Call of duty: Those who served cite love of country, friendship, sacrifice

November 2017 Posted in Community, People

Veteran's-day-pic-2By Nancy Jennings

Jim Kosel, 75, has been married to Martha for 50 years. Both veterans, the Mount Angel residents have three children, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Their son, Darren, served as a Navy Air Traffic Controller during the Operation Desert Storm era.

“I served in the Air Force from 1963-67 in the missile systems communications in Moses Lake, Wash., and at Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc, Calif. We went to the missile sites from the command center and out to the various parts like the silos where the missiles were stored. We did the repairs needed in the communication systems and telephone system maintenance. I believe in our country and the freedoms that we have. My role was defending those to make sure we still have them today,” Kosel said.

Martha Kosel, 71, served in the Army during the Vietnam era. Her Army Base was in Fort Jackson, S.C. “My duties were processing all of the paperwork for the new recruits to make sure they got their haircuts, shots, gear and had all of their equipment. They came to our base, got all of their processing done and then were distributed throughout the U.S. to different forts to serve their basic training,” she explained.

“My little brother, Richard Forester, was killed in Vietnam. He wasn’t there over four months. He was 19 and the oldest boy in his company that was killed. They were attacked on the Saigon River. I wear his Vietnam coat every Memorial Day and march in the legion. He was the baby of our family. I do it for him,” she said proudly.

Dave Talbot, 75, has been married to Gail for 56 years. The Silverton residents have five children, 11 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. He has been working at the Roth’s Shell gas station for two years. He flew armed helicopter gunships in Vietnam. His first duty station was Ban Me Thuot for the 155th Air Mobile Company. While stationed there, he flew gunship support for the 1st Cavalry – which was the first big battle of the war, known as “The Battle of Ia Drang Valley.” This horrific combat was depicted in the 2002 film, We Were Soldiers starring Mel Gibson.

Before Talbot was transferred to the 170th Aviation Company in Pleiku, his unit was paid a morale-boosting visit from Hollywood icon, Charlton Heston. “He was immediately initiated into the Unit by drinking a ‘Flaming Mimi,’” Talbot said. “(It was) a shot of your favorite booze poured into a metal shot glass and ignited on fire (which you consumed) and then you got a shot of a cold blast of CO2 from a fire extinguisher on your bottom just as you tossed it down. He was a good sport,” he added with a mischievous smile.

Another fond memory included two monkeys common to that region who became their pampered pets. A crafty fellow pilot friend, Ray Ford, made them handmade military jackets, complete with warrant officer bars and pilot wings.

They were named “Zip” and “Zap,” which referred to the sounds of bullets. “When you were flying in the air and all of the shooting was going on, the bullets made a sound. It was either ‘zip’ or ‘zap.’ Zip meant it went past you, Zap meant it hit you,” Talbot explained.

Ford died in Vietnam and his name is memorialized on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

“The friendships and people I lost over there will stay with me the rest of my life. It’s a brotherhood,” he said.

“It’s important that military people get acknowledged for what they’ve done. They gave a part of their life in service to their country for everybody, not just for themselves.”

Carol (Rick) Lewis Rickard, 75, has been married to Jean for 41 years. The Silverton residents have two children and four grandchildren. Rickard served in the U.S. Navy from 1961-1967. An Electronics Technician, he worked in Submarine Service at Pearl Harbor aboard the USS Growler, a diesel submarine. His unit carried Regulus II nuclear-guided missiles.

“I’m proud to have served to preserve the freedom we enjoy as the greatest nation on earth,” he said.

Former Silverton schoolteacher Jack Hande, 86, has been married to Kay for 31 years. The Silverton residents have 10 children, 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

“I went to Willamette University after graduating from Silverton High School in 1949. The Korean War broke out in 1950. After college I was drafted into the Army in 1953 and got out in 1955. Because I had a biology degree they put me into on-the-job training as a lab technician. I was eventually stationed in Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where I worked as a hospital lab technician. Part of my job was assisting with autopsies, which was not pleasant,” Hande said. “I was lucky enough not to have to go to the battlefront.”

Hande recalled when as a child, he and his mother and sister volunteered at the observation post on Victor Point Road to report all aircraft sightings to the Portland Air Base. (The observation post building is now located outside of the Silverton Country Historical Society.)

“There were over 100 of these stations up and down Western Oregon during WWII,” he said. “We often forget why we have the freedom to do whatever we want if we act responsibly. We wouldn’t have that if we hadn’t had many great sacrifices.”

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.