As a Marine sergeant, 26-year old Alice Nelson was in charge of more than one million dollars worth of explosives each month at the Cherry Point Air Station in North Carolina. Her formal title was Inventory Management Specialist (Aviation Ordnance), and she kept track of “pretty much anythin…

Russ McLaughlin’s first tour of duty in Vietnam started off easy enough. He joined the Marines at age 17 and was stationed on an aircraft carrier, out at sea and away from the action. But after two years, he started craving excitement and asked to be transferred to the 9th Expeditionary Brig…

Joe Gordon is 92 years old. But you wouldn’t know it by the way he charges around his home in Prosser. The World War II veteran is slim and constantly in motion, fetching photos, model boats, and his Purple Heart to show me. His wife Ruth laughs and says “He can’t sit still, even now.”

Last summer, while members of the Washington Army National Guard battled forest fires in Eastern Washington, another group of Guardsmen prepared to deploy to the Middle East to serve as law enforcement. It’s a perfect example of the Guard’s mission — to respond when disaster strikes at home,…

Tim Gatton shows me a photo of his grandfather Hank and six brothers, posing in uniform after World War II ended in 1945. Every one of them served except the youngest, who couldn’t because he was just 13. Gatton heard their war stories the whole time he was growing up, and most everyone in h…

96-year old Lloyd “Gabe” Gabriel of Yakima remembers hitchhiking from his home in Groesbeck, Texas to Dallas to enlist in the Army Air Corps in 1942. He was assigned to a B-17 crew at Geiger Field in Spokane and became a ball turret gunner. Gabe and his crew flew 11 successful missions over …

94-year-old Don Browning of Moxee is known for his sense of humor, his rebellious streak, and his thick, lustrous hair. Though it's been 72 years since the end of World War II, the memories of when he served as a Marine in the Pacific are still as sharp as his wit. 

Francisco Flores did two tours of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan - and he's not even 30 years old. He always wanted to be a soldier. "I tried to enlist in the Army when I was 12," he grins. He rode his bike to the enlistment center, where they gave him a backpack and a cup with a logo o…

Melissa and Tyler Hood still have the piece of shrapnel that could have killed them at a U.S. Army base in Iraq in 2004. The metal is thick, jagged, and about 5" x 3". "There was a line of trucks parked 20 or 30 yards behind us," says Tyler. "and it (the mortar) hit right on the other side o…

Command Sgt. Major Ramon M. Dang was born in the Philippines, and moved to Hawaii at age 13. He decided young — that he wanted to serve his new country. “For me it’s to pay the United States forward, pay them back for giving me the opportunity to live in a great country.” He joined the Army at 19.

Chelsea Mack is 32 years old. She was just 20 when she first deployed to Iraq. She yearned for adventure. “I wanted a new challenge. After high school I wanted to go see the world, make a difference.”

Army Staff Sergeant Dale Hlavacek has served his country for 20 years, and he’s planning to retire in 2017. A smile spreads across his face as he talks. He’s excited about the next phase of his life, and says there are so many possibilities, it’s hard to pick just one. He says it’s not like …

Amy Garcia-Hernandez is a jock. She was a track star and a wrestler in high school, and her sister was in the service, so it was a natural transition when she enlisted in the Marines at age 19. She’s petite, beautiful, and a 13-year veteran who did door-to-door combat in Iraq.

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