August 26, 2014 |
WHEN Kermit Putman was 20, he went from hanging on a North Philly street corner to serving as a U.S. Marine in Panama before and during the 1989 Operation Just Cause invasion that captured the notorious drug-dealing President Manuel Noriega. "I got my first kill in Panama in 1987," Putman said. "We were guarding jet-fuel tanks when the Panamanians infiltrated. A newspaper story said we were shooting at ghosts and goblins. No, we weren't. " On a recent Sunday afternoon, Putman, now 48, wandered through hundreds of homeless people on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway as church groups served them lunch.
August 17, 2014 |
After Javier Barraza fell off a roof five years ago and broke his back, there were days he wished he was dead. "But you know what? Doing sports helped," he said while watching quad rugby Friday at the 34th National Veterans Wheelchair Games at the Convention Center. "It brings back a lot of self-confidence. And it helps from getting depressed. " The Special Forces veteran suffered some injuries while serving, but none were as life-changing as the one he sustained as a civilian.
August 16, 2014 |
A few months ago, Brian Wojciechowski's wife noticed him struggling for air in his sleep. Concerned he might have sleep apnea, he called the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs hospital. The wait for an appointment? More than three months. "People can die from it without any notice," said Wojciechowski, 33, of Voorhees. "It concerns me. " Veterans seeking appointments at the VA hospital in University City often face longer waits - two weeks longer for a new-patient primary-care slot and more for specialists - than if they sought private treatment, a comparison of wait times shows.
August 16, 2014 |
Bernard B. Grossman, 95, of Philadelphia, a decorated World War II veteran, died Thursday, July 31, of sepsis and heart failure in the VA Medical Center's Hospice Unit. Mr. Grossman, a Philadelphia native and Central High graduate, trained as an Army rifleman and served with the Bushmasters, an elite unit that fought in the South Pacific. The Bushmasters were well-versed in hand-to-hand combat and jungle patrol techniques, and used high-powered rifles and long machetes. They subsisted in the jungle for weeks at a time, and depended on one another for survival.
August 14, 2014 |
The thunderous boom of modified wheelchairs crashing into one another filled a massive hall at the Convention Center on Tuesday, giving a preview of what's to come across the region in the next few days. As two six-member teams of military veterans in wheelchairs squared off in an exhibition of quad rugby, Mason Symons explained what makes the rugged and fast-paced sport they call "murder ball" special. "This is why I came here," said Symons, a paralyzed Army veteran and native of Pine Grove, Schuylkill County.
August 13, 2014 |
Some saw combat. Some did not. Some were wounded in war. Some were not. Yet all 650 men and women streaming into Philadelphia this week to race one another along the banks of the Schuylkill, or shoot targets, swing bats, swim, or compete for medals at rugby, table tennis, basketball, and soccer have served in the military. And - like Bruce Husted of Marlton, who was thrown from a motorcycle while on active duty in the Navy in 1978 - they all compete in wheelchairs. Their numbers promise to make the 2014 National Veterans Wheelchair Games, which begin Tuesday in Philadelphia and three South Jersey towns, the largest in the Olympic-style games' 34-year history.
August 1, 2014 |
ON LABOR DAY 1998, William Bonie was shot in the back and paralyzed in a holdup in West Philadelphia. He spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair, a condition that might have discouraged a lesser man. Not William Edward Bonie Jr. "That never stopped him from doing what he wanted to do," his family said. "He never had a negative word to say about anyone. He never complained. " William, a Coast Guard veteran and a man of many talents and strong opinions, died July 21 of cardiac arrest.
July 21, 2014 |
COOKIE ROJAS in 1964 was only three seasons into a 16-year, four-team career. But for a while after his playing days had ended, that year and the Phillies' notorious late-season collapse still "seemed like it was yesterday. " As time has worn on, though, and Rojas' family has expanded to include 12 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, the former Phillies' utility man (1963-69) and fan favorite says that oft-discussed season feels much further in the past. A five-time All-Star who also played with the Reds, Cardinals and Royals, Rojas, now 75, went on to manage and coach in the big leagues following his accomplished playing tenure.
July 11, 2014 |
THE USS PASADENA slammed through some of the toughest battles in the South Pacific in World War II. The light cruiser earned six battle stars in engagements against Luzon and Formosa, covered landings for the bitter battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, then hammered military and industrial targets on the Japanese coast in anticipation of an invasion. And Bud Hendrick was there. The invasion never happened, of course. The Japanese surrendered on Aug. 14, 1945, after two atomic bombs destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
July 10, 2014 |
In an accelerated project announced Wednesday by the research arm of the Pentagon, University of Pennsylvania scientists will lead a complex national effort to treat memory impairment by delivering very small doses of electricity to the brain. The agency is funding the $22.5 million, four-year effort to seek treatments for the thousands of returning veterans who have suffered traumatic brain injury. A similar $15 million project is to be led by the University of California, Los Angeles.