Clayton Beisiegel U.S. Army Air Corp. 1943-1946 World War II
Clayton, a junior, left Boys Vocational School to help his family. After basic training in Florida; in South Carolina, Clayton, a Rifle-Range Instructor, developed training programs. Clayton was in Scotland on D-Day. Ordered to England, Clayt, as he was known, was a supply clerk and performed various duties. Given one break Clayt joined a convoy to Lowestoft Beach. He said Canadian soldiers looked rough; but the Canadian girls looked real good.
In London, Clayt served officers in the mess hall. A great fan, Clayt’s best experience was serving meals to Glen Miller and his Big Band.
Flying to Germany, Clayton spent 12 months as a mail courier picking up and delivering correspondence between headquarters. Driving a Jeep, Clayt traveled across bombed out roads driving around big holes. Germans strung razor wire across roads. If the wire went through the windshield, it would take the driver’s head off. Bumper strips with metal posts kept the wire from going into the windshield.
Returning stateside, Clayt spent a week aboard ship; sleeping in hammocks, 5 deep, one on top of the other. Clayton was given $20 to get home.
Eyesight issues kept Clayt from combat, saying his experiences didn’t compare to those in combat. Asked the best part of his service, Clayt said “discharge.”
Two weeks shy of their 75th wedding anniversary Clayton’s wife Lorraine passed. On February 22nd, Clayton celebrated his 100th birthday! Let’s show our deep appreciation for Clayton Beisiegel.
Peter Babbie U.S. Marine Corp 1971-1976 Vietnam Era
Peter enlisted and trained as a Combat Engineer. Peter was stationed at Paris Island, South Carolina, Camp Lejeune and Camp Geiger, North Carolina.
Peter wore many hats, participating in several training sessions and various projects to maintain the installations. Peter’s skills included building Quonset Huts and floating bridges.
After a 3-day pass, Peter returned to base to learn he was a day late. The Military Police put him in handcuffs, sentenced him to months of “KP” duty as he made desserts for officers instead of his real duties.
Let’s be clear, Peter received an honorable discharge!
Maurice Brown U.S. Army 1966-1992 Vietnam
Maurice enlisted at 17 and served for 26 years.
Trained in Heavy Equipment Operations and Jungle Warfare, Maurice went to Germany.
He was ordered to Hai Van Pass, Vietnam along Route 1. Maurice had many tours in Vietnam enjoying being at the controls of a bulldozer or Uke. Maurice extracted gravel and stone from quarries to make cement and roads; working with the First Cavalry building combat landing zones.
Maurice spent 3 years in Korea with Ordinance Company.
Ordered by the Defense Nuclear Agency, Maurice went to 1940 nuclear test sites in the Marshall Islands to cap leftover radiation with concrete.
Mark Davey U. S. Army 1972-1973 Vietnam
With his father’s consent, Mark enlisted at the age of 17. He received basic training at Fort Gorden, Georgia. Mark was assigned as a Radio Relay Carrier Attendant, a position he never served in. Ordered to South Korea, Mark was assigned to duty as the driver for the Commander. Mark said his 13 months in South Korea were rather uneventful. As a curious teenager, Mark traveled to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and the historic site of the Korean Armistice Agreement separating South and North Korea. Mark continues to keep up with his Army comrades.
Deborah Dowd Veteran Guardian for brother Mark Davey U.S. Air Force 1974-1980 Vietnam
We believe Mark and Deborah are the first twins to go on Honor Flight together. Deborah trained at Keeseler Air Force Base, Mississippi. Sent to England, Deborah served in Air Control Radar Maintenance, and she is the first female Radar Technician to serve in the European Theatre. At Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, Deborah moved to Accounting and Finance allowing her to take advantage of the GI Bill.
Barry Fernald U.S. Army 1969-1971 Vietnam
Receiving a draft notice, Barry trained at Fort Dix, Fort Benning, and Fort McClellan.
Barry was sent to Phu-bai, Vietnam.
As an Unattended Ground Sensor Operator, Barry manned directional sensors placed to monitor movement of hostile forces; also protecting U.S. military installations and personnel.
With hot nights in Vietnam, arriving soldiers slept ‘buck naked’ until gun fire at night when they got fully dressed with boots on.
One night Barry felt something running up and down his leg, but he didn’t want to know what it was.
Walter Maddox U.S. Army 1945-1952 Korea
After basic and specialized training, Walter joined the 71st Battalion. On a ship for 5 days enroute to Korea, the sailors were woken up at 4 a.m. and stayed on the boat until 9:30 p.m.
Walter maintained generators for specialized teletype trucks, compounded lighting, electronic fences; working shifts to keep them running 24/7.
A Korean house boy accidently set off a grenade; soldiers panicked thinking it was an enemy attack.
Two planes came in for emergency landings; one crashed and the other parachuted out.
Walter lived in a one-man tent, slept in trucks side by side; spent one night in a graveyard.
Sent to Guam by mistake, Walter enjoyed 3 weeks of R & R. Flown to Tokyo, Walter stayed in the same hotel as General McArthur.
Charles Newsham U.S. Navy 1948-1953 Korea
Bad eyesight kept Chuck from Flight School. Assigned as a Fire Control Technician, Chuck boarded the USS Rochester, 7th Fleet. President Truman ordered the 7th Fleet into action as the Korean War started. Their first mission was to evacuate U.S. citizens.
Chuck was at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir as 130,000 Chinese enemy forces attacked the 1st Marine Division and UN Forces. Chuck’s ship assisted the soldiers who marched over 70 miles to escape the Reservoir. The shelling lasted 2.5 years.
Chuck was responsible for precision of large guns allowing troops to target trains, roads supply lines and enemy movements.
Given 2 days for R & R, Korean bomber aircraft dropped 4 bombs; 3 hit the ship and bounced off without exploding.
Ending his tour, Chuck left his seabag on his bunk, walked out and didn’t turn back.
James Pudlo U.S. Army 1966-1969 Vietnam
Jim was drafted and sent for training at Fort Jackson and Fort Monmouth. Assigned as a Fixed Plant Carrier Repairman, Jim worked on Communications and Microwave equipment.
Jim spent 14 months at Fort Shafer, Hawaii, the headquarters for the Asia-Pacific region.
Transferred to Vietnam, Jim served with the Army Signal Corp. near Saigon and Da Nang. Consisting of more than 23,000 soldiers, the mission was to originate, install, operate, and maintain a complex communication system across Southeast Asia under a single, unified command.
After the Tet Offensive, Jim was able to slow down.
Leonard Reyore U.S. Navy 1955-1958 Cold War
Leonard was assigned to the destroyer USS Hyman-DD732. As a Fire Control Technician Leonard directed the weapons systems, assuring weapons including guns, torpedoes and hedge hogs accurately struck their enemy targets.
Leonard saw the world at seaports in Cuba, Chili, Artic Circle, France, Greece, Italy, Turkey, Germany, England and Scotland. Crossing the Equator sailors faced humiliating shenanigans of initiation.
Leonard disliked standing watch midnight to 4:00 a.m. especially when workdays started at 5:00 a.m.
Leonard did like the opportunity to taste many varieties of beer.
Randy Reyore Veteran Guardian for his dad U.S. Army Reserves 1985-1997 Desert Storm
Randy enlisted with the 962nd Ordinance Company, 4th Platoon, Plattsburgh. Randy trained in Munitions Handling and Storage. Randy deployed to Germany, preparing munitions for transport to the War in Iraq.
Participating with the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, Randy and other soldiers foiled a group of Canadians attempting to steal rockets, missiles and flares from a depot.
Kenneth Robillard U.S. Navy 1967-1968 Vietnam
Ken enlisted at 17, completing basic training at Great Lakes, Illinois. Trained as a Court Reporter, Ken transcribed legal procedures including trials, depositions, and administrative hearings. Ken‘s duties were in direct support of the Navy JAG, the legal arm of the Navy.
Ken was assigned to a Combat Helicopter Unit. He recalls a court day sitting with 16 sailors in a non-judicial punishment without a court-martial under the Military Code of Military Justice.
Ken participated in 4 cruises on the Atlantic including the Aircraft Carrier USS Lake Champlain.
Shawn LaPier Veteran Guardian for Father-in-law Kenneth Robillard U.S. Army 1991-1996 Gulf War
After basic training Shawn attended specialized training as a Quarries Specialist. In this position, Shawn constructed airfields, roads, dams and buildings by moving tons of materials used in cleaning, crushing, drilling, grading, and detonating rock at construction sites.
Shawn assisted the California Environmental Protection Agency with cleanup of oil spills at military sites.
Glen Shick U.S. Air Force 1977-1985 Cold War
Glen enlisted and was assigned to transportation units, including Plattsburgh Air Force Base.
After specialized training, Glen was assigned to a covert location in Iran, designated “Desert 1”.
The team was sent to rescue the 52 Embassy hostages kept captive for 444 days. Unfortunately, the rescue aircraft collided at a refueling point, ending the mission unsuccessfully.
Glen received the National Defense Service Medal and Naval Reserve Meritorious Service Medal recognized by the combat operations, Joint Task Force, in support of Delta Force Operation Eagle Claw.
Francis Stunzi U.S. Navy 1956-1959 Cold War
Frank enlisted at age 17. After training, Frank was assigned to USS Neosho-AO-143, a fuel and cargo replenishment ship.
A Culinary Specialist, Frank fed 350 men, 3 meals a day as the ship went from Norfolk up and down the Atlantic coast, across the Atlantic to support the Suez Canal crisis, Italy, and a special task force conducted 3 nuclear weapons tests in the South Atlantic.
Crossing the Equator, young seamen called Poly-Wogs had their heads shaved, were submersed in fuel-oil, crawled through weeks of old garbage to achieve the title of “Shell Back”. Frank has the photos to prove it.
Lucille Trahan U.S. Air Force 1954-1956 Cold War
Lucille enlisted shortly after the end of the Korean War. Trained as an Administration Specialist, Lucile went to Texas and then to F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming.
In Wyoming, Lucille marched in a local parade with a famous movie star; she won’t tell who. She recalls the women looked better marching then the men did.
Enjoying the Wyoming countryside, Lucille truly liked her work and she fell in love with horseback riding.
Lucille revealed to the Flight Leaders she loved going out with the cooks. She enjoyed meeting people and traveling to various places.
Howard Turner U.S. Army 1967-1970 Vietnam Army Reserves 1991
After basic training at Fort Knox, Howard went to Fort Leonard Wood for Heavy Equipment Operator. Howard was with a construction team building an 840-foot bridge across a Missouri river.
Shipped to Tuy-Hoa, Vietnam, Howard worked along the Vietnam National Route 1, Highway 1; the main road to move U.S. forces safely.
Leaving the Army, Howard joined the 962nd Ordinance Company, Plattsburgh. Activated in support of Desert Storm, Howard went to Germany serving as an ammunition inspector for all ordinances being shipped.
Gordon Compeau U.S. Navy 1967-1970 Vietnam
Already a heavy equipment operator, Gordon skipped basic training; took a leadership course.
A Seabee, Gordon served two tours in Vietnam; first Freedom Hill, Da Nang. Gordon had a unique skill obtaining/trading supplies. Gordon traded a helicopter for concrete and installation of a baseball field. One late night, Gordon acquired a tracker trailer, got a howitzer, and a load of ammo. The Provost Marshall couldn’t find the truck or its contents.
On his second tour, Gordon became seriously ill, returned stateside, no help at VA, a civilian doctor diagnosed parasites requiring several surgeries. Gordon is proud to be healthier now than when he served.
Frederick Decker U.S. Army 1954-1957 Korean
As the Korean War escalated, Fred’s father told Fred, a high school junior, to join the Army to help support their family of 13.
Fred trained as an Ordnance Specialist; he served as the driver for the Company Commander. Fred’s duties were ensuring the safety, security, accountability of weapons, ammunition, and machinery. He also received, stored, transported, inspected, and disposed of weapons and ammunition.
During a special ceremony, Frederick, with his younger brother Phillip, received their high school diplomas on June 16, 2023. Fred’s grandson Eli shared his high school graduation with his grandfather and great-uncle.
Phillip Decker U.S. Navy 1959-1988 Vietnam
Phil, like Fred, enlisted at 17. Trained in Electronic Warfare, Phil served aboard key naval war ships; supercarrier USS Forrestal CVA-59; USS Sellers DDG-11, special destroyer modified for surface to air missiles; destroyer USS Mackenzie-DD-836.
On the coastal water off Vietnam, Phil had an integral role in “Operation Sea Dragon”; impeding enemy ships taking supplies to North Vietnam; destroying land targets with naval gunfire.
Phil completed 29 years of service to our Country as an instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy.
Phillip sure earned his high school diploma. Congratulations to Frederik and Phillip on their many achievements.
Gary Dragoon U.S. Army 1967-1969 Vietnam
Gary was drafted. After basic training, Gary trained at Fort Sill as a Cannon Fire Direction Specialist. Gary was sent to Pleiku, Vietnam.
Gary loaded ground coordinates into a computer, determining the range, compass bearing, and angle to aim Howitzer guns so they could efficiently hit their enemy targets avoiding endangering U.S. and friendly forces.
Due to Gary’s accuracy the Howitzers could fire a 200 pound round over 20 miles.
Proud of his service, Gary was dismayed when told to change into civilian clothes to avoid harassment.
Carl Ketchum U.S. Army 1967-1970 Vietnam
After basic training, Carl trained in vehicle fleets ranging from staff cars to 5-ton tracker trailers.
Carl enjoyed driving a staff car for senior officers and high-ranking government employees. Carl drove from Fort Meade to the Pentagon, National Security Agency, FBI Headquarters, and classified sites in Baltimore.
Transferred to Germany, Carl’s driving skills delivered troops and military field equipment to joint force training areas and U.S. troops to German and Czechoslovakia border stations.
On a trip, taking a break, Carl realized he was in a Neutral Zone way too close to the border and quickly exited.
Phillip Kie U.S. Air Force 1966-1970 Vietnam
Phillip enlisted; trained as an Air Freight Specialist. Prior to deployment, Phil underwent leg surgery that required 6 months to recover. The Air Force stopped his pay; a congressman got Phil’s pay back. Phil’s time was limited; he reenlisted. Sent to Vietnam, Phil loaded and unloaded aircraft including the caskets of U.S. soldiers and friendly forces. Not speaking the foreign families’ languages, Phil couldn’t communicate with them.
While stationed at Glasgow Air Force Base, Montana, Phil met his wife as they celebrate 56 years of marriage.
Michael O’Connell U.S. Army 1969-1972 Vietnam
Michael had basic training at Fort Dix; advanced training as an Intelligence Analyst and Censor at the Army Intelligence Center, Maryland. Training in escape and evasion, Mike was locked in a foot locker, rolled down a hill and broke his ankle.
Sent to Okinawa, Japan, Mike had the option of living on or off base. The Monsoon rains kept him on base. Mike studied Indonesian serving as an area specialist traveling to Taiwan.
Mike learned the principle of saluting when he failed to salute a senior officer as he saluted a tree over and over.
Ronnie Ouimette U.S. Army 1958-1962 Vietnam Army Reserves 1962-2001
Ronnie enlisted at 17. After basic training, Bucky trained at Fort Devins as Medical Specialist. He loved driving the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) Ambulance. Sent to Germany, Bucky was assigned to 8th Infantry Division, 8th Battalion, the largest ambulance company in Germany. Getting through the base gates, Bucky realized there were benefits to driving an ambulance as the MPs didn’t stop him making going off base to local bars a breeze. Bucky never got caught.
Bucky served with the Army Reserves in Elizabethtown and Plattsburgh until 2001.
Vincent Patnode U.S. Army 1971-1973 Vietnam
Drafted, Vincent was sent to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Vince trained on “Honest John Missile”; a truck mounted weapons system, using an elevated rail launch platform that fired conventional missiles with high explosives. Assigned to South Korea, Vince met the U.S. Nuclear Support Team who showed him how to carefully aim missiles into North Korea. In the field, tests were noisy as each missile broke the sound barrier twice immediately after launch. Vince fired missiles along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) close to the North Korean Mess Hall blowing their windows out every time.
Norris Rhinehart U.S. Army 1945-1946 World War II
Norris wanted to enlist in the U.S. Navy to be aboard submarines. Segregation and discrimination denied Norris from the Navy so he enlisted in the Army. Norris trained as a Culinary Specialist; referred to by fellow soldiers as Cook.
During basic training, preparing for deployment overseas, Norris received countless shots and medications for inoculations. Unfortunately, the inoculations wreaked havoc with him. Norris was hospitalized for 6 months, preventing his voluntary deployment overseas. Remaining state-side, Norris prepared meals for other soldier disembarking for ships destined abroad and across the United States. Norris was subsequently discharged and returned home.
Norris then entered the United States Postal Service, and he was assigned aboard trains as an armed courier.
Let’s give a huge round of applause for 96-year-old World War II veteran Norris Rhinehart.
Stephen Shorette U.S. Army 1966-1968 Vietnam
Drafted at 19, Stephen went to Fort Hood, Texas, for Combat Engineer training as he quickly shipped to Vietnam. Stephen’s duties included supporting infantry; building helicopter pads; roads; bridges and tunnels; even removing mines.
Recognizing helicopters were the backbone of the forces, the Combat Engineers knew clean, open landing zones were essential especially when transporting wounded soldiers. Stephen helped clear the way throughout Vietnam.
Stephen liked the Black Market when soldiers traded whisky for truck parts, beer, and steaks. Stephen said the worst beer is Ballantine.
Ward Shorette U.S. Army 1966-1968 Vietnam
Drafted, Ward received training in ‘Light Artillery’. Deployed to Vietnam, Butch spent 23 days on a ship. Butch served 13 months in the Mekong Delta, the largest enemy attack in the war.
Light Artillery included the M-102 Howitzer, commonly towed behind trucks; in rough terrain or urgent need for weapons on the front lines, helicopters dropped weapons by parachute. Butch was blinded by debris from a mortar attack saying he didn’t hit the ground fast enough.
Butch would like to forget the crowds booing in San Francisco as the soldiers ended their tour.
Some memories you never forget.
Robert Passon Veteran Guardian for Ward Shorette U.S Coast Guard 1991-2018
Robert enlisted; initially trained as a mechanic; promoted to Marine Safety Specialist in Engineering. Rob was assigned to a remote site 150 miles north of Nome, Alaska, where they maintained a 1,350-foot tower; critical for long-range navigation for ships and aircraft; producing over 1 million megawatts of power. Rob sailed on cutters, tugs and ice breakers, serving 27 years of service to our Country.
John Veno U.S. Army 1958-1980 Vietnam Era
John trained at Fort Knox as a Tanker Army Crewman; trained on the famous Patton, First Generation Tank M48A5.
Preparing for deployment with the National Guard or Active-Duty Army Unit, John was assigned to the 172nd Infantry Regiment specialized in mountainous and cold weather operations. John’s unit was the only conventional unit from the original 10th Mountain Division that fought during World War II.
John was blown off a tank when a tank inadvertently fired too close to his position causing a concussion.
John is a dedicated Citizen Soldier; Vermont National Guard Vermont Strong.
John served 20 years in service to our Countr
Robert Wright U.S. Army 1963-1965 Vietnam
Drafted, Robert trained as a Heavy Vehicle Driver. Bob was sent to an Army Outpost on an ice cap in Greenland; Military’s most unusual base. Bob supported a 330-ton Nuclear Power Reactor; staying long enough to take it out. Bob traveled on a “Command Train” of bull- dozers and ice cats over frozen terrain; trailers contained repair shops, bunk houses and drums of fuel. Supply stops each half mile had blankets and C-Rations. Men said ‘a woman behind every tree. There were no trees. One USO show may have had a woman or two.
Bob recalls snowstorms going sideways; ropes tied between buildings for safety; buildings buried under snow.
James Wright Veteran Guardian for his brother U.S. Army 1984-1990 Cold War
James enlisted; trained in Tactical Transport Helicopter Repair. Jim was assigned to the 101st Airborne as a Black Hawk Crew Chief near Seoul, South Korea. Jim flew with the 377th Medevac Unit, formerly 4477th MASH. Jim’s Unit provided medical evacuation support to ground forces; transported wounded soldiers to medical centers; gave timely, efficient medical care to injured soldiers. He flew with the U.S. Surgeon General, who wrote a letter recommending Jim for flight school.