History Tidbit – America’s First Veterans Benefit

Two hundred and forty years ago on August 26, 1776, roughly eight weeks after American colonists announced their “Declaration of Independence” and made known their intentions to be set free from British rule, the Second Continental Congress approved the first Veterans benefit that was national in scope—pensions for those disabled in military service.

In 1776, the Second Continental Congress was a transitional government with no recognized powers or treasury, but they faced a full-blown war with England and pensions were offered as inducements for those willing to fight for freedom.  Payment of Veterans’ pensions fell “to the assemblies or legislatures of the several states. . .on account of the United States.” In 1781 the Articles of Confederation established a weak central government with the majority of power resting with a loose confederation of sovereign states.

Disability pensions were the first Veterans benefits established in the New World by colonists of the British Empire. Since the first successful permanent colony was established in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607, individual colonies increasingly created their own laws and public benefits. Read the rest of this entry »


Nisei Service During World War II – Asian American-Pacific Islander Heritage

Celebrating Asian American-Pacific Islander Heritage!

1943_12_23_First 5 Nisei WACs_article_MorningRegister-DesMoinesIA_uiowa-edu After the Japanese military attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, looming fear of more imminent attacks on Los Angeles and the West Coast led the U.S. government to embark on a controversial program that targeted people of Japanese descent. Families and individuals of Japanese heritage were rounded up and relocated at isolated internment camps which were intentionally located far away from the American West Coast. The majority of them remained in these camps for the duration of the war. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, signed on February 19, 1942, initiated the program. Relocation efforts escalated in the fall of 1942 with more than 120,000 people of Japanese descent relocated to 10 internment camps. The majority of individuals in the camps were American-born children of Japanese parents–known as “Nisei.” Nisei is a Japanese term used for children born to Japanese (known as Issei) in a new country. The Nisei children were U.S. citizens and many of them were young adults, vocal about their loyalties, and wanted to serve in the U.S. military during the war. Read the rest of this entry »

The Museum of the American Military Family is compiling stories for a book reflecting on war…


Attention New Mexicans, who are serving in the military, are military veterans, are members of a military family, and would like to write about your experience in that capacity…

 Paul Zolbrod, Writer-in-Residence for the Albuquerque-based Museum of the American Military Family is seeking stories for its anthology “From the Front Line to the Home Front: New Mexicans Reflect on War.”

This anthology will include first-hand stories from all perspectives—service members, family members and friends who share their perspectives and experiences. Submissions can be about the recent Middle East campaigns, Vietnam, the Korean War era or World War II—and everything in between. All branches and ranks of the military should be represented.

How you can contribute:

Your story can be as long or as short as you choose. Just make it heartfelt, honest and interesting. We are looking for stories of trial and triumph and loss, stories that demonstrate the warmth and humor of military family life along with its inevitable tensions, offbeat stories that illustrate the variety that accompanies military life in war times–in other words– anything you want to tell of.

You don’t have to consider yourself an accomplished writer to participate. We will provide editorial services to sharpen your contribution.

The book will be arranged by stories of:

  • Pre-deployment,
  • Deployment
  • Post-deployment
  • Legacy & Aftermath

For more information or to submit a story, please e-mail Writer-in-Residence Paul Zolbrod at mamfwriter@gmail.com.

The deadline for submissions is April 30, 2016. Tentative publication date is scheduled for the fall. All stories become part of the Museum of the American Military Family Special Collection Library.



Remembering a Brat At Pearl Harbor

By Joseph Condrill, MAMF Brat Liaison and Founder of Overseas Brats

Brat Friends,

Got three interesting bits of information to share here:

1) The story of Navy Brat, Bill Free, on December 7, 1941.

2) Why is December 7, 1941 so important to us today as Brats?

3) Ten Amazing Facts About The Bombing of Pearl Harbor?

The story of Navy Brat, Bill Free, on December 7, 1941.

Bill Free looked up to his father. As a boy, Bill enjoyed listening to his father, a sailor serving in the U.S. Navy talking about his experiences. Bill looked forward to the day he could join the Navy, and hopefully join his father onboard a ship somewhere. His dream came true, but with tragic results.

On December 7, 1941, U.S. Navy Seaman Second Class William Thomas Free was killed on board the USS Arizona when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. His father, Machinist Mate First Class Thomas Free, was also onboard the USS Arizona that morning and was also killed.

Today Bill Free is remembered on the OVERSEAS BRATS (OSB) Brats Memorial at: http://www.overseasbrats.com . He is the oldest Brat listed on the OSB Brats Memorial and the earliest date recorded of a Brat whom died while serving his country on that memorial.


Why Is December 7, 1941 so important to us today as Brats?

December 7, 1941 is so important to us today because:

*The war in Europe had stalemated. The Japanese were on the offensive in the Pacific. U.S. entry would change all that.

*English replaced French as the language of commerce and diplomacy.

*The U.S. would emerge as one of the Super Powers of The World.

*Gave birth to a new generation called The Baby Boomers.

*Would set in motion a number of things that would eventually make us all Brats. Read the rest of this entry »

Why does Memorial Day hit me so hard?

By Jim Eddy

Memorial Day, it’s always a difficult weekend for me. I sometimes don’t know why really, I wasn’t in the service; I wasn’t a member of the armed forces, so why does it hit me so hard?

I was born into the U.S. Navy in 1952; it’s the only life I knew until I was 25. My dad was a US Naval Academy 1939 graduate and a Pearl Harbor survivor.

Through those 25 years I met WWII survivors, navy pilots, admirals, navy divers, generals, sailors, marines, army personnel, Air Force personnel, Viet Nam vets, Blue Angels, and GI’s who had seen the worst battles ever. I lived in Washington, D.C. and stood solemnly at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier as a young boy. My father took me to the rusty and submerged remains of the USS Arizona prior to the existence of the memorial when I was in the first grade.

To be the son of a U.S. Navy Captain was an experience that is an honor. I visited aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, and battleships. During those visits the members and crew of the ships treated me with dignity and respect, not to mention the ice cream in the mess hall. I will never forget those days I had as a child and teenager.

When my parents had cocktail parties, the visiting Admirals or Generals asked especially to view my ship and airplane models. They were honestly interested in my model building interests. A returning Viet Nam Marine corporal helped me to build my first car. And last, but by no means least, my father was a survivor, a skipper, and my personal navy veteran.

His passing included a 21-gun salute and military funeral. So Memorial Day to me is all of these wonderful memories and the wonderful military personnel I had the pleasure to meet in my younger years. It is so much more than one can ever imagine, military life–it’s a life of its own, and for U.S. military brats we feel it deep, even years after our folks are gone, we still feel that feeling.

Happy Memorial Day to all of the veterans and my fellow and current military BRATS, who willingly went/go where we are told to go and always keep/kept our fear at bay when our mom or dad is/was deployed.

The Civil War Ends

Shortly after noon, 150 years ago on April 13th, General Robert E. Lee, Commander for the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, and General Ulysses S. Grant, Commanding General of the Union Army, met at the home of Wilmer McLean in Appomattox Court House, Virginia. The meeting took place on Palm Sunday and lasted roughly an hour and a half, ending in Lee surrendering to Grant.


Terms of the surrender included the Union taking all the rebel officers and soldiers, their arms, artillery, and public property; but officers would retain their side-arms, private baggage and horses. Each officer and man was allowed to return to their homes, and not be disturbed.

Although General Lee surrendered, other Confederate generals and Confederate President Jefferson Davis did not. It was not until June 1865, after Jefferson Davis’ capture in May 1865, and Generals Alexander McDowell McCook and Joseph “Joe” E. Johnston had surrendered, that the war was considered over.  Jefferson Davis, General Grant, Lee, McCook, and Johnston were all graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY.

The Civil War transformed America in countless ways and resulted in the greatest expansion of veterans benefits in history (at that time): the first National Cemeteries and burial benefits were authorized, benefits for Regular and Volunteer forces were equalized, first benefits for African Americans who served in Union forces, government-furnished prosthetics, pensions to provide for caretakers, veterans preference in hiring, and the first National Homes which evolved into today’s federal veterans hospital system were all founded as a result of the war.

The National Park Service is commemorating the anniversary with a national bell-ringing across the land today and some VA sites are participating.





Story: VA Historian

Gallup, NM: The Most Patriotic Small Town in America

by Kenneth Riege

John Wayne frequented it while filming numerous movies.  Bob Dylan once claimed he was from here.  Nat King Cole and John Mayer have sung about it in “Route 66.”   Gallup, New Mexico is a unique hub of culture. Often called the “Indian Capital of the United States” it draws from these cultures, making our community a stronger and a more interesting place to live.

Gallup is steeped in history and traditions and “Gallupians” (as we proudly call ourselves) stand together to protect what’s right.  Never was this more evident than during WWII as many American citizens of Japanese Ancestry were being transported from communities across the United States to war relocation camps. However, Gallup stood strong and said “NO” to this order.  We protected our citizens and our community.  This is commonly referred to as being “Gallup Strong.”

From the Spanish American War to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, “Gallupians” have answered the “call to duty” and have served in all five branches of the armed forces protecting our families, our community, and our way of life.  Gallup has been shaped by its praiseworthy and historic veterans, including the Navajo Code Talkers and Medal of Honor Recipient, Mr. Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura.

During WWII, the United States created communication codes for battle, but these codes were continuously broken, until the Navajo Code Talkers used their language to create an unbreakable code.  Their code helped bring an end to the bloody battles in the Pacific saving thousands of lives on both sides.  Gallup’s population is primarily Native Americans many of which are direct decedents of the Code Talkers.  This direct blood line and our deep patriotic spirit explain why so many young men and women join the military straight out of high school.  Another fine example of being “Gallup Strong.”

codetalkersIn Korea on April 24 – 25, 1951 Hershey held off wave after wave of enemy soldiers while protecting the lives of hundreds of American’s without regard to his own.  Hershey is “Gallup Strong.” These actions earned Hershey the Medal of Honor, but Hershey still endured more than two and a half years in a POW Camp. Hershey credited his faith, love of country and obligation to his community for his survival.   Gallup has recognized his heroic acts and significant contributions to the community by honoring him as the namesake of one of the local high schools, an overpass and a park.


Another great example of being “Gallup Strong” is the Veterans Helping Veterans organization.  This group was formed by veterans to assist other veterans and our community.  Whether it’s raising money for a veterans by “passing the hat” at meetings to help with a utility bill or rent, to hosting large “Stand Downs” which are 1 to 3 days events providing assistance to homeless veterans.

Gallup’s patriotism can be seen everywhere.  In our Veterans Memorial Plaza stand 12 pillars with the names of those who have selflessly served and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.  Our patriotism can be seen in the WWII veteran struggling to come to attention as a flag passes to our children who respectfully refer to the American Flag as “Ten Hut.”  It’s in our blood, it’s our heritage, and it’s who we are:  it’s being “Gallup Strong.”

“Gallupians” young and old rejoice in knowing the best way to honor and respect those who have fought for our freedoms is to enjoy every day to its fullest and to never take these freedoms for granted.  This is what patriotism is all about:  that is being “Gallup Strong.”