aboard the Wright and Northampton who carried the code to launch nuclear weapons more important than the officers who sat deep in a bunker ready to press the button?

Should a veteran of the Marine Corps be honored more than an Air Force vet? What is the difference between a friend of mine who served as a Marine Reservist with a few months active duty and another Marine friend who completed several years with the regular forces?

In May of 1968, there was a lot of combat in Vietnam. During the Battle of Kham Duc, over a dozen United States soldiers were killed. At nearly the same time, in the lonely North Atlantic, the submarine USS Scorpion was lost, killing 99 crewmembers while conducting surveillance of Russians. Which service members were the bravest?

I have no problem with calling some career Special Forces men "Warriors." But, is there a hierarchy of warriors? Is a warrior with 20 notches on his rifle butt more of a warrior than another with only 10? Also, every warrior’s account of battle I have read describes his fear during the action. Does that make him cowardly and only able to succeed because he feared death?

I think you see where I am going.

It takes courage and determination to honorably complete a tour of military duty. Whether soldier, sailor, airman, guardsman, or Marine - they all are worthy of respect.

Every cook, clerk, mechanic, musician, personnel specialist, and pot scrubber should be proud of the service they gave to the United States of America.

Karl Priest



When Veterans Day rolled around this year, I couldn’t help but think about the toll the last several months have probably taken on our nation’s heroes. I thought a very small gesture to show my appreciation for all of the sacrifices these men and women have made would be to reach out to sites like yours with a mission to support vets and offer some additional resources you may wish to add to your newsletter. 

Resources for Student Veterans During COVID-19 

SNAP Benefits 

VA Housing Grants for Disabled Veterans 

Current VA Loan Rates Available Locally 

Top 60 Veteran & Military-Friendly Employers 

College Resources for Veterans and Their Families 

Top 10 Work from Home Jobs for Military Spouses & Veterans with Disability 

Five Ways to Cope with PTSD

Trusted Military and Veteran Service Organizations

Highly-Rated Nonprofits Dedicated to Veterans and Military Service Members

Adam Evans


Attention California Vets!

I enlisted in the US Navy during the Vietnam era.  I was a hiring Supervisor and Manager for 20 years.  I have been on both sides of the job interviewing table. I provided 37 years of Public Safety service with the State of California. Upon retirement, I was challenged with what I can do now that I am retired.  I started volunteering as a career coach, helping those who were Job Seekers during times of economic and unemployment challenges through a ministry called "Job One" or "Job1."  We offer 14 topics, two workshops, and 1:1 coaching sessions. I developed several topics to present to the attending Job Seekers.  On one occasion, I was presenting a topic on Job Interviewing Preparation to a group. Among the group was a Representative of the State of California, Employment Development Department (EDD), who heard about Job One. After hearing my presentation topic, he invited me to present to their program on the topic of Job Interviews.  

The veteran unemployment rate in California is 11%.  The State of California, Employment Development Department (EDD) VetNet Program was developed to assist with lowering this number if they could engage employers and the unemployed veterans to use the services to improve their overall health, mental, and fiscal wellbeing. The Job Fair will address our vets' financial position, and the Small Business Referral Program will help veterans become business owners. The Pets for Vets and the Dress for Success programs will focus on mental well-being, while the Dental Program will improve their physical condition. EDD's goal is to build the VetNet Education Center here in California is a priority.  The VetNet Program offers an 8-week cycle of topics (i.e., Networking, Resume Writing & Critiquing, Job Search Techniques, How to Utilize LMI & ONET Websites, Employer's Perspective on Resume & Cover Letters, Elevator Speech, Interviewing Techniques & Practices, Mock Interviews with Employers).  EDD offers tax incentives to employers toward hiring veterans.  California honors the veterans for their service to our country by placing veterans at the top of their job title eligibility lists for passing the civil service online examination process. 

Fred MacRae

Contact Information:

By Mail 
Employment Development Department
Workforce Services
PO BOX 826880 MIC 50
Sacramento, CA 94280-0001 

By Phone 




TWS Locator Service

Available for Together We Served members only! Together We Served has two hard-working Marines devoting their time and energy to help our members find long lost friends who are not yet members of our Together We Served..

If you are looking for someone, email us at admin@togetherweserved.com with name, approximate age, where they were from, last known address, marital status and name of spouse. We'll do our best!

Two Army Recruits Save Fellow Trainee's Life at Basic Training

After only a week of basic combat training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, two privates stepped up and saved a buddy's life, according to a Sept. 17 release from the U.S. Army.

Pvt. Carlos Fontanez, originally from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, said he had noticed something was off with his fellow trainee over the previous few days.

"He slept to the right of me. With previous events that had happened, I kind of realized maybe I should talk to him," he said.

Fontanez said he walked into the latrine and found the trainee using a PT belt as a noose.

"In the latrine, I saw what was going down, and I was just telling him, 'C'mon, think about what you're about to do.'"Pvt. Ari Tilla, native of Rochester, New York, walked in soon after. 

"On Thursday morning [Sept. 3], I entered the latrines," he said. "I was doing some cleaning, and I heard a commotion off to my side. I saw Fontanez helping his battle buddy, who was in a mental health crisis, and we stepped in and got him the help that he needed."

The two worked together to save their fellow trainee.

"I lifted him up so he could breathe, and Till unclipped the PT belt, and we just got him down and stayed by him until he got help," Fontanez said.

Drill Sergeants and cadre took over after Till and Fontanez had gotten the trainee out of immediate danger, the release states. The trainee is now safe and receiving professional medical care, it added.

According to the release, both Fontanez and Till have had friends or loved ones attempt or die by suicide.

Till said it's important not to ignore warning signs. "If they're normally a social person and you see a distinct change in their mood or the way they interact with the people around them," those can be warning signs, he said.

If someone isn't getting enough sleep, food, or other basic needs, that can be a sign that they are in crisis, Fontanez added. "Really, just pay attention to everything that's going on," he said.

Lt. Col. Mark Larson, commander of 1st Battalion, 19th Field Artillery, presented the two with a unit coin.

"On the first day, I didn't know if I wanted to keep it here with me because of my personal relationship with people who have had problems with that. I didn't want a reminder," Till said. "But the longer time has passed, I like having it because it is a reminder that [he] is OK, and there are people out there that will do the right thing."

Fontanez agreed. "I like having it. I see it every day, realize what Till and I did, and it kind of just brings me to the point where it's like, you know, he's still here with us," he said.


Book Review: Once a Warrior

How One Veteran Found a New Mission Closer to Home
By Jake Wood

When Marine sniper Jake Wood arrived in the States after two bloody tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, he was not leaving war behind him - far from it. Ten years after returning home, Jake's unit lost more men to suicide than to enemy hands overseas. 

He watched in horror as his best friend and fellow Marine, Clay Hunt, plunged into depression upon returning, stripped of his purpose, community, and sense of identity. Despite Jake's attempts to intervene, Clay died by suicide, alone.

Reeling, Jake remembered how only one thing had given Clay a measure of hope: joining him in Haiti on a ragtag mission to save lives immediately following the 2010 earthquake. His military training had rendered him unusually effective in high-stakes situations. What if there was a way to help stricken communities while providing a new mission to veterans?

In this inspiring memoir, Jake recounts how, over the past 10 years, he and his team have recruited over 130,000 volunteers to his disaster response organization Team Rubicon. Racing against the clock, these veterans battle hurricanes, tornados, wildfires, pandemics, and civil wars while rediscovering their life's purpose along the way.

Once a Warrior provides a gut-wrenching account of the true cost of our Forever Wars - and more importantly, a glimpse of what might become of America's next greatest generation.
Reader Reviews
Once A Warrior is the book that America needs right now. Jake Wood's life-changing experience is a reminder of the greatness of the American spirit and how, now more than ever, we need to activate that spirit for the common good."
~Tom Brokaw, journalist, and author of The Greatest Generation

"One veteran's call to action can change the world. A must-read for anyone who wants to better understand the struggles and opportunities that our warriors experience upon returning from combat.”
~Marcus Luttrell, author of Lone Survivor

"Once you taste the joy and fulfillment that comes from service, you'll want to continue to serve, and Jake Wood proves it. Once A Warrior will inspire you to want to be a better human being." 
~Simon Sinek, optimist and author of Start with Why Leaders Eat Last, and The Infinite Game
"An inspiring, true story of combat, courage, and commitment. Jake Wood did what warriors must and came away from the experience a builder; building Team Rubicon, rebuilding lives, and creating hope.”
~General Stanley McChrystal, author of Team of Teams

"Anyone who wants to better understand the veteran experience - or anyone who has a pulse - should read this gut-wrenching, paradigm-shifting book. Jake Wood offers one of the most soaring definitions of service I've ever seen."
~Maria Shriver, award-winning journalist and author of I've Been Thinking

"Once a Warrior is a book full of wisdom learned the bloody hard way. Taking us from Iraq to Afghanistan, to the truly incredible organization he built in the wake of his service, this is a roadmap for engaged, serious citizenship of the most inspiring kind."
~Phil Klay, author of Redeployment

"Ever notice that the best business books aren't business books? This is one of those books."
~Chris Sacca, investor, self-made billionaire, and frequent co-host of Shark Tank

Just got the book and can't put it down! What an eye-opening account of what our military and veterans experience at war and back home. It's a must-read!
~Meghan R

Inspiring story of service and dedication to duty. I also recommended the audiobook to hear it directly from the author.
~Paul Kehoe

So excited to receive this from a Marine Corps brother on our birthday. Semper Fi. Following Jake Wood, since @TeamRubicon, I have read his other books and truly enjoyed the way he instills leadership skills in our daily lives. This country needs this book right now, and I hope you buy it, read it and enjoy it as much as I did.

A truly fascinating, inspiring read - this book needs to be read by everyone. It's a story about resiliency, facing uncertain challenges head-on, and most importantly, hope. The author's passion and dedication for this story and the greater mission comes through 10 times over in the audible version. I couldn't stop listening.
~Kevin Kaiser

Wood shows himself to be a steady, experienced voice of reason in a time of great confusion in the US. He holds the tension between politics and humanity, resulting in a sense of unity, hope, and humbleness that reminds Americans who we want to be at our core. Wood articulates personal accounts of human connection that break the barriers of language and even culture in the most extraordinary - and often excruciating - of circumstances. 

He dignifies those closest and farthest from him, showing the capacity of the human spirit for respect, love, and connection (even in war). This is a fascinating read that is restorative to who we are as Americans and what type of leaders we have in our country, currently serving the front lines of our humanitarian efforts through disaster relief response.

About the Author
Jake Wood is an entrepreneur, author, combat veteran, and former college football player. He is the co-founder and CEO of Team Rubicon, one of the fastest-growing nonprofit organizations in America. Team Rubicon serves communities by mobilizing veterans to continue their service, leveraging their skills and experience to help people prepare, respond, and recover from disasters and humanitarian crises. 

Jake has authored two books: ONCE A WARRIOR (2020) and TAKE COMMAND (2014). He is a sought-after keynote speaker and recognized expert on topics of leadership, organizational culture, and crisis management.

In a prior life, Jake served in the Marine Corps as a scout-sniper from 2005 to 2009, with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. In an even earlier existence, he played college football for the Wisconsin Badgers.



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