MVI Archives - StoryCorps

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.

Her Father’s Piano And A Page From WWII History

Loretta Berning’s father, Air Force Pilot Major Harold Martin, spent most of World War II training other pilots stateside. But just after the war he was stationed in Germany, flying relief supplies to Allies trapped behind Soviet lines in Berlin.

Harold was also an accomplished musician, playing saxophone in Big Band Jazz groups. Loretta and her younger sister grew up in a house full of music and were expected to learn the piano from a young age.

Harold Martin (5th from the Left in the back row) posing for a photo with Purvis Henson and his orchestra at Macdill Air Force Base in 1947. Photo courtesy of Loretta Berning.

While in Germany, Harold had found a rare and precious object that he had flown back to the States after his tour. It was a Victory Vertical Piano, made by the Steinway and Sons piano makers. In 1942 Steinway was tapped to make war-proof pianos for troops in the field.  In total they made about 2,500 pianos  built to be strong enough to be dropped out of supply planes, resistant to the humidity of the Pacific, and small enough to fit on submarines. Each piano was delivered by parachute from a supply plane.

Loretta Berning, age 15, pictured with the family’s Victory Vertical piano. 

When Harold brought the piano home after the war, it was one of the few to make the roundtrip journey back to the States. For Loretta, it was a lifelong reminder of her father and his love of music.

Top Photo: Loretta Berning at her StoryCorps interview in Mandeville, LA on May 11th, 2022. By Katie Fernelius for StoryCorps.

Originally aired July 30th, 2022, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.

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.

“You Are Your Brother’s Keeper”: A Marine Opens Up To His Son About 9/11

In August 2000, former Marine Sgt. Jason Thomas was discharged from active duty. One year later, on September 11, 2001, he was compelled to step forward as two planes crashed into the World Trade Center, just miles from where he lived. 

Jason grabbed his Marine uniform and sped to Ground Zero, where he spent almost three weeks working as a first responder looking for survivors buried under the debris. 

Jason Thomas at Ground Zero on 9/11. This is one of the images developed by the firefighter who found Jason’s camera at Ground Zero. Courtesy of Jason Thomas.

For the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Jason — now a Master Sgt. with the Air Force Reserve — came to StoryCorps with his youngest son, Jason Christian Thomas, to talk about the lasting impact that experience had on him. 

This was the first time they spoke about the details of that day.

Jason Thomas and Jason Christian Thomas in Florida, July of 2020. Courtesy of Jason Thomas.
Top Photo: Jason Thomas at Ground Zero after 9/11. Courtesy of Jason Thomas.

Originally aired Sept. 11, 2021, on NPR’s Weekend Edition.

“I Took An Oath To Respond To The Needs Of My Nation”: An Army Chaplain Remembers The Height Of COVID-19 In New York City

As a military chaplain, Army Major Ivan Arreguin has seen many overseas deployments. But in April 2020, while serving with the 44th Medical Brigade out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, he was deployed stateside for a mission unlike any other.

At the time, New York City had been dubbed the epicenter of the coronavirus. Hospitals were overrun with patients, and doctors and nurses were spread thin. Relief came in many forms, including military medical units, who were providing additional support and care.

Over StoryCorps Connect, Chaplain Arreguin told his wife, Aileen, what it was like to be stationed in New York City during the height of COVID-19.

Top Photo: Army Major Ivan Arreguin (center), and other soldiers, escorting the remains of a veteran who died from COVID-19 while being treated at the Javits New York Medical Station, in New York City, April 19, 2020. Photo by U.S. Air National Guard Major Patrick Cordova.
Middle Photo: Army Major Ivan Arreguin and Aileen Arreguin at their son’s wedding in Sanford, NC, in June 2020. Courtesy of the Arreguin family.
The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

Originally aired November 14, 2020, on NPR’s Weekend Edition.

‘I’m Honoring His Life, Not How He Died’: After Losing Her Father to COVID-19, A Daughter Reflects On His WWII Service

Army Staff Sergeant Emilio “Leo” DiPalma was drafted at age 18 to join World War II. He fought on the front lines in Germany until the end of the war, and went on to serve as a guard during the first Nuremberg trials where he guarded infamous Nazi soldiers such as Hermann Göring.

His daughter Emily was close to her dad growing up, but after moving away and starting a family they had started to grow apart. They reconnected around Memorial Day in 2000, after Emily planned a trip to take her father back to Germany for the first time since WWII.

But as Leo aged, he developed dementia and other health issues. Following his wife’s death, his daughters decided it would be best to move him to the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

On April 8, 2020, Leo was the 28th veteran at that home to die of complications due to COVID-19. He was 93 years old. Unable to have a funeral due to the pandemic, Emily recorded this memorial of her father with her daughter, Hannah Sibley-Liddle, using StoryCorps Connect.

Photo: Hannah Sibley-Liddle (left), Staff Sgt. Emilio Di Palma (middle), and Emily Aho (right) on a trip to the White House where Emilio was honored with the Legacy of Nuremberg Award. Courtesy of Emily Aho.
Top Photo: Staff Sgt. Emilio Di Palma, far right, on guard at the Nuremberg Trials in 1945. Courtesy of Emily Aho.

Originally aired May 22, 2020, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Surprise Mail Brings Love to a Soldier in Remote Afghanistan

StoryCorps’ Military Voices Initiative records the stories of veterans and their families.

Private First Class Roman Coley Davis grew up in a small town in South Georgia. After graduating from high school in 2004, he joined the military.

By the time he was 20 years old, Roman found himself 7000 miles away from home, in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan — one of the most remote outposts in the U.S. war there.

At StoryCorps, he told his friend Dan Marek about his family and his time in Afghanistan.


After the military, Roman enrolled in culinary school. He used his GI Bill to attend Le Cordon Bleu. He’s now a chef, based in Arkansas.


Top photo: Roman Coley Davis and his mema, Laverne Tanner, in her South Georgia kitchen. Courtesy of Roman Coley Davis.
Middle photo: Roman during his deployment to Afghanistan. Courtesy of Roman Coley Davis.
Bottom photo: Roman in his chef’s whites with his meemaw, Laverne Tanner. Photo by Dailey Hubbard.

This interview was recorded in partnership with the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

This story originally aired April 07, 2018 on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday. It was rebroadcast April 10, 2020 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

We Never Spoke Of It

Glennette Rozelle and her sister Jennifer Mack grew up outside of Oklahoma City during the 1970s. They fondly remember the happy moments of dancing in their living room and eating their mom’s biscuits and gravy.

But they also remember how common it was to hear their parents argue. And on Valentine’s Day of 1977, everything changed for their family. Their mom shot and killed her husband, Glenn, who was Glennette’s dad and Jennifer’s stepfather. Glennette and Jennifer were both children at the time, and they never spoke with their mother about what happened. Now adults, they came to StoryCorps to remember that night, and its aftermath.

Jennifer also came to StoryCorps with her daughter, Whitney Cotten, to talk about how this secret affected their family for generations.

Top photo: Artwork by Lindsay Mound.
Middle Photo 1: Minnie Jo Wallace, c. 1959. Courtesy of Jennifer Mack.
Middle Photo 2: Glennette Rozelle (left) and Jennifer Mack at their StoryCorps interview in Oklahoma City on May 3, 2018. By Kevin Oliver for StoryCorps.
Bottom Photo: Whitney Cotton (left) and Jennifer Mack at their StoryCorps interview in Oklahoma City on May 3, 2018. By Kevin Oliver for StoryCorps.

Released on December 10, 2019.

Like the music in this episode? Support the artists:
“Heat and Memory” by Jarrett Floyd
“Cast in Wicker” by Blue Dot Sessions from the album Aeronaut
“Sage the Hunter” by Blue Dot Sessions from the album Landsman Duets

The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Since as far back as the Revolutionary War, LGBTQ service members have been discriminated against in various ways by the United States military. On this episode of the StoryCorps podcast, we bring you stories from veterans who were kicked out of the service, as well as some who stayed in the closet to keep their jobs.


First, we’ll hear from Sue McConnell (above left) and Kristyn Weed, who both served during the Vietnam-era and came out as trans after leaving the military.

Matlovich Time Cover

Next, we’ll remember Technical Sergeant Leonard Matlovich, who received national attention for outing himself as gay in 1975 while serving in the Air Force.


Lastly, Air Force veteran Jeri Dilno and Navy veteran Joseph Patton take us back to the 1950s and early 60s, when they were given undesirable discharges due to the assumption that they were “homosexual.”



Top photo: Artwork by Michael Caines.
Second photo: Sue McConnell (left) and Kristyn Weed at their 2018 StoryCorps interview in Tucson, Arizona. By Mia Warren.
Third photo: Leonard Matlovich, who appeared on the cover of Time in 1975 to challenge the military ban on gay service members.
Fourth photo: Jeri Dilno with her friend Andrea Villa in 2013 at their StoryCorps interview in San Diego, California. By Cambra Moniz-Edwards.
Fifth photo: Joseph Patton, who recorded in Santa Monica, California with StoryCorps in 2019. By Jud Esty-Kendall.
Bottom photo: Joseph Patton in 1956 when he was a member of the US Navy. Courtesy of Joseph Patton.

Released on May 21, 2019.

Like the music in this episode? Support the artists:
“Overture” by Patrick Wolf from the album Sundark and Riverlight
“Step In, Step Out” by Blue Dot Sessions from the album Crab Shack
“Watermarks” by Blue Dot Sessions from the album Crab Shack
“Untitled #9” by Yusuke Tsutsumi from the album Birds Flying in the Dark
“Cast in Wicker” by Blue Dot Sessions from the album Aeronaut
“Paloma” by Fabian Almazan and Linda Oh

This podcast is brought to you by supporters of StoryCorps, an independently funded nonprofit organization, and is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.

How Sheep Farming Helped an Injured Army Vet Overcome PTSD

Mickey Willenbring has always been a fighter. She grew up being shuffled between her family on reservations in the upper Midwest, family on the West Coast, and in the foster care system.

The Army called to her as a way to take control of her life, and at the age of 20, she enlisted.

What she didn’t know was that her biggest fight would lie not on the battlefield, but in coming home.

She came to StoryCorps in Eugene, Oregon to remember.


Over the past nine years, Mickey has owned and operated the Dot Ranch Navajo-Churro sheep farm in rural Oregon. She says she hasn’t had a major episode related to her PTSD since starting the ranch.

Top photo: Mickey Willenbring poses at her StoryCorps interview in Eugene, Oregon on January 26, 2019. Photo by Dupe Oyebolu/StoryCorps.
Bottom photo: Mickey Willenbring at work on her ranch with one of her Navajo-Churro sheep. Photo by Tim Herrera.

Originally aired March 1, 2019, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

War Vets John (WWII) and Jerry (Vietnam) on Love and Their Marriage

John Banvard, 100, and Jerry Nadeau, 72, are military veterans, and served in World War II and Vietnam, respectively.

When they met in 1993, they were “sort of in the closet.” John’s wife of over 35 years had died nearly a decade prior and he had never been in a serious relationship with a man. Neither had Jerry.

At first, the two seemed worlds apart. John was a lover of art and theater, while Jerry was an outdoorsman. But they hit it off and soon became inseparable.


Today, they live together in a senior home for veterans in Chula Vista, California — just a few miles south of San Diego, where they were married in 2013.

Top photo: John Banvard (L) and Jerry Nadeau at their home in Chula Vista, CA.
Bottom photo: Jerry Nadeau (L) with John Banvard outside their home in Chula Vista, CA.

Originally aired February 09, 2018 on NPR’s Morning Edition.