2020 Veterans Day free meals and restaurant deals and discounts - We Are The Mighty
Veterans

2020 Veterans Day free meals and restaurant deals and discounts

The following is a list of Veterans Day discounts at restaurants for 2020. Visit often as the list is now being updated as new discounts come in.

All of the discounts have been confirmed, either through press release or direct communication with the company. Check out all the other discounts being offered this Veterans Day.

Keep in mind that most businesses require proof of military service. What identification do you need to prove that you’re a veteran? Click here for a few common options.

Not all franchise locations participate in their national chain’s Veterans Day programs — be sure contact your nearest establishment to make sure they are participating.

Make sure to visit the Military.com Discounts Center for more discounts and articles. And sign up for the Military Deals and Discounts Newsletter to get even more discounts and information in your inbox on how Military Families can save big.

2020 Veterans Day Restaurant Discounts:

54th Street Grill — Veterans and active-duty military get a free meal up to $12 on November 11. Dine-in only.

7-Eleven — Active-duty, retired, veteran, guard, reservists and family members get a free coffee or Big Gulp on November 11. (7-Eleven app and Veterans Advantage membership required.)

Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant — Veterans and active-duty military can choose one free entrée from the Veterans Day menu on November 11 at select locations.

Bandana’s BBQ — Veterans and active-duty military get a free Budget Buster Meal on November 11

Bar Louie — Active or retired military get a free craft burger or flatbread of your choice on November 11. Dine-in only.

BJ’s Restaurant and BrewhouseOn November 11, all current and former military members receive a free entree up to $14.95 plus a free Dr. Pepper beverage. Dine-in only.

Black Angus Steakhouse — On November 11, veterans get the All-American Steak Plate for $10.99. This deal is available for restaurant dining and takeaway orders.

Bob Evans — Veterans and active-duty military get a free meal from a select menu on November 11. Dine-in only.

Brick House Tavern + Tap — Veterans get 20% off on November 11. Dine-in only.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. — Military personnel and their families receive 20% off on November 11. Dine-in only.

Buffalo Wild Wings — Veterans and active-duty service members get a free order of 10 boneless wings and fries on November 11. The offer is available for dine-in or takeout.

California Pizza Kitchen –Veterans and active military get a complimentary meal from a select menu. Dine-in and walk-in takeout only. 

Casey’s General Stores — Service members both past and present get a free coffee on November 11 across its over 2,200 locations.

Cattlemens — Active, inactive, and retired military personnel get a complimentary 8 oz. Sirloin Steak dinner on November 11.

CentraArchy Restaurants — Veterans and active-duty military members get an entree from the full menu at any location for half price on November 11. Guests are encouraged to make reservations.

Chili’sVeterans and active-duty service members get a free meal from a select menu on November 11. Available for in-restaurant only.

Cicis Pizza — Active and retired military get a free adult buffet on November 11. Dine-in only. Coupon required.

Coco’s — On November 11, veterans and active-duty service members get a free slice of pie, along with a “Buy One, Get One” free deal at all locations. The offer is valid for dine-in or take out orders; online and delivery not included.

Country Kitchen — Active and retired military get a free Country Scramble on November 11 at participating locations. Dine-in only.

Cracker BarrelVeterans get a complimentary slice of Double Chocolate Fudge Coca-Cola Cake when dining at any location on November 11.

Eat’n Park — All former and current military personnel and their families will receive a 10% discount for the entire month of November. Dine-in only.

Einstein Bros. Bagels — Veterans and active-duty military get a free hot or iced medium coffee on November 11.

Famous Dave’sMilitary personnel get a free Free Georgia Chopped Pork Sandwich + Side at participating locations on November 11. Valid for Dine-In, To Go, and Online Ordering. Not valid for call in orders.

Farmer Boys — Veterans and active-duty military receive a free Big Cheese cheeseburger on November 11 at participating locations.

Friendly’s — Veterans and active-duty military get a free All-American meal for lunch or dinner, which consists of the All-American Burger, served with a side of fries and a drink on November 11. Dine-in only at participating locations.

Frisch’s Big Boy — Veterans and active-duty military receive a free meal, all day, up to $10 at participating locations on November 11. This tribute is available at Frisch’s dine-in, drive-thru and carryout.

Golden Corral — Golden Corral Restaurants’ Military Appreciation Night free dinner will be available on November 11. Military retirees, veterans, active-duty, National Guard and Reserves are all welcome.

Green Mill Restaurant and Bar — Veterans and active-duty military get a free menu item at participating locations on November 11. Dine-in only.

Hamburger Stand — Veterans and active-duty military get a free hamburger, regular fries and a small Pepsi on November 11.

Hopdoddy Burger Bar — On November 11, veterans and active-duty service members get a free Classic Burger (with or without cheese). This offer is redeemable for in-store dining or to-go orders placed by phone. 

Houlihan’s — Veterans, active-duty military and military families get $10 off a $30 food purchase at participating locations on November 11. This offer is valid for in-restaurant dining or for carryout. Orders made via houlihans.com or a third-party delivery service are not eligible.

Hy-Vee — Veterans and active military members get a free curbside pickup breakfast November 11 from 6 – 10 a.m.

Kolache Factory — Veterans and active-duty military get a free kolache and a cup of coffee on November 11 from 6 a.m. – 2 p.m.

LaMar’s Donuts — Veterans and active-duty military get a free donut and 12 oz. coffee at participating locations on November 11.

Little Caesars — Veterans and active military get a free HOT-N-READY Lunch Combo at participating stores on November 11, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Logan’s Roadhouse — On November 11 between 3 and 6 pm, veterans and military personnel receive a free meal from a special menu.

Lucille’s Smokehouse BBQActive-duty personnel and veterans get a free Lucille’s Original Pulled Pork Sandwich on November 11.

Luna Grill — Veterans and active-duty service members get a “Buy One, Get One Free” deal from November 11 through 13, valid for dine-in or to-go orders. (Not valid online or delivery.)

McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants — Veterans, National Guard, Gold Star parents and Gold Star Spouses can enjoy a half priced entrée from a special menu on November 8. Reservations are strongly recommended.

Menchie’s — Veterans who visit stores on November 11 get their first 6 oz of froyo free.

Mission BBQ — Veterans and active-duty military get a free sandwich on November 11.

O’Charley’s – Active-duty military and veterans can enjoy a free meal on November 11. Dine-in only.

Pilot Flying J — Veterans get a free breakfast combo at participating locations November 9 through 15 through a special offer in the app.

Red Lobster — Veterans, active-duty military and reservists get a free appetizer or dessert from a select menu on November 11. Dine-in only.

Red Robin – Veterans and active-duty military who are Red Robin Royalty members can redeem a free Tavern Double Burger with Steak Fries any time between November 12 and 30 for dine-in or to-go. The offer will be automatically uploaded to your dashboard.

Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery — Active-duty service members and veterans get a free meal from a select menu November 11. Dine-in only.

Sagebrush Steakhouse — Veterans and active-duty military receive a free meal on November 11. Dine-in only.

Shari’s — On November 11, veterans and active-duty service members get a free slice of pie, along with a “Buy One, Get One” free deal at all locations. The offer is valid for dine-in or take out orders; online and delivery not included.

Shoney’s — Veterans and active-duty service members get a free All You Care To Eat, Freshly Prepared Breakfast Bar on November 11 until 11 am. Dine-in only.

Starbucks — Veterans, military service members and military spouses get a free tall (12-oz) hot brewed coffeeat participating stores on November 11.

Tap House Grill — Veterans and active-duty military get a free meal on November 11. Dine-in only.

Wienerschnitzel — Veterans and active-duty military receive a free Chili Dog, small fries and a small drink at participating locations on November 11.

Yard House — Veterans and active duty military receive a complimentary appetizer on November 11.

2019 Veterans Day Restaurant Discounts:

151 Coffee — Military personnel are invited to bring your family for free drinks on November 11.

Ahipoki — Veterans and active-duty military receive 50% off any bowl at all locations across Arizona and California on November 11

Another Broken Egg Cafe — Veterans and active-duty service members can enjoy a free Patriot French Toast Combo and coffee on November 11.

Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza — Veterans and active military get a complimentary 12″ pizza on November 10 and 11.

Applebee’s — Veterans and active-duty military receive a free meal from a special menu on November 11.

Army & Air Force Exchange Service — The Exchange will feature one-day only specials on November 11, including a free coffee for all shoppers at Express and participating Exchange restaurant locations. And MILITARY STAR cardholders will earn double points November 11 andadditional discounts with their card.

Aroma Joe’s Coffee — Veterans and active-duty military get up to a 24oz drink for free on November 11.

Aspen Creek Grill — Veterans and active-duty military get a complimentary meal from a special menu from 11 a.m. to close on November 11.

Back Yard Burgers — On November 11, veterans get a free Classic Burger.

Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar — Veterans and active-duty military receive a free BD’s All American Burger and side on November 11 at participating locations.

Bagger Dave’s — Active, non-active, reservists and retired personnel get a free Great American Cheeseburger and Fries on November 11.

Bakers Square — Active-duty military and veterans can enjoy a free meal on November 11.

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s — Veterans will be offered a free meal with purchase of equal or greater value up to $10 on November 11

BIBIBOP Asian Grill — Veterans and active-duty military get a free bowl on November 11.

Biggby Coffee — Veterans and active-duty service members get a free brewed coffee up to 24 oz. on November 11.

Bombshells Restaurant and Bar — Veterans and active-duty military get free meals and soft drinks and a 20% discount for accompanying family members on November 11.

Bonanza Steakhouses — Veterans and active military get buffet specials at select locations on November 11.

Bruegger’s Bagels — Active-duty military members, veterans, reservists and military spouses get a free bagel with cream cheese on November 11.

Buffalo Wings & Rings — Veterans and active-duty military receive a free “Pick 2” Lunch Combo on November 11 between 11 am and 3 pm.

Burntwood Tavern — Veterans and active military get a free lunch or dinner on November 11.

Calhoun’s — Veterans and active-duty military get a free meal on November 11.

Cantina Laredo — Veterans and active-duty military get a complimentary meal up to $20 at participating locations on November 11.

Carrabba’s — This Veterans Day weekend, veterans and active-duty military receive a free calamari and 10% off on all future visits.

Charlie Brown’s Steakhouse — Veterans and active-duty military get a free entree from a special menu from 11:30 am to 3:00 pm. on November 11.

Chicken Salad Chick — On November 11, veterans and active-duty military will receive a free Chick Special and Regular Drink.

Chipotle — Active-duty military, reserves, national guard, military spouses and retired military get a buy-one-get-one (BOGO) deal on November 11.

Chop House — On November 11, active-duty and retired service members get 50% off any dine-in lunch or dinner entree.

City Barbecue — Veterans and active-duty military get a free sandwich, two sides, and a regular beverage on November 11.

Claim Jumper — On November 11, veterans and active-duty military get a free entree up to $15 from a special menu.

Coffee Beanery — Veterans and active-duty military get a free tall cup of fresh brewed coffee all day on November 11.

Connors Steak & Seafood — On November 11, active-duty and retired service members get 50% off any dine-in lunch or dinner entree.

Cotton Patch Cafe — Veterans and active-duty military get a free chicken fried steak or chicken fried chicken on November 11.

Country CookinActive, reserve, retired, and honorably discharged members of the military receive a free salad bar or $5 off any entree on November 11 when showing a valid military ID and filling out the service card.

Crooked Pint Ale House — Veterans and active-duty military get a free menu item on November 11 at participating locations.

Cumberland Farms — Veterans, active-duty, reserve, National Guard or honorably discharged military personnel get a free coffee on November 11.

Denny’s — Veterans and military personnel get a free Build Your Own Grand Slam on November 11, from 5 a.m. to noon.

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit — Veterans and active-duty military get a free Classic Sandwich and choice of side on November 11.

Dunkin’ Donuts — On November 11, veterans and active-duty military receive a free donut at participating locations.

East Coast Wings + Grill — Veterans and active-duty military get a free meal from a selected menu on November 11.

Egg Harbor Cafe — Veterans and active military get a free meal on November 11.

El Chico — Veterans and active-duty military get a free entree on November 11.

El Fenix — Veterans eat free November 11, with your choice of Cheese, Chicken or Beef Enchiladas or Chicken or Beef Tacos, served with rice and beans.

Emmet’s Social Table — Veterans and troops get a free meal on November 10 and 11.

Fatz Cafe — Veterans and active military get a free World Famous Calabash Chicken basket on November 11. And from November 1 through 30, veterans and active military members will receive 20% off their entrée.

Firebirds Wood Fired Grill — Dine with a veteran or active-duty service member on November 11 and their lunch or dinner is free.

Fogo de Chão — Veterans will receive 50% off their meal, plus an additional 10% off for up to three guests, November 8 through 11.

Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers — Veterans and current military personnel get a free combo meal card on November 11 that can used until November 30, 2019.

Friendly Toast — On November 11, veterans and active-duty military personnel receive a free meal.

Furr’s Fresh Buffet — On November 11, veterans get a free buffet plus a non-bottled beverage at participating restaurants.

Ginger Monkey — Veterans and active-duty military will receive a complimentary entree up to $12.

Glory Days Grill — Veterans get a free appetizer or a regular order of boneless wings on November 11.

Gold Star Chili — Veterans and active-duty military receive a free 3-Way & drink on November 11.

Gordon Biersch — Veterans receive a free entrée from a select menu on November 11.

Greene Turtle — Current service members and veterans get a complimentary $14 meal on November 11.

Grillsmith — Veterans and active-duty military get a complimentary entrée on November 11.

Grub Burger Bar — Active, inactive and retired military personnel get a complimentary entree on November 11 at all locations.

Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream — Veterans and military personnel get a free single cone on November 11.

Hickory Tavern — Veterans and active-duty military get a free ‘Merica’s Burger on November 11 with the purchase of a beverage.

HomeTown Buffet — On November 11, veterans get a free buffet plus a non-bottled beverage at participating restaurants.

Hooters — Veterans and active-duty military get a free meal from a select menu at participating locations on November 11.

Hoss’s Steak and Sea House — Veterans get a free salad bar on November 11.

Huddle House — Active-duty, retired, and veteran military members get a free order of Sweet Cakes November 8 through 11.

Hurricane Grill and Wings — Veterans and active military get a free entrée from a special menu on November 11. Plus, participating guests will also receive a card for 10% off future visits through December 31.

IHOP — Veterans and active-duty military get a free red, white, and blueberry pancake combo on November 11 at participating locations.

IKEA — Veterans get a free meal November 9 through 11

Insomnia Cookies — Veterans and active-duty military personnel get a free traditional cookie all week, November 11 through 17.

Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant — On November 10 and 11, veterans and active-duty service members get a complimentary burger or sandwich along with a non-alcoholic beverage.

J. Christopher’s –Veterans get a free meal at participating locations on November 11.

Jimboy’s Tacos — Veterans get a free meal on November 11 at participating locations. Meals have a $10 max value.

Joe’s Crab Shack — Veterans receive 20% off at participating locations on November 11.

Juice It Up — Veterans and active military receive a free 20oz Classic Smoothie on November 11 at participating locations.

K&W Cafeterias — Veterans and active-duty get a free meal on November 11 from 11 am until closing.

Kings Family Restaurant — Veterans and active military members get a free meal from a select menu on November 11.

Kwik Fill — Veterans receive a free coffee on November 11.

LongHorn Steakhouse — Veterans get 10% off your entire meal and a free appetizer or dessert on November 11.

Lucky Girl Brewing — Veterans and active-duty military receive a free pulled pork or brisket sandwich with a side at Lucky Girl Brewing or a free flat bread pizza at B52 Winery on November 9, 10, and 11.

Lucky Strike Entertainment — Active, inactive and retired military personnel get complimentary 1 hour of bowling, as well as a burger and beer for $10 on November 11.

Macaroni Grill — Veterans and active military receive a free Mom’s Ricotta Meatballs + Spaghetti on November 11.

MacKenzie River — Veterans and active-duty military receive 25% off for their entire table on November 11.

Main Event — On November 11, veterans and active-duty military receive 30 minutes of game play that can be used on more than 100 interactive video games and a free entrée from a special menu.

Manhattan Bagel Company — All active, former and retired military personnel get a free bagel and cream cheese at participating locations on November 11.

Margaritas Mexican Restaurant — On November 11, veterans and active-duty military receive two complimentary entrees.

Max & Erma’s – Veterans and active-duty military get a free Cheeseburger, Endless Fries and Fountain Drink on November 11 at participating locations.

Metro Diner — Active duty and retired military get 50% off their meal on November 11.

MOD Pizza — Active military and veterans get a buy-one get-one free MOD-size pizza or salad on November 11.

Native Grill & Wings — Veterans receive a free entrée up to $11.99 on November 11.

Ninety Nine Restaurant and Pub — On November 11 from 11 am to 4 pm, veterans and active military get a free lunch from a select menu with purchase of an entree.

Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom — Active-duty service members and veterans get a free Specialty or up to 3 topping individual pizza with purchase, November 8 through 11 at participating locations. Not valid at OC Logan or OC Manhattan.

Old Country Buffet — On November 11, veterans get a free buffet plus a non-bottled beverage at participating restaurants.

On the Border — On November 11, active and retired service members receive a free meal from a select menu at participating locations.

Orange Leaf — Retired and active-duty military receive free froyo at participating locations on November 11.

Otter’s Chicken — Active, Guard/Reserve, retirees and former service members get a free meal at participating locations on November 11.

Outback Steakhouse — Veterans get 20% off November 8 through 11.

Paisano’s Pizza — Veterans and active-duty military get a free Large 1-Topping Pizza on November 11.

Pala Casino — Veterans and active-duty military get a free buffet on November 11.

Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille — Veterans and active-duty military get a complimentary 3-course pork chop dinner on November 10 from 4 to 9 p.m. Each veteran must be accompanied by at least one guest who purchases an entree or Sunday Supper Special.

Ponderosa — Veterans and active military get buffet specials at select locations on November 11.

Price Chopper Supermarkets — Veterans, active-duty, reserve and national guard military get a free 12oz. Coffee & Donut on November 11.

Primanti Bros. — Active or retired military can enjoy a free Primanti Bros. Almost Famous sandwich November 10 and 11.

Quaker Steak & Lube — Veterans, active-duty and Reservist service members get free or discounted meals at participating locations on November 11.

RA Sushi — Veterans, active and retired military can enjoy a complimentary shareable on November 11, available all day.

Rock and Brews — Veterans and active military personnel receive a complimentary pulled pork sandwich or salad on November 11.

Rodizio Grill — Veterans eat free November 11 through 14 with the purchase of at least one Adult Full Rodizio meal at participating locations.

Roy Rogers — Present a military ID or proof of service to receive 10% off your entire purchase on November 11.

Rubio’s Coastal Grill — Get a buy one entree get one free deal on November 11 with coupon and military ID.

Ruby Tuesday — Former and active-duty service members get a free Burger or Sandwich served with fries or tots on November 11.

Ryan’s — On November 11, veterans get a free buffet plus a non-bottled beverage at participating restaurants.

Sauce Pizza & Wine — On November 11, all locations will honor veterans with 25% off their bill.

Scooter’s Coffee — Veterans and current military personnel get a free drink of any size on November 11.

Shane’s Rib Shack — Active-duty military and veterans get a free sandwich, regular side, and 20-oz. beverage November 11 through 13 at participating locations.

Sheetz — On November 11, veterans and active-duty military personnel get a free 6 inch turkey sub and a regular size fountain drink. Sheetz locations offering car washes will also provide a free car wash to veterans and active-duty military.

Sizzler — Veterans get a free complete lunch from a special menu on November 11 at participating locations until 4 pm.

Smashburger — Veterans and active-duty military get a free double burger on November 11 with any purchase.

Smokey Bones — Veterans and active-duty military get a free dessert from a select menu on November 11.

Smoothie King — On November 11, veterans and active-duty military get a free 20 oz. smoothie.

Snarf’s Sandwiches — Active-duty military and veterans receive a free 7 inch non-specialty sandwich on November 11.

Sonny’s BBQ — Veterans and active-duty military get a free Pulled or Sliced Pork Big Deal combo on November 11.

Spaghetti Warehouse — From November 9 through 11, buy one entrée and get the second entrée free. Coupon required.

sweetFrog — Veterans and active military personnel get a free 12-oz yogurt on November 11.

Taco Mac — On November 11, active military members and veterans get a free 6-pack of wings with purchase a drink.

TCBY — Veterans and active military personnel get their first 6 oz. of frozen yogurt for free on November 11 with valid proof of service at participating locations. 

Texas de Brazil — Veterans receive 50% off dinner November 11 through 13 during dinner hours.

Texas Roadhouse — Veterans and active-duty military get a free lunch on November 11 from 11 am to 4 pm.

Texas Steakhouse and Saloon — Veterans get a free meal from a select menu on November 11.

Tijuana Flats — Active-duty military and veterans will receive 50% off all adult entrees on November 11.

TooJay’s — Veterans and active-duty military get a free entree from a special menu on November 11.

TravelCenters of America — Active-duty military, veterans and reservists get a complimentary meal on November 11 at participating Country Pride and Iron Skillet restaurants nationwide.

Tucanos Brazilian Grill — Veterans get a free Churrasco meal with the purchase of another Churrasco meal, November 8 through 12.

Twin Peaks — Veterans, active-duty military and reservists will eat for free from a select menu on November 11.

Village InnActive-duty military and veterans can enjoy a free meal on November 11

Wawa — Veterans, active military members, and family members get a free cup of coffee on November 11.

West Alley BBQ & Smokehouse — Veterans and active-duty military get a complimentary 1/2 rack rib platter with two sides on November 11.

White Castle — Veterans and active-duty military receive a free Combo Meal or Breakfast Combo Meal on November 11.

Wild Wing Cafe — Veterans get 6 wings or nuggets in your favorite sauce with a purchase of a drink on November 11 at participating locations.

WingHouse Bar & Grill — Veterans and active-duty military members get a free meal from a select menu on November 11 at participating locations. Beverage purchase required.

Yogurtology — Veterans and active-duty military personnel get free 5 oz. servings of frozen yogurt at participating locations on November 11.

Ziggi’s Coffee — Veterans get a free 16 oz. drink on November 11.

Zoёs Kitchen — Active-duty military and veterans receive a free entrée with the purchase of another entrée on November 11.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

LA veterans bring ‘Henry IV’ with Tom Hanks to the stage

Those attending the current four-week run of The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles’ production of “Henry IV” at the West Los Angeles VA Campus may immediately recognize Tom Hanks as Falstaff, but what they probably don’t realize is that a crew of veterans not only built the stage, but are also working behind the scenes to make the production a success.

“It’s exciting to partner with The Shakespeare Center to provide our veterans incredible opportunities like the chance to work alongside professional actors, and to view live entertainment right here on the West LA VA campus,” said Ann Brown, director of VA’s Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. “Partnerships like this one are vital to bringing the vision for this campus to life and to transform it into a vibrant, welcoming, veteran-centric community.”


“Henry IV” performances began June 5, 2018, and run through July 1, 2018, at the Japanese Garden located on the West Los Angeles VA Campus. The Shakespeare Center, in partnership with West LA VA, set aside 2,000 tickets for eligible veterans and active duty service members free of charge. To find out more on these tickets, visit http://www.ShakespeareCenter.org to receive information about reservations when they become available.

“We’re grateful to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and the leaders of the West LA VA for this opportunity to bring our company to the Japanese Garden at the VA,” said Ben Donenberg, the founder and executive artistic director of The Shakespeare Center prior to construction. “We’re hiring and training 40 veterans to work on this production alongside consummate theater professionals to tell a riveting story about the forging of a Shakespearean hero. We’re proud to bring the vision of one of the American theatre’s most esteemed Broadway directors and the talents a world-class cast lead by Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks, our long-time supporters, to this very special venue.”

Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks, have been long-time supporters of the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles through their 26 consecutive years of hosting and participating in Simply Shakespeare, a no holds barred impromptu reading of a Shakespeare comedy with celebrity casts and musicians that raises funds and awareness.

“The VA location speaks to our mission to present Shakespeare in urgent, vital, relevant and accessible ways that reflect the history, landscape and people of Los Angeles,” Donenberg said. “Our work with the VA and veterans inspires personal and community transformation.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

Articles

World War II Combat Cameraman and Hollywood animation legend dies

He is widely known as a Hollywood animation legend who worked at the studios that created Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse. But Hal Geer also flew 86 combat missions as a combat cameraman in World War II.


2020 Veterans Day free meals and restaurant deals and discounts
B-24 Liberators over Ploesti on Aug. 1, 1943. (U.S. Army photo)

According to a report by the Hollywood Reporter, Geer died Jan. 26 at the age of 100. According to IMDB, his credits included the movies “Daffy Duck: Fantastic Island,” “Bugs Bunny: All-American Hero,” and “The Bugs Bunny Mystery Special” as well as over twenty short cartoons.

2020 Veterans Day free meals and restaurant deals and discounts
Nose art Hal Geer would have loved. Bugs Bunny nose art from an FB-111 with the 380th Bombardment Wing. In World War II, the 380th used B-24 Liberators, and Geer worked on a number of cartoons featuring the wascally wabbit. (USAF photo)

Geer’s World War II service took him over the China-Burma-India Theater, flying in Consolidated B-24 Liberator heavy bombers and North American B-25 medium bombers assigned to the 14th Air Force under Major General Claire Chennault, who founded the legendary Flying Tigers of the American Volunteer Group.

According to a 2007 report in the Ventura County Recorder, Geer made the documentary film “China Crisis” while serving. Geer told the Recorder that this World War II film was the one he was the most proud of.

2020 Veterans Day free meals and restaurant deals and discounts

In a 2005 interview with China Youth Daily, Geer discussed more about his time with the 14th Air Force. “China Crisis” discussed how the United States supported the 14th Air Force, getting supplies over what was called “The Hump.”

Today, it’s better known as the Himalaya Mountains. The film also covered the Japanese Army’s 1944 offensive in China (which doesn’t get as much press when compared to how America advanced in the Pacific that year). Thirteen combat cameramen shot over 300 hours of footage to make a film that was less than an hour long. Five cameramen were killed in action.

“China Crisis” had been slated to be shown along as part of a 1946 War Bonds drive. That drive would not take place, as Japan surrendered in August 1945 after atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Perhaps, someday, DOD will find a way to make that film, and many others, available online for Americans to view.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Combat veterans use ancient epics to cope with war

The trials of Odysseus are really not that different from the struggles of those learning to readjust after wars of today, modern veterans are finding.


A small group of military veterans has been meeting weekly in a classroom at the University of Vermont to discuss The Iliad and The Odyssey for college credit — and to give meaning to their own experiences, equating the close-order discipline of men who fought with spears, swords, and shields to that of men and women who do battle these days with laser-guided munitions.

Homer isn’t just for student veterans. Discussion groups are also being offered at veterans centers in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The Maine Humanities Council has sponsored sessions for veterans incarcerated at Maine’s Kennebec County jail, as well as for other veterans.

Also read: 4 myths about veterans you can dispel at work right now

For many in the UVM class, Homer’s 2,800-year-old verses seem all too familiar: the siege of Troy, the difficult quest of Odysseus to return home after 10 years at war, his anguish at watching friends die, and his problems readjusting to civilian life.

Stephanie Wobby, 26, a former Army medic originally from Sacramento, California, is a combat veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan and is one of two women in the UVM course; she has been to traditional post-traumatic stress therapy sessions, but said, “this is far more effective for me.”

“It still resonates, coming home from war, even if it was however many years ago,” said Wobby, a junior majoring in chemistry. “It’s the same.”

In a recent class, Dan Wright, 26, an Afghanistan veteran and UVM junior, wore a T-shirt bearing the slogan “Down with my Demons” while the group discussed The Iliad.

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Odysseus departs from the Land of the Phaeacians. (Painting by Claude Lorrain)

“It was talking about being scared to die and, like, when you are on the field, you don’t think about it,” said Wright, 26, of Halifax, Vermont. He said he was involved in near-daily firefights during a nine-month combat tour in Afghanistan in 2012.

Enrollment in the class taught by John Franklin, an associate professor of classics, is limited to veterans; the current class includes veterans from wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. There are no papers or tests, and the grade is based entirely on class participation and an understanding of the material.

More: Irreverent Warriors combat PTSD with comedy and community

The people who work with the veterans at UVM felt it was a tragedy when they heard last week that a former Army rifleman expelled from a program to treat veterans with PTSD took three women hostage in California and fatally shot them. With Homer, they are working to avoid the idea of the damaged veteran, said David Carlson, the coordinator of student veterans’ services at UVM and a Marine veteran of Iraq in 2005 and 2006 who sits in on the classes.

“From my end, all it does is make me think the work we do with veterans every day is that much more important,” Carlson said.

Homer-for-veterans is the brainchild of Dartmouth College classics professor Roberta Stewart, who is now hoping for a grant that will allow her to expand the idea nationwide.

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an episode from the ancient Greek epic poem the Odyssey. (Artwork by Arnold Böcklin)

Stewart read some blog posts by U.S. service members fighting in Iraq in 2003. She recognized their graphic descriptions of war and the difficulties many faced readjusting to life after combat and reached out to one veteran who appeared to be having a hard time.

“I said to him, ‘Homer can help you. Homer knows,'” Stewart said.

Stewart never heard back from the veteran she told about Homer, but the light bulb stayed on. A decade ago, she wrote to the Department for Veterans Affairs hospital in White River Junction, Vermont, suggesting the idea. Officials were skeptical at first, but she eventually won and started her first group.

Related: This psychedelic drug could be approved to treat PTSD

Navy Cmdr. Amy Hunt, the operational support officer for the Naval Special Warfare Command in San Diego, hopes to set up programs for still-serving Navy Seals and overseas support personnel.

“Using Homer, because of the distance involved and also it’s great storytelling, is a way to break into those experiences,” Hunt said.

In its different guises at the locations where classes and discussions have been offered, veterans from World War II to those just home from Afghanistan have seen themselves in the struggles described by Homer.

“It was no different then, the soldiers coming home war from war and dealing with these issues than it is now,” said Norman “Ziggy” Lawrence, of Albion, Maine, a Vietnam-era veteran who now leads some of the discussion with jailed Maine veterans. “It opens that avenue so that they can speak to issues that they are having.”

popular

7 things we did on deployment we’re totally proud of

When service members return from deployment, their world is never the same. In many cases, veterans’ cultural views and morals change after they’ve seen how a different part of the world works.


For the most part, we step out of our comfort zone to complete the mission — a move everyone deserves credit for.

We do many things we’re not proud of, but there’s always one or two aspects of a deployment that brings our troops joy just by remembering special moments.

So we asked a few our fellow veterans what their proudest deployment moments were. Sure, it’s a tough question, but here’s what they said.

1. “Help building schools and restore the locals’ electricity.” — a Marine infantrymen recalls (OIF).

It’s a common factor for Marines to step out of their traditional roles to fulfill the mission.

2. “My sergeant informed me that one of my severely wounded Marines I took care of was going to make it.” — a Navy Corpsman remembers (OEF).

The relationship between Marines and their corpsman is a nearly unbreakable bond.

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Lcpl. Bohannon (left), Doc Kirkpatrick (center), and Lcpl. Bartek takes a quick moment for a photo op before heading out on Operation Savage Wing. (Source: Tim Kirkpatrick)

3. “I brought back all my soldiers after 500 missions.” — an Army tanker states (OIF).

Although the tanks America uses to fight the war on terrorism are extremely tough, they’re also a huge target.

4. “I got to document military history.” — Air Force combat camera says (OIF).

Military history wouldn’t be as complete without the brave men recording the intense action of the frontlines.

5. “After 600 meters of ‘springing and switching,’ we managed to medevac an injured Marine engineer from a Taliban compound.” — a Marine scout sniper remarks (OEF).

Marines knowingly put their brother’s safety well in front of their own.

6. “I saw people rise above their own fears.” — a Marine officer proudly states (OIF).

While under heavy gunfire, people tend to fold as their fear rises. But those who want to invoke actual change, press on and rise above the occasion.

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This soldier instructs a group of Iraqi troops for a training exercise. (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

7. “I saved a kid from a torture house.” — an Army Green Beret explains (OIF).

Knowing who your enemy is the key to maintaining the rules of engagement.

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In many cases, the enemy uses innocent children to help combat allied forces.

What are your proudest deployment moments? Comment below.

Articles

Stolen valor: Marine steals another combat vet’s Purple Heart story

A former Southern California Marine has been handed a 21-month federal sentence for faking a Purple Heart and lifting from another Marine’s combat story to get disability benefits and a free house.


In a rare prosecution under the 2013 Stolen Valor Act, a 35-year-old Iraq war veteran will also have to pay back more than $300,000 to the U.S. government and a Texas charity.

Brandon Blackstone served with 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment out of Twentynine Palms in the Mojave Desert in 2004. He deployed to Iraq in August, during a period of fierce fighting on the Syrian border.

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So did Casey Owens, another 1/7 Marine.

But that’s where the similarities in the two Marines’ stories end — and where Blackstone’s fabrications began.

Prosecutors and fellow Marines say Blackstone fashioned a tale of blast injuries and combat stress based on a horrific explosion that nearly killed Owens and cost him both of his legs.

Owens was in a Humvee that triggered a double anti-mine bomb while responding to a downed U.S. serviceman in September 2004.

Blackstone was in the area and likely witnessed the event. But he wasn’t injured in that attack — or in any other combat incident — according to people who were there, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Texas, and Blackstone’s own lawyer.

In fact, he was evacuated from Iraq after a month with appendicitis.

Also read: This is how the Pentagon had over 120,000 extra Purple Heart medals

But starting at least in 2006, Blackstone began spinning a story of suffering traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder after his Humvee hit a mine in Iraq.

He even fabricated two witness statements to support his claim for U.S. Veterans Affairs Department disability benefits that he received from 2006 to 2015, prosecutors said.

Worse, in the eyes of his fellow Marines, he began showing the photograph of Owens’ mangled Humvee as part of his story about how he was wounded.

“This scumbag lied to try to get s–t. You don’t do that. It’s not honorable. It’s not how we are. It’s personal for me, especially, as a friend of Casey’s,” said Andrew Rothman, a 1/7 Navy corpsman who was a key player in exposing Blackstone’s fraud.

“This kid essentially stole from all of us. And the honor part is bigger to us than the money and the house.”

Blackstone was awarded a 100 percent disability rating and, by claiming to have a Purple Heart, his application for a mortgage-free house was granted by Texas-based Military Warriors Support Foundation.

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The Purple Heart is one of the most recognized and respected medals awarded to members of the U.S. armed forces. (Photo: AP)

Meanwhile, Owens tried to make the best of his life with a double leg amputation and brain injuries, among other medical complications. He moved to Aspen and competed as a Paralympics skier.

But Owens was still in pain. He did national TV interviews describing how he struggled to get the care he needed for his mental and physical wounds. His right leg required additional surgeries that took more of it away.

In October 2014, Owens used a gun to kill himself.

But things for Blackstone were going well. He became a mentor at a Missouri-based veterans charity, Focus Marines Foundation. He even started his own nonprofit group, called The Fight Continues, with two other post-Sept. 11 veterans.

But those brushes with others in the veterans community led to his downfall. His story, including video testimonials he was giving about his combat injuries, didn’t sit right with other 1/7 Marines who dedicated a Facebook thread to discussing it.

Related: Not all PTSD diagnoses are created equal

Eventually, Rothman tipped off the Warriors Support charity that was poised to grant Blackstone the deed to the donated house.

Blackstone pleaded guilty in September to one count of wire fraud and one count of fraudulent representation about the receipt of a military decoration for financial gain.

At his sentencing last month, a federal judge in Texas called Blackstone “shameful,” but gave him credit for accepting blame for his actions. Sentencing guidelines limited his incarceration to 27 months or less, according to news reports. His was given credit for time served since February, so he will serve 18 more months.

Blackstone’s defense lawyer, Justin Sparks, said his client was diagnosed with PTSD and suffered a head injury in Iraq — but not in combat.

The head wound happened when a superior roughed him up in the barracks and he hit his head on a dresser. There were other injuries while in uniform that weren’t related to combat but required surgery, Sparks said. While in the hospital, a higher-ranking Marine informally gave Blackstone a Purple Heart medal to acknowledge his pain — but it wasn’t an official award.

There’s no explaining why Blackstone lied about the Purple Heart or applied for the free home, knowing he wasn’t qualified, the former Marine’s lawyer told the San Diego Union-Tribune.

“There’s not really a good answer for that. He was in a very, very tough time in his life and reached a pitfall there,” Sparks said this week.

Sparks said his client seemed to lose his grasp on reality as the story spun on.

There’s a symptom of PTSD where you are living your life in the third person. You’re always convincing yourself about what is reality,” he said. “It’s almost a coping mechanism.”

Sparks said his client is still rated at 70 percent disabled by the VA.

The lawyer disagreed that Blackstone was appropriating Casey Owens’ story.

“Brandon never claimed his lost his legs,” Sparks said. “The only common elements in the two stories are PTSD, the Purple Heart, and head injuries. There must be at least 1,000-plus soldiers who have those three things.”

Blackstone’s fellow troops don’t buy the PTSD explanation for his behavior. Several of them also were disappointed by his sentence.

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A Marine salutes the memorial stand for his fallen brother. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

“He was in the grip of his own lies,” said Eric Calley, a former Marine who used his own money to start The Fight Continues with Blackstone.

“That judge should be ashamed. I think (Blackstone) deserves a life sentence for what he did to our veterans.”

Lezleigh Owens Kleibrink, Owens’ sister, said her family was hoping for closure from a tougher sentence but didn’t get it.

Kleibrink said she has no doubts that Blackstone was trying to at least bask in the association with her brother’s reputation.

“He was a thief and Casey’s story was a means to get what he wanted,” she told the San Diego Union-Tribune this week.

Further reading: Here are the criteria that entitle a service member to the Purple Heart

“What Brandon doesn’t understand is that it’s ripped open our wounds once again,” Kleibrink said. “Anyone who makes my mother cry like this … He may have joined the Corps, but he was no Marine.”

The Military Warriors Support Foundation said it was the charity’s first brush with stolen valor in awarding more than 750 homes to combat-wounded veterans.

“This was an unusual case, in that even official VA documentation was inaccurate,” said spokesman Casey Kinser. “That said, we are constantly reviewing our processes to vet our applicants more accurately and efficiently.”

The Fort Worth-area house that Blackstone nearly owned has been awarded to another Marine family.

Articles

This is how many of some of the most heroic WW2 planes are left

According to a 2014 report by USA Today, 413 World War II vets die each day on average. However, the men (and women) who served in uniform are not the only things vanishing with time.


Many of the planes flown in World War II are also departing one by one from the skies.

In one sense, it may not be surprising – after all, World War II has been over for 72 years. But here are the production totals of some of the most famous planes: There were 20,351 Spitfires produced in World War II. Prior to a crash at a French air show near Verdun in June, there were only 54 flying. That’s less than .3 percent of all the Spitfires ever built.

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Spitfire LF Mk IX, MH434 being flown by Ray Hanna in 2005. The Spitfire served with the USAAF in the Mediterranean Theater from 1942-1944. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Of the over 15,000 US P-51 Mustangs built, less than 200 are still flyable – about one percent of the production run. Of 12,571 F4U Corsairs built, roughly 50 are airworthy. Of 3,970 B-29 Superfortresses built, only two are flying today.

Much of this is due to the ravages of time or accidents. The planes get older, the metal gets fatigued, or a pilot makes a mistake, or something unexpected happens, and there is a crash.

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Fifi, one of only two flying Boeing B-29 Superfortresses. (Photo by Ilikerio via Wikimedia Commons)

Finding the spare parts to repair the planes also becomes harder – and more expensive – as time passes. A 2016 Air Force release noted that it took 17 years to get the B-29 bomber nicknamed “Doc” flyable. Kansas.com reported that over 350,000 volunteer hours were spent restoring that B-29.

Many of the planes built in World War II were either scrapped or sold off – practically given away – when the United States demobilized after that conflict.

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P-47 P-51 — Flying Legends 2012 — Duxford (Photo by Airwolfhound)

As David Campbell said in “The Longest Day” while sitting at the bar, “The thing that’s always worried me about being one of the few is the way we keep on getting fewer.” Below, you can see the crash of the Spitfire at the French air show – and one of the few flyable World War II planes proves how true that statement is beyond the veterans.

Veterans

Veterans, Gold Star Families get free entrance to national parks, refuges, other public lands

Veterans and Gold Star Families will be granted free access to national parks, wildlife refuges and other Federal lands managed by the Department of the Interior starting on Veterans Day this year and every day onward.

“With the utmost respect and gratitude, we are granting Veterans and Gold Star Families free access to the iconic and treasured lands they fought to protect starting this Veterans Day and every single day thereafter,” said Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt.

Entrance fees for the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and standard amenity recreation fees for the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Reclamation sites will be waived for Veterans and Gold Star Families. They will have free access to approximately 2,000 public locations spread out across more than 400 million acres of public lands, which host activities to fit any lifestyle, from serene to high octane, including hiking, fishing, paddling, biking, hunting, stargazing and climbing.

Many Department managed lands have direct connections to the American military, such as frontier forts, Cold War sites, battlefields, national cemeteries, and memorials. These special places pay tribute to our veterans and serve as reminders of their courage and sacrifice throughout the history of our nation, from Minuteman National Historic Park where colonists stood in defense of their rights, to Yellowstone National Park, which was protected from vandalism and poaching by the 1st U.S. Cavalry before the National Park Service was established, to Mount Rushmore where modern warriors attend reenlistment ceremonies.

Details on program

For purposes of this program, a Veteran is identified as an individual who has served in the United States Armed Forces, including the National Guard and Reserves, and is able to present one of the following forms of identification:

  • Department of Defense Identification Card
  • Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)
  • Veteran ID Card
  • Veterans designation on a state-issued U.S. driver’s license or identification card

Gold Star Families are next of kin of a member of the United States Armed Forces who lost his or her life in a “qualifying situation,” such as a war, an international terrorist attack, or a military operation outside of the United States while serving with the United States Armed Forces.

The Interagency America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Program already includes a free annual pass for active duty members of the U.S. Military and their dependents. Other free or discounted passes are available for persons with permanent disabilities, fourth grade students, volunteers, and senior citizens age 62 years or older.

The Department also offers free entrance days for everyone throughout the year to mark days of celebration and commemoration including the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., National Public Lands Day, Veterans Day, and the signing of the Great American Outdoors Act.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This Navy SEAL wants to inspire kids to reach their full potential

Marc Lonergan-Hertel grew up in Massachusetts with the dream of becoming a Navy SEAL — a dream he made into a reality. But he had a long way to go before achieving such a feat. He decided he needed to toughen up first, so he joined the Marine Corps, where he eventually found himself in Force Recon.

His military career took him through some of the toughest training the military has to offer. And he wrote about it in his memoir, Sierra Two: A SEAL’s Odyssey in War and Peace.

But Lonergan-Hertel didn’t stop there. He continued a life of adventure and service after leaving the military and today, he wants to call attention to real-world heroes he met along the way. He wants his transformative journey to help inspire others — namely, our nation’s youth — so they can maximize their full potential and achieve their dreams.

He calls himself a Protector.


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Lonergan-Hertel’s Book is available on Amazon.

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Lonergan-Hertel and 1st Force Recon.

(Courtesy of Marc Lonergan-Hertel)

Those who fight monsters inevitably change,” Lonergan-Hertel says, explaining what he means by the title “Protector.” It’s from a popular saying about post-traumatic stress, written by an unknown author. The quote goes on to note that if you stay in the fighting long enough, you will eventually become the monster. The former Navy SEAL wants to keep Protectors from getting that far.

“There is a cost to being a protector. Love is the only way to heal the wounds [that change you]. Remember this: As a protector, you run toward the things that others run away from. You go out to fight what you fear. You stand between others and the monsters on the other side of the wall.”

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Lonergan-Hertel in his world-record paraglider flight, 70 South Antarctica.

(Courtesy of Marc Lonergan-Hertel)

You can read about his adventures fighting monsters in his book, Sierra Two. After his time in Force Recon, he left the military and worked as a Emergency Medical Technician in Los Angeles as well as a hunting guide in Colorado. Eventually, he decided to explore the Army and join the Special Forces. Shortly after joining the California National Guard, he was able to wear a maroon beret in support of 19 Special Forces Group and prepared to try out for Delta Section. He didn’t make Delta, but it did prepare him a selection packet he could submit to the Navy. He graduated from BUD/S in 1996 and joined SEAL Team Four. He left the military in 2000, but didn’t leave behind the adventurer’s life.

“My platoon chief recommended me for an around-the-world expedition through the Cousteau Society,” Lonergan-Hertel says. “I ended up getting the position as a team member and expedition leader and scout for NatGeo and Discovery Channel programs to Antarctica the Amazon jungle, where I had experience as a SEAL.”

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Lonergan-Hertel and his NatGeo Team. Lonergan-Hertel is center, in the cowboy hat.

(Courtesy of Marc Lonergan-Hertel)

During his military career and post-military adventuring, he began to question what he valued most in life. He began to look for his true purpose. As his journey sharpened his self-awareness, he was soon transformed into a new person. He became a Protector – and wanted to be the best Protector he could be. His life took him to rescue hurricane victims, assess the environment in Antarctica while diving under the ice shelves, hike up the Amazon River Basin alone and encounter endangered tribes along the way — he even lost his best friend to pirates along the same river.

“I wrote my book because I realized how much our life journey sharpens our awareness of what really matters in life,” Lonergan-Hertel says. “Real life experiences transform us as human beings and gives us an understanding of risk and sacrifice.”

He even has a line of survival gear, that includes a heat reflective thermal field blanket sleep system, called First Line Survival. Lonergan-Hertel calls it “base camp in a bag” and all the proceeds from First Line Survival benefit his Protectors tour.

But the longtime adventurer is more than just an author. He’s crossing the country with fellow Protectors to tell their stories in stage presentations, meant for school-age children but meaningful to parents as well. He wants children to grow up with the confidence to realize their abilities and potential, to see a personal path toward a positive future, and realize they have the power to do this within themselves at all times.

“I understand very clearly that the gift of life can be away very quickly,” Lonergan-Hertel says. “The best thing I can leave behind is to inspire others to have confidence in themselves and to help others who have a more difficult journey in life.”

Articles

World War II vet gets awesome 99th birthday present

Staff Sgt. Eugene Leonard served in the Marine Corps during World War II and was wounded in action. But he never lost a love for aviation, also serving in the Air Force and as an airplane mechanic in his civilian life.


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Staff Sgt. Eugene Leonard (Youtube screenshot)

So, for his 99th birthday, one friend decided to pick up the former Marine’s spirits after Leonard became a widower and moved to the Phoenix area, Fox10Phoenix.com reported.

What was selected for that task was another World War II veteran — a restored B-17 Flying Fortress bomber.

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B-17 formation over Schweinfurt, Germany, Aug. 17, 1943. (U.S. Air Force photo)

In a day and age where we lose 492 World War II veterans a day, according to the National World War II Museum, those few remaining are a link to the heroic history of that conflict.

The same can be said for the planes. In this case, one World War II vet was able to give another one a brief pick-me up.

Here is Fox10Phoenix’s report on Staff Sgt. Leonard’s flight:

Articles

This Marine just retired after 54 years of service

In 1963, the youngest B-52 was less than a year old. The ABC network soap opera “General Hospital” started airing. The nuclear attack submarine USS Thresher (SSN 593) sank in an accident.


One other thing happened: a young man from Emporia, Virginia, by the name of Frederick Grant enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.

“I had stopped going to school. I was looking for excitement and the Marine Corps recruiter really impressed me. He told me I would be able to trust the Marines beside me, and he was right. I also joined to see the world,” Grant said during a Marine Corps interview. “When I first came in, I was a normal infantry guy and then I became a communicator.”

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Retired Lt. Col. Frederick Grant addresses guests during his retirement ceremony, at the Camp Courtney Theater, Okinawa, Japan, Jan. 27, 2017, after 54 years of continuous service to the Marine Corps. Grant served as the director of the Tactical Exercise Control Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, after 38 years of service as an enlisted Marine and officer. Grant, from Emporia, Virginia, enlisted Oct. 2, 1963, and served as an infantryman in Vietnam in addition to various other enlisted and officer billets. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Bernadette Wildes)

Grant would end up spending 38 years in the Marine Corps, eventually becoming first a warrant officer, then a commissioned officer. He retired on Sept. 1, 2001 as a lieutenant colonel. His service included at least one tour in Vietnam.

“It was a small-unit war full of patrolling. Most of the time, I was in pretty safe areas,” he said. “I’m reluctant to talk too much on it because there were so many that had it so much worse than I did. It was just very hard to describe.”

After retiring from the Marine Corps, Grant got a job running the Tactical Exercise Control Group, which handled the simulations for III Marine Expeditionary Force in Okinawa. He did so for 16 years, until his retirement in January.

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Retired Lt. Col. Frederick Grant retired Jan. 27, 2017, after 54 years of continuous service to the Marine Corps. Grant served as the director of the Tactical Exercise Control Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, after 38 years of service as an enlisted Marine and officer. Grant, from Emporia, Virginia, enlisted Oct. 2, 1963, and served as an infantryman in Vietnam in addition to various other enlisted and officer billets. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Bernadette Wildes)

“I never thought of it as a job. I never consider myself going to work,” he said. “Obviously there are dangerous times; there are exciting times; there are fun times, and I just feel very fortunate. The environment was great; it still is.”

He added that life as a civilian contractor was different than life as a Marine.

“I don’t have to do a Physical Fitness Test anymore although I’m always willing to work out with the Marines,” he said. “There isn’t much difference, and that’s because I choose it to be so. I could take the easy way out, but I don’t want to take that path.”

And after 54 years of service, what does Lt. Col. Grant intend to do?

“I’m going to relax. I mean, it has been 50 some years, so I’m going to golf or something. I’m a big runner, so I’ll run in the Southern California sunshine,” he said. “I guess the primary goal will be to reciprocate to my family all the support they’ve shown me throughout the years.”

Semper fi, Marine, and well done.

MIGHTY TRENDING

5 essential business values from a veteran-owned company

If you want something done right, you do it yourself. That’s a mantra we’ve all heard before but is it really conventional? Some may say yes, but the reality is that you can’t do everything yourself. At some point, in some fashion, you’re going to need more done than you have hours to complete and you will need to outsource some aspects of your business. However, the presence of this necessity doesn’t make the process any easier. Especially when your business is your passion. It’s hard to give up control until trust is gained.


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Eric Mitchell with wife, Lucie.

Eric Mitchell along with his wife Lucie, who both spent several years working for successful startups in the Silicon Valley, and both being acquired multiple times, decided to pursue a new venture together in 2014. Eric wanted to give back to the community he loves, and with love of country and belief that service never ends, Eric asked Lucie to put her dreams as an aspiring educator on hold temporarily as they launched a company with longtime friend Matt Hannaford — and LifeFlip Media was born.

“We understand that everything is mission critical for our clients and we treat them exactly as that — a mission,” says Eric Mitchell, CEO of LifeFlip Media.

Built on the mission of demonstrating to the American public the value of the Warrior Class, Eric Mitchell created LifeFlip Media as a way to give back to his community. What is the Warrior Class? It’s the class of patriots that are the backbone of this country and the very ones who make this country as great as it is. It’s members of the military, their spouses and family. It’s the first responders of our communities and all of those who support them in all that they do. 

Also read: 9 incredibly successful companies founded by military veterans

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Mitchell with fellow Marine, Kirstie Ennis.

This group has often been misrepresented and stereotyped within the media, leaving many outside of the community with false pretenses of aggression, mental instability, and lack of education. LifeFlip Media set itself on a course to change that narrative. Matt Hannaford, President of LifeFlip and one of the few “civilians” on the team, agrees. “I look for us to continue to be loud as the voice of the Warrior Class. We’ve created a great team and it’s time for us to build upon it. We want to take the image of the American soldier and make it great again.”

“Over the past year, I have witnessed LifeFlip Media breach the national media market for veterans. Eric and his team have managed to get more air time for veteran-owned companies than I have seen in my professional career. It is about time that the warrior class has a voice in mainstream media,” said Samantha Brown, former COO of Irreverent Warriors.

Care about what you do

One of the most difficult and important aspects of a partnership is the ability to create and sustain an unobstructed flow of ideas and communication. Being able to understand where your clients are coming from can give you a better idea of where they are heading, which can provide powerful insight. LifeFlip has been able to streamline its process by having a small team of people who possess values that reflect the ones instilled in them from the military as well as working with clients whose values align with their own. 

“Being a veteran can be great for PR but it also comes with a lot of misunderstanding and challenges. Having a team that understands this because they come from the same community and also have experience in the PR world gives them the ability to successfully pitch myself and other veterans. This helps secure the vital exposure that allows us to not only survive but to also grow,” says Eli Crane, CEO of Bottle Breacher and former Navy SEAL.

Leanness and Efficiency 

“We have a smaller team, but we care more,” says Mitchell. In only a few short years, LifeFlip Media has been able to belly up to the table and feast on their market share with the big names in the PR space using a small but mighty team with a diverse skill set. As a Marine veteran, LFM’s Director of Digital Media, Aaron Childress, understands the power of a small cohesive unit: “We have hit on a set of skills that no other firm can touch. From top to bottom, we offer every digital media line item needed for a brand to succeed and we do all of this with a smaller team, lower overhead, and quicker turnaround than anyone can offer. It’s a lighting strike of favor and good fortune and the top leadership at LifeFlip Media has capitalized on it at the correct time.”

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U.S. Marines Chase Millsap and Eric Mitchell at the 2017 Army-Navy game.

5 Values of LifeFlip Media

Eric Mitchell put emphasis on core values as he explains, “We hold values yet don’t look at them as ours. We look at them as belonging to our community.” LifeFlip Media has made great strides during its short time in existence and has leaped its way past other players who have been in the game for far longer. They are undoubtedly different from your run-of-the-mill PR firm but what sets them apart from their counterparts is that LifeFlip possesses values that they truly live each day.

1. Service

LifeFlip Media believes in serving their clients first so the client can serve their customers in return. Everyone at LifeFlip Media strives to have their client success speak for the team.

2. Adaptability

The team believes that no client is the same and neither should the approach be as they build and execute on strategies. In addition, when a wrench is thrown into plans, the team is agile and has the ability to adapt and overcome.

3. Discipline

Possessing a team with a diverse skill set allows LifeFlip Media to deliver to their clients the reliability and execution speed that veterans and those associated with the military expect. With the team’s ability to work as a unit and communicate while assaulting forward on strategy execution, the LifeFlip Media team’s discipline is key.

4. Innovation

At LifeFlip Media, the team’s diverse backgrounds and experience allows for innovation and thinking outside of the box. LifeFlip’s team understands how PR integrates with other aspects of a business and needs to work in partnership with marketing and sales rather than as a separate division completely.

5. Loyalty

With a team made up of Marines who live by the Semper Fi warrior ethos as well as other team members who understand that loyalty is at LifeFlip Media’s core translates directly into business success.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Gulf War Veteran goes “fishing with America’s finest”

William “Bill” Watts, Sr., earned numerous awards during his service, which included tours in Egypt and Korea and service as a Gulf War combat Veteran. But the reward he values most today is the one he receives as an advocate helping his fellow Gulf War Veterans with their individual challenges.

“I am in favor of Veterans helping Veterans. Quality of life begins with quality of health care,” said Watts. Watts’ work with Veterans has earned him the Congressional Veterans Commendation Award. His work includes volunteering with Veterans in his community and meeting with researchers and health professionals to make sure that the health concerns of Gulf War Veterans are recognized and addressed.


Watts (photo above) and others are now marking the 30th anniversary of their Gulf War service. Watts served in the U.S. Army from 1989 to 1996. He was in the 4/5 ADA 1st Cavalry Division, 2nd Infantry Division, 24th Infantry Division and 3rd Infantry Division.

Fishing the Everglades to reduce stress

One of Watts’ passions is helping Veterans manage their health problems by finding non-drug alternatives. As a resident of the South Florida city of Doral, he volunteers with the non-profit Fishing with America’s Finest and also serves as the group’s director of operations. Fishing with America’s Finest takes combat Veterans bass fishing in the Florida Everglades to help reduce the stress and anxiety from PTSD.

“We try to teach them to the point that they can go on fishing tournaments if they want to.” He is also a team member of Dive4Vets, a group that takes Veterans who suffer from physical and mental health issues scuba diving to help to heal. Watts is eligible for the Gulf War Registry and Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pits Registry and enrolled many years ago.

Researching the health of Gulf War Veterans

Watts understands that some Gulf War Veterans are older. They may not be comfortable with completing an online-only registry like the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry. A local Environmental Health Coordinator can help with this process.

Watts also is a member of VA’s Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses. He participates in research on the health of Gulf War Veterans at the Miami VA Hospital. He also volunteers to coordinate and recruit local Veterans for research.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.