I created an audio story from my interviews for this story. Listen to it by clicking the link above.
For 70 years, the battlefield grave of Army 1st Lt. Robert Styslinger lay underneath the changing vegetation of North Korea’s Chosin Reservoir.
Each of his 11 siblings prayed for his return to the U.S., but the cruelty of time did not allow them to live to witness it. Fulfilling the military’s promise to never leave a fallen comrade behind had been a prolonged journey, but, after nearly seven decades, it was finally achieved.
“It’s always possible,” said Cecelia Sheridan, Styslinger’s niece, reflecting on how the family grappled with her uncle’s absence and possible return over the years.
From her home in Michigan, Sheridan rifled through Army documents until she found the thick, spiralbound book titled “Forensic Report.” Inside is a photograph of a partial tibia — her last connection to her uncle Bob, who died in November 1950 during a battle at the reservoir during the Korean War.
For thousands of other families of servicemembers missing in overseas battles, the search continues.
The mission to recover and identify remains of these servicemembers is led by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), an office of DoD. Its work has led to the repatriation of thousands of servicemembers from World War II to Operation Iraqi Freedom. The missions are supported by funding from Congress and public-private partnerships.
Read my story here: https://www.moaa.org/content/publications-and-media/news-articles/2021-news-articles/we-will-keep-searching-...-and-we-will-find-you/
For Army combat engineer Sgt. Mike Geib, the symptoms of Gulf War illness were immediate.
Before he deployed, he was healthy and excelling on his physical fitness tests. But just 10 years later, he was medically discharged at 28 years old with a 10% disability rating for asthma.
“I couldn’t run. I was turning blue,” Geib said, describing how serious his respiratory issues had become. “I knew in my heart — I knew it was from exposure.”
Although veterans have been exposed to burn pits and environmental hazards distinct from their generational wars, they are united in their fight to receive care and benefits from the VA.
Read the story here: https://www.moaa.org/content/publications-and-media/news-articles/2021-news-articles/advocacy/servicemembers-exposed-to-toxins-fight-decades-long-battle-for-benefits/
MOAA members in North Carolina are strategically maneuvering to advance legislation that would exempt military pension from state income tax.
Col. Ihor “Iggi” Husar, USAR (Ret), first vice president of MOAA’s North Carolina Council of Chapters, said all 15 state chapters are tracking two bills that would eliminate military pension from state income tax. He has led efforts to connect chapter members to the lawmakers in their districts to build more meaningful connections in hopes of passing the legislation.
“It’s much better to have a constituent calling to make an appointment to do advocacy,” Husar said. “It’s more effective this way.”
Read the story here: https://www.moaa.org/content/publications-and-media/news-articles/2021-news-articles/state-tax-update-the-latest-from-4-states-on-exempting-military-pensions/
NASA astronaut and MOAA member Col. Shane Kimbrough, USA (Ret), is set to head back to space.
Kimbrough is one of four astronauts on the second operational Crew Dragon mission (Crew-2), SpaceX’s second long-duration mission with NASA as part of the Commercial Crew program. The Crew Dragon is expected to launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida the morning of April 22; Kimbrough and crew will dock at the International Space Station (ISS) for a six-month stay.
Read the story here: https://www.moaa.org/content/publications-and-media/news-articles/2021-news-articles/moaa-member-prepares-for-return-to-space/
Preparing to work in a new office — or even setting up for video meetings with co-workers — can pose a challenge after spending years donning the same camouflage uniform. But don’t worry: Military Officer spoke with fashion experts to help you nail your job interview, set a stunning first impression, or raise your wardrobe game.
“If you can serve in the military, you can get your fashion right,” said fashion consultant Tim Gunn, former co-host of Project Runway. “This will be a piece of cake compared to everything else that you’ve been through.”
Read the story here: https://www.moaa.org/content/publications-and-media/news-articles/2020-news-articles/moaas-2021-transition-guide-suited-for-success/
During his time aboard Navy guided-missile cruisers and destroyers, former Lt. Billy Hurley III, USN, learned to overcome the challenges that threatened any mission.
His perseverance didn’t just help him reach the rank of lieutenant over his five years of service, but also with each swing of his golf club on the most prestigious courses in the country, against the world’s best players.
“Being mentally tough and being able to get knocked down and get back up,” Hurley said, describing how the Navy prepared him for civilian life. “Sometimes shot-to-shot can feel like that. Hitting a bad shot and getting back up to go hit the next one and not compound errors ... . So mental toughness was a huge piece of the Naval Academy and Navy.”
Read the story here: moaa.org/content/publications-and-media/news-articles/2020-news-articles/moaa-q-and-a-billy-hurley-iii-on-his-path-from-the-navy-to-the-pga-tour/
Military retirees in Nebraska can celebrate progress on a tax exemption two decades in the making.
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts has signed a bill that grants a 50% exemption on state income tax for military retirees. The exemption marks progress on efforts that began in 2000 with MOAA’s Heartland of America Chapter and the Nebraska Veterans Coalition.
“There is a long history of Nebraska trying to get an exemption,” said Brig. Gen. Paul Cohen, USAF (Ret), who helped work on the legislation for the Heartland of America Chapter.
Each time Mathilda Benson patched up a sailor pummeled from the battles of WWII, she couldn’t help but think of her younger brother, Lewis.
Just a few months before Benson joined the Navy in the early 1940s, Lewis was killed in a boat off the coast of Northern Africa. His service had inspired her to parlay her dream of becoming a nurse into military service.
“That was really tough on me,” said Benson, now 100 years old. “I always felt bad that I couldn’t have done anything for my baby brother. ... When I was taking care of the young men, I felt like I wish I could have taken care of my baby brother.”
Read the story here: https://www.moaa.org/content/publications-and-media/news-articles/2020-news-articles/healing-on-the-home-front-lt.-mathilda-benson,-usn-(ret),-on-her-world-war-ii-service/
Joseph Peterburs flew his P-51 Mustang close to the B-17 bombers he was escorting through the sky above Berlin, just as he had on 48 previous missions during WWII.
But on his 49th mission, the Germans flooded the sky with fighters. Peterburs, an adrenaline-filled 19-year-old, soared through the sky chasing a German fighter he saw blow up a B-17 bomber. He closed in as it hit a second bomber.
“Just as he blew up the second, I came in from the rear,” Peterburs said. “I saw smoke and fire on his left wing. He immediately rolled over and started to the deck. I just broke off the chase.”
Read the story here: https://www.moaa.org/content/publications-and-media/news-articles/2020-news-articles/from-teenage-pilot-to-pow-col.-joseph-peterburs,-usaf-(ret),-on-his-world-war-ii-service/
When the Gestapo visited Frank Cohn’s childhood home in Breslau, Germany, in 1938 searching for his father, he and his mother knew it was time to leave.
At the time, 13-year-old Cohn hadn’t imagined he would return to his native Germany six years later. But when he did, he was wearing an American Army uniform, searching for Nazis and liberating oppressed people.
For Cohn, WWII was the culmination of years of childhood memories of violence, hate, and atrocities he recalls seeing on his street. “I’m a survivor and a liberator,” said Cohn, a 94-year-old retired Army colonel. “I was not going to be a victim for the rest of my life. With a caveat — we were never going to be like them.”
Read the story: https://www.moaa.org/content/publications-and-media/news-articles/2020-news-articles/a-survivor-and-a-liberator-col.-frank-cohn,-usa-(ret),-on-his-world-war-ii-service/