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Meet Your Military: Army Paratrooper Recalls Childhood in Iraq

Army Sgt. Ali Alsaeedy, a paratrooper assigned to the 307th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, poses for a photo in front of his unit's engineer castle at Fort Bragg, N.C., March 3, 2017. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Anthony HewittArmy Sgt. Ali Alsaeedy, a paratrooper assigned to the 307th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, poses for a photo in front of his unit's engineer castle at Fort Bragg, N.C., March 3, 2017. Photo by Staff Sgt. Anthony Hewitt

By Army Sgt. Anthony Hewitt, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division

FORT BRAGG, N.C., June 13, 2017 — In Iraq's capital city of Baghdad during the 1980s, a family of six brothers and one sister — all very close in age — played in the streets and parks of their hometown, enjoying the simple things in life they had at the time. Through the decades, the times and the city had changed, and the streets and parks were not as simple.

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Meet Your Military: Structural Maintenance Airman Keeps Aircraft Safe

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska, June 2, 2017 — Air Force Airman 1st Class Lukas Johnson joined the Air Force to save lives. He thought he could pursue his calling sealed snugly inside a bomb suit, defusing improvised explosive devices as an explosive ordnance disposal technician.
Air Force Airman 1st Class Lukas Johnson, an aircraft structural maintenance technician with the 3rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, works with a C-130 Hercules leading-edge training aid April 20, 2017. The Phoenix native works to prevent aircraft corrosion, which can compromise an aircraft's structure. Air Force photo by David Bedard

Structural Maintenance Airman Keeps Aircraft SafeAir Force Airman 1st Class Lukas Johnson, an aircraft structural maintenance technician with the 3rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, works with a C-130 Hercules leading-edge training aid April 20, 2017. The Phoenix native works to prevent aircraft corrosion, which can compromise an aircraft's structure. Air Force photo by David Bedard EOD was the job listed on his original enlistment contract, but the Phoenix native was disqualified during medical screening.

Fortunately for the 3rd Maintenance Squadron airman assigned here, he found his calling in aircraft structural maintenance, a career field charged with maintaining and repairing the sheet metal, tubing and composites that make up an aircraft fuselage.

Instead of saving lives by manually detonating artillery rounds strung together on the side of a road, Johnson defuses structural problems that could cause a catastrophic failure in flight.

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Clemson University Scroll of Honor

memorial day 2017 b support our troops org

LEMSON, SC, May 25, 2017 -
UNITED STATES

Story by Staff Sgt. Ken Scar   
335th Signal Command (Theater)

Volunteers gathered in Clemson University's Memorial Park Thursday, May 25 to place 489 flags on the Scroll of Honor - one for every Clemson alumnus who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country - in preparation for Memorial Day observances.

The Scroll of Honor is grass-topped barrow ringed with stones engraved with the names of each Clemson alumnus who gave their lives in service to their country. It sits in Memorial Park, which is located across the street from the Clemson Tigers' 81,000-seat Memorial Stadium. To date, 491 alumni have been identified who were killed from WWI through the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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Meet your Military - Married Airmen Serve Together on Deployment

Air Force Senior Airman Matthew Feigum - U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Sylvia Feigum

By Air Force Senior Airman Cynthia Innocenti
379th Air Expeditionary Wing

AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar, March 10, 2017 — The sky casts a grey haze, damp concrete calmly reflects ramp lights in the distance, and a light mist dampens the sage uniform worn by Air Force Senior Airman Sylvia Feigum as she illuminates the orange marshaling wands in her hands.

After she crosses her arms above her head signaling the aircraft to stop, Feigum walks swiftly to the exit door of the plane.

Feigum, a combat oriented supply organization journeyman with the 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron, is responsible for coordinating supply requests for C-17 Globemaster III aircraft maintenance and also maintains mobility readiness spares packages containing high-demand and critical aircraft parts for the C-17 and C-5 Galaxy aircraft here.

Since arriving, Feigum has also volunteered to step outside of her primary career field to learn and execute aircraft marshalling, or visual communication with aircraft.

Taking on this extra duty would hold extra significance to her on one day in particular when she had the opportunity to direct a Boeing 777-200 aircraft carrying her husband, Air Force Senior Airman Matthew Feigum, a combat crew communications journeyman with the 816th Expeditionary Air Lift Squadron.

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Veteran's Reflections: "I Wish I Had Stayed In"

Saint Silver, an Army veteran of the Vietnam War, poses for a photo during a visit to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., July 30, 2010. DOD photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class William Selby  WASHINGTON - Saint Silver is considered a disabled veteran. Post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep apnea, and diabetes related to Agent Orange exposure have affected him since he served in Vietnam. But he doesn't look back in anger. He looks back with appreciation for the service.
In fact, he said, serving in the Army was the best thing that happened to him."Being in Vietnam, you can't forget it. It's something that stays with you for the rest of your life, Silver said. "Being a veteran is the best thing that happened to me. He's grateful that he was able to serve his country, he said. "I think that every young man, when he turns 18, should be obligated to serve the country, he said. "I think we'd have less crime, less killing one-on-one. The military gives you some stability, and you learn to grow up and be a man. The Henderson, N.C., resident said serving in the Army helped to shape him as an adult, and his service abroad taught him to appreciate the things some take for granted in the United States. "Once you get back home, you realize how much you love our country, and how much freedom you have in a democracy versus communism over there, where you're told what to do and when to do it, Silver said. Silver served as a clerk in the Army from 1968 to 1971, though he said he never worked in his specialty. Instead, he was a utility supervisor, advising Vietnamese in the Mekong Delta, where he never thought he'd end up. "They told me I passed the physical in January, and I'd be drafted the next month, Silver said. "So I volunteered, thinking I'd miss Vietnam. But right after [specialty training], I went straight over to Vietnam. Vietnam was a good cause, Silver said, and the lessons learned there should be kept in mind when considering drawdowns and missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said he believes the United States pulled out of Vietnam too soon, resulting in continued problems for the Vietnamese people. "If we do like we did in Vietnam, leaving before the job is finished, other countries will think they can't depend on us, he said. "If you consider yourself an ally of another country, you should be able to stay and help them through what they're going through before you leave. Americans never really lost the war over there. It was the counterparts that lost. We didn't lose. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan shouldn't deter people considering military service today, Silver said. The benefits, both tangible and invisible, outweigh the risks of combat, he added. "Once I got out, I wish I had stayed in, he said. "Where can you go and get 30 vacation days a year? You get hospitalization, and you don't have to worry about it. Plus, it makes you grow up. You get a skill. After 20 years you can retire to another job. It has so many opportunities, and positives, in spite of the war. All young people don't think that way, he acknowledged. "But as you get older, you realize all of the things you missed by not staying in, he added. ("Veterans' Reflections is a collection of stories of men and women who served their country in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and the present-day conflicts. They will be posted throughout November in honor of Veterans Day.) Nov. 20, 2010: By Ian Graham- Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity
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Veterans' Reflections: Experiencing "Full Metal Jacket"

Army veteran Arlen Bliefernicht discusses his service in Vietnam during a July 15, 2010, interview. DOD photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class William Selby  WASHINGTON - Like a lot of his fellow servicemembers in the 1960s, Arlen Bliefernicht didn't choose to join the Army. The DeForest, Wis., resident didn't know what to expect when he finished basic training and shipped to Vietnam with the 4th Infantry Division.
"For the first six months I was in Vietnam, it was like a Boy Scout outing, he said. "It was very casual, and we didn't see a lot of action. But we didn't see what was coming. The last six months of his tour, following the Tet offensive in January 1968, were less casual, to say the least. "It wasn't nonstop action, but there was a lot of it, he said. "Up to that point, we suffered very few casualties, but after Tet it was a rollercoaster. At one point, Bliefernicht's unit ran into a scene straight out of the movie "Full Metal Jacket. In Kantum City, the troops got caught up in the "fog of war, attacking hills where the North Vietnamese army had bunkered, not knowing for sure if the attacks were coming on a small scale or were part of a larger offensive. It was there that they had their first soldier killed in action. After taking one hill, Bliefernicht said, he realized how much trouble his unit was about to encounter. "One time we were on this hill, we could actually see the North Vietnamese coming up the valley toward us, he said. "We called in, 'Where's the air strikes? The gunships? The artillery?' They were out. The troops had to hold their positions until the supply chain could catch up to what they needed to fight back. "That was a very shaky feeling, that all of a sudden we were so low on ammunition, Bliefernicht said. But it was the battle of Chu Moor, near the Cambodian border, that really "chewed up his battalion, Bliefernicht said. The entire battalion and a few other companies were involved, he said, and though it isn't known as well historically, the troops who were in Vietnam that year remember it vividly, perhaps more so than the Tet attacks. It was there, Bliefernicht said, that he was wounded for the first time. He got shot, but the injury was relatively small, he said, and he was back on his feet and in the field within a few weeks. "I got a couple of Purple Hearts and a Combat Infantry Badge, he said. "But the biggest medal I earned was getting out alive, and I don't have any disabling injuries from that. Bliefernicht said he visits the Vietnam Veterans Memorial here regularly to pay respects to the soldiers who weren't as lucky as he was. It's hard on him, he acknowledged, but he said he has learned to cope in a way similar to visiting deceased friends or family members at a cemetery. "The Battle of Chu Moor is big in [the memorial's] section 53-E, he said. "There are a few names that jump out who are special to me. It's an emotional impact every time I see it, but I've learned to deal with it. Bliefernicht said he learned a lot coming back from the war and seeing the negative reaction people had toward Vietnam veterans, and that he thinks the American people have learned from that mistake. He had only a few brief instances of people harassing him, he recalled, largely because he avoided places or events that would invite harassment. He's glad he hasn't seen that kind of reaction en masse toward veterans of Iraq or Afghanistan, he added. "We're backing you, he said. "I know the 'Nam vets are going to get out there and make sure you don't get any receptions like we got when we came back. While you're over there, keep your head down and stay lucky. He said the best way people can support veterans is to listen to them, and steer them to proper help for PTSD or other emotional issues that can arise after experiencing combat. "The biggest thing, especially with returning veterans, is to have some understanding of the emotional and mental problems they're going through, and the multiple tours, Bliefernicht said. "So have some understanding; we didn't get that understanding when we came back. They went through some very traumatic experiences - anybody who goes through war does. ("Veterans' Reflections is a collection of stories of men and women who served their country in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and the present-day conflicts. They will be posted throughout November in honor of Veterans Day.) Nov. 22, 2010: By Ian Graham- Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity
 
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