Storytelling America: Veteran Stories - 1

 South Dakota Veterans

STA DAV Murphy 150

Two Bullets Changed My Life - Gene Murphy
One day Gene Murphy innocently stopped by the Selective Service Office to check the status of his student deferment, before he knew what hit him, at age 19, Gene Murphy would soon find himself in a place that would change his life forever - Vietnam.  In 1969 as a young Army sergeant Murphy was paralyzed by two gunshots to his right side just 30 days before he was scheduled to return home to the United States.  His injury would not only prevent him from ever walking again, but would set him on a long history of advocacy on behalf of disabled veterans.

DVolk 150Volk: I Couldn't Believe Someone Wanted to Kill Me!
Over 2.5 million Americans were drafted during the Vietnam War. To serve one's country in times of war is a sacrifice, but draftees of the Vietnam era had an altogether unique experience. Young men going about their normal lives, making plans for the future were suddenly jerked out of their cozy civilian existence and plunged into the craziness of Army life and war in a foreign land.

David Volk was born and raised in Mitchell, South Dakota. In 1969, after graduating from college, he was drafted into the US Army. He served two years in the Army -- a year of that in Vietnam. He served as a combat photographer with the 101st Airborne Division and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal and Bronze Star while in Vietnam.

Watch Dave Volk's interview as he talks about his first experience of a high school teacher going to Vietnam.

Kiley 150

Jim Kiley:  Stuck in a Hammock on the USS Laws
He just wanted to find a cool place to rest.  While cruising just north of the Phillipines on the USS Law in World War II, seaman Jim Kiley hung his hammock from the search lights of the forward stack.  Little did he know that’s where he’d be spending the next two days hanging on for life in a Pacific typhoon.

OmahaBeach 127Stanley Christensen: Mr. Milquetoast or Captain America?
My dad would refer to him as "Mr. Milquetoast".  In other words, "a timid, unassertive person who is easily dominated or intimidated". We all knew Stanley Christensen, a mechanic for the John Deere dealership, as a very quite and kind man. You know the type someone who "wouldn't hurt a flea". Well, apparently there weren't any fleas on Omaha Beach at about 6:10 am on June 6, 1944 when Stanley's foot hit the sand, just German soldiers armed to the teeth with machine guns and artillery.

Buddy BronzePin 200The Uncle Buddy I Hardly Knew
"The first thing I'm going to do when I get to heaven is to look up those German boys I killed during the war and tell them how sorry I am." That's one of the last things my Uncle Buddy said before he passed away in 1990.  He was a genuine war hero and I hardly knew it.  Discover what I learned.

OR 150It Ain’t All Onions & Radishes:  PFC Lingberg Purchases Engagement Ring
PFC Lingberg buys his girl a diamond ring on credit.  Terms – just until payday.  See what Aunt Josie thinks about it.


BVognild 150Grand Patriot:  Brian Vognild, Colonel (ret.)
"O54: Gear Up"

"Gear Up"...are words that could personify Brian Vognild's approach in his over 30 years service in the United States Air Force, South Dakota Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserves.  He would ultimately retire as a Colonel, but on October 22, 1988 it may have been the last words, that then, 1st Lieutenant Brian Vognild would ever hear after the Boeing EC-135C got airborne.

DickAmbrosius 150Grand Patriot:  Dick Ambrosius
"Purple Heart"
351,794 Purple Hearts were awarded during the Vietnam War. 192 were South Dakotans. One of them, Dick Ambrosius, is my friend and former business partner. A few minutes before midnight on September 8, 1970 his base at an outpost in Tra Bong, South Vietnam was overrun by enemy forces. This is his "Grand Patriot" story as told to me on March 21, 2017.

Veterans Stories

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