I have always been fascinated listening to stories from veterans, starting as a youngster. My father was a Korean War 1st Division Marine, one uncle was a Korean War Army Ranger (8th Ranger Company) and another uncle a Marine with the 3rd Marine Division, who landed on Iwo Jima. Each told their stories in different ways, served in different capacities and were distinctly changed by their experiences.

From these, I learned to pay attention to adults as I grew up, when I heard them talking about their military experiences. From combat, to rear echelon support, to service during peacetime, each story was unique. And yet for all this, eventually it dawned on me there were some common bonds among all these men (I did not meet, or at least hear, any female veterans and their stories). The strongest tie between them all was their pride in service. It seemed to me they all sat a little straighter. Talked a little clearer and their eyes shone brighter. Then, almost to a man, even those who lost fellow comrades in combat, they would do it all over again given the choice.

These stories ran from sad to lifelong friendships to happy and even funny. Any veteran can find some event they witnessed or were involved in that would recall any or all of these emotions. To this day, I love to sit and listen to these wonderful men and women share their stories, no matter how much or how little they actually share.

I did not serve in combat, I was actually stationed in (at that time) West Germany along the Czechoslovakian border. We were the early human warning system in case the (then) Soviet Union decided to start a war across the border. Because I worked at a remote site, I lived in a barn, partially converted to a two-room apartment, on a dairy farm. My “host” landlord became family within a matter of hours, and to this day we correspond. Though I have stories to tell, listening is more fun and educational.

So today, I have a two-part “assignment” for those interested readers. The first, no matter how young or old, find a veteran, in your family, neighborhood or town and ask them about their military experiences. Ask general questions and if they are so inclined, listen to what they have to say. I guarantee you will learn something about that person you may not have known before. The second part of this, please share any stories that you may have experienced in the service, or maybe a family member or friend, with me. As past historian of American Legion Post 86 here in Wilton, I would like to include these stories in our archives.

History needs to be documented, and our veterans, military and their families have all lived history. So email me at legionpost86@gmail.com or mail your story to Tom Moore, P.O. Box 75, Wilton, CT 06897-0075.
Tom Moore, Adjutant
American Legion Post 86