7:02 | As an Air Ambulance aviator, Fred Mills had skills in demand all over the world. While stationed in Germany, he flew a mission to Somalia for flood relief, where he was puzzled by tall Watusi in short dwellings.
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College student Fred Mills "ran out of money and experience" and had to leave school just as the Korean War started. A Navy recruiter promised him aviation training but he wound up a Corpsman, which started a long medical career.
After flying relief missions in Iran, Fred Mills was soon back in the states in medical operations. But Vietnam was heating up and he went for his first tour, flying medical evacuations and even finding himself in command of a Special Forces camp.
Helicopter pilot Fred Mills was "really busy" flying medical evacuations in Vietnam. When trees prevented a landing, he dropped a chainsaw to troops, and he used a map with no borders to evacuate from Cambodia. It was "the dirty part of the war."
Fred Mills had a rookie pilot on a evacuation mission who nearly hit the only tree in a rice paddy. Other stories include a refused Purple Heart, tracers through the cabin, and landing a replacement craft next to the still smoldering craft it replaced.
While on his 2nd Vietnam tour, Fred Mills was picked to be the Aviation Officer for the Surgeon General. From there, he moved to the Pentagon and a civilian outreach program that resulted in widespread use of civilian air ambulance operations.
After a variety of Army medical jobs, Fred Mills had a final task. Planning operations for the Gulf War. After retiring, he recalls the harassment when he returned from his 2nd tour in Vietnam. Some sore bar patrons and scared Hare Krishnas also remember.
Navy Vet Fred Mills joined the Army Reserve and then the regular Army, which trained him as an aviator, fulfilling his original enlistment goal. His first stop was post-war Korea where he was given a mysterious mission that did not happen.
Returning to Germany after a mission in Somalia, Pilot Fred Mills was off to another important Air Ambulance operation, this time in Iran following an earthquake. Told to protect his passenger, Princess Pahlavi, he nervously felt the 45 on his hip.
Gail Taylor Black decided to stick it out for a 25 year Army career. Now a contractor for the National Guard, she feels like she is giving back to the military that did so much for her. She fondly remembers the sergeant who helped her get through the readjustment to civilian life.
When a vehicle loaded with explosives blew up at the gate, dental officer Mike Barno hurried to his emergency assignment, triage at the aid station. A truck with wounded men from the Afghan Army pulled up and he jumped into the back, ready to help.
Following the tragic deaths of ten Afghan children, it fell on General David Barno to tell President Karzai about the incident. He describes the effect this had on the rules of engagement going forward and he discusses a document he drew up to give guidelines to the troops that would keep them in the good graces of their hosts.
Justice details a too-close-for-comfort interaction with a vehicle-borne IED. The IED came as a complete surprise and the entire F.O.B. fell into what Justice could only describe as “chaos” immediately following the explosion. She suffered several injuries and had to work with the nurses back in Bagram and depend on the friendship of comrade Colonel Ellison to come back from the injuries.
Regena Herndon wanted to join the military after talking to a recruiter at a high school career night. The fact that her brother would not talk about his experiences in Vietnam did not deter her. Basic training was tough, but she prevailed and became a soldier. Her first post at Fort Dix was a bad experience, but the next one, in Frankfurt made up for it.
Fort Bragg was one of her favorite posts. What did Regena Herndon learn there? Endurance and taking initiative and how to deal with high ranking people. After her retirement, she worked with juvenile offenders and got a lot of satisfaction when lives were turned around.
When Dionne Archibald went to the Military Sea Lift Command, she was lucky to get a brand new ship. The job was fueling and supplying ships at sea and it was during this time that she got to make a contribution to the Desert Storm operation.
Dionne Archibald had many assignments and ships during her Navy career, including the USS Wasp. It was transporting Marines during the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns. As the information security manager, it was part of her job to deny internet access to those who strayed online.
Her mother passed away an September 10, 2001. Nothing could have prepared Dianne Butts for the shock of the following morning's events, a national tragedy added on to her personal tragedy. As a logistics officer, she did her part when called to Operation Iraqi Freedom, where she did her job, despite the psychological toll any war zone can bring.
Being stationed in Germany was a great assignment for Dionne Archibald because she always had a love of travel and that gave her a chance to see Europe. After she returned to the States, she was promoted to master chief and returned to recruiting as an equal opportunity specialist.
Dianne Butts talks about the strained relationship with her daughter while she was deployed, an example of the stress on military families. She keeps the PTSD at bay by getting involved with women veteran groups and lobbying congress on veteran issues.
After thirty years of service, Dionne Archibald left the Navy, but her passion to help people continued. Her non-profit organization Active Veterans With Answers acts as a bridge between veterans and the VA, to make sure they have access to all their benefits.
Emmanuel Melendez-Diaz wanted to deploy to Iraq and he got his wish. The spartan conditions were bearable, but he had a sergeant who badgered him about his English and relegated him to KP duty. Fortunately, he was able to move to another company, where he was wanted, with the help of some breakfast cereal.
After being thrown into combat right away, Marine air traffic control technician Nate Winkler's time in Iraq got a little more settled down. He was in country for eight weeks doing his part to set up and operate forward air fields. Then, relief was sent and he came home, which was fine. He'd got his taste of the war. Part 3 of 3.
She was young and alone, but the Navy made sure there was someone to meet Dionne Archibald at the airport in Japan as she began her first assignment. She had no problem re-enlisting after her initial four year hitch and went to an advanced communications course before her next post. She lucked out on that one.
During the period of Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Shield, Kirby was stationed yet again. This time, she was working in Portsmouth, Virginia. She talks about how her children are now in the military themselves, and gives her thoughts about the ending of the Vietnam War.
After getting back on flight status, Knisely also worked under General Schwarzkopf during Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Shield. He gives his reflections about the Vietnam War as a whole and what he wants people to take away from it.
Dionne Archibald was a top recruiter for the Navy. She was stationed in New York City on that fateful day when the Twin Towers and the Pentagon were hit by terrorists. She recounts the events as she experienced them, including a grim trip to the site.
She new it was for real when the order came down. "Lock and load!" Gail Taylor Black was on her way into Bosnia with a signal support unit. She was amazed at the poverty of the place, and it gave her a new appreciation for her life at home. She also saw the effects of PTSD, before she ever heard the word. Part 1 of 2.