Military Archives - StoryCorps

“He Was a Gentleman and a Gentle Man to Me”: A Widow Remembers Her Late Husband, a Marine Veteran

 

Marine Corporal Daniel MacMurray at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina in 1982. Photo courtesy Cynthia Alvarez.

Seventeen years ago, Cynthia Alvarez fell in love with Marine Corporal Daniel Mark MacMurray. She was a peace activist, and he was a proud Marine veteran and firefighter, and the two didn’t always see eye to eye.  But they agreed to love each other. And they did just that, until Dan became sick and died. 

Cynthia came to StoryCorps to remember him.

Cynthia Alvarez and her daughter, Isabela Alvarez, at their StoryCorps interview in Philadelphia on April 27, 2024. By Alan Jinich 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 25, 2024, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.

Two Iraq War Veterans Reflect On A Day That Changed Their Lives

Nick Bennett always knew he was going to join the military. His grandfathers were World War II combat veterans, and he hoped to follow in their footsteps. He joined the Marines, and missed being assigned to a combat unit during his first deployment. Dan Miller also had had a family legacy, and was inspired by his uncle to join the Marine Corps. 

Two white men stand embracing. The taller one on the right has his chin on the shorter man's head, and his arm around his shoulder. The shorter man is holding a photo album. The shorter man on the left is wearing a red t-shirt and the taller man on the right is wearing a black polo short sleeve shirt. Both shirts have the logo of Wounded Warrior Project on them.
Nick Bennett and Dan Miller embracing with a photo album at Nick’s home in Franklin, Indiana in August 2021. Courtesy of Wounded Warrior Project.

In 2004, when the Iraq War was in full swing, Nick and Dan were both deployed to a region known as the ‘Triangle of Death’, which saw some of the highest levels of violence and casualties during the war. There, Dan was a Gunnery Sergeant, and Nick was in charge of the internet cafe.

Nick valued his role in keeping soldiers connected to  their families, but he felt called to fight. And so he requested to join Dan’s security team. They came to StoryCorps to remember what happened. 

Two white men stand together fishing in a lake. The taller one is wearing sneakers, blue jeans and a black shirt. The shorter one is wearing sandals, black shorts and a grey t-shirt.
Nick Bennett and Dan Miller fishing at Camp Allendale in Trafalgar, Indiana in August, 2021. Courtesy of Wounded Warrior Project.

 

Top Photo: Nick Bennett and Dan Miller at their StoryCorps interview in Lafayette, Indiana on April 7, 2024. By Rec Room Recording 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 on April 27, 2024 on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday. 

“The Wolf Was His Best Friend:” Remembering Henry Kendall

Growing up in the suburbs of St. Louis, MO, during the 1950s, Judd Esty-Kendall remembers a childhood surrounded by animals. There were farm animals, such as pigs, chickens and guinea hens, as well as a variety of wild ones: falcons, raccoons, and even a flying squirrel named Peanuts that he kept in his room.

Henry Kendall with one of his falcons. Courtesy of Anita Kendall.

They belonged to his father, Henry, a salesman and World War 2 veteran who took in wild animals in his spare time.

But there was one animal that stood out the most.

At StoryCorps, Judd told his son, also named Jud, about the special bond Henry developed with a full-blooded wolf named Peter.

Henry Kendall with Peter the wolf in St. Louis, MO, circa 1962. Courtesy of Jud Esty-Kendall.
Jud Esty-Kendall with his father, Judd Esty-Kendall, and daughter, Makai, in Durham, NC, on September 29, 2018. Courtesy of Jud Esty-Kendall.
Top Photo: Henry Kendall and his son, Judd Esty-Kendall, with Peter the wolf in their backyard in St. Louis, MO, circa 1962. Courtesy of Jud Esty-Kendall.

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 5, 2024, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

“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 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. 

How An Unexpected Deportation Cut A Young Musician’s Career Short

Decio Rubano still remembers the day he learned to play the drums. He was 12- years-old and playing stickball outside his home in Bridgeport, Connecticut, when his uncle Jimmy pulled up in his car. It was the start of WWll and Jimmy, a working musician, had just lost his drummer to the Army. Rubano remembers his uncle saying, “Hey kid, I need a drummer tonight, so you’re going to play.” Jimmy took out two spoons and showed Rubano how different beats were played.

From that first performance, Rubano says he got “the bug” and couldn’t stop making music. After high school, his career as a drummer was taking off until one night, when he was visiting his grandparents, a pair of immigration officers knocked on the door—Rubano was quickly deported to Montreal, Canada.

Middle Photo: At 17 years-old, Decio Rubano began his professional drumming career when he was scouted to play on the Arthur Godfrey radio show in Miami. Courtesy of Gina Livingston.

Rubano had been born in Montreal because his opera singer mother had taken a job for the season at the Montreal Civic Opera while pregnant with Rubano. As a young man, Rubano was shocked to learn he was not a U.S. citizen.

Rubano signed up for the U.S. Air Force and served in the Korean War. While he continued playing the drums for many years, he never returned to the music business. At StoryCorps, Rubano tells his daughter, Gina Livingston, “I did one thing right in my life. I raised you. You’ve been a joy as a daughter. Everybody should be as lucky as I am.”

Bottom Photo: While stationed on Johnston Island with the US Air Force, Decio Rubano hosted a jazz radio station in his spare time.  Courtesy of Gina Livingston. 

Top Photo: Decio Rubano and Gina Livingston at their StoryCorps interview in Decatur, Georgia on October 31, 2022. By John St. Denis 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 November 11, 2022, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

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“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

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.

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.