Military Voices Initiative Archives - StoryCorps
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“We Knew We Were the Best.” Reflections from the First Black Marines of Montford Point

A group of Montford Point volunteers in their dress uniforms circa May, 1943. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In 1942, the U.S. allowed Black men to enlist in the Marine Corps for the first time. It was during World War II, and resulted in more than 19,000 Black recruits being sent to Montford Point, North Carolina for basic training.

These men fought for their country in the midst of the racism and prejudice they faced at home. They were essential to the war effort but did not recieve the same respect in uniform as their white counterparts. 

Many of those men are no longer with us, but their voices can be heard in the StoryCorps archive. One of those voices is that of Corporal Sidney Allen Francis,  a retired New York City police detective.  Sidney came to StoryCorps with his daughter, Candice, to talk about how his time at Montford Point shaped him.

William Pickens, Estel Roberts and Benjamin Jenkins at their StoryCorps interviews in Chicago, Illinois, New York, New York, and Dayton, Ohio in 2012, 2014, and 2010. By Leslee Dean, Mayra Sierra, and Virginia Lora for StoryCorps.

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Originally aired February 24, 2024, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday. 

 

 

After Vietnam, He Struggled to Be Accepted. Then He Met a Fellow Soldier Who Became His Brother

Cupi’g Alaska Native Eben Olrun joined the U.S. Marine Corps as a young man to fight in the Vietnam War. He returned home in 1972 to find his peers had turned against veterans, and that were few resources for soldiers fresh from combat.

Burdened with long-term injuries from his tour and wanting to forget his time overseas, Eben struggled with alcoholism. His path to healing began when he met the man he would come to call his brother— fellow Vietnam veteran Bill Martin. 

He came to StoryCorps with his son, Owen, to remember him.

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Originally aired November 11, 2023 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Top Photo: Vietnam veterans Eben Olrun (right) and Bill Martin (left) at the Arctic Valley Ski Area in Anchorage, Alaska. Courtesy of Eben Olrun.
Middle Photo: Eben Olrun with son Owen Olrun at their StoryCorps recording in Anchorage, Alaska on July 28, 2023.

A Korean War Veteran Recalls his First Day of Combat

Sergeant Daniel Moon served in two wars: first in WWII when he was just 17, and then again in the Korean War. 

Laura Moon and Daniel Moon after their StoryCorps interview in Chelsea, ME at the Togus VA Hospital on September 12, 2023. By Max Jungreis for StoryCorps.

He didn’t see combat during WWII, but his experiences during the Korean War were harrowing. He was a member of Fox Company 19th Infantry Regiment, and he sustained severe injuries during his first battle. He also witnessed the deaths of several fellow soldiers. 

Sergeant Daniel Moon (Back row Right) with his Squad members at Camp Crawford, Hokkaido Japan, 1950. Photo courtesy Laura Moon.

He came to StoryCorps with his daughter, Laura Moon, to remember that day.

Top Photo: Daniel Moon in Seoul, Korea 1948

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Originally aired September 30th, 2023, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.

EXTRA: The Kids From North Baghdad

In celebration of our 20th Anniversary, StoryCorps will be revisiting some of our most memorable conversations from the past two decades. This week, we announce an upcoming special series with this short story from our Military Voices Initiative.

Released on September 19, 2023. Originally aired November 10, 2012, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.

“I Felt That God Had Put Me On This Earth To Do This” A Combat Medic’s Long Journey Into Enlisting

From a very young age, Ocean Subiono had an interest in the military—even dressing up as a soldier for Halloween. As a freshman in high school, he joined the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps or JROTC program, with the hopes of enlisting in the Army one day.

Ocean Subiono at his Honolulu Fire Department Academy graduation on March 16, 2018. Photo courtesy of the Subiono family. 

But his dreams to become a service member were delayed by an unexpected complication.

He came to StoryCorps with his father, Russell Subiono, to talk about his journey.

Russell and Ocean Subiono at his Oath of Enlistment ceremony on November 20, 2019 at Hickam Air Force Base in Hickam, Hawaii. Photo courtesy of the Subiono family.

 

Top Photo: Ocean Subiono and Russell Subiono at their StoryCorps interview in Honolulu, Hawaii on June 14, 2022. By Franchesca Peña for StoryCorps.

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Originally aired August 26, 2023, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday

One Vietnam Veteran Recalls The Solemn Duty Of Notifying Families of Lost or Missing Loved Ones

In the 1960s Larry Candelaria went to college through an ROTC program. He graduated as a Commissioned Officer, and in 1970, he was deployed to Vietnam. Larry served as an administrator, and was eventually assigned to be the Chief of the Casualty Branch for the 23rd Infantry Division. 

Lieutenant Colonel Larry Candelaria at the 23rd Infantry Division base in Vietnam. Photo Courtesy of Larry Candelaria.

There, his job was to identify service members who were injured, captured, or killed in the line of duty. As soldiers returned or were lost in the field of battle his team was responsible for notifying families back home of the condition of their loved ones.

Larry came to StoryCorps as part of our Military Voices Initiative, to reflect on his time serving in Vietnam and its lasting impact on his life.

 

Top Photo: Lieutenant Colonel Larry Candelaria and his wife, Connie, at their StoryCorps interview in Las Cruces, New Mexico on March 12, 2020. By Zazil Davis-Vazquez for StoryCorps. 

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Originally aired May 27, 2023, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.

A Navy Yeoman Reflects on Joining the Military During Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

In 1993, the US government passed the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. It forced LGBTQ military service members to hide their sexual orientation or risk expulsion.

Navy Yeoman Jacob Tate, who’s gay, joined the military in 2010 when the policy was still in effect. Ultimately, DADT, as it’s commonly known, ended in September 2011. 

As part of the Military Voices Initiative, Jacob came to StoryCorps with his husband, Carson Pursifull, to talk about what that experience was like, and answer Carson’s burning questions about what he actually does for the Navy.

Carson Pursifull and Jacob Tate at The Liriodendron Mansion in Bel Air, MD in April 2021. Photo by Sarandon Smith (Courtesy of the participants).

 

Top Photo: Jacob Tate and Carson Pursifull at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC in December 2021. Photo by Sarandon Smith (Courtesy of the participants).

 

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Originally aired April 29, 2023, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday. 

One Veteran Shares Lessons Learned From War And His Return Home

In 1942, Nazim Abdul Karriem was drafted into WWII at the age of 18. Like many young men at the time he had a deep sense of obligation and commitment to fight for his nation.

As  a Black man, he was put into a segregated unit that was deployed to Europe. Nazim spent four years in the field, ultimately surviving the battles of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge.

Sheikh Nazim Abdul Karriem with his wife, Virginia A Karriem, soon after the war ended. Courtesy of Dr. Vardana Karriem.

Nazim was shipped back to the United States in 1946. But what he found upon returning was not what he expected for a decorated veteran. He came to StoryCorps, at the age of 96 to talk about these experiences and the path he began when he came home.

Top Photo: Sheikh Nazim Abdul Karriem at his StoryCorps interview in Washington, D.C. on April 24, 2017. By Olivia Cueva for StoryCorps.

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Originally aired February 25, 2023 on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday. 

“We Didn’t Have Time To Be Afraid”: Two Army Nurses Reflect On Serving At The Front Lines

Army veterans Diane Evans and Edie Meeks arrived in Plaiku, Vietnam on the same day in February of 1969. Both were from Minnesota, and they built an almost instant friendship. And they were “hooch” neighbors, so bunked right next to each other.

Diane Evans in Long Binh, Vietnam in 1968. Courtesy of Diane Evans.

In 1969, Plaiku was one of the hot spots of the war, and Diane and Edie worked as nurses on the front lines. They saw casualties of war firsthand, but they never shied away from their job of protecting their patients.

They came to StoryCorps to share their story of service.

Diane Evans treating wounded soldiers at the 36th Evacuation Hospital in Vung Tau, Vietnam in 1968. Courtesy of Diane Evans.
Top Photo: Diane Evans and Edie Meeks at the Vietnam Women’s Memorial in Washington, D.C. Courtesy of Diane Evans.

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Originally aired November 5, 2022, on NPR’s Weekend Edition.

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Without Memory: A Love Story From Two Veterans

Matthew Perry wanted to be a Marine since he was 6-years old. He enlisted around 2005, and by 2008 he was serving in Afghanistan. 

One day, while on duty, he was hit by three IEDs in the course of a single day. But the lasting impacts of his traumatic brain injuries wouldn’t be felt until years later.

In 2010, while on leave from the Marines, a friend would introduce him to a college student named Helen. The two became inseparable after that, and would marry a couple of years later. 

But in 2014, Helen got a call from Kings Bay Naval Base – where Matthew was stationed at the time – with news that something was terribly wrong.

The hands of Helen and Matthew on July 15, 2014, while Matt was in the hospital in Brunswick, GA after his seizures started. Courtesy of Helen Perry. 

Capt. Helen Perry and Sgt. Matthew Perry came to StoryCorps to talk about what happened next.

Helen, Ethan, and Matthew on Jan 5, 2022 at Fort Clinch State park in Florida. Courtesy of Helen Perry. 
Top Photo: Helen and Matthew Perry after Helen’s promotion to Captain in July of 2015, at the Brooke Army Medical Center. Courtesy of Helen Perry. 

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Originally aired October 1st, 2022, on NPR’s Weekend Edition.