Michigan Stories of Service
Explore stories of courage and sacrifice from Michiganders who served in the armed forces.
“Privilege to Wear the Cloth of My Nation”
James Robert Redford is a 28-year Veteran of the U.S. Navy. “-Our Veterans have carried the burden of freedom for our nation. Our Veterans, our sisters and brothers who have worn the cloth of this nation, have served in some of the most dangerous paces that the world has ever known. But to a person they have sacrificed for themselves, their shipmates, for their soldiers, marines and airmen to their right and to their left, but also for us.”
Stories in Their Own Words
Every veteran has their own story to tell. Here you can dive into personal stories of veterans from across Michigan who served in branches of the military during different wars.
World War II Army Veteran George Yancho
World War II Army Veteran George Yancho served in four major battles, including the Battle of the Bulge. He was an engineer who built roads, including ones for Patton’s tanks. George Patton’s US 5th Division crossed the Rhine River during the night of March 22, 1945, establishing a six-mile deep bridgehead after capturing 19,000 demoralized German troops.
Operation Babylift Survivors: Phil Wise and Greg Gmerek
On April 4th 1975, a C5-A Galaxy carrying orphans, from Vietnam at the fall of Saigon, crash landed in a rice paddy near, Tan Son Nhut Air Base. Almost two hundred men, women, children and babies were killed in the crash. Watch the story of this fatal crash and the aftermath from two survivors, U.S. Air Force Veterans Phil Wise and Greg Gmerek.
U.S. Army Veteran Jim McCloughan – Medal of Honor Recipient
Jim McCloughan was an Army Medic during the Vietnam War, McCloughan distinguished himself during 48 hours of close-combat fighting against enemy forces. Despite being wounded multiple times he refused to be evacuated. He saved the lives of 10 fellow soldiers. It took nearly fifty years for McCloughan to be recognized for his bravery and become a recipient of the Medal of Honor. The Medal of Honor (MOH) is the United States government’s highest and most prestigious military decoration.
U.S. Navy Veteran Dave Fix – U.S.S. Forrestal Fire
U.S. Navy Veteran Dave Fix was stationed aboard the U.S.S. Forrestal. On 29 July 1967, a fire broke out on board the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal after an electrical anomaly caused a Zuni rocket on a F-4B Phantom to fire, striking an external fuel tank of an A-4 Skyhawk. The flammable jet fuel spilled across the flight deck, ignited, and triggered a chain-reaction of explosions that killed 134 sailors and injured 161. At the time, Forrestal was engaged in combat operations in the Gulf of Tonkin, during the Vietnam War.
U.S. Marine Veteran Carroll Braxton – World War II Veteran
U.S. Marine Veteran Carroll Braxton was an original Montford Point Marine. They are the first African-Americans to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps after President Franklin Roosevelt issued an Executive Order establishing the Fair Employment Practices Commission in June 1941. The recruits trained at Camp Montford Point in Jacksonville, NC. Braxton was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of his sacrifice and service to his country during World War II.
U.S. Army Nursing Corps Veteran Irene Hosking – World War II Veteran
100 year old Irene Hoskings was stationed in Brisbane Australia during World War II. Her brother was a Pearl Harbor survivor and she was determined to enter the war and do her part. Nurses worked closer to the front lines than they ever had before. Within the “chain of evacuation” established by the Army Medical Department during the war, nurses served under fire in field hospitals and evacuation hospitals, on hospital trains and hospital ships, and as flight nurses on medical transport planes.
UMOJA: From Here to Eternity Documentary
“UMOJA,” by award-winning filmmaker Justin R. Brown, is the heartwarming story of Frank-Antoine Marzin and his quest to find the missing pieces in his life. Marzin was born in Vietnam but put up for adoption soon after birth. He was adopted by a French couple and grew up happily in Northern France, but always wondered who his birth parents were as he speculated and searched for over four decades. Through the miracle of DNA, he finally discovered his father, Vietnam Veteran Asamu Johnson, living in western Michigan. Now the two are meeting for the first time in person in what is sure to be a moment of eternity.
Web Extra: Asamu’s Perspective
An interview with Vietnam Veteran Asamu Johnson, moments before he meets his son for the first time.
PBS Documentary Series - American Veteran
America has nearly 18 million living military veterans, from the “Greatest Generation” to men and women coming home from recent tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. They join the now-silent ranks of American veterans reaching back to our earliest conflict, the Revolutionary War.
American Veteran illuminates the veteran experience with a stunning range of voices from today and across the arc of American history.
Support Provided By
Michigan Veteran Affairs Agency
The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency offers the following resources to veterans and their families:
Sesame Street for Military Families
As many as 700,000 children under the age of five have a parent in the military, Sesame Street offers resources to military families, its also has an app on Android or iPhone