Lt Col Gregory A. M. Etzel

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Greg Etzel was born on April 9, 1936, in Brooklyn, New York. He was commissioned a 2nd Lt through the Air Force ROTC program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, on June 7, 1957, and went on active duty beginning February 27, 1958. Lt Etzel next completed pilot training and was awarded his pilot wings at Craig AFB, Alabama, in April 1959, followed by Helicopter Pilot training at Stead AFB, Nevada, from May to October 1959.

His first assignment was as an SH-21B Work Horse helicopter pilot with the 46th Air Rescue Squadron at Otis AFB, Massachusetts, from November 1959 to March 1960, and then as an SH-21B Rescue Alert Pilot with Headquarters Air Force Iceland at Keflavik Airport, Iceland, from March 1960 to March 1961. He then served as an H-21 and then CH-3C Jolly Green Giant pilot with the 1371st and 1375th Mapping and Charting Squadrons at Turner AFB, Georgia, from March 1961 to June 1967, followed by service as an HH-3E pilot with Detachment 2 of the 37th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron at Udorn Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from June to October 1967. Capt Etzel next served as an HH-3E pilot with Detachment 1 of the 37th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron at Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from October 1967 to July 1968.

He then attended Naval Test Pilot School from July 1968 to June 1969, followed by service as an Aerospace Research Flight Test Officer in the VTOL Section with the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB, California, from August 1969 to August 1973. LtCol Etzel served as an HH-3E pilot and Operations Officer with the 1st Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron at McClellan AFB, California, from August 1973 to April 1975, and then as a Flight Test Officer with the Flight Test Engineering Division, 6510th Test Wing, at the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB from November 1975 until his retirement from the Air Force on July 1, 1979.

His official Air Cross Citation reads:

“Captain Gregory A. M. Etzel distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force in Southeast Asia as an HH-3E helicopter pilot on 2 and 3 July 1967. On the 2nd of July, Captain Etzel flew his helicopter into one of the most heavily defended area of North Vietnam to rescue a downed F-105 pilot. Unable to effect a pickup because of oncoming darkness and intense small arms fire that damaged his aircraft, Captain Etzel withdrew from the area. After landing at a friendly base, he volunteered to continue rescue operations the next day. After minimum rest, he took off at first light and flew through intense automatic fire, dodged deadly missiles, and evaded attacking MIGs in search of the downed pilot. In the face of heavy small arms fire that severely damaged his helicopter, he located and rescued this valuable pilot. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of hostile forces, Captain Etzel reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.”

Major Richard Mehr flew combat support in his A-1E Skyraider to defend the downed pilot in this rescue effort and aided Captain Etzel’s recovery effort. For his actions, Major Mehr was also awarded the Air Force Cross.

We honor you, Gregory Etzel.

(#Repost @Veteran Tributes and Hall of Valor)

Lindsay Gutierrez

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Lindsay Gutierrez is a proud Air Force veteran hailing from Midwest City, Oklahoma. She enlisted in September 2010 as a Security Forces Journeyman and was assigned to the 48th Fighter Wing, RAF Lakenheath. During her military career, Lindsay deployed twice, earned major leadership awards and decorations, and mentored numerous junior airmen on professional education. Lindsay separated after fulfilling her 6 years of service honorably. She’s now pursuing a Master’s degree in Social Work, concentrating in forensics and mental health. Lindsay lives in Georgia with her 4 fur babies and active duty husband, Anthony, an equipment maintenance professional at Moody AFB.

2017 Ms. Veteran America winner.

We honor you, Lindsay Gutierrez.

(#Repost @

Chris Stewart

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Chris Stewart is the Congressman from Utah’s Second Congressional District. He is a No. 1 New York Times best-selling and national award-winning author, world-record-setting Air Force pilot, and the former owner/CEO of a small business.

Chris is one of ten children and grew up on a dairy farm in Cache Valley. He graduated from Utah State University, where he earned his degree in economics. Upon graduation, Chris joined the United States Air Force where he was the Distinguished Graduate (top of his class) in both Officer Training School and Undergraduate Pilot Training. He served for fourteen years as a pilot in the Air Force, flying both rescue helicopters and the B-1B bomber.  He holds three world speed records, including the world’s record for the fastest non-stop flight around the world.

Chris is a prolific author having written 18 books, several of which have become national best-sellers, and have been published in six different countries.

Before being elected to Congress, Chris served as president and CEO of the Shipley Group, a nationally recognized firm for consulting expertise in energy and the environment. He and his wife, Evie, are the parents of six children.

Chris now serves as a member of House Appropriations Committee and the House Intelligence Committee.

We honor you, Chris Stewart.

(#Repost @

TSgt John “Chappy” Chapman

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John A. Chapman was born on July 14, 1965 in Massachusetts but spent most of his young life in Connecticut, graduating from Windsor Locks High School in 1983. At the age of 20, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, as an Information Systems Operator. He later volunteered to be a Combat Controller, where he was tasked to solve air and ground problems in different conflict and crisis situations.

He had assignments stationed in Colorado, North Carolina, and Okinawa where he became an expert in reconnaissance operations, air traffic control, and terminal attack control operations. In addition to his mental agility, he has had also mastered the physical demands of combat as an experienced static line and military free fall jumper, combat diver, and earned jumpmaster and dive supervisor qualifications.

He was then selected for a special duty assignment with the 24th Special Tactics Squadron. As a team leader, he worked with personnel training them for their roles as special tactics operators, prepared them to conduct precision strike, personnel recovery, and special operations missions around the world. While deployed, Sergeant Chapman directed close air support aircraft, delivering destructive ordnance on enemy targets in non-permissive environments.

On March 4, 2002, Sergeant John A. Chapman was in Afghanistan as part of Operation Anaconda. Sergeant Chapman’s helicopter was hit with heavy fire from al Qaeda, one member of the team, Neil Roberts, fell from the back of the aircraft, and the helicopter ended up crash landing in a valley below the Takur Ghar mountain. Sergeant Chapman and the rest of the special operations team, including fellow Medal of Honor recipient Britt Slabinksi, volunteered to return to the enemy filled, snowy mountaintop in an attempt to rescue their fallen teammate.

Sergeant Chapman charged into the enemy forces seizing their bunker and killing the forces inside. He then moved from the bunker, completely revealing himself, to engage an enemy machinegun firing at his team. It was at this point he was severely injured, presumed dead, and his teammates evacuated the mountaintop. Chapman regained consciousness and continued to fight, engaging with multiple enemy forces before making the ultimate sacrifice.

“Tech. Sgt. John Chapman earned America’s highest military award, the Medal of Honor, for the actions he performed to save fellow Americans on a mountain in Afghanistan more than 16 years ago,” Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson said in a statement. “He will forever be an example of what it means to be one of America’s best and bravest Airmen.”

On August 9, 2018, the Air Force released overhead footage of the final moments of Tech Sgt. John Chapman’s heroic life. This is the first Medal of Honor to be awarded using surveillance footage rather than eye witness accounts.

“Chappy” as his teammates called him, was always a team oriented and humble man. Chappy’s commander at the time of his final actions had this to say

“John was always selfless – it didn’t just emerge on Takur Ghar – he had always been selfless and highly competent, and thank God for all those qualities,” said retired Air Force Col. Ken Rodriguez, Chapman’s commander at the time. “He could have hunkered down in the bunker and waited for the (Quick Reaction Force) and (Combat Search and Rescue) team to come in, but he assessed the situation and selflessly gave his life for them.”

Technical Sgt. John Chapman [was] posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in a ceremony at the White House on August 22, 2018. President Donald Trump [presented] the Medal to Chapman’s wife, Valerie Nessel, and their families commemorated his life and his actions that were above and beyond the call of duty.

John Chapman’s story and spirit will live on in the lives of his family, friends and teammates. His wife, Valerie has said, “[John] would want to recognize the other men that lost their lives. Even though he did something he was awarded the Medal of Honor for, he would not want the other guys to be forgotten – that they were part of the team together. I think he would say that his Medal of Honor was not just for him, but for all of the guys who were lost.”

We honor you, John Chapman.

(#Submission by: Miah Parry. #Repost @MOH Museum)

George H. Horton

Branches of Military Service I Served In:

U.S. Navy Serial Number 202-04-66, U.S. Army & Massachusetts National Guard Serial Number 21295699, U.S. Air Force Serial Number AF21295699.  Also sailed ships in Merchant Marines.

My Naval service ships I served on:  USS San Diego CL-53, a Light Cruiser 9 Battle Stars, USS LST 970 1 Battle Star, USS Midway CV41 Aircraft Carrier, USS Franklin D. Roosevelt CV42 Aircraft Carrier, USS Lake Champlain CV39 Aircraft Carrier, USS Leyte CV32 Aircraft Carrier, USS Pocono AGC16 Communications Ship, USS Missouri BB63 Battleship, Bombing and Fighting Squadron 74 (VBF74) Fighting Squadron Two Baker (VF2B) plans were F4U4 Corsairs, Utility Squadron Four (VU4) planes were Culver Cadet (Drone) PBY Flying Patrol Bomber.

My Combat history:  While aboard the Light Cruiser USS Sand Diego CL-53 I was in the following Battles and Campaigns:

With Task Force 61 during torpedo attack by enemy submarine 31 Aug 1942.  6 Sep 1942 with Task Force 17 during enemy submarine attach at Guadalcanal.  7 Sep 1942 attacked by enemy submarine.  15 Sep 1942 submarine attack by enemy submarine 3 ships of task force sunk or damaged Aircraft Carrier USS Wasp was sunk.  5 Oct 1942 with Task Force 17 during air attack on enemy shipping in Buin-Faisi-Shortland area, two enemy planes were shot down.  16 Oct 1942 attacked enemy vessels in Solomon Islands area.  26 Oct 1942 Battle of Santa Cruz Islands, we shot down two torpedo planes and three Horizontal Bombers.

This was a sad day for us.  The Famed Aircraft Carrier USS Hornet CV-8 was sunk.  This is the ship that Colonel Jimmy Doolittle Raiders bombed Tokyo from.  My ship the USS San Diego CL-53 took Hornet Survivors from the Destroyer Hughes and took them to Noumea New Caledonia in the French Loyalty Islands.  22 Jan 1943 enemy bombing raid at night on Espiritu Santos in New Hebrides Islands.

26 Jan 1943 enemy night bombing raid at Espiritu Santos in New Hebrides Islands.  30 Jan 1943 with Task Force 16 during enemy air attack.  27 Jun to 23 Jul 1943 supported the occupation of New Georgia Island and Munda Air Fields.  14 Sep 1943 present in harbor during night bombing raid on Espiritu Santos in the New Hebrides Chain.  1 and 2 Nov 1943 made strikes on Buka Island in Northern Solomons.  5 Nov 1943 launched first strike against Japanese base at Rabul.  5 Nov 1943 launched second strike at Rabul New Britain.  11 Nov 1943 launched heavy strike at Rabul.  19 Nov 1943 made airstrikes on Japanese held island of Nauru.  24 to 29 Nov 1943 assault and occupation of Japanese held islands of Makin and Tarawa Atolls in the Gilbert Islands.  4 Dec 1943 launched attacks against Japanese bases Gilbert Islands.  4 Dec 1943 launched attacks against Japanese bases Kwajalein and Wotje in Marshall Islands.  4 to 5 Dec 1943 we were attacked by 7 Japanese torpedo planes, 6 of them were shot down by ships gun fire.  We were again attacked at night by Japanese aircraft that were based at Wotje and two more were shot down during this 7 1/2 hour attack.  29 Jan to Feb 4 attacked the enemy strongholds of Kwajalein Roi in the Marshall Islands.  16 to 17 Feb 1944 first penetration of Caroline Islands by American Naval Forces on the fortress of Truk.  Severe loss to enemy shipping planes and installations we were under Japanese night air attack.  20 Feb 1944 attacked enemy held island of Jaluit in Marshall Islands.  19 to 21 May 1944 made offensive sweep north of Marcus Island.  23 May 1944 made strikes on enemy held Wake Island.  11 to 13 Jun 1944 attacked Saipan and Pagan Islands in the Marianas 7 enemy planes shot down.  15 Jun 1944 attacked Japenese base in Bonin Islands.  16 Jun 1944 attacked Japanese held island of Iwo Jima.  19 Jun 1944 attacked island of Guam.  We were attacked repeatedly by Japanese torpedo planes and bombers.  19 to 30 Jun 1944 attackes against Marianas Islands Guam, Rota, and Pagan Islands.  Participated in occupation of Tinian Islands.

While on the LST (Landing Ship Tank) 970 I was in the following battles:  1 July 1945 participated in operations at Kerama Retto and Okinawa in the Ryukyus Islands in action against enemy planes.  On Okinawa on night of 24 May 1945.  15 Oct 1945 participated in the initial invasion and occupation of Japan at Wakayama Island of Honshu from 25 Sep 1945 to 1 Oct 1945.  30 Oct to 2 Nov 1945 landed Army troops and vehicles at Nagoya, Japan.

Places I have been on USS San Diego CL-53:  Boston, MA, Norfolk, VA, Portland, ME, Cape Cod Canal, Annapolis, MD, Panama Canal, San Diego, CA, Efate New Hebride, Majuro Atoll Marshall Islands, Vajello, CA, Marianas Islands, Crossed Equator several times, Iwo Jima, Pearl Harbor, HI, Noumea New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, Guadalcanal, Santa Cruz Islands, Espiritu Santos, Auckland, New Zealand, San Francisco, CA, Wake Island, Eniwetok Atoll.  Left ship in Aug 1944 for rehabilitation to leave to the States.

Places I have been on LST 970:  Pearl Harbor, HI, Eniwetok Marshalls, Guam Marianas, Ulithi Atoll, Kerama Retto Okinawa, Okinawa, Leyte Phillipines, Wakayama and Nagoya Japan.

My duties aboard the USS Sand Diego CL-53 Light Cruiser.  Assigned 3rd Division work area starboard side topside.  Mess Cook, Compartment Cleaner, Captain of the Head Boat Crew Whaleboat and Motor launch.  Special Cleaning Station.  Ships Painter.  Admirals Orderly.  Shell handler lower handling room Turret 8.  Shell handler upper handling room Turret 8.  Shell loader port 5 inch gun Turret 8.  Gun Captain port gun Turret 8.  During this time Turret 8 was awarded the Navy E for efficiency in gunnery on the 5 inch gun.  In Turret 8 we were allowed to wear the Navy E for one year with 5 dollars a month added to our pay.  Stood depth charge watches for 300 and 600 pounders.  Special Sea Detail.  Stood watch on torpedo tubes.

My duties on LST 970 (Landing Ship Tank).  Coxswain on Port (LCVP) Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel.  Paint Locker.  Helmsman (Steered ship).  Deck Maintenance.  Load and unload cargo and ammunitions.  Make spoke by taking my LCVP about 100 yards in front of ship so that Kamakaze planes could not spot us.  Made mail runs and Guard mail runs to the beach.  Take wounded and deceased military hospital ship.  Took liberty parties ashore and returned them to shop.  Sentry duty all types for underwater swimmers and enemy boats loaded with explosives.  Took Army troops in my boat to make landings on beaches.

My duties while assigned to VBF 74 Fighting and Bombing Squadron 74 while stationed at Oceana Naval Station Virginia and while aboard USS Franklin D. Roosevelt CV42 and USS Midway CV41.  Worked on Flight Line that had 32 F4U4 Corsairs.  Drove gas and oil truck fueled aircraft 3 times a day when flying.  Had to remove and put in 32 parachutes in planes on flying days.  Was a member of the Crash Crew.  Was responsible for getting 4 aircraft ready for flight, untie them run up engines and for securing them at night.  On carriers I was a plane captain and got planes ready for flight.  Was responsible for the hurricane locker.  Did statistical studies on aircraft as to how much fuel they were using.  On land towed aircraft and taxied same to bore sight range.

The following ships I served on when I was on Admiral Mark A. Mitschers Staff as part of the boat crew for the Admirals Barge.  Also we had a 25 foot plane personnel boat called a Skimmer that the Admirals Chief of Staff Commodore Arleigh Burke better known as 31 Knot Burke used it was faster that the Admirals Barge.  Other than keep the boats clean and take the Admiral and Commodore where they wanted to go we would make on guard mail trip a day excluding Sundays.  Real rough duty.  When we went to New York on the FDR Carrier I was one of the side boys who rode in the Admirals car and opened the door and saluted when he go in or out of the staff car.  USS Leyte CV32, USS FDR CVB42, USS Missouri BB63, USS Pocono AGC 16, USS Lake Champlain CV39.  On the Admirals Barge I was Bow Hook on the Skimmer I was the Coxswain.

While with the Massachusetts National Guard.  I was a Scout Sergeant with the 211th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron.  I was Motor Sergeant with the 126th Heavy Tank Battalion, 26th Yankee Division.  My duties were to take care of 7 heavy tanks, 4 jeeps, 42 1/2 ton trucks and 2 half trucks.  Instructed on maintenance and care of vehicles, firing of small arms, mortars and tank weapons.  Was in charge of convoys and readying vehicles for parades.  Went on active duty to Fort Knox Kentucky armored school for 6 months.  Was selected by Charlie Company to carry the Field Expedience Cup in all parades.  Left the 126th Heavy Tank Battalion Yankee Division to join the Army Air Force.

My duty with the U.S. Air Force.  23 Sep 1949 went to Lackland Air Force base for Basic Training.  Went to Automotive school at Atlanta Gen Depot Atlanta, Georgia.  Next went to Kelly AFB, Texas 25th Vehicle Repair Squadron as a Classification Specialist.  Then went to Hill AFB Utah with the 25th Veh Rep Sq as a Classification Specialist.  Was advanced to Sr Career Guidance Specialist.  Was transferred to 2949th Maint Gp at Hill AFB Utah.  Was transferred to HQ OOAMA Hill AFB and was assigned the following assignments.  Assignment Clerk, Shipment and Assignment Clerk and Assignment Supervisor.  Transferred to 2949th Aircraft Repair Squadron as First Sgt.  Was then transferred to HQ OOAMA in the position of Administrative Supervisor and Personnel Supervisor.  Transferred to 2922 Area Maintenance Group as Group Sgt Major.  Was then transferred to the 3rd Material Recovery Squadron as First Sgt Personnel Supervisor and whenever a group or squadron was having problems I was sent in to get the unit straightened out.  The 3rd Material Recovery Squadron was scheduled to go to Korea.  The men did not like their present First Sergeant and went to the Base Commander to see if I would go with them to Korea.  The base commander authorized it and I could not return down such a request.  We went to Okinawa instead of Korea, we were then transferred to FEACOM Air Base, Japan.  I was then transferred to HQ 6400 Supply Group at FEACOM APO 323 as a Personnel Supervisor and later as Personnel Sgt Major.  I returned from overseas and was assigned as First Sgt of 502nd Material Squadron, Youngstown Municipal Airport, Ohio.  I was transferred to 4670th Ground Observer Corps New Haven, Conn as First Sgt and Education Specialist.

NOTE:  While at Kadena AFB on Okinawa I was awarded the Amy Commendation Medal for:  While assigned to the 3rd Material Recovery Squadron even thought the Squadron was assigned housing in various units off base because of scarcity of housing, their mission was rather nebulous in that the groups were assigned various duties about the base that split them up.  Dependent travel was not authorized for dependents and members of the squadron were in constant expectation of movement orders.  TSgt Horton has a much greater morale problem than a normal organization at this station because of the above other than normal problems.

Places I have been with the U.S. Air Force:  San Antonio, TX, Kelly AFB, TX, Atlanta General Depot (school) Atlanta, GA, Hill AFB, UT, Kadena AFB, Okinawa, Tachikawa Air Base, Japan, Youngstown Municipal Airport, OH, Ground Observer Corps, New Haven, CT, Denver, CO Electronic School, Carswell AFB, TX, McConnell AFB, KS, England Greenham Common Brie Norton Upper Heyford RAF Bases, Fairbanks AK, Anchorage, AK, Lincoln AFB, BNebraska Jet Bailout School and Rapid Decompression.

NOTE:  29 Nov 1950 Corporal Geroge H Horton was named Airman of the Month at Hill AFB, UT.

While member of the 126th Heavy Tank Battalion I was assigned Military Police duties for the peacetime draft and was in charge of the Riot Control and Protection of government property.

In 1947 I was assigned to Utility Squadron four VU4 at Chincoteague Naval Air Station Virginia.  Drove gas truck prepared drones for flight and wnet in PBY to tow socks for the fleet to shoot at.  When I left there for Norfolk, VA for separation the twin engine plan I was flying I was flying in lost one engine.  We made an emergency landing the Port tire blew out and the nose wheel collapsed.  When I got on the the concrete ramp my legs collapsed.  A chief put me in a jeep and took me to the Chief’s Club and bought me two drinks of whiskey and then I was alright.

Assigned to 28 Munitions Maintenance Squadron Carswell AFB Texas loading munitions and nuclear weapons on B-47, B-52 and B-58 bombers.  In charge of convoys taking weapons from base to storage area.  Was small arms instructor squadron.  Transferred from Carswell AFB, TX to McConnell AFB, KS and was assigned to SAC MEST (Munitions Evaluation Standardization Team) and elite outfit we went anywhere in the world to check out the B-47, B-52 and B-58 bombers.  Attended Nuclear Weapons Safety Course.  Went to scenes of bomber crashes to remove nuclear remnants prior to aircraft crash investigation for safety.

Supervisor for loading and unloading nuclear weapons.  Did maintenance and loading of 20mm Gatling guns.  Was munitions line chief on B-58 Bomber.  Was discharged from McConnell AFB, KS.

Military Schools I went to:  Boot Camp, Newport, RI, Basic Training, San Antonio, TX, Auto Body Repairman, Atlanta, GA, Motor and Tank Vehicle Course, Fort Knox, KY, Combat and Patrolling of Individual Soldier, OH, Leadership 1, Carswell AFB, TX, Military Justice Course, New Haven, CT, Nuclear Weapons and Safety Course, McConnell AFB, KS, Basic Vehicle Maintenance Course, Fort Knox, KY, Senior NCO Academy, Ayer, MS, Fire Control Systems Mechanic, Lowry AFB, CO, Ground Observer Course, Tyndal AFB, FL, Weapons Mechanic, Carswell AFB, TX, Rapid Decompression and Bailout from Ejection Seat, Lincoln AFB, NE, Lincoln Institute of Practical Nursing, CA.

Civilian Honors Bestowed:  Admiral Nebraska State Navy, Admiral State of Kentucky, Key to City of Boston Massachusetts, Kentucky Colonel State of Kentucky, Member of Combined Veteran Honor Guard, Humanitarian Award Ogden Utah, Diploma from the French Embassy for helping France regain its liberty, and Awarded the Chinese War Memorial Medal.

We honor you, George Horton.

(Submission by:  Ninzel Rasmuson; autobiography provided to Ninzel Rasmuson by George Horton at George’s veteran home; photo taken by Ninzel Rasmuson on August 3, 2018).

WASP Elizabeth “Betty Wall” Strohfus

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Strohfus, known as Betty (or sometimes Liz) Wall when she joined the WASPs — Women’s Air Force Service Pilots — died March 6, [2016] in Faribault, Minn., after a lifetime devoted to ensuring a legacy for the women once entrusted with the military’s newest planes. She was 96.

Strohfus spent years crisscrossing the country in her blue uniform to champion the WASPs, whose contributions to the war effort were never fully acknowledged.

“She had to fight most of her life for recognition,” said her son, Art Roberts of Northfield, Minn. “The ladies, for the most part, were unaware they were pioneers. They wanted to fly planes and help their country.”

“She had to fight most of her life for recognition,” said her son, Art Roberts of Northfield, Minn. “The ladies, for the most part, were unaware they were pioneers. They wanted to fly planes and help their country.”

When Strohfus learned in the 1970s that the law didn’t recognize WASPs as veterans, she and others lobbied Congress for a change and won. Last week, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and several congressional allies called on the Army to allow burials for WASPs at Arlington National Cemetery. Klobuchar met with Strohfus in January to discuss the policy with her.

“While Betty wanted to be buried with her family, she stood up for fellow WASP sisters and fought for them to have the same rights as other veterans,” Klobuchar said.

Strohfus, then 22, had dreamed of flying when she was a child. She borrowed money to join the Faribault flying club, putting up her bike as collateral, but then saw an ad for the WASPs and quickly logged the required 35 hours in the air.

She applied along with about 25,000 other women. Of that number, only 1,047 made the cut — including Strohfus, who trained to fly every aircraft and simulate enemy fights in mock air combat with U.S. bombers. Elizabeth Wald Strohfus trained to fly every aircraft. “The planes … never asked if you were a man or a woman.”

“They were beautiful, they were smart, they were dedicated women and they gave it their all,” said Cheryl Young of Minneapolis, who worked with Strohfus in the 1990s on a book about her three years in the WASPs.

During 1943 and 1944, Strohfus was sent to a U.S. Army air gunnery school in Las Vegas to help train men for in-flight combat. Her job was to dive an AT-6 Avenger fighter-trainer onto formations of B-17 bombers to give the gunners target practice, using special cameras in place of guns.

She towed cloth sleeves behind her plane so the bombers’ gunners could practice with live ammunition. A couple of fellow WASPs died that way, among the 38 WASPs who died during the war in crashes and other accidents.

Strohfus also trained men to fly by instrument. A few of them didn’t think a woman could handle a plane.

“It was just something you had to put up with,” she told the Star Tribune in 1991. “But what I loved was that the planes I flew never asked if you were a man or a woman; they flew just as well for me as anyone else.”

Roberts said that after his retirement he traveled with his mother to public appearances. “Her message was always positive, that people need to follow their dreams,” he said.

We honor you, Elizabeth Strohfus.

(#Repost @Star Tribune)

SSgt Daniel Acosta

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Staff Sergeant Daniel Acosta (USAF, Ret.) is one of the relatively few wounded veterans who did not serve in the Army or Marine Corps. A native Chicagoan, Dan joined the Air Force right out of high school in 2002 where a combination of natural skills and opportunity led him into a highly charged career path – explosive ordnance disposal.

Daniel’s training in explosive ordnance disposal included 11 months of technical school at Elgin Air Force Base in Florida, and was assigned his first duty station for three months pre-deployment training at the Utah Test and Training Range at Hill AFB in Utah, about 30 miles north of Salt Lake City.

Daniel was assigned to the 775th Civil Engineer Squadron at Hill Air Force Base. From there he was dispatched to Iraq in 2006 as a member of the 447th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron. Explosive ordnance disposal specialists were in high demand, then and later. Daniel underwent nearly three weeks additional training in Kuwait before deploying to Sather Air Force Base at Baghdad International Airport. He had been in Iraq performing missions for three months when he was injured.

On December 7, 2006 he was sent to disarm hidden improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and had disarmed two when the third one got him. “I stepped on a pressure plate,” he recalled. “It wasn’t detected (by the metal detection device) because it was wood.”

The IED that nearly claimed his life contained two 122 mm projectiles, Daniel said. His left arm was blown off in the blast and he received third degree burns to his legs. He also sustained arterial injuries to his leg and heart.

“In the back of my head I always knew something could happen,” Daniel said. But he and his fellow airmen on his team had undergone combat life-saving training at Ft. Carson, Colorado, and he attributed that training applied by his teammate Staff Sgt. Joe Upton to his survival. The first tourniquet Upton used did not stop the bleeding from his severed arm so Upton took a water tank strap off a Humvee and was able to use that as a tourniquet. Also, Daniel said there was a Medic on the scene. “They (the doctors) gave me a 25 percent chance of living,” Daniel said. “They said if I made it through surgery, I would have a 50 percent chance.”

Later Daniel’s marriage broke up as he was in the process of leaving the military, but he does not attribute that to his injury. “It was not related to that,” he said. “It was a communications issue.” Daniel said the wives of injured veterans do have a difficult job. “Spouses have the harder job,” he said. “We’re prepared for things like this, but they aren’t.”

It is unusual for an Air Force guy to get blown up, Daniel said, but the Air Force still gets its fair share of casualties. “In the hospital, I was the only Air Force guy there,” he said. “I ended up with 100 percent disability because of the loss of my arm. I did not have to wait very long to get my benefits perhaps because I was the only Air Force guy there.”

Daniel said he has avoided the perils of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). “The Veterans Administration rated me a minor case of PTSD. But I accepted the reality of my injury early on. I get around well. The injuries are there, sure, but I am capable of doing a lot. I play different sports. I am enjoying life.”

Daniel was not one of the many who received financial aid from the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes when he returned from the battlefield. “I received no direct financial assistance,” he said. “I didn’t need it. My benefits came through fairly quickly. I am a modest guy. I don’t ask for help if I don’t need it.”

But even so he has developed a close working relationship with the Coalition. “Early on in my recovery I learned about the Coalition through one of their reps at the hospital,” he said. “My initial involvement was to attend the Road to Recovery Conference in 2008. That was a positive experience that helped me get moving in a positive direction. I enjoyed the time with other wounded veterans and benefitted from it, sharing our experiences, talking to other people who have been through the same thing. I wanted to be an active member of society and continue with my rehabilitation.

“I support the Coalition through being an ambassador for the program and doing things on their behalf,” Daniel said. “I come into contact with many guys who are in a much worse situation than I am. I have seen them dealing with their injuries first-hand, physical and psychological. A lot of guys cannot handle it and it’s easy for me to see why. When (Coalition President and CEO) David Walker asked me to help host a fund-raising event in California, I was glad to participate.

“The Coalition’s primary role is to provide direct financial aid to wounded veterans returning from the war zone who have to wait a long time for their benefits, sometimes for months,” Daniel said. “In the meantime they have bills to pay and are unable to work. The Coalition helps fill that gap. Every veteran has a unique situation. When they are severely injured the transition time is difficult and financial aid is vitally important. Our veterans are not prepared for what they encounter. I don’t believe the military does a very good job of preparing personnel for that situation.

“It is important to wounded veterans to feel that they are part of a larger community,” Daniel said. “They want to know the community supports them. The Coalition fills that role and it is an important one.”

We honor you, Daniel Acosta.

(#Repost @