CPT Johanna Marie Louwerens Veenendall

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Marie is the perfect example of a patriot who answered the recruiters call. She served on active duty and in the reserves. Also, she contributed as a teacher in the Department of Army overseas schools during occupation. Her roots extended from the Netherlands and South Africa to Grand Rapids, MI, which her parents chose as home. South High School, Grand Rapids Junior College and Western Michigan University provided her education and profession as a teacher.

She taught in the Lakeview School System and at Henry School before volunteering for military service in 1943. She was assigned to Personnel Section at 3rd US Army Air Force HQ. She left that station to attend Officers Candidate School.

Upon discharge, Marie used her GI Bill to earn a Master’s Degree at the University of Michigan. She then went overseas to teach in the Army school for dependents at Mannheim, Germany. Despite the major destruction all around, opportunities existed for travel and attending Opera performances. She visited Italy, France, Germany, Spain, England and Berlin. Going to the Opera in these countries was a special treat. She heard Faust, Aida, Carmen, and Madam Butterfly among others. A highlight of her overseas service was having attended a Pearl Mesta party.

Marie joined the Army reserves. When she returned to Grand Rapids, she served as the Training Officer for the 454th General Hospital. She left the Reserves, in 1963, when she married Laurens Veenendall. Upon return to teaching in Grand Rapids, she found a need at the Eastern Orthopedic School, for which she qualified by obtaining a 6 year Specialist Degree in Special education. Her pupils were mostly Polio and Cardiac victims. She also assisted in the establishment of Ken-O-Sha School and Indian Trails Camp for special needs children.

We honor you, Johanna Veenendall .

(#Repost @The Grand Rapids Press)

Pfc Reuben T Brown

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Reuben Brown was born Oct 27, 1923 in Kingsley, Iowa. Dad went into the service January 1943. He served overseas for 2 years, 5 months, 26 days. According to his discharge paperwork, he served 6 months as a rifleman before becoming a cook for the next 9 months. He served in Air Force Headquarter’s Squadron Officers Mess. He “prepared meals from special rations for flying officers. He made soups, roasted meats, salads, eggs, and other dishes.” He finished up his last 8 months as a Guard.

While overseas, he served in Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland, and was part of the Central Europe Air Offensive.

He came back to us aboard the Queen Mary. He went to work in Sioux City for the Bar S Meat plant. He met my mom there and they were married September 11, 1947. Dad worked for the railroad for 8 years. I came along September 25, 1948.

In 1947, we sold the house and furniture and left Iowa for Seattle, WA. Dad went to work for Pacific Car Foundry and worked there until 1959 when he went to work for Boeing. He died June 14, 1998 and was buried in Tahoma National Cemetery.

We honor you, Reuben Brown.

(Submission written by: Bonnie Brown)

 

PVT Arthur H Espe Jr

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Arthur H Espe Jr was born on June 14, 1914. He enlisted in the Army in Seattle, Washington. He received his training at Camp Ord, Calif., Camp White, Oregon and Jackson, Miss., from which place he was sent to England in June 1944.

Espe was killed in action on January 26, 1945  near Brachelen, Germany.

We honor you, Arthur Espe Jr.

(#Repost @Fields of Honor)

 

CAPT Stanley W. “Swede” Vejtasa

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Stanley W. “Swede” Vejtasa is the only World War II carrier pilot to receive Navy Crosses for both dive bombing and aerial combat. Born in Montana in 1914, Vejtasa attended both Montana State College and the University of Montana. He enlisted in the Navy in 1937 and later attended flight training at Pensacola, Florida, where he earned his wings and was commissioned an ensign. His first fleet assignment was aboard the USS Yorktown (CV-5) flying Curtiss SBC-3 Helldiver biplanes while operating in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Vejtasa was drawing and checking out in the new Douglas SBD Dauntless dive-bomber with Scouting Squadron Five when the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor. The Yorktown and Air Group Five were immediately ordered to the Pacific.

Vejtasa’s combat exploits began in January 1942, when he participated in the first offensive strikes against Japanese targets in the Marshall and Gilbert Islands. In March, during raids on enemy shipping near New Guinea, Vejtasa contributed to the destruction of three Japanese ships and was awarded his first Navy Cross. By April, the Yorktown was conducting strikes against Tulagi in the Solomon Islands, and on his second mission, Vejtasa shared in the downing of a Japanese Zero floatplane. On 7 May, during the Battle of the Coral Sea, he scored a direct hit and shared in the sinking of the Japanese carrier Shoho. Just one day later when a swarm of Japanese Zeros ambushed his patrol, Vejtasa downed three enemy planes and earned his second Navy Cross. Soon after, he was sent to fly Grumman F4F Wildcats with “The Grim Reapers” of Fighting Squadron Ten.

Then on 26 October 1942, Vejtasa permanently made his mark on history while leading a combat air patrol from the USS Enterprise during the Battle of Santa Cruz. Finding a formation of enemy dive-bombers just short of their release points, Vejtasa quickly shot down two. Then he spotted 11 enemy torpedo bombers making a run on the Enterprise. In very short order, he shot down five of these planes, and scattered the attackers before they had a chance to finish their torpedo runs. For Swede, it was seven victories in one day, a feat that earned him his third Navy Cross and quite possibly saved the Enterprise from destruction. When his combat cruise with “The Grim Reapers” ended in May 1943, Vejtasa went to Naval Air Station, Atlantic City, New Jersey, to provide flight instruction to new carrier squadrons being formed there.

After the war, he continued to serve in the Navy completing over 30 years of distinguished duty as a pilot, ship’s officer, and ultimately the commanding officer of the USS Constellation. After retiring, he served 25 years as the Secretary of the Ray River Ranch Corporation.

We honor you, Stanley Vejtasa.

(#Repost @goefoundation.org)

PVT Claire Martin

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On April 25, 1951, his unit was ambushed as it pulled back from the Chinese attack near Chongpyong, South Korea. He was seriously wounded by a small arms bullet to his chest and died of those wounds on April 27, 1951 as he was being evacuated from a field hospital to a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital.

We honor you, Claire Martin.

(#Repost @National Purple Heart Hall of Honor)

LCpl Budd “Buddy” Michael Cote

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Budd M. Cote’ attended elementary, middle school and his freshman year of high school in Las Vegas, Nevada. His family relocated to Tucson, Arizona in 2001 due to his father’s employment. Budd was an avid hockey player since the early age of four years. He played all positions and became quite proficient while enjoying every game. Budd also ran track and field, cross country, and was very active in drama activities, photography and drawing free style sketches. Budd excelled at so many different aspects of the arts by playing guitar, singing in the choir, and enjoyed dancing. He loved all types of music and had a knack for knowing “which” band sang “which” song. In addition, Budd was active in martial arts and earned his black belt by the age of ten. One of the very best qualities he possessed was that he could make anyone laugh. He gave from the heart and compassion came naturally to him.

LCpl Budd M. Cote’ entered the USMC in July 2005 at MCRD in San Diego, California. He graduated from the Military Police Academy at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri and later trained as a Field Military Police Officer. He was assigned to the; Military Police, Marine Wing Support Squadron 373, Marine Wing Support Group 37, 3D Marine Air Wing, 1st Expeditionary Force-Forward (MWSS 373, MWSG 37, 3D MAW, 1 MEF.) and stationed at Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar, California. He deployed to Iraq in September 2006 where he provided convoy support and escorts near Fallujah. He was the driver of a Humvee, call sign “Havoc 2” and was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated on his convoy.

 

We honor you, Budd Cote.

(#Repost @American Legion Post 52)

Lt Tammie Jo Shults

U.S. Navy photo of Southwest Airlines pilot Tammie Jo Shults photo in 1992

Passengers aboard the tumultuous Southwest Airlines flight — during which one passenger was killed after nearly being ripped from the plane — are crediting pilot Tammie Jo Shults’ quick thinking with saving their lives.

The former Navy fighter pilot safely brought the plane down in Philadelphia after one of its engines exploded shortly after taking off from New York City.

“This is a true American Hero,” passenger Diana McBride Self said in a Facebook post about Shults, adding the pilot went back and personally spoke with passengers after the ordeal. “A huge thank you for her knowledge, guidance and bravery in a traumatic situation. God bless her and all the crew.”

But long before her quick-thinking maneuvers softly landed the damaged Southwest plane, Shults was a pioneer among female fighter pilots and faced resistance to even enlist.

Shults, raised on a New Mexico ranch, grew up dreaming of being a pilot as she watched planes fly overhead from the nearby Holloman Air Force Base, she recalled in a passage for the 2012 book “Military Fly Moms,” which profiled the careers of female pilots.

When she went to a retired military pilots lecture on career day her senior year of high school, the former colonel asked if she was lost.

“I mustered up the courage to assure him I was not and that I was interested in flying,” she wrote in a passage for the book. “He allowed me to stay but assured me there were no professional women pilots.”

A meeting with a female pilot while she was a junior at MidAmerican Nazarene University inspired her to keep at it.

“My heart jumped. Girls did fly!” she wrote in the book. “I set to work trying to break into the club.”

The Air Force rejected Shults, however — but wanted her brother. Shults toiled for a year until a recruiter processed her Navy application.

She met her husband — Dean Shults, who’s now also a Southwest pilot — during that time, who she described as her “knight in shining airplane.”

While Shults became one of the first women to fly the F/A-18, she recalled being relegated to support roles because female pilots couldn’t fly combat missions, she wrote in the book.

She retired in 1993, and lives with her husband and two children in San Antonio.

We honor you, Tammie Jo Shults.

(#Repost @American Military News)