Service stories: Mark Twain students interview veterans about military

November 2015 Posted in Arts, Culture & History, People

Editor’s Note: The following stories were written by the Mark Twain students.

Bernard Hoene
Bernard Hoene served in the military police in the U.S. Army. He liked the military because he wanted to protect our freedom. He enjoyed jumping out of airplanes. He said being in the military meant he wasn’t home often. His grandma sent him letters and he kept pictures of his family to remind him of his home. “Veterans Day for me means honoring people who served for our country,” he said, adding he served during peacetime. He said whenever you see a veteran, tell them “thank you for your service.”
– Philip Alagoz

Rick Lewis
Silverton Mayor Rick Lewis is a veteran of the Vietnam War. He is a respectable, interesting and overall brilliant man. Sgt. Lewis began his service in 1968. “The Army was extremely disciplined and there were many strict orders,” Lewis said. “There was no back talk to your instructor.” For three years, he was stationed in Germany, fighting the troubles and hardships. For Lewis, it was an amazing honor to serve, but the hardest part for him was not being able to see his family. In those days, he couldn’t call home. He wrote letter that would take two weeks to reach home. He loved traveling the world, and getting to experience new cultures and people. After the war, Lewis worked with the military. He was an important part in helping Iraq’s government train in democratic principles, and establish their own constitution. He was the police chief of Silverton and is now the mayor. To Lewis, Veterans Day is a time to honor those who bravely served our country. It’s a time to reflect on what happened and what will happen in the future.
– Anneliese Capener

Doug Zade

Doug Zade

Doug Zade
For U.S. Marine Doug Zade, Veterans Day is about honoring the men and women who were put in the way of conflict. He thinks it’s nice that all military personnel are honored but he believes the military men and women who were in battle should be honored more.

While he would recommend a career in the military, Zade said he thinks only people who have a great desire to serve their country and know what they’re getting themselves into should join the military. His best memory of his service was making a lot of good friends. He explained being a Marine doesn’t necessarily mean that you fight, because not all people that sign up for the military fight.
– Kate Fronza

Rick Bittner
When Rick Bittner graduated from high school, he said college wasn’t an option due to financial reasons. Bittner chose to serve his country. His choice led him to do great things. Bittner served in the U.S. Navy on submarines. Diving under the sea was one of his favorite memories. He said working in the military takes a great cooperation and understanding. He recommends this job for the incredible experience, education, and leadership. He said Veterans Day “means the end of war, it means to celebrate those who fought in that war and many other wars.” Rick is an incredible man with a big heart. He still sees some of the people and friends that he met while serving.
– Emily Badzinski

Aaron Cressey
Staff Sgt. Aaron Cressey served in the U.S. Marine Corps, Marine Corps Reserve and Oregon Army National Guard in many different places throughout the U.S. and in Japan, Kenya and Iraq. If he could send me back in time to learn something he learned by being in the military, he said it would be how to be an ambassador, like how he was while serving in Japan. He is most proud of becoming a rescue swimmer. Cressey joined the military to see the world, travel and discover new places. When talking to a veteran, he says people are 100 percent welcome to ask questions and talk to him about his experiences and for advice. If someone were to ask him advice about joining the military, he would first ask if they were absolutely sure they wanted to join and if they were ready for the hard work. Cressey sees Veterans Day as a day to respect and honor those who have served, are currently serving, or who were lost while serving.
– Olivia Groom

Steve Wiley
Steve Wiley was a sergeant in the United States Air Force. He was stationed in England, Italy and in the U.S. during the Vietnam War.

“I served because there was a need, and I was certainly available,” Wiley said.

He is proud he served during a difficult time and he served with great honor. He is proud his service benefited others.

One of his favorite memories was when he was stationed in Italy. Wiley and one of his friends heard a rumor about a village called “The City of Seven Lights.” This village was up in the hills next to where they were stationed. Wiley spotted where the road was that lead to the village. He and his buddy decided to follow the road into the village. They were near the entrance of the village when this little old lady popped out with this rifle and started shooting at them! They decided they should turn back and go to the station.

Steve Wiley is an honorable veteran that loved serving. Veteran’s Day is an important day that should always be celebrated due to people like Steve Wiley.
– Emma Krumbah

Jon & Hannah LeBoeuf

Jon & Hannah LeBoeuf

Jon LeBoeuf
Jon LeBoeuf is an E/4 SR and Airman Security Police. He was stationed at US Air Force FE Warren Air Force Space Desert Storm – Desert Shield What makes Jon the most proud of his military service is serving his country.  The best memory of his service would be earning medals for his expert marksmanship and coming home from Saudi Arabia after a long time. He served four years.
– Hannah LeBoeuf 

Richard Denny
Richard Denny is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, where he served for 21 years. I asked him what the public may not know about the U.S. military. He said the friendships and how you make many friends, and that with friends, there is also loss. Being in the military can be hard, watching your new friends pass away. Because it is a dangerous service. He shared his best memory was flying. “The way it felt to fly and the freedom that came along with it.” He knew he wanted to be in the clouds, but he also knew he wanted to fight for our country. He joined the Air Force after graduating from Oregon State University.
– Hannah Martin

Terry Murphy
Terry Murphy is a former Silverton police officer and a veteran. Murphy was a corpsman in the Vietnam War and he was deployed to Whidbey Island in Washington. The thing that makes him most proud is that he was helping out hurt people and making them heal and recover. The thing that made Murphy want to serve our country is that he was out of high school and he has always wanted to be in the Navy and to serve our country. He would recommend this career because you’re helping your country stay strong.
– Ari Matzka

Mark Twain student Kaitriana McElfresh interviews Dave Zehrung.

Mark Twain student Kaitriana McElfresh interviews Dave Zehrung.

Dave Zehrung
Veteran Dave Zehrung is proud to have honorably served our country in a time of war.

If he could take me back in time to show me what it was like to serve, he said he would show me “that it was an agonizing job sending people where they did or didn’t want to go because I knew that I might not see them again.” His best memory of the service was meeting people from all over the United States. When I asked him what made him decide to serve his country, he chuckled and said “I was drafted. I had no choice.”

He said “Veterans Day is a time to honor those who fought in combat and supported those that did.”
– Kaitriana McElfresh

James Arbidloftis
On the USS Lexington in the U.S. Navy, James Arbidloftis served from 1958-62. He joined the Army Reserve fresh out of high school at age 18. Transferring to follow his buddies then going to the Navy where he would go on classified travels and visit numerous ports these are some of the questions I asked him.  He said after high school, people either went to college, became a truck driver or went into the military. “To be in the Navy you had to be very physical.”

He said if someone thanked him for his service, he would ask if they served.

“If they say yes, I thank them back. I have never gotten a bad reception from the public ever.”
– Charles Petrik

Veterans Day Assembly

Students in Mark Twain teacher Darby Hector’s
leadership class were asked to interview a
veteran and write a short article.
Each student’s work reflected a common theme.

There was a sentence that read something like this,
“Thank you to our veterans.
Thank you for serving your country.”

Appreciating veterans’ service to our country
is a tradition at Mark Twain Middle School,
celebrated each November.

This year, veterans are invited to gather at
1:50 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10 in the library at
Mark Twain, 425 N. Church St., Silverton, and
then attend a special school assembly at 2:05 p.m.

Robert Brant
I interviewed my Great Grandpa Robert Brant. He served as a Signalman in the Navy in WWII. He served for three years and while he was there, his biggest challenge was staying alive. He missed his family so much it made the three years feel like forever. Recently, he was asked to go on a special trip hosted by Gary Sinise to the opening of The National WWII Museum in New Orleans. I got to celebrate his 91st birthday with him in Southern California. Let’s continue to honor all of the veterans that risked their lives for the U.S.A.
– Tyson Erickson

Aaron Larsen
I interviewed Capt. Aaron Larsen, who is my dad. He has served in places throughout the United States including Astoria, Jackson Hole, Tacoma, Anchorage and Corpus Christi. He has also served in Afghanistan. He currently serves in the Air Force/Air National Guard. Capt. Aaron Larsen shared his best memory was the summer of 2012 when he was responsible for flying Vice President Joe Biden’s secret service team and vehicles for the presidential election campaign season. Also, that summer he got to meet Vice President Joe Biden.

Another question I asked Capt. Larsen was does he remember what it was like arriving in Afghanistan. His reply was, “Yes, it was very hot and windy with blowing sandstorms. There was airplanes taking off and there were people everywhere.” He also said they had anxiety knowing that they were in combat getting shot at.
– Kali Larsen


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