Originally Published: November 10, 2015 8:26 p.m.
Helmuth Felber, a veteran who served in the Army from 1963 to 1966, has been attending the Veterans Upward Bound program for vets at Yavapai College since March 2015. He writes, "The stories I have heard from my fellow students ... inspired me to send you this letter."
The Daily Courier recently asked for stories of what our veterans have gone through in the service of our country.
In our classroom we have a mishmash of both women and men with stories galore. It's hard not to stand in awe of what was experienced by these military personnel.
We have a lady that was an MP during 9/11 that assisted with the wounded and the dead at the Pentagon. Another vet was returning to Hawaii after spending three months underwater in a submarine. His wife flew from L.A. to meet him. He was literally yards away from the dock when 9/11 happened and he and his crew turned around and went out to sea again for another six months without touching the dock. What a disappointment.
We have vets that were assigned to aircraft carriers. They worked on the deck in the takeoff and landing of aircraft. A very dangerous job. One vet assisted a pilot whose F14 had crashed on the deck of an aircraft carrier and was on fire. Had he not risked his life in getting the pilot out, the pilot might have perished.
We have a number of vets that served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some are paying for their service with pain and suffering for the rest of their lives from wounds they received while in battle. They survived in remote areas of wasteland living under the constant trepidation of being attacked.
Another vet was a first responder when Japan experienced its nuclear reactor meltdown.
Another lady served her time in grueling missions with the 101st Airborne.
And the stories go on as we have new vets coming into our classroom constantly.
We even have a 91-year-old vet who believe it or not is thinking of learning again. He survived three direct Kamikaze attacks near him on an island off the coast of Japan. He was a driver of landing crafts and survived four of his boats being incapacitated by the enemy.
As you can see we have harrowing stories, some extremely gruesome, filled with danger, not to mention the trepidation when in the areas of conflict. We are the lucky ones who returned back to our homeland and we have stories to tell.
Here at Veterans Upward Bound at Yavapai College we have a stimulating program designed to assist any vet in the pursuit of further education. This eventually leads to better paying jobs and a more self-fulfilling life.
Our classroom is a stimulating place to learn amidst congenial camaraderie. A chance to reinvent and re-enrich the potential in all of us.