May 25, 2014 |
Veda Showers, 84, often gets lost in time. But she finds herself on familiar ground when Debbie Ganci comes through the door. Both Showers and Ganci are military veterans and women of faith. Showers has congestive heart failure, diabetes, and pulmonary issues; Ganci is a pastoral counselor with Holy Redeemer Homecare and Hospice in Runnemede. They've been meeting biweekly for two years at Showers' Mullica Hill home. "Originally, Veda declined a visit. But when she heard I was military, that was my foot in the door," says Ganci, 55, a Presbyterian minister and mother of two. Ganci's specialty is helping veterans and their families cope with terminal illness - and prepare for its inevitable conclusion.
May 14, 2014 |
Among those in the first major battle of the Vietnam War - the Battle of Ia Drang Valley, a struggle that would help set the stage for the rest of the war - was Robert Harvey Gsell, a 20-year-old from Mount Holly. "He didn't go to sleep for nine days," his wife, Geraldine, recalled. "A lot of the things he saw were so horrific. " The November 1965 battle was the first significant contact between American and North Vietnamese forces in a war that would expose Army Pfc. Gsell to bloodshed, some of it involving children.
May 8, 2014 |
BACK IN 1972, Linton Grundy and his wife, Renee, decided to sell everything they owned and take off for faraway places. Often hitchhiking, they toured Europe, then set out for Africa, where they explored a large portion of the continent, catching rides on crowded buses or trains, battling snakes and bugs, unforgiving deserts and monsoon rains. Linton was a Vietnam War veteran who made 50 combat parachute jumps and later joined the Green Berets, and Renee spent years working for Mayors W. Wilson Goode, Ed Rendell and John Street, once in the thankless job of having to respond to every citizen complaint.
April 21, 2014 |
GERALD Miller watched a group of tourists crane their necks from a double-decker bus as it rumbled past the Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial earlier this week. A tour guide's hurried description of the memorial squawked from some speakers. The bus passengers whipped out their phones and captured the moment. Miller, a 'Nam vet, smiled. The plan was working. After nearly a decade of fits and starts, a remodeling effort to make the sometimes forgotten memorial more inviting to the public is now fully underway.
February 26, 2014 |
HAROLD J. COMFORT was accomplished as a city official and an Army combat veteran of Vietnam, but a lot of people might remember him for the Lola Falana incident. Falana, the Philadelphia-raised actress, dancer and singer, was in her hometown in July 1987 for a declaration by then-Mayor W. Wilson Goode Sr. creating "Lola Falana Day. " Comfort, who was the recreation commissioner, hit on the idea of fulfilling what he called one of the mayor's "wildest fantasies" by getting Lola to plant a kiss on Goode's cheek.
December 6, 2013 |
GIVE JUNIUS CLAYTON an old John Wayne Western to watch or a Nat King Cole or Frank Sinatra song to listen to and he was a happy man. Junius, a 22-year veteran of the Marine Corps who served two combat tours in Vietnam, was not just a fan, he was a student. He could tell you the names of cast members in the old movies he loved and sing the lyrics he had memorized from his favorite songs. In addition, Junius had memorized Bible passages, and used them to soothe his own soul and to inspire others, his family said.
October 22, 2013 |
Neuris Richard Feliz, 29, a former power-generation specialist for the U.S. Army, lives in a small apartment above a Lancaster storefront. In the dining room sits his photo in green uniform, against the backdrop of an American flag. On a shelf, a horse-head profile on the yellow shield of his First Cavalry Division. Buried in a closet are the pictures Feliz hides - corpses shredded by Iraqi roadside bombs; forward-operating-base ceremonies for fallen comrades whose lives were memorialized with Battlefield Crosses made from their helmets, boots, and rifles.
October 9, 2013 |
ABC's famous late-'80s show China Beach premiered on April 27, 1988, with a shot of a beautiful young woman in a red one-piece swimsuit, walking across a gorgeous beach. She settles down, facing the ocean, perhaps to catch some rays or read a paperback. Not a minute goes by before everything is turned upside-down: We hear bomb blasts in the distance, the sounds of helicopters closing in, and screams. Men screaming in pain. The woman, Colleen McMurphy, rushes off, leaving the idyllic beach and stepping into what looks like a totally foreign universe - an Army field hospital.
September 29, 2013 |
Jose Aponte, a 20-year Army veteran who served in Desert Storm and Granada, can't sit in dark movie theaters or crowded restaurants without breaking into a sweat. He can't sleep for more than four hours every seven days. At his homecoming party in Pennsauken in 1997, he remembered how he panicked when he heard the township siren. "I yelled, 'Incoming!' and immediately ducked under the table," Aponte said. "People were laughing at me, but they didn't understand. It was serious for me. " Sixteen years after returning home, he still suffers from combat stress - never letting his guard down and always scanning the room.
September 27, 2013 |
A VETERANS GROUP wants to see some of its kind - actual vets - working at Philadelphia's self-described "one-stop shop" for the city's nearly 80,000 veterans. The Veterans Advisory Commission enjoys prime real estate on the first floor of City Hall, but neither of its two full-time employees has served in the military. Ari Merretazon and his faith-based nonprofit group, Pointman Soldiers Heart Ministry, say that could alienate returning soldiers. "There is no greater citizen than someone who is willing to lay down their lives for their fellow citizens and their families," said Merretazon, a decorated Army veteran of Vietnam.