7:57 | She knew 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.
Keywords : Gail Black Croatia Bosnia Sava River land mine civilian poverty Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) mail helicopter
Her father was a Green Beret, but when Gail Taylor Black expressed interest in joining the military, he was skeptical. Shortly after he passed away, she joined the Texas National Guard. She got encouragement from her aunt, who cared for her children while she trained.
The drill instructors had never had women recruits before. They were a little unsure how to handle it, remembers Gail Taylor Black. She did six years in the Texas National Guard, then decided to go regular Army. She was disappointed that she was not called to Desert Storm, but then her unit was alerted to go to Bosnia.
Gail Taylor Black had a mentor at the 440th Signal Battalion, her staff sergeant, Regina Johnston. Eventually, she got her job and was promoted to corporal while deployed. This allowed her to move into the NCO tent. What an improvement!
She was in the personnel section, but it was a signal unit, so Gail Taylor Black learned how to splice wire while preparing to deploy to Bosnia. One perk in the unit was the ability to call home, but the separation from family was still trying, especially the lack of information from back home.
Gail Taylor Black describes the toll on her and her family during her deployment to Bosnia. Serving in a war zone leaves many soldiers with a lot of family problems, and her family was no different. Part 2 of 2.
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.
Gale Taylor Black wants everyone to remember that Bosnia was a real war, not just a peace keeping operation. She reflects on what it's like to be a woman soldier in a war zone and she contrasts the abilities of the service members of today with those of thirty years ago.
Bill Pearson had been to Vietnam twice and returned unscathed, but the Army wasn't done putting him in danger. He was assigned as an aviation consultant to Iran, advising the Shah's air force on it's supply of American aircraft. The day he arrived, martial law was declared and it wasn't long before there were mobs outside trying to burn down the building. The embassy was no help. Escape seemed impossible.
His aim was to help put his sister through college. Walt Richardson scored so well on the tests that he was inducted into the Air Force. Perhaps it was the schooling he received at the school run by the mother of Chappie James, who became the first black Air Force 4-star General.
For Walt Richardson, it was all about the core values of America. As one of the first black airmen to integrate the Air Force, he calls on his unique perspective to explain why America is so much greater than other nations that are so much older.
He had been a glider pilot in the war and he was a bona fide power pilot who could fly many smaller planes. George Theis then became a flight engineer in a B-52 unit. He was in the cockpit readying for a flight when the pilot asked if he'd like to try a take-off.
Army surgeon Quinn Becker almost retired but he was selected to attend the War College. That usually meant they were grooming you for higher up. As he moved up to higher commands, he set out to modernize antiquated field medical equipment, a need he had first noticed years before.
When George Theis returned from occupation duty, he got married and began seeking a career in civilian aviation. The tough job market drove him back into the newly renamed Air Force. He had a good run as a flight engineer and worked on the conversion to computerized controls.
After successfully completing aircraft mechanic school, Walt Richardson joined the crew on a commanding general's B-17 in Okinawa. As the only black crew member, he had to earn respect and he did. He was also part of the honor guard when the first freely elected leaders in Japan were inaugurated.
Walt Richardson was in the last all black training flight in the Air Force. His aim was to serve his three year obligation and then return to college, but he saw a musical revue put on by members of the fabled Tuskegee Airmen. They were holding open auditions and he went to showcase his fine singing voice.
The 18th Field Artillery Brigade supported a lot of units during Operation Desert Storm, including the French Foreign Legion. Should the war have continued on into Baghdad? Going home was OK with Freddy McFarren. He had already been in the desert for eight months.
When an alert was sounded, the procedure for fighter pilot Rick Hilton was to get his aircraft fueled and wait at the end of the runway with a live nuclear weapon on board. Someone thought this was a little too much power for a fighter jock so the procedure was changed to include blocking the taxiway with a fuel truck. Then a real alert came in.
He was only four years old when Rick Hilton's uncle let him "fly" his airplane. The kid couldn't reach all the controls but he did get a deep desire to fly. He got his chance in college with the Air Force cadet program and was soon piloting jet fighters.
It was a very difficult program to get into, but Marvin Cole persisted and was one of the final candidates standing to be admitted to the Army's physician assistant training program. After that, he was sent to Germany where his management ability got him noticed.
After being an advisor in Vietnam, Freddy McFarren returned to his first love in the military, artillery. As a commander with the 82nd Airborne, he fired some of his guns in Grenada. That operation convinced him and others that the military needed to increase joint operations training.
It was a busy four days in Iraq for the 3rd Brigade Combat Team commanded by Bob Clark. Once the cease fire was declared, his mission became more humanitarian with swarms of displaced persons to take care of. Then there was that Elvis sighting.
He never even thought about getting out. Freddy McFarren liked the Army because of the people, quality people at all levels. His long career eventually saw him return to West Point, where he helped prepare the next generation of leaders.
When Bob Clark arrived to assume command of the 3rd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division, Saddam Hussein had just moved into Kuwait and the unit was preparing to deploy. Soon, he was staring across the Saudi desert into Iraq.
Lawson Magruder, who commanded troops in the Somali deployment, was disturbed by what he discovered after the conflict was over. Partisan distrust following a change of administrations had sidelined the most experienced diplomat in the area. This contributed to an already bad situation.