Veterans In Their Own Words: Sharing Stories of Military Service

PERRY, Iowa -- At Perry’s Veterans Day event there were speakers, singers, and of course Veterans. At Perry, they gave the microphone to six veterans or active military service members to talk about their life around serving.

Panelists were asked about how their decision to go into the military was received by their family members.

"My father’s a WWII Veteran, and he called me at school, ( Iowa State) and he said we got a letter here from the draft board,” said Dennis Applehons, a US Army Veteran. “When I came home that weekend, we opened it, and it said congratulations, you’ve been selected to serve your country.”

"So I was still 17 when I talked to the recruiter, and decided I was going to go Navy, “ said Rachael Peeler, who served on an aircraft carrier. “I was still 17 when I signed my original paperwork, but I didn’t actually leave for boot camp until I turned 18, that was the first time that I saw my Dad cry.”

“I wasn’t the best of kids growing up, I was a juvenile delinquent,” said Ron Lieber, a US Army Veteran. “I had a choice between military or reform school.” He added that it was a hard choice for his Mom to make, but the right one.

The veterans were also asked to talk about communicating with family. Over the years soldier communication has improved much, but social media means there is not a written record of communication with soldiers to families.

“Since I ended up in 4 different hospitals, it was probably 4-5 months before I got any mail, “ said Mahon Conway, who was in the Army in WWII.

“By the time I did my first deployment, in 2000-2001 we wrote letters but I also had the opportunity to do voice IP,” said Mark Newhall, who served in the National Guard. “So I could use the headset on a computer program so I could have a phone conversation with my wife.”

“We’d keep in contact, Rachael deployed and mobilized as a reservist, for a year and we were separated, but we had Facebook and phone calls every night,” said William Peeler, who is still active US Army. “She would still send letters, and yes, I kept all the letters.”