New Mexico Archives - StoryCorps

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.

Remembering A Marine Who, After Serving His Country, Put Serving Veterans First

After serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, Marine Corporal Josh Dunne worked as an advocate for veterans seeking higher education. He even went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree in social work from New Mexico State University, graduating on the same day as his wife, Melanie Dunne.

Photo: Marine Corporal Josh Dunne in his service photo. Courtesy of Melanie Dunne.

Still, he faced his own internal struggles following a service-related traumatic brain injury and severe PTSD. In 2016, while experiencing a mental health crisis, Josh died in an officer-involved shooting.

In 2020, Melanie came to StoryCorps with her sister, Marissa Miranda, to remember what Josh meant to their family and his fellow veterans.

Photo: Melanie Dunne and Marissa Miranda at their StoryCorps interview in Las Cruces, NM on March 13, 2020. By Zazil Davis-Vazquez for StoryCorps.
Top Photo: Melanie Dunne and her husband, Josh, at their graduation from New Mexico State, University. Courtesy of Melanie Dunne.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and you need immediate help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or go here for online chat.

Originally aired May 29, 2021, on NPR’s Weekend Edition.

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

Gordon Schei and Christine Schei

schei_additional1In October 2005, 21-year-old Army Sgt. Erik Schei was shot in the head during his second tour in Iraq. The bullet shattered the top half of his skull, and doctors told his parents, Gordon and Christine, that he would be paralyzed and in a vegetative state for the rest of his life.

Erik has since made a remarkable recovery, and at StoryCorps, his parents discuss their concerns about the future, and as his primary caretakers, their ability to care for their son as they get older.

Originally aired October 12, 2013, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.

Above: The Schei Family in 2010 from left to right: Anneka, Gordon, Erik, Deven and Christine. Photo courtesy of the Schei family.

Dawn Maestas

Dawn Maestas runs a tattoo removal business in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her clients include women who wish to remove the names of abusive ex-partners, including some who have been tattooed forcibly. Dawn is a domestic violence survivor herself, and she removes these tattoos for free.

At StoryCorps, Dawn talks with one of her clients, a 22-year-old woman who wished to remain anonymous.

Listen to Dawn speak about her own experience with domestic violence:

Originally aired March 29, 2013, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

John Tull and Lucinda Marker

In 2002, Lucinda Marker and her husband, John Tull, came down with the Bubonic Plague—the same bacterial infection that killed about one-third of Europe’s population in the Middle Ages.

Today, the plague is rare in the U.S., only a handful catch it each year and it’s mostly found in Southwestern states like where Lucinda and John live.

They were bitten by fleas infected with plague near their home in New Mexico, and fell ill while vacationing in New York City.

Originally aired March 22, 2013, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Keith Harris and Tim Harris

Tim’s Place, a restaurant in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is named after a young man with Down syndrome, Tim Harris.

Tim calls it “the world’s friendliest restaurant.” He works there six days a week and greets each customer at the door.

At StoryCorps, Tim sat down with his father, Keith, who helped him start the business in 2010.

Originally aired March 15, 2013, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

You can read more stories like this one in our book Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work, a collection that celebrate the passion, determination, and courage it takes to pursue the work we feel called to do.

Callings is now available from Penguin Books. Get the book at our neighborhood bookstore, Greenlight Bookstore, or find it at your local bookstore.

Linda Hernandez

Growing up in the 1960s in one of the few Latino families in Lincoln, Nebraska, Linda Hernandez and her sister were not treated well by the other students or staff at their school.

At StoryCorps, she recalls the family support that helped her and her sister overcome their difficult childhood experiences.

Originally aired March 1, 2013, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Louis Caplan and Harriet Caplan

caplan2_custom-87ffe9c5ecf368b3a6823c29fa61a58b0b932128-s400-c85Harriet and Louis Caplan’s love story began later in their lives. She was 48 and he was 56. Neither had ever been married before, but suddenly they found themselves together all the time and Louis proposed, so in 1995 they got married.

At StoryCorps, they talk about falling in love and the challenges they now face since Harriet was diagnosed with colon cancer and given a life expectancy of about two years.

Originally aired February 15, 2013, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Above: The Caplans at their wedding on May 27, 1995. Photo courtesy of Harriet Caplan.

Harvey Hilbert

Army veteran Harvey Hilbert was sent to Vietnam in 1966.

One night his company went on a mission in the South Vietnamese jungle.

It was the last night Harvey fought in the war.

Originally aired November 9, 2012 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Frank Barela, C.J. Maestas, and Frank Maestas

C.J. Maestas (center) has been training as a gymnast since he was a toddler, and his grandfathers, Frank Barela (left) and Frank Maestas (right), have been at his side since the beginning.

They watched him make the U.S. Men’s National Gymnastics Team in 2007 and supported him when he almost made the 2012 U.S. Men’s Olympic Team in July 2012.

The three sat down together at StoryCorps to talk about C.J.’s gymnastics career and the impact it has had on the whole family.

C.J. plans to keep competing and hopes to make the Olympic team in 2016.

Originally aired August 3, 2012, on NPR’s Morning Edition.