Veterans reflect on lessons learned in military service |

Veterans reflect on lessons learned in military service

Kelley Cox Post Independent

Today is Veterans Day, the day we honor and celebrate those who have served our country in the military.

This year, the Post Independent asked veterans in our area to answer three questions about the meaning of military service. They also provided information about their service branch and rank, and their years and location of service.

Here are their answers:

Dale B. Snearly, Glenwood Springs

U.S. Air Force, sergeant, Finance Dept.

October 1942 to December 1945

Service stateside, in Saipan; World War II

1. Freedom is not free. The real heroes are the 400,000-plus men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice. I like the quote from President Harry S. Truman: “Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.”

2. The time in the service gave me a sense of pride and honor for our country. Being proud to be an American, honoring our flag, we became a band of brothers.

3. Serve with pride to make our world a safe and peaceful place.

Ted Diaz, Rifle

U.S. Army, Sergeant

1943 to 1945

Service stateside, in the South Pacific, Philippines; World War II, Philippine Independence

1. I learned to obey orders from my superiors. I learned to get along with everybody in my battalion. I learned to keep my clothes and possessions clean and orderly.

2. The military influenced my life by the techniques I learned there, which I use in my everyday life. I don’t take myself too seriously. I make the best of all situations, be they good or bad. I pray a lot for myself and also for others. The military service helped me be a good athlete and a good sportsman, and a proud American. I love my country and my freedom.

3. First of all, go in with a good attitude. It’s very important, and will help you make all kinds of good friends. We all have to make choices, so make good ones. Be a responsible human being to yourself. Learn to respect authority.

Dick Ryman, Glenwood Springs

U.S. Navy, Torpedoeman First Class

February 1944 to December 1945

South Pacific: Philippines, IwoJima, Okinawa; World War II

1. Keep your head down.

2. I was very proud to serve in the Navy. I learned to appreciate the United States and my home.

3. For young people looking for guidance and direction, the military is a good place to grow up and learn responsibility.

Oscar McCollum, Glenwood Springs

U.S. Army Engineers, Sgt. T-5

April 1946 to April 1947

Service stateside; World War II

1. Never volunteer; wait to be assigned to details. (Some volunteer truck drivers were given wheelbarrows to drive.)

2. Be neat and organized. If you are physically disorganized, it is likely your mind will be the same.

3. Do not be afraid of hard work. Always do the best job you are capable of doing. Learn teamwork.

Robert Plush, Glenwood Springs

U.S. Navy, Lt. JG

June 1951 to June 1953

Service on the Atlantic and Mediterranean; Korean War

1. Respect for duty.

2. Patriotism.

3. Be positive.

Gary Parks, Rifle

U.S. Air Force, E-4

April 1961 to April 1966

Service stateside, in Germany, France, India; Cold War

1. Honor, duty and country.

2. Service changed me from a confused juvenile into a productive member of society. It taught me to be respectful of people and our country, and gave me a vocation I have used since discharge.

3. Anyone wanting to better themselves and who is intent on learning can pick a vocation and get the free schooling to continue in life after their service.

Charlie Ringer, New Castle

U.S. Army Security Agency and Army Military Intelligence Reserve, SP/5 E-5

June 1961 to June 1964 in the ASA; January 1967 to June 1968 in the reserve

Service stateside and on the East German border; Cold War into Vietnam

1. Don’t panic. I was stationed on a mountaintop overlooking East Germany and more than 100 Soviet divisions. Quite a number of our buddies succumbed to the anxiety and stress and had to be relieved. Since then, I haven’t worried about much at all.

2. My military service instilled in me a sense of duty and extreme attention to details and orderliness that has served me very well.

3. Most of what you will encounter is part of a larger game, especially in basic training. Don’t let it upset you. Just go with the flow, and earn enough rank to rise above much of the muck. This will serve you well in later life, too.

James Brouhard, Glenwood Springs

U.S. Air Force, Sergeant

1966 to 1970

Service stateside


1. How to get along with many different kinds of people.

2. I was a medic in the service, and became a registered nurse after my Air Force service. It made me a better person.

3. To learn as much as you can, be proud of your service, and experience life to the fullest you can.

Irvin Tilley, Glenwood Springs

U.S. Army, E-7 Sergeant First Class

May 1967 to May 2000

Service stateside and in Vietnam and Kuwait, Vietnam War, Desert Shield, Desert Storm

1. As long as I believed in God and prayed, I was not afraid to die. I was serving my country under the watch of God and only He knew what the future held for me.

2. I still believe in the people of America to do the right thing to keep our country free, as our ancestors designed it to be.

3. Serve your country for 20 years or more and select a field where you can learn and gain useful job experience and education. Then you can retire and still be young enough to enjoy your family and continue your skills in a civilian firm with military medical coverage and military retirement pay as well as your civilian income.

Mark Michaud, Glenwood Springs

U.S. Air Force, Staff Sergeant

September 1967 to May 1971

Service stateside and in Thailand and Japan, Vietnam War

1. In a word: discipline. My military service ultimately helped me to be successful in life by teaching me to take a disciplined approach to life and to the challenges faced along the way.

2. Being overseas for so long and seeing the conditions in which others live gave me a tremendous appreciation for the prosperity and freedoms that we often take for granted in the U.S. I was able to attend college under the G.I. Bill. That was a heck of a program that paved the road to success for me and many of my fellow veterans.

3. The same advice that my father, a Pearl Harbor veteran, gave me in 1967: Keep your mouth shut and do what you are told.

David Schroeder, New Castle

U.S. Army, Lt. Col.

June 1970 to September 1990

Service stateside and in Germany, Vietnam War

1. I learned to look beyond the surface and to analyze a situation and the actors.

2. I was able to parlay a military career into a productive civilian career in the field of medicine. Military service allowed me to see the world and to meet people from many different areas of the United States, giving me a broader perspective on life.

3. I have advised relatives and children of friends that there are positives and negatives to military service, including the possibility of being killed in the line of duty. One of the greatest potential benefits is the opportunity for education either during or after service.

Dave Hammond, Glenwood Springs

U.S. Army, E-3

October 1976 to October 1982

Service stateside and in Germany, Cold War

1. Freedom and democracy are not free for all others in the world as we Americans know it, and take for granted.

2. I know that anything can be accomplished if you set your mind on your goals and just do it. I am proud to have served my country and will cherish those memories forever.

3. Take advantage of all the benefits, especially the educational assistance. Take the opportunity to travel the world. If you don’t have plans for retirement, be sure to pick a military occupational skill that will benefit you in civilian life. I recommend any teenager who is not going to college to consider the military.

Jack Aitken, Meeker

U.S. Coast Guard, CPO

1977 to 1998

Service stateside, Cold War

1. Teamwork, honor, respect and devotion to duty.

2. After seeing many countries, governments and people throughout my career, it became very apparent that we live in the greatest nation on Earth.

3. You will be required to perform many tasks and missions that you might think are impossible, unnecessary and even wrong at times. Carry out your duties with the understanding that 300 million citizens are depending on you to defend our nation and way of life. We are extremely proud of you, your service, and sacrifices you face to keep us a free nation.

Jerry Law, Glenwood Springs

U.S. Army, Corps of Engineers, Lt. Col.

May 1979 to April 2007

Service stateside and in Panama, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Japan, Operation Enduring Freedom

1. Pay very close attention to government policies and politics. We have lost our bearing on what freedom actually means, as we have constantly voted for more government and less responsibility.

2. People in foreign countries are much like freedom-loving Americans when their goof-ball terrorist leaders are removed. They all appreciate a job, getting paid, and to go home to their families at night.

3. Study history. Not the revisionist trash, but real world and American history. Ask tough questions that challenge conventional wisdom.

JoAnn Watson, Glenwood Springs

U.S. Army, Specialist

May 1989 to December 1995

Service stateside and in Korea, Desert Storm (not deployed)

1. You have to work as a team to make it work and get through the tough times.

2. I got my career as a nurse in the military.

3. Do your best. Listen to your peers, and work together with your fellow soldiers. They will get you through a lot.

John Spurlock, Silt

U.S. Army, Staff Sergeant

November 1992 to January 2006

Service stateside and in Germany

1. Selfless service. I learned to do the right thing without public recognition.

2. It provided true life skills to make me who I am today.

3. It provides a great place to learn many cultures and meet new people while earning money for college and gaining a skill.

Brigitte Dees, Glenwood Springs

U.S. Navy, E-5

January 1996 to June 2006

Service stateside, aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, and in Italy, Kosovo Campaign

1. Each of your comrades/shipmates shares in the struggles and successes of life. When someone succeeds, be there for them to encourage and cheer them on, as it was not easy to get to where they are.

2. I am a more structured and disciplined person. I gained computer skills, interrelational skills and cultural skills, and the service allowed me to obtain a master’s degree.

3. Stay positive, and have a lot of fun. You will succeed in your endeavors and the goals that you set out. Be a pillar to your peers. That will strengthen you as a soldier.

Bryan Holloway, Glenwood Springs

U.S. Air Force, Senior Airman

November 1996 to November 2000

Service stateside and in Germany, Italy and Saudi Arabia, Operation Southern Watch, Operation Allied Force

1. Pay attention to detail. It has helped me prepare resumes, be successful in my career, and even win a few hands of poker now and then. It is a life lesson that served me well in military and civilian life.

2. I learned respect for authority, and realized how lucky I am to live in the U.S. It is extremely hard not to take the luxuries we have for granted until one actually sees the lands that do not even have a fraction of them.

3. My advice would be the same that was given to me: Do what you’re told and stay out of trouble.

Thomas Hartman, Silt

U.S. Army, Sergeant

December 2004 to March 2011

Kuwait, Iraq, Operation Iraqi Freedom

1. Confidence in myself, and knowing that my training and experiences have prepared me to meet any situation.

2. Military service made me stronger, mentally and physically, and taught me how to deal with adversity.

3. Before you talk to a recruiter, talk to someone who has been in the military and do some research on your own.

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