Tony Nadal is a retired Army lieutenant colonel who spent his whole life with the military in some way. Nadal was born on Fort Benning, Georgia, and his father was also an Army officer.
The younger Nadal only ever wanted to go to West Point and be an Army officer. That’s exactly what he did.
His first duty station after airborne school and Ranger school took him to Munich, Germany. After three years of European service, Nadal got wind of Special Forces operations in Laos. He decided to move toward the sound of the guns.
After a Special Forces deployment in Laos, he returns to the U.S. to lead soldiers in an Air Mobile Division. On July 28, 1965, his Air Mobile Division was sent to Vietnam. His battalion was the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, under the command of Lt. Col. Hal Moore. By November, they were responding to intelligence about an NVA position in the Chu Pong Mountains.
Moore led his battalion to an area called Ia Drang, landing at a place the Army dubbed LZ X-Ray. The battalion’s eight Huey helicopters could only carry six men each, so they had to bring the entire battalion in 48 men at a time. By the time the 7th Cavalry landed 124 men, intelligence from a captured North Vietnamese soldier informed the Americans they were outnumbered 19-to-1.
“I can forget a lot of things about life but I won’t forget the feel, the sense, the smell of LZ-XRAY,” Nadal said in a video interview. “Colonel Moore immediately realized it was going to be a battle for survival.”
Over three days, 3,500 U.S., South, and North Vietnamese soldiers fought for a contested victory, leaving 308 Americans and 660 NVA dead, with 544 U.S. and 670 NVA wounded. It was the first major battle between the U.S. Army and the North Vietnamese Army.
Then-Capt. Tony Nadal lost 15 of his men in the first two days of fighting. Sleepless and battered, his command was ordered out before the Air Force cleared the area out.
The video below was produced by AARP Studios for the American Heroes Channel. Tony Nadal describes how he feels as he pushes himself into the machine gun and grenade fire to retrieve the bodies of some of his soldiers.
“I feel the loss of all my soldiers,” Nadal said. “When you get through all of the bravado, what you’re left with is anguish. They fought for a cause… there was the expectation that when your country calls, you go.”
The legendary battle was depicted in the book “We Were Soldiers Once… and Young” and the 2002 film “We Were Soldiers.”
Award-winning nonprofit Pin-Ups for Vets is releasing its 13th annual fundraising calendar to raise money for VA hospitals; ill, injured, and homeless veterans; deployed troops; and military families. The 2019 calendar, photographed on the iconic Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA, features 19 female veterans decked out in World War II inspired fashion.
“Fans of Art Deco will appreciate the look of the upcoming calendar that reflects the vintage glamour of this 1936 cruise liner, now permanently docked in Long Beach, CA as a floating hotel,” said Pin-Ups For Vets Founder, Gina Elise, who established Pin-Ups For Vets in 2006, as a way to honor the WWII service of her grandfather.
Gina Elise, Founder
Gina has devoted her life to giving back to the military community. To date, Pin-Ups For Vets has donated over ,000 to help hospitals purchase new therapy equipment and to provide financial assistance for Veterans’ healthcare program expansion across the United States.
The 2019 calendar is officially ready for pre-order at www.PinUpsForVets.com. All 2019 Pin-Ups for Vets calendar pictures were taken by Shane Karns Photography — and let me just tell you…he really nailed it.
Kirstie Ennis, U.S. Marine Corps veteran
From a linguist, to a Human Intelligence Collector, to a combat photographer, to a combat medic, to a motor transportation operator, to a heavy equipment transporter driver leading convoys in Iraq, to a helicopter door gunner in Afghanistan, these ladies also include an above-the-knee amputee veteran (Marine Corps veteran Kirstie Ennis — who, by the way, at the time of this publishing was climbing Mount Denali in support of Service to Summit to raise money for Building Homes for Heroes, a nonprofit organization that builds or modifies homes and gives them to veterans in need).
Julie Noyes, Army veteran
Army veteran Julie Noyes says, “It can be so difficult as a female service member to feel empowered in her beauty without feeling like she may betray the professionalism of her uniform when we only seek to be treated like our male counterparts. I feel that Pin-Ups for Vets does a superb job at raising money and awareness for our elderly, wounded vets and our currently deployed troops while also showcasing the class and beauty of female veterans without objectifying them. What Pin-Ups Vets Founder Gina Elise has done with this publication and non-profit is nothing short of empowering and inspiring.”
Naumika Kumar, Navy Veteran
“I will always be thankful to the Navy. I met my husband in the Navy who is also a veteran now and I graduated from National University with Master’s Degree in 2012 as well. I am happy to see there are organization such as Pin-Ups For Vets who are doing so much to support the military and Veterans. I am happy that I got an opportunity to be part of the organization.”
Patti Gomez, Army veteran
Patti is a veteran of the United States Army, where she proudly served in the New York Army National Guard as a 35M (Human Intelligence Collector) of the 42nd Infantry Division, located in Glenville, New York. She volunteered to attend JRTC in Fort Polk, Louisiana, alongside the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in July 2016. She also trained at Warfighter at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, with her unit in October 2017. Patti attended Basic Combat Training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and attended Advanced Individual Training at the United States Army Intelligence Center of Excellence in Fort Huachuca, Arizona.
“Pin-Ups for Vets is an incredible organization with an important mission. Being a part of a nonprofit that helps veterans and empowers women at the same time is truly an honor and one that I couldn’t pass up when I was asked to be a part of the 2019 calendar. As the reigning Mrs. New York America, my platform is veteran organizations — and Pin-Ups for Vets is truly among the best of them!”
Check out that cover image!
The 2019 calendar can be purchased at: www.PinUpsForVets.com or by check to: Pin-Ups For Vets, PO Box 33, Claremont, CA 91711.
Every year, an estimated 200,000 veterans leave the military for new civilian lives. For many of them, getting a job is the first and most important step. As they look to new civilian careers, many veterans find it challenging to directly apply the skills attained in service to their new civilian careers — making underemployment just as big a problem as unemployment.
Underemployed military veterans are either not making enough money to sustain themselves or are holding jobs for which they are overqualified. Either way, underemployment can lead to job hopping, trouble getting hired elsewhere, and even depression.
Microsoft, one of the world’s most respected and well-established companies, has invested in a solution to veteran underemployment: Microsoft Software and Systems Academy. MSSA offers transitioning service members the training and guidance to pivot their skillset and become credentialed for the technical jobs of the future.
“Microsoft believes its role as an industry leader is to enable veterans to see computer science and STEM careers as a viable path when transitioning to civilian life in the public or private sector,” Chris Cortez, Microsoft’s Vice President of Military Affairs, said. “MSSA also helps Microsoft and other IT leaders attract capable, driven and diverse talent with solid, transferable skills.”
MSSA’s intensive 17-week program trains and certifies veterans in job skills the tech sector will need for years to come, such as software engineer, cloud application developer and server and cloud administrator – all without spending years in a traditional four-year degree program.
Veterans from all military branches and backgrounds have successfully graduated from MSSA and entered civilian life as professionals in the exciting tech industry. Employers find they bring a range of professional development skills to the table that new college grads don’t necessarily have.
“Service members and veterans are exactly the type of talent the industry needs to evolve the face of IT,” Cortez said. “They are trained to quickly assess, analyze and fix a situation with the resources at hand—all while working with a diverse group of people as a team.”
As of February 2021, it’s even easier for service members to integrate the training into their busy lives, and without using their GI Bill benefits. Microsoft has moved MSSA to an entirely virtual format, and is fully funding the offering, at no cost to the service member.
The program has a 94% graduation rate, and after the training course is completed graduates have the opportunity to interview for a job with Microsoft or any of its 750+ hiring partners in the tech sector.
Best of all, it’s a challenging career field with major growth potential. Goodbye, underemployment; hello long-term career path.
Program participants often say they change significantly over the course of the program. “In the beginning, there is concern and uncertainty about the future. Toward the end, there is a sense of confidence,” Cortez said. “They are comfortable applying to and working for tech giants like Microsoft, AWS and Google.”
With its Military Affairs team and MSSA, Microsoft is changing the industry’s perception of what a technology worker looks like, all while helping American military veterans enter civilian living with meaningful, well-paid employment in an exciting field. To learn more about the MSSA program, visit their website.
Two dreams have propelled Josh Johnson during his life: One to enlist in the military and another to own a business.
The 46-year-old former Air Force acquisitions officer from Puyallup, Washington, was inspired to pursue both dreams by male role models as he watched his dad dedicate his early years to the Army. Johnson also learned about his two grandfathers’ military experiences during World War II.
“From a very young age, I was excited about the opportunity to serve my country,” Johnson said.
He realized dream number one from 2000 to 2004, after completing his bachelor’s in business from Central Washington University. While stationed at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Johnson was working with Boeing satellite systems while also earning his master’s in business administration from California State University, Long Beach — a degree paid for by the military.
After he separated from the Air Force and gained 14 more years of experience managing operations, recruiting, and safety for transportation companies, Johnson found himself inching closer to dream number two, thanks to a friend.
“I knew it was exactly what I was meant to do,” Johnson said, referring to an advertisement his friend forwarded to him about Amazon’s Delivery Service Partner (DSP) program.
In his late teens, Johnson had watched his dad build his land surveying services from a one-man shop to a successful business. There have been ups and downs, Johnson says, but his father has always been able to succeed.
“He does it by being a man of the highest integrity and providing great customer service,” Johnson continued. “I wanted to follow in his footsteps.”
With his Air Force experience, Johnson felt confident he could thrive as a DSP owner. What he had learned most during his military training was how to lead a team. He mastered motivating people and helping them reach their full potential. Those skills assisted him in recruiting, organizing, and inspiring employees to put customers’ needs first.
With the DSP opportunity, Johnson saw an interesting way to start a business. Unlike something such as a restaurant or a chain franchise, the upfront investment wasn’t overwhelming. Plus, once he was offered the opportunity to be a part of the DSP program, Johnson was able to participate in a two-week training and lean on Amazon for support with leasing vehicles, maintaining and repairing his fleet, processing payroll, and accessing regulatory and legal advice if needed.
“I learned that there are so many ways that Amazon provides resources for us,” Johnson said. “I felt grateful to have this opportunity to work with them as they’re growing and doing fantastic things. I tell other veterans that Amazon partners with you to provide the tools and mentorship to help make you successful. If you’re dedicated, and you use the training you got in the military, you can do well.”
In September 2018, ASLAR Logistics (named after the five Johnson children — Ammon, Shayla, Liam, Aria, and Rylan) opened with its delivery center in Sumner, Washington, about 30 miles south of Seattle. It’s one of 1,500 such small businesses that opened since Amazon started the DSP program in 2018.
In the early days, Johnson had only a few employees , while his wife, Laura, helped — making business decisions and even completing the Amazon driver training program — and managed their household. Now, Johnson oversees a staff of 90 who deliver Amazon orders to homes and businesses in the greater Sumner area.
“We’ve been able to hire truly dedicated and hardworking individuals, and I feel blessed every day to have them on my team,” he said.
Most days start with Johnson tackling paperwork and prepping for the day. His team starts at mid-morning with a “virtual standup” meeting to keep everyone safe with social distancing and learn of any news and safety protocol updates. “Loadout” happens next, with Johnson often jumping in to load packages. As the drivers start their routes, Johnson’s dispatch team stands by to answer questions, monitor routes, and help troubleshoot.
Johnson is proud to have earned Amazon’s trust, which he says his team has done by working hard, getting packages delivered, and not returning them to the center.
Earning his community’s trust is equally important to Johnson, and he welcomed the opportunity to do so, especially in the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The beginning of that time period was like a second, surprise Christmas, with demand surging in March 2020.
“People were so scared to leave their houses, especially the elderly,” Johnson recalled. “We were able to deliver and keep them safe with social distancing and sanitizing. They could order basic necessities of life — cereal, cat food, toilet paper they couldn’t find anywhere else — without the concern of catching the virus. It helped us feel good about what we do.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs has spent the last two years transforming how it interacts with veterans, taking the best ideas from all over (including the business world) to upgrade your customer experience. Here are nine improvements — big and small — you may not believe.
1. A new call number that’s easy to remember.
Can’t remember which of our more than 1000 phone numbers to call? Me neither. Now, we only have to call one phone number: 1-844-MyVA311. The number will route you to the right place. If you do know the right number to call, you can still call that number.
2. Someone to actually answer your call.
The only number I can ever remember is number for disability claims and other benefits. Believe it or not, people are actually answering the phone now, on average in under five minutes. Employees in some of our contact centers report veterans temporarily forgetting why they called because they are stunned by how quickly someone answered the phone.
3. One call does it all.
Veterans in crisis are no longer asked to hang up and dial the Veterans Crisis Line. This month our medical centers, benefits line and MyVA311 will automatically connect callers to the Veterans Crisis Line if they “press 7.”
4. Total online resource.
Working toward one website and logon – Vets.gov – that now lets you discover, apply for, track, and manage the benefits you have earned, all in one place. One site, one username, one password. Track the status of your disability claim, apply for your GI Bill, and enroll in health care, on a site that’s mobile-first, accessible (508 compliant) and designed based on Veteran feedback. All Veteran-facing features will be migrated to vets.gov by April 2017!
5. Now you can actually find your service center.
Have you ever tried to use the VA.gov facility locator? If you have, you know it was essentially an address that you had to copy and paste into Google maps and hope for the best.
Now, we have one on Vets.gov that uses Google maps — and provides an initial set of VA services at those facilities. Try it here.
Additionally, maps are notoriously bad at being accessible to screen readers, but the Vets.gov facility locator is accessible and has been tested with blind and low vision veterans.
6. There’s an app for that.
Veterans can call or text the VCL with just one click from a mobile device using vets.gov.
7. No more waiting.
When you’re sick or in pain, you really want to see a doctor that day and now you can. Same-day appointments in our clinics are available when a provider determines a veteran has an urgent or emergent need that must be addressed immediately.
8. Claims are processed faster.
In 2012, some received disability claim decisions after more than two years. Now, after a series of people, process and technology changes, claims take an average of 123 days to complete. But VA is taking it a step further, looking at how it can improve veterans experiences around the compensation exam.
9. Taking out the middleman.
Need hearing aids or glasses? No need to see your primary care physician just to get a referral. Go ahead and make an appointment directly with both optometry and audiology.
These are just nine ways the VA is joining the modern world to better serve you. Watch for more.
The same people who took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States with their own lives on land, sea, or air are needed to do the same with their post-military skills – in cyberspace.Cybersecurity is not just a needed career field, it’s one that is understaffed in the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that demand for information security professionals over the next decade will be very high, with employment projected to grow 31 percent between now and 2029*.
But getting into this career field isn’t easy. If the military didn’t train someone on information technology skills, they will need the skills necessary to potentially join the ranks of cyber warriors. The good news is that there are many options available to help start this journey.
Demands on the lives and careers of military members can make attending a brick and mortar school somewhat difficult, but there are many accredited online schools that can help make educational goals more accessible. One of those schools is Trident at American Intercontinental University.
Trident offers an associate degree program in Cybersecurity and for those who want to take their learning further, they can continue their education at Trident with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science with an emphasis on cybersecurity.
They can even step up to a master’s level education with programs in Homeland Security and Information Technology Management. Students can use military Tuition Assistance, if applicable, and the school also offers grants for military service members** at all degree levels.
Military members shouldn’t wait until transition assistance classes start and there’s only six months of service left on their enlistment. Now could be the time to start preparing to pursue your educational options.
*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Information Security Analysts, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm (visited September 30, 2020). This data represents national figures and is not based on school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary.
**University grants or scholarships are based on established criteria as published in the University’s Catalog or on its website and are awarded after verification that the conditions of eligibility have been met.
Trident cannot guarantee employment, salary, or career advancement.
David Miller is VA’s Male Volunteer of the Year. A Marine Corp Veteran, Miller served in Vietnam during the TET II offensive with 3rd Marine Division (9th Marines).
Miller says he got involved in volunteering “due to the fact that the Vietnam Veterans were ignored and mistreated and misdiagnosed for years after they returned home. I just wanted to make positive experiences to help all Veterans and also to help them with their issues for health and benefits.”
“I speak to youth about how important it is to honor all our Veterans. And after I was diagnosed with my cancer and in a wheelchair for five years, I kept volunteering to not think about my illnesses as well as to help other Veterans with the same problems. This was self medication for me as well.”
The National American Legion Hospital Representative at the Bay Pines VA Medical Center, Miller has volunteered for 27 years and finds the most emotional part of his volunteering is the interest he takes in the hospice and the really sick and disabled Veterans. “It made me thankful for my life, being a cancer survivor.’
He and his wife Kathy Ann live in Largo, Florida. His two grown sons, Jeremiah and Adam, live in Orlando. “They have accomplished so much in their lives.”
Miller says his only real hobby is, “speaking to children and youth about the importance of patriotism and how important it is to honor all our Veterans. They provide the protection that allows them to enjoy the freedoms that they take for granted.”
And he encourages them to volunteer. “I would hope we can start getting more younger people and younger Veterans to volunteer at our VA hospitals and in the community. They would get so much satisfaction from helping our heroes from the past, present and future. Our Veterans are the life blood of this great country of ours. We must make sure that is never forgotten in all our future generations.”
As part of his volunteer duties, Miller visit patients daily and meets several times a week with Veterans them with their claims and benefits. “I also am an advocate for all Veterans who need help with appointments or any other issues at the hospital or in the community.” He also speaks with young Veterans at MacDill Air Force Base who need guidance or help with any VA issues when they leave the service.
Miller adds, “I would just like to say that I am honored and humbled to accept this great accolade as National Volunteer of the Year. With all the service organizations that are involved, there are so many deserving people that should have won this award. I love to help Veterans in all facets of their lives both at the VA and in the community. It gives me great satisfaction to be able to donate my time for such a worthy cause! God Bless our Veterans and God Bless our great country.”
In this time of Covid, many veterans have been on the job hunt and have had to adapt to the changing job climate. Layoffs, restructuring, furloughs, pay cuts, and other corporate moves have made life a bit rough for many in the workforce. A lot of veterans, whether they have just separated or have been out for a while have been looking at ways to keep ahead of the economic downturn.
It’s not easy but there is a great resource you can use.
Heroes Linked is a site that gives veterans a chance to link up and get advice from mentors in the field they work in or want to work in. You can get advice on resumes, how to approach a job interview, what skills you need to work on or obtain, or just meet someone that will be your in for the job of your dreams.
We Are The Mighty talked to David Tenenbaum who is a Director and Advisor for Heroes Linked.
David served as an Air Force Captain from 2001-2007. He joined before 9/11 and was an aviator who flew recon missions over Iraq and Afghanistan. “When I got out, I had a pilot’s license and master, but no transition plan and no idea where to go or what to do,” David told us. He started his own business during the recession. His business model wasn’t lucrative.
That led to him pulling up his pants and headed to LA. David worked for We Are the Mighty for a big as our Director of Business Development before going into digital publish and ad operations. He also learned a bit about veteran advocacy and got very involved in helping fellow veterans. Heroes Linked contacted him for help with media services, but his passion for helping veterans led him to become a Director and Advisor for the site.
So, what is all about? Heroes Linked is a non-profit that pairs a veteran with an advisor in that veteran’s field or prospective field. Are you thinking of going into insurance? Heroes Linked will pair you with an advisor that will be your north star when it comes to breaking into the insurance business. Thinking of starting your own company? You will get paired with an entrepreneur that will give you advice that comes from their own success. As David tells us, “The coolest thing is it connects two individuals where they have an environment to have candid conversations about their future”.
Now some of you are probably thinking, that’s great if you are just getting out but what about those of us who have been out for a while?
Well Heroes Linked is for you too. Have you been working in sales for 10 years and struggling to get a promotion? Have you been hating HR and want to move into IT? Heroes Linked will help you connect with the right people, so you have a great place to start, instead of starting your journey blindly. Many of us go to LinkedIn as a way to network. But how many of those connections, do you actually chat with. How many of them engage you and give you great advice?
What if you are a spouse or Gold Star Family member? Heroes Linked is for you too. You just register using id.me and then you unlock all the resources that they have for you.
Heroes Linked was started about six years ago. Folks who were concerned about veteran well beings started fundraisers to help the local veteran communities. After a while, those folks asked, “Instead of raising money for other Veteran Service Organizations, why don’t we help ourselves?” The idea to focus on career development took shape and off it went. Launched five years ago under the MVAT.org umbrella, it took two years for the site to get built. The last three years, it has been up and running and helping everyone from lance corporals to generals with career help.
Yes, you read that right. David told us about a general that signed up as an advisee. When David noticed this, he asked the retired general why he wasn’t an advisor. The general talked about his separation struggles and the need to look outside his own bubble for advice.
And who is giving the advice? Right now, Heroes Linked has about 450 advisors spread around the country. “There are no prerequisites”, David tells us, “We don’t place restrictions on who can be an advisor.” This is a process in shared interest and shared expertise. David explains, “We have CEOs, judges, lawyers, Green Berets, and generals. But we also have guys who got out as E-5s who are business owners who have a ton of experience.”
It’s a great concept that other organizations struggle with understanding. Someone who served as an E-5 in the Air Force might have great advice on how to get a job with a defense contractor that a 22-year Master Sergeant needs. Once a new enrollee signs up, they are matched via computer with their new advisor. There is also a directory where you can search by location, job title or area of expertise.
Advisors can also talk to each other and be advisees as well.
Heroes Linked also offers more than job help. The advice and talks expand to help the veteran with any issues he or she might have. As we all know, our transition and path isn’t just about our job. It is about getting support, having people to talk to, and having people who understand our walk so far. That is another great part about Heroes Linked. You can vent to your advisor about your career, life, finances, your struggle as a vet while getting someone who has walked in your shoes.
David tells us a great story about this. “We had an advisee who was a Marine Corps Major who was working at the State Department. He was looking into launching his own company but lacked confidence and certainty and it was impacting his career. We said, ‘Here are resources that will launch your business as an entrepreneur’ He was able to get advice he needed and start his business. He then shared his venture with the Heroes Linked community and was able to staff his company from the network of the site!”
So what’s next? There are big plans to update the site moving forward. “We are moving to resemble a linked in with a feed. There will be a search, place to upload your resume, and a job board,” David tells us. These changes should launch in the beginning of November. There is also a push to get more advisors. As the job market has changed due to Covid-19, there are a lot of veterans that will need help on finding a new career and navigating these times.
David emphasizes, “I see Heroes linked as this resource that veterans with a lifetime of career development and a platform for well-being.”
Image courtesy of Victory Capital, YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IA5V9jlc6oI.
David Tenenbaum is an Air Force veteran and the founder of Honor Media. Honor Media is a nonprofit production company, digital agency, and consulting firm dedicated to helping veteran organizations tell their stories to clients, donors, and other stakeholders. Tenenbaum’s success is a tribute to the memory of his father. His father is also the reason he joined the military.
Tenenbaum’s father was a Holocaust survivor who emigrated to the United States after being liberated from Dachau by American GIs. Tenenbaum explains that joining the military was his way, “to repay that favor of what the U.S. did.”
He spent six years in the Air Force. After he separated from the military he had no transition plan. So, he returned to something that he had always enjoyed as a kid: motorcycles.
The company he started provided motorcycles and parts and services to racers and race enthusiasts. It was called Ben Jacob Design. The company was named in honor of Tenenbaum’s father. As he tells it, “Ben in Hebrew is son of. Jacob is my father’s name”.
In retrospect, Tenenbaum admits that what he had attempted to do was build a business out of his hobby. Still, he sank his life savings into it. And sank is the operative word. The business failed.
Having borrowed heavily to start the company and keep it afloat, Tenenbaum saw his credit score plummet. He was living in the company’s shop, trying to pay down its debts, and thinking, “where do I go from here?”
When revenue stopped coming in, he began to dismantle the business piece by piece. He ripped stickers off of motorcycles. He sold his tools. Tenenbaum shut down Ben Jacob Design. It was at that point that he, “went through another transition.”
Tenenbaum was learning what he could do and what he could not do. And he questioned what his own value was as a veteran. He returned home, reconnected with his mother, and began resolving his predicament. Through it all, his veteran identify held steadfast. He could not leave it behind.
Tenenbaum’s inner strength led him to launch Honor Media. He attributes its success to the lessons learned from his failed business. He relies on financial partners, advisors, and a board of directors to make it work. Another key to making it work is service. In essence, Tenenbaum’s greatest lesson is the value of service.
His journey from the military through the private sector into a role working with fellow veterans taught Tenenbaum something important about his value and purpose. That value and purpose is in serving others. In that he discovered the greatest expression of honoring his father.
Mary Ryan has been the curator at the U.S. Naval Undersea Museum since October 2010. As curator, she leads the museum’s exhibit program, shapes the artifact collection, and connects the public to the museum’s rich subject matter. Mary has worked for 15 years as a curator, interpretive planner, and exhibit developer creating exhibitions and interpretive plans for museums and historic sites across the country. She earned her Master’s Degree in History Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program in Cooperstown, New York, and completed her undergraduate training in science and anthropology at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.
WATM: How did you decide to become a curator and a steward of our Nation’s history?
I discovered the museum field at a crossroads in my life, shortly after deciding not to attend medical school. I was immediately drawn to curatorial work — it’s intellectually challenging, always interesting and artifacts and exhibits have such power to tell meaningful stories. After completing a museum internship with an excellent mentor, I earned my graduate degree in history museum studies in 2008 and have worked as a curatorial and exhibit developer ever since.
When I joined the U.S. Naval Undersea Museum staff as curator in 2010, I didn’t know how much I would come to love the subject matter — the history, science, innovation and human ingenuity of the undersea communities is fascinating. I’ve met the most incredible people working here. It’s a privilege to do this job and serve these communities.
WATM: The U.S. Naval Undersea Museum was closed for COVID; what can attendees expect on their tour as it reopens?
We’re thrilled to share we reopened on May 24! We are excited to welcome visitors back to the museum. Initially, our open hours will be 10 AM to 4 PM on Monday, Wednesday through Friday, with weekend hours to resume as state and federal guidelines continue to expand.
Because the safety of our visitors, volunteers and staff is our top priority, we have implemented extra safety measures at the museum. We will be using a reservation system to ensure capacity stays within state guidelines (visitors can make a reservation here), disinfecting frequently-touched surfaces and limiting group sizes to 10 or fewer people. And for the short term, our exhibit interactives have been converted into touchless experiences. As always, there are no admission or parking fees to visit!
WATM: What virtual content do you have available?
We have a mix of virtual content for different ages and interests! We post social media content several times a week on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts — lots of “this day in history” posts, sailor profiles, artifact features, STEM activities, behind the scenes content. In the past five years, our virtual community has grown to more than 20,000 people across our platforms.
Our virtual 3D tour lets anyone explore our exhibit galleries from any location. Having a virtual tour became an invaluable resource while we were closed during the pandemic. Now that we’re reopening, it makes the museum accessible to many people who can’t visit us in person. A handful of our artifacts have been turned into highly detailed, interactive 3D models by The Arc/k Project, and more than 500 artifacts are digitized on our Flickr page.
WATM: What are some upcoming virtual events readers shouldn’t miss out on?
This past February we staged our biggest education program of the year, Discover E Day, entirely online. Following up on that success, our educator has teamed up with several local Navy groups to offer two virtual Navy STEM summer camp sessions July 13–15 and August 10–12. Families of local kids who will be in grades 3–8 this fall can email email@example.com for more information or to register; it’s free and all learning will happen via Zoom.
I would definitely encourage readers to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — we’re most active there and always posting new content! Keep an eye on our website, too, as we’re developing a new online collections page that will share digitized documents and finding aid for archival collections.
WATM: How can the public support the museum on its mission?
Our mission is to connect people to the U.S. naval undersea experience. Anyone who engages with our subject matter by learning about naval undersea history, technology, operations and people — whether through us or on their own — is supporting our mission.
As a federal organization, the museum is supported by a non-profit foundation that raises funds for education programs, new exhibits and artifact care and conservation. Their support allows us to take on projects that aren’t or can’t be funded by federal funding. Members of the public can support the museum by making a donation or becoming a foundation member.
We are lucky to have wonderful public support from the local community. Our volunteer corps includes more than 50 veterans, retired Navy civilians and community members that give generously of their time and expertise. Their contributions are almost immeasurable, and include greeting visitors, giving tours, operating the museum store, working with artifacts, supporting education programs and helping to build and install exhibits. Locals who are interested in joining our volunteer corps can learn more here.
WATM: Do you have anything you would like to say to the veteran and military audience?
Sharing the stories of undersea Navy veterans is an essential aspect of our work! There’s a lot we can’t say as a Navy organization because it’s not publicly cleared, but that just means we work harder to amplify the stories we can share.
We meet so many veterans at the museum and it’s an honor to be a place they can reminisce or show their families more about what they did in the Navy. To all the veterans out there, please come say “hi” if you visit the museum! Many of the volunteers who staff our lobby are veterans themselves. And if there is any way we can be of assistance, please reach out anytime!
WATM: What is next for you and the museum?
Every summer we host a popular education program called Summer STEAM, which offers hands-on science, technology, engineering, art and math activities for kids. Summer STEAM will be back this July and August with a twist: this year families can pick up activity kits to take home! Our educators and volunteers have been hard at work assembling kits to make this possible.
And coming next spring, we’ll open a new temporary exhibit called “Giving Voice to the Silent Service.” It’s an inside look at the strong collective identity that submariners share. While it centers on the submarine community, many of the ideas will resonate with anyone who served. This was one of the most interesting and fun exhibits I have ever developed and I can’t wait to see it come to life in our exhibit galleries!
Inter-service rivalry is very common in the military. But one Navy SEAL Team 6 vet with a long service record is openly admiring an Army hero.
According to the blog of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Montana Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke, President Donald Trump’s nominee to serve as Secretary of the Interior, applauding the values former President Theodore Roosevelt brought to conservation and land management.
“I am an unapologetic admirer of Teddy Roosevelt and believe he had it right when he placed under federal protection millions of acres of federal lands and set aside much of it as National forests,” Zinke said during his confirmation hearing.
Zinke, who spent 23 years in the Navy, was the first SEAL to win a seat in the House of Representatives according to law360.com. The San Diego Union-Tribune noted when his nomination was announced that he would also be the first SEAL to hold a Cabinet position. According to his official biography on his congressional web page, Zinke’s decorations include two awards of the Bronze Star for service during Operation Iraqi Freedom, which included a stint as acting commander of Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Arabian Peninsula. Among the SEALs who served under him were Marcus Luttrell (of “Lone Survivor” fame), Rob O’Neill (who claims to have killed Osama bin Laden), and Brandon Webb (founder of SOFREP.com).
Roosevelt, though, also had a keen interest in naval affairs before serving with the Army. Prior to becoming Assistant Secretary of the Navy under President William McKinley, the Theodore Roosevelt Association noted that he wrote a history of the War of 1812, publishing it at age 24. Roosevelt would help turn the United States Navy into the global instrument of power projection it is today.
So, yeah, while inter-service rivalry has its place, in this case, we can understand – and approve – of a SEAL admiring a soldier like Teddy Roosevelt.
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.
Matias Ferreira is a combat Marine who graduated from the Suffolk County Police Academy on March 24, 2017. Prior to the graduation, he was elected as president of his academy class, and a recruit platoon leader. All of this while walking on two prosthetic legs.
You read that right. Matias Ferreira is a double-amputee.
According to a report by Newsday, Ferreira lost both of his legs after he was wounded by an improvised explosive device during the fighting in Musa Qala, Afghanistan.
Ferreira is not the only double amputee serving in law enforcement — PIX11.com reported that one other is serving as a state trooper in the western United States.
Ferreira’s roundabout journey to being a police officer involved playing on a select softball team with other amputees, and a moment of heroism in October 2015.
According to the New York Daily News, the ex-Marine leapt into action with his brother and future father-in-law while leaving his wedding rehearsal to rescue an infant from a burning car.
“Instinctively you just react, you don’t freeze, and thankfully we were able to make a difference,” Ferreira said at the time.
Now, he will do so again. After 29 weeks of intensive training in the gym, the classroom, and the swimming pool, during which Ferreira refused offers of special treatment.
Below is an interview that he did with Fox and Friends. Semper Fi.