Skip to comments.The FReeper Foxhole -
Posted on 12/06/2002 12:33:24 PM PST by Jen
are acknowledged, affirmed and commemorated.
| Our Mission:
The FReeper Foxhole is dedicated to Veterans of our Nation's military forces and to others who are affected in their relationships with Veterans.
We hope to provide an ongoing source of information about issues and problems that are specific to Veterans and resources that are available to Veterans and their families.
In the FReeper Foxhole, Veterans or their family members should feel free to address their specific circumstances or whatever issues concern them in an atmosphere of peace, understanding, brotherhood and support.
Veterans History Project
There are over 19 million veterans living in the U.S. today. With each is a personal story of battles fought, victories and defeats. Each story, though sometimes heartbreaking, is full of love, dedication and patriotism.
War correspondent May Craig
interviews a soldier, ca. 1945.
That's how Peter Bartis describes his work with the Veterans History Project. The grassroots effort that began two years ago -- and has now caught fire -- is hoping to keep those memories alive.
Bartis, a senior program officer for the project, said that each day some 1,500 U.S. veterans die -- and with them a treasured part of the nation's past. "These are some of the most amazing stories; when you put them all together you get a story of the nation," he said.
Over the past year alone, the project's staff of 16 has already collected more than 14,000 items, such as letters and other memoirs, and video and audiotape interviews.
"We're all just blown away by these stories," he said. "The information has been very rich, it's been emotional, and it's very heartening to listen to the stories, to learn how and why they (veterans) joined, their war-time experience."
With the idea that future generations could learn from the histories of the nation's veterans, the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, began the effort to collect video and audio recordings of personal histories and testimonials of American war veterans -- men, women, civilians who served in World Wars I and II, and the Korean, Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars. The center needs contributions of civilian volunteers, support staff, and war industry workers also.
Bartis said the amount of regular mail and the number of e-mails and phone calls vary from day to day, "but the response to this project has been enormous." "We get to know a lot of these people personally. That's the fun part," he said. Aside from the thousands of items received from everyday Americans each year, Bartis said the project has gained tremendous support from the corporate community as well.
The Veterans History Project's official Web site lists more than 50 national partners and support organizations from every state. The military services contribute through offices such as the Army's U.S. Center of Military History and the Naval and Marine Corps Historical centers, as well as DoD's official committee commemorating the 50th Korean War anniversary. Major national veterans associations are well-represented also.
"This is not our project or the library's project. This is the nation's project," Bartis said. "We want people of all walks of life to feel ownership of this project."
| 'Unless we fail in our objective -- this thread is designed to stir your emotions and memories and to bring out the patriotism in you.'
-- SAMWolf, US Army Veteran
EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska (AFPN) Children around the world can get a signed letter from Santa Claus, thanks to elves from the U.S. Air Force's 354th Operations Support Squadron's combat weather flight here.
For nearly 50 years, people at Eielson AFB have helped Santa answer the mail. Each year, the flight answers thousands of letters, sending responses postmarked "North Pole, Alaska." "Last year, because of operational concerns, we only answered about 1,000 letters," said 1st Lt. Andrew Mercer, chief elf for this year's program. The previous year, the flight answered more than 6,000 letters.
People who would like a free letter from Santa for a child should send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Santa's Mailbag, 354th OSS/OSW, 1215 Flightline Ave., Suite 100B, Eielson AFB, AK 99702-1520.
Isaiah, 12 weeks old, gets his first "lap-time" with a C-130 Hercules Santa from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. Isaiah was one of two Arctic Village, Alaska, children seeing Santa for the first time. Many of the village's residents have seen all of the 30-plus Arctic Village trips the 517th Airlift Squadron "Firebirds" have made since 1967. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Theo McNamara)
12/06/02 - ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska (AFPN) -- The 517th Airlift Squadron here made its annual pilgrimage to a remote Alaskan village Dec. 3 with Christmas gifts and cheer.
The 517th AS "Firebirds" have been making the trip to Arctic Village for more than 30 years.
The tradition began in 1967 when the porcupine caribou herd - the villagers' primary source of food - changed its migratory trek because of forest fires. The squadron, then known as the 17th Tactical Airlift Squadron, flew the village hunters to the herd and returned with their meat, saving the village from starvation.
Since then, the Arctic Village Booster Club - through the support of the 517th Spouses Group and squadron volunteers - has brought food, clothing, school supplies and gifts to the villagers every year.
"It's all about the children," said Linda Stephenson, a spouses group member who made her third trip to Arctic Village. "To see the smiles on their little faces is just amazing. The only Santa most of the villagers have ever seen has come off an Air Force C-130 (Hercules)."
One such villager, Bertha Ross, was just 4 years old in 1967 when the tradition began.
"When I was a little girl, Santa Claus would fly over waving from the side door, and the men would drop Santa's gifts out the back," said Ross. "It was the most exciting thing for the whole year."
Besides school supplies and gifts for the children, volunteers also brought meat to help alleviate a poor caribou-hunting season because of another change in the herd's migratory patterns. They also brought other staples, such as butter, bacon, flour and sugar, in addition to a laser printer and a new copier for the village council.
There were also some new additions to the traditional cargo this year. Spouse Lori Porter, a pediatrician, worked hard to obtain needed medical supplies. Elaine Hedden, another spouse who is a physical therapist, worked with the villagers on various stretching exercises. One villager in particular - recently shot in the knee while hunting - received one-on-one training to aid in his recovery.
One of the biggest additions to this year's event came from an Angel Tree the booster club set up in downtown Anchorage.
"Having the Angel Tree was an absolute huge help," said Stephenson. "That really helped let the community know what this annual event is all about and allowed them another avenue to join in and help."
The booster club also raised $13,000 through their annual auction, during which community businesses donated money and gifts.
Much has changed in the last 35 years for both the villagers and the volunteers. While Ross is no longer an excited little girl standing on the frigid runway waiting for Santa to open the door, she took just as much pleasure in this year's visit by bringing the next generation into the magic of this unique Christmas tradition.
During the celebration in the village community center where Santa handed out presents to each of the 74 children, Ross was holding two village infants as they saw their first "C-130 Santa Claus."
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