D-Day Remembrance with Living Legends at Aerospace Museum

Story and photos by Trina L. Drotar  |  2019-06-06

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Seventy five years ago, Dwight D. Eisenhower authorized Operation Overlord sending 176,000 troops from England to France. The date was June 5, 1944. On the morning of June 6th, troops, including 18,000 parachutists, had landed or were landing on the shoreline of Normandy. An additional 13,000 aircraft had been dispatched to provide air cover for the troops. June 6th, 1944 is D-Day.

Clarence “Bud” Anderson was one of the pilots who flew 100 miles inland that day. He shared that story with a group of 100 visitors at the Aerospace Museum of California’s D-Day commemoration event on Saturday, June 1st. Anderson, a retired colonel with the USAF, was joined by retired Navy Commander Dean “Diz” Laird for a talk about their experiences during WWII.

“We are so fortunate to have them here today,” said museum director Tom Jones.

The men, a few years south of 100, entertained the audience for two hours, graciously posed for photos, and signed books, pictures, and memorabilia. They met the many attendees who stood in long lines for the opportunity to ask a question or to thank the men for their service, a phrase heard repeatedly.

Prior to their talk, museum volunteer Jim Ronko, dressed as a D-day glider pilot, led a group of nearly 50 people through a living history talk and reenactment. “Path to D-Day” began inside and finished outside in front of the C-53, a plane that would have carried gliders to Normandy. Volunteers dressed as parachutists sat inside and greeted children and adults. The tour set the stage for the talk.

WWII aces, Colonel C.E. “Bud” Anderson, USAF (Ret.) and Commander Dean S. “Diz” Laird, USN (Ret.) looked like the neighbor next door or a great uncle, belying the strength that both men displayed during WWII and continue to display.

“To all of our veterans, past and present, especially Bud and Diz, thank you for your service,” said Jones who provided an overview of D-Day before introducing the Placer High School graduates.

Anderson, a triple ace, served in WWII and Vietnam, and received, among others, the Bronze Medal Star, World War II Victory Medal, Air Force Longevity Service Award, and Vietnam Campaign Medal. He is a National Aviation Museum, EAA Warbirds of America, and San Diego Air and Space Museum International Air and Space hall of fame inductee. He is also a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.

Laird, born in Loomis, suffered from motion sickness but he had his sights set on flying. Among the 100 airplanes he has flown are the F4F Wildcat and F6F Hellcat. He scored victories in both the European and Pacific Theaters, set a record during the 1949 National Air Races where he flew an F2H Banshee. He is the recipient of Distinguished Flying Cross and Audie Murphy Award, among many others. He is also a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.

“Gentlemen, I salute you,” said Jones. The audience applauded and many saluted the two men.

“We were the hottest damn fighter squadron in the world,” Laird said, his voice quiet but strong. “We were told this, and we believed them.”

He talked about the new requirement to be qualified for night landing saying that most pilots were not enthusiastic and that reports from the executive officer “did nothing to bolster our morale.” Laird recalled a sky filled with 72 fighter pilots circling and trying to get into a traffic pattern. The men, constantly ridiculed, trained nightly. During the third week, Laird finally entered the traffic pattern, made several passes, and was determined to make the next pass his last. But he was going 10 – 15 knots too fast, caught only the top wire and was turned upside down.

“Damn Diz, we thought you were dead,” said the flight officer.

Laird did not have to make another attempt until he was back in the United States.

“It was a rather rough six months, learning new things from people who didn’t know how to do it in the first place.”

He threatened to punch his ops officer if he did not get a good mission. The mission, it turns out, nearly killed him, but he is a survivor who jumped out of an airplane for his 90th birthday and flew his 100th aircraft three years ago.

After flying a six hour mission, he returned to the ship, was seen by a doctor, and moved to sick bay where the doctor removed his appendix.

“You are one of the luckiest guys I know,” the doctor told him.

Anderson, it turns out, is also one lucky guy who credits the P-51 Mustang and Major General Jimmy Doolittle’s new instructions that fighter pilots could pursue and destroy while climbing to 18,000 ft. altitude. Previous mandates limited the planes to 15,000 ft. and required them to remain very close to the bombers.

“What a lucky break that was for us,” said Anderson. “That’s when victories soared.”

They were able to kill the experienced Luftwaffe pilots, leaving them with planes and inexperienced pilots. 

Anderson was the second flight to take off in the early morning hours of June 6th. Two squadrons of 32 aircraft were dispatched.

“Our destination was south of Normandy on the other side,” he said. The third flight leader said, “You know, that Bud Anderson seems to get home all the time. I think I’m going to follow him.” The mission lasted 6 hours, 55 minutes. A normal mission lasted 4 ½ hours.     

“It was a magnificent sight,” he said about the beach and seeing the troops and boats, adding that it was also the site of “incredible losses.”

After a standing ovation, complete with more salutes, the men met with attendees.

“You can be anything you want to be, just find something and excel at it,” said Anderson to Ryan, a young man.

Anthony Borrero, whose father also served in WWII, was one of the last to meet Laird.

“Thank you for our freedom, Commander.”

For additional information on Aerospace Museum of California, visit: https://aerospaceca.org.

 

Trail Brothers to Provide Free Horseback Riding to Veterans

Miranda Raulinaitis, Elmets Communications  |  2019-05-23

Image of riders on Trail Brothers’ horses at Gibson Park. Photo courtesy of Trail Brothers

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Veteran owned business, Trail Brothers LLC, will celebrate the grand opening of their equestrian services at Gibson Ranch Park by offering free guided horseback trail rides to veterans and their families this Memorial Day – Monday, May 27 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Those interested in taking advantage of the free guided trail rides must schedule their session in advance by visiting www.GibsonHorses.com.

Zachary Leyden, CEO of Trail Brothers, served as a combat veteran and is thrilled to launch his equestrian services at Gibson Ranch.

“Gibson Ranch is a beautiful park and the perfect destination for veterans and their families to pack a picnic and celebrate this Memorial Day,” said Leyden. “We feel privileged to provide our services on the exceptional trails.”

The Veterans of Foreign Wars will also be selling their “buddy poppies” to celebrate American military service members.

As part of an ongoing partnership with Gibson Ranch Park, Trail Brothers will provide guided trail rides, pony ride and other equestrian services to guests following the Memorial Day grand opening. Gibson Ranch Park is located at 8556 Gibson Ranch Road, Elverta, CA 95626

For more information, please visit: www.gibsonhorses.com.                                        

About Trail Brothers
Trail Brothers began in 2016 and is owned by Zachary Leyden and Kalea Bell. The company provides equestrian services from trail rides, pony rides and horse training to kids camps and riding lessons at three different venues in California. Veterans ride free at all three venues.

About Gibson Ranch Park
Gibson Ranch is one of Northern California’s best family destinations. Located less than fifteen miles from downtown Sacramento, this amazing natural resource offers a wide-range of activities from hiking, to concerts and sports of every kind.

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Sacramento Region Honors the U.S. Naval Construction Force

Source: City of Rancho Cordova  |  2016-11-03

Rancho Cordova’s 11th Annual Veterans Day Ceremony will be held on Friday, November 11 to remember our veterans and honor the missions of the U.S. Naval Construction Forces (Seabees).

Did you serve in the U.S. Naval Construction Forces? You are cordially invited to Rancho Cordova’s Veterans Day Ceremony to be recognized for your service.

The ceremony will be held in the Veterans Memorial Plaza at the Sacramento VA Medical Center, 10535 Hospital Way at Mather. Pre-program entertainment will begin at 9:30 a.m. followed by the commemoration program at 10 a.m. Music entertainment will be provided by the Rancho Cordova River City Concert Band, featuring the “Song of the Seabees.”

The Seabees’ motto of “We Build - We Fight” recognizes the work of the members of the U.S. Naval Construction Forces. The Seabees have a history of building bases, bulldozing and paving thousands of miles of roadway and airstrips, and accomplishing myriad other construction projects in a wide variety of military theaters dating back to World War II. The word “Seabee” comes from the initials “CB,” which comes from the term “Construction Battalion.”

The Seabees first became active on March 5, 1942 during World Water II when U.S. involvement was expected on both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. More than 100,000 Seabees were trained during World War II and have continued to serve since. The Seabees now include 7,000 active personnel and 6,927 reserve personnel.

Ceremony speakers will include Congressman Ami Bera; Senator Jim Nielsen; Assemblyman Ken Cooley; Kathryn K. Bucher, Associate Director of Patient Care Services/Nurse Executive at VA Northern California Healthcare System; Rancho Cordova Mayor David Sander; and Rancho Cordova Council Member Robert J. McGarvey, who spearheaded the first Veterans Day and Memorial Day events in Rancho Cordova. The Vultures Row Aviation Team will provide a flyover towards the end of the ceremony.

The ceremony is sponsored by the City of Rancho Cordova, the Department of Veterans Affairs Northern California Health Care System, AlphaGraphics Rancho Cordova, and Republic Services.

Rancho Cordova City Hall will be closed on Friday, November 11 in observance of Veterans Day. For more information about the event, please call (916) 851-8700.

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IRS Marks National Military Appreciation Month

Source: IRS  |  2016-05-26

May is National Military Appreciation Month, and the Internal Revenue Service wants members of the military and their families to know about the many tax benefits available to them.

Each year, the IRS publishes Publication 3, Armed Forces Tax Guide, a free booklet packed with valuable information and tips designed to help service members and their families take advantage of all tax benefits allowed by law. This year’s edition is posted on www.IRS.gov.

Available tax benefits include:

  • Combat pay is partly or fully tax-free.

  • Reservists whose reserve-related duties take them more than 100 miles from home can deduct their unreimbursed travel expenses on Form 2106 or Form 2106-EZ, even if they don’t itemize their deductions.

  • Eligible unreimbursed moving expenses are deductible on Form 3903.

  • Low-and moderate-income service members often qualify for such family-friendly tax benefits as the Earned Income Tax Credit, and a special computation method is available for those who receive combat pay.

  • Low-and moderate-income service members who contribute to an IRA or 401(k)-type retirement plan, such as the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan, can often claim the saver’s credit, also known as the retirement savings contributions credit, on Form 8880.

  • Service members stationed abroad have extra time, until June 15, to file a federal income tax return. Those serving in a combat zone have even longer, typically until 180 days after they leave the combat zone.

  • Service members may qualify to delay payment of income tax due before or during their period of service. See Publication 3 for details including how to request relief.

Service members who prepare their own return qualify to electronically file their federal return for free using IRS Free File. In addition, the IRS partners with the military through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program to provide free tax preparation to service members and their families at bases in the United States and around the world.

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Veterans Healing by Writing War Stories

Story and photos by Steve Liddick  |  2016-03-18

Veteran writing program Co-Director Indigo Moor works with Emtt Hawkins, an Air Force veteran of the Korean War, to express his feelings about his experiences.

A character in John Steinbeck’s classic novel “East of Eden” had suffered unimaginable pain and loss in his life. He was asked how he could live with those memories. He said, “I forget by remembering.”

That concept is being applied to a small Sacramento area group of veterans of America’s wars. A writing workshop doubles as a support group to help each to offset the trauma of battle by giving them a way to confront the demons they continue to carry with them.

Rancho Cordova Library Branch Supervisor Jill Stockinger coordinates the writing program that is funded by a four-year state and federal grant. She said veterans returning from war are an “underserved population,” and those who still suffer the effects of war can benefit by writing. Therapeutic, of course, but the hope is that it will be enjoyable, as well. “Self-expression is a positive experience,” she said. “We encourage veterans to express themselves to help them adjust to civilian life.”

Seated around a table in a quiet room in the library, five veterans gathered to write of their experiences among others who will understand what they have gone through.

Local writer, poet, and CSUS and Sacramento City College English professor Bob Stanley is co-director of the group in the first of what will be four Wednesday evening sessions at the library. The remaining three sessions are: March 30th, April 20th, and May 18th. Veterans of all branches and all eras are welcome, even if they were not able to attend the first session.

“The main focus of the group will be to get words down on paper,” Bob Stanley said. Any subject, any form. No rules or pressure came with the exercise. Each was encouraged to express what they feel and put it in words.

Co-Director Indigo Moor is a poet, screenwriter, and author as well as a U.S. Navy veteran of Desert Storm. Moor read from the published works of several war veterans who had poured out their feelings as free verse poetry. One of those works was a poignant retelling of the poet’s visit to the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Judging from the reaction of those present, the words were resonating with them as well.

Another author wrote obscurely of things he heard, saw, and felt on a night patrol in Vietnam, but which each of the veterans present easily interpreted as a soldier waiting for the enemy to come at him from the darkness. Not knowing was as damaging to the psyche as combat itself.

At one point Moor asked those present to close their eyes and envision that “one moment that defines the [war] experience” for them. He urged the men to use the sights and sounds of their experiences in the writing exercise, “use the senses that keep us interested,” he said. Rather than a blow-by-blow account of what happened, he asked that they call upon their feelings and condense them onto paper.

Some who attended are still burdened by what happened to them in their war. U.S. Marine Corps veteran Daniel Gomez served four tours in Vietnam. Gomez was wounded twice and continues to suffer the health effects of the injuries, exposure to Agent Orange defoliant, and malaria. When asked why he was attending the workshop, he said, “To figure out why the hell I’m still here.” His war may have ended four decades ago, but it is still as fresh in his mind as yesterday.

The five men who attended the gathering represented different branches of the service: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force, as well as different wars: Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East.

Carmichael resident Bob Pacholik is an author of some renown. He was a U.S. Army combat photographer in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive. His book “Night Flares: Six Tales of the Vietnam War,” chronicles the war and honors the men and women who served in it.

Most of those present were there for the therapeutic value writing might offer. Some of the men said they hoped to continue to write beyond the program. Emmett Hawkins served in the U.S. Air Force in Korea. Among other subjects he is interested in religion and history.

For each of the veterans who took part in the Rancho Cordova writing workshop, the object was to reduce their experience down to its essence to help them to better understand what happened to them.

Poetry: a large idea, written small.

For additional information about the veterans writing project, check out www.saclibrary.org and click on “events.” Also, the library information line number is (916) 264-2920.

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Veterans Seek Alternative Treatments for Post-Traumatic Stress

Brandpoint  |  2016-03-01

(BPT) - Most people can’t imagine being terrified by the sound of a fork falling and hitting the ground. They don’t understand how someone cannot sleep because the fear of recurring nightmares keeps them awake. They’ve never experienced anxiety that turns everyday tasks into impossible chores.

But for thousands of American veterans, these are just a few symptoms that can make their lives unbearable. And while millions are aware of the condition they suffer from - post-traumatic stress or PTS - few are able to grasp the severity of the condition, and medical science is a long way from understanding the neurological causes of PTS.

In the news, stories of PTS tend to focus on bureaucratic mishandling, ineffective medications that have severe side effects and the general tragedy of those who are afflicted. However, there is also a side of the story that has to do with hope, strength and love. While a single cure has not yet been discovered for PTS, there are many instances of veterans finding peace and a path to recovery through some non-conventional - and often controversial - means.

Equine therapy

The greatest challenge for many who suffer from PTS is to rebuild relationships with other people. Many have found that a powerful way to lessen the anger and hypersensitivity that often prevents them from enjoying normal relationships is through caring for horses. Grooming, feeding, cleaning the pen and riding the animals helps those who suffer from PTS to return to the trusting and nurturing emotions they learned to suppress due to the stress of combat.

Acupuncture

This ancient Chinese practice of pushing pins into specific points on a patient’s body has gained widespread acceptance for a variety of medical and psychological purposes. The idea behind the practice is to heal and restore balance between various systems of the body. Though there is no conclusive evidence that acupuncture can help in all situations, several studies and many veterans report long term benefits in recovering mental stability.

Bariatric oxygen treatment

This treatment involves a patient entering a pressurized oxygen chamber for about 90 minutes, during which time they can read, watch TV or even take a nap. The theory is by increasing the oxygen levels in the body’s tissues and red blood cells, it will speed the body's natural healing capabilities and repair neurological damage. Though the treatment is still experimental, many have claimed this treatment is a miracle, and several studies have confirmed its benefits. The Purple Heart Foundation has invested money to make this therapy more readily available to veterans.

Medical marijuana

Perhaps the most controversial therapy on the list, there is a fine line between PTS patients being treated with marijuana and abusing marijuana. Nonetheless, as veterans returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, more tales of the benefits of medical marijuana began to emerge, leading many advocates in both state and federal governments to push for more research and availability.

Meditation

Meditation comes in many different forms, but the idea is the same: to create a quiet space in your mind through focusing on something as simple as your breath. Achieving the deep level of relaxation allows many veterans to begin to sort out their traumatic experiences. By no means is it a cure, but results from countless veterans and studies show meditation to be an important part of the healing process.

Because PTS is such a complicated condition that arises from experiences that are unique to each veteran, there may be no such thing as a one-size-fits-all cure. What this means is that each person needs to be treated as an individual, and have a range of treatment options available.

The Purple Heart Foundation is dedicated to doing just that. Through investing in research for therapies such as bariatric oxygen treatment, as well as supporting state-of-the-art programs like the National Intrepid Center of Excellence at Fort Hood, the organization is helping veterans live a full and rich life in the country they fought for.

To learn more about how your donation to the Purple Heart Foundation can help veterans with PTS, visit www.purpleheartfoundation.org.

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Entrepreneurs Find Opportunity After the Military in Key Cities

Brandpoint  |  2016-02-10

(BPT) - John Lentini carefully considered his career options after leaving the Navy. He decided to leverage the leadership skills fostered in the military by starting a business in Asheville, North Carolina, specializing in search-engine optimization.

“I had the infrastructure to do it, and there wasn’t a lot of competition,” says Lentini, owner of AshevilleSEO.org. “In Asheville, people like to support local things.”

Lentini’s example supports the findings in a recent list that named Asheville as the best place in the United States for veteran entrepreneurs.

Military transition experts with USAA and an initiative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation called Hiring Our Heroes commissioned the list. They worked with researchers from Sperling’s BestPlaces and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University to come up with a list of 10 metro areas with a strong veteran-owned and small business environment.

They analyzed more than 400 metropolitan areas by criteria such as veteran-owned businesses per capita, small businesses per capita and overall economic stability. Cities in Florida and North Carolina dominated the list.

“This list identifies the top places for those veterans who want to use their discipline and determination to start and grow a small business,” says Eric Eversole, vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and president of Hiring Our Heroes.

Geographic location choices are very important for service members entering the civilian workforce, especially those wanting to start their own business, Eversole says.

That’s certainly the case for Brian McCarthy, CEO of Always Home, a real estate company specializing in concierge services for landlords and absentee homeowners. Always Home is based in Sarasota, Florida, which ranks No. 2 on the list of Best Places for Veteran Entrepreneurs.

“We have about 70,000 veterans in Sarasota County and surrounding areas, including 14,000 military officers,” says McCarthy, who served in the Navy. “It’s very veteran friendly with lots of activities for veterans. When you have that type of support, it makes it easy.”

This list provides a snapshot of places where starting a small business could make sense. For instance, it excludes areas with a median cost of living of more than 20 percent above the national average.

It also aligns with the post-separation help service members learn about through the military transition assistance program from the U.S. Department of Defense. USAA also offers the military separation assessment tool to help give veterans a starting point from which to plan their next steps.

Lentini, the Asheville business owner, gives simple advice whenever he meets with others transitioning away from military life.

“Use whatever resources you can get your hands on,” Lentini says. “And don’t be shy about telling customers you’re a veteran. It helps.”

The full entrepreneurship list includes:

  1. Asheville, North Carolina
  2. Sarasota, Florida
  3. West Palm Beach, Florida
  4. Staunton, Virginia
  5. Prescott, Arizona
  6. Wilmington, North Carolina
  7. Missoula, Montana
  8. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
  9. Oklahoma City
  10. Fort Walton Beach, Florida
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