Veterans and active servicemembers on who they’ll remember this Memorial Day

The World

Over the past week, we have been talking to current and former servicemen and women. We reached nearly two dozen, and we asked them all the same question: Who are you remembering this Memorial Day?

We expected that no two answers would be the same. But in fact, two of them were.

Brandy Wight and Zachary Barnes, who served as medics in Afghanistan, said they are remembering Sgt. Roger Pena from Texas. Their answers illustrated what a small world the military can be sometimes. The Takeaway first heard Sgt. Pena’s story after First Lt. Kristen L. Rouse memorialized him last year on The Takeaway website.

Kal Wagenheim, who served in the army from 1954 – 1956 says he’ll honor his great uncles: Murrey Shamburgh and Carl Shamberg, who served in WWI and WWII respectively.

Michigan National Guard Staff Sergeant Mark Steven Waluzak says he’ll remember his father, a WWII veteran who explained war to his son saying, “It’s not like the movies. Every man’s got a little rabbit in him. If the moment’s right, you do what you’re trained to do and that’s what you pray to do.”

Many of the men and women we spoke to will be thinking about friends they’ve lost in Iraq and Afghanistan: Matt Gallagher remembers four friends who were killed in Iraq. Joe Sturm will remember three men from his batallion who were killed in Afghanistan.

David Lavallee of Massachusetts, who was served with the US Air Force during the Vietnam War remembers a friend who made it through Vietnam, but passed away of an illness not long ago. They lost touch for thirty years before being reunited by, as Lavallee calls it, “the magic of the internet.”

Mary Galeti and Gina Corcoran will be thinking of their husbands on Memorial Day. Mary’s husband Russell is with the Ohio Army National Guard in Afghanistan. He’s helping to train the Afghan National Army. Gina Corcoran, who served in the army herself from 1996 – 2000, will be thinking of her husband Brian. He’s serving in Afghanistan as well.

First Lt. Kristen L. Rouse is in Afghanistan, and she shares her reflections on another year at war.

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