Military Voices Initiative Archives - StoryCorps
Renew today to double your impact Renew by 4/30

“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. 

 

 

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.

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.

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.

Your support makes it possible for StoryCorps, an independently funded nonprofit, to collect, archive, and share the stories of people from all backgrounds because everyone’s stories deserve to be heard.

Donate

50 Years After Watergate, The White House Staffer Who “Kept His Integrity Intact”

On June 17, 1972, five men were arrested for breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at  the Watergate building in Washington, D.C. One was a former employee of the CIA.

As the senate select committee began looking into President Richard Nixon’s involvement, a Republican staffer blew the lid off that investigation by revealing a treasure trove of evidence. 

A few years earlier, at Nixon’s request, Alexander Butterfield — a deputy assistant to the president and former Air Force Colonel — had overseen the installation of a voice activated taping system that secretly recorded all of Nixon’s conversations in the Oval Office and other key locations. Butterfield was told the elaborate recording system was for the purpose of gathering archival material for the Nixon Library, but no one who met with the president was made aware of the devices. Those recordings would eventually provide evidence of Nixon’s involvement in the attempted cover-up of the Watergate break in. The president resigned shortly after.  

Butterfield spoke with his friend Tom Johnson about what led to his testimony.

Top Photo: Alexander Butterfield testifying before the Senate Watergate Committee on July 16, 1973. By the Associated Press. 
Middle Photo: Alexander Butterfield and Tom Johnson at their StoryCorps interview in Austin, TX on April 27, 2016. By Jhaleh Akhavan for StoryCorps. 

The original interview took place through a partnership with the 2016 Vietnam War Summit, hosted by the LBJ Presidential Library and The University of Texas at Austin. 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 30, 2022 on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

A Son Took Up His Distant Father’s Instrument to Honor His Military Service

Army Sergeant First Class Jodi Walz served in the United States Army band for 30 years — 12 of them in active duty and 17 years in the reserves. Music defined his life, in and out of military service.

Gena Gear and her son, Ryan Walz, have vivid memories of Jodi on stage playing trumpet, and how much he enjoyed performing as a singer. Gena remembers him during the initial years of their romantic relationship as a quick-witted, charming man, and also as one who seemingly lost his way after leaving active duty. 

Jodi Walz with Ryan (right) and his younger brother Tyler in Minnesota around 2005. Courtesy of Gena Gear.

But despite his struggles, his family honors his pride for and commitment to the military.

After Jodi died from COVID in November 2020, Ryan came to StoryCorps with Gena to reflect on his father’s service and legacy, and talk about his decision to play taps at his funeral.

Jodi Walz in the reserves in Minnesota, around 2012. Courtesy of Gena Gear.

 

Top Photo: Gena Gear and Ryan Walz at their StoryCorps interview in Minneapolis, MN, on May 5, 2022.

Originally aired May 28, 2022, on NPR’s Weekend Edition. 

Vietnam Separated Them, But These Brothers Stand Side By Side

Ron Amen grew up in Dearborn, Michigan in the 1950s. He belonged to a large and close family, including his brother, Alan. They were raised to look out for one another, and it was a lesson they took very seriously.

Ron Amen during his tour of duty in Vietnam in 1967. Courtesy of Ron Amen.Ron Amen during his tour of duty in Vietnam in 1967. Courtesy of Ron Amen.

In 1965, when the U.S. started committing combat troops to Vietnam, Ron was in one of the initial waves to be drafted for battle. This was the first time the brothers had been separated. But despite the distance the war brought, Ron and Alan kept their bond alive.

Ron Amen during his tour of duty in Vietnam in 1967. Courtesy of Ron Amen.Ron Amen during his tour of duty in Vietnam in 1967. Courtesy of Ron Amen.

The brothers came to StoryCorps to reflect on their relationship, and to remember the effect war had on them — and their brotherhood.

Top photo: Alan and Ron Amen at their StoryCorps interview in Dearborn, Michigan on August 10, 2012. By Erin Dickey for StoryCorps.

This interview is part of the Anwar Collection of Muslim Voices through StoryCorps’ American Pathways initiative. This initiative is made possible by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art and an Anonymous Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Stuart Family Foundation. It will be archived at the Library of Congress.

Originally aired April 23, 2022 on NPR’s Weekend Edition.

Even Though He Wasn’t A “Tough Guy,” This Purple Heart Vet Made His Mark In Vietnam

As a child, Richard Hoy dreamed of becoming a hero, like the ones he saw in Hollywood movies. Growing up sheltered from the outside world, he wanted a life of adventure. So when he was 18 years old, he enlisted in the U.S. Army.

By 19, he was serving as a medic in Vietnam, and what he encountered in the field challenged his notion of being a “hero.” 

Richard Hoy (left) at his new assignment after recovering from a gunshot wound to his abdomen, and a concussion by a grenade. He is applying a fresh dressing on a patient shot with an AK-47. Circa 1971, Fort Ord Hospital, CA. Courtesy of Richard Hoy.

One day, his unit surrounded a village in Vietnam, and Richard remembers seeing a North Vietnamese soldier staring at him 50 feet away. Presented with the opportunity to shoot, he didn’t. He questioned if he was cut out for war. 

Five decades later, he came to StoryCorps with his daughter, Angel Hoy, to share how being a medic on the front lines of war shaped him.

Originally aired March 5 on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.

Top Photo: Richard and Angel Hoy in Seattle, WA on Feb. 22, 2022. Courtesy of Richard Hoy.

This interview was recorded in partnership with KUOW as part of StoryCorps’ Military Voices Initiative.

For Those Left Behind: An Afghan American Marine Reflects On His Homeland

In 1980, Ajmal Achekzai fled Afghanistan during the onset of the Soviet–Afghan War, leaving his birth city of Kabul behind. He was only five years old.

The next time he would return would be in November of 2001. U.S. Marines were the first major ground forces sent to Afghanistan after 9/11. Ajmal was among them. 

Cpl. Ajmal Achekzai talks with two Afghan locals on December 10, 2001 at the perimeter of a patrol base in Southern Afghanistan. Photo by Sgt. Joseph R. Chenelly/USMC/Getty Images.

Twenty years later, Ajmal is witnessing the return of Taliban control. He sat down with StoryCorps to remember where he came from, the dire uncertainty of Afghanistan’s future and the love he has for its people.

Ajmal Achekzai with his mother, in July of 2001, at the Salt Lake International Airport. Courtesy of the Achekzai family.
Top Photo: Ajmal Achekzai at his StoryCorps interview in Costa Mesa, CA, on August 19th, 2016. By Liyna Anwar for StoryCorps.

This interview is part of the Anwar Collection of Muslim Voices and Tapestry of Voices Collection through StoryCorps’ American Pathways initiative. This initiative is made possible by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art and an Anonymous Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Stuart Family Foundation. It will be archived at the Library of Congress.

Originally aired September 03, 2021, on NPR’s Morning Edition.