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The Stories of the Museum Series

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More than a thousand military men and women and family members have donated thousands of personal items and stories to the museum over the past forty years. The displays span World War I to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and tell the stories of those who fought and died. This series of stories describes a few of these in more detail.


by Bill Crocker


     This is my last article in the Stories of the Museum series and features the military service of the veterans who have been intimately involved with the management of the museum, some for over thirty years. It continues to be my pleasure to serve with these honored veterans and dedicated volunteers.

     Brock Bowen entered the Navy in 1967, completed boot camp, San Diego; sent to the Philippines awaiting the arrival of the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga; served in air intelligence on the carrier for two years; returned to civilian life in 1968.

      Bill Crocker served a year aboard USS Constellation; three years, Naval Hospital Philadelphia as a microbiologist; four years, Italy including a meningitis epidemic in Morocco and a typhoid epidemic in Ethiopia; nineteen years as a reservist; retiring 1989 as a commander, medical service corps.

      Bert Johnson completed Army boot camp in 1968 and was ordered to Vietnam as a machine gunner where he served eighteen months, then Fort Irwin as a tank driver to complete his two-year obligation; left the service as a corporal in 1970.

     Mike O’Connor entered the Army in the Warrant Officer Flight Program in July 1966 and sent to Vietnam in August 1967, wounded 13 October 1967, shot down 4 February 1968. His brave crew was killed, he was captured. He returned home as a chief warrant officer 5 March 1973 as a part of Operation Homecoming.

    Tammy Pack completed boot camp, 1988 and served in Greece; USS San Diego, 1990 in the Persian Gulf as a radioman third class and radio shack watch supervisor during three military operations; discharged, 1992; re-enlisted in the Naval Reserve 1997 and trained over 2,000 Seabees in field communications; left the service as an information systems technician third class in 2004.

    Tony Pinto volunteered for service in Vietnam as a water purification specialist and an explosive ordinance disposal technician with the Army’s 1st Cavalry Division from 1967-1969; then Karlsruhe, Germany, with the 11th Light Infantry Brigade as an instructor; and finally stateside service as a reserve corporal until 1975.

    Don Schrader entered the Army in 1963; completed boot camp and advance infantry training, Fort Polk; electronics and cryptography school, Fort Monmouth; eighteen months in Vietnam locating microwave communication sites; two years, Fort Huachuka; left the service in 1967 as a specialist 5 / E-5.

     Phil Speck entered the Air Force in 1967 as enlisted; two years aircraft warning radar; two years, officer training school, Lackland AFB; one year pilot training, Laredo AFB; four years, Grand Forks AFB as a KC- 130 pilot including six deployments to Vietnam; four years, Webb AFB; three years, Castle AFB; one year, Korea; then Travis AFB, and Mather AFB, retiring 1987 as a captain.

     Ray Wade entered the Navy in 1965, completed boot camp in San Diego, and was assigned to the USS Kitty Hawk. He served for three years in the supply department as a ship’s serviceman. He was involved in three Vietnam tours and discharged in 1968.

     Austin Webb served eleven years as a B-47 crew chief McConnell AFB; one year Sidi Slimane AB, Morocco, during Bay of Pigs; eight years Westover AFB, quality control; one year, Beale AFB, KC-135 flight chief; one year Binh Thuy AB, Vietnam; returning to Beale AFB, retiring as a senior master sergeant.

     Mary Webb served four years at Westover AFB as an administrative clerk/typist; one year at Beale AFB, special orders section; two years at Tan Son Nhut AB, Vietnam; returned for one year to Beale AFB to the position previously held; then left the military as a staff sergeant in February 1973.


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