1. What branch of service did you serve and for how long? Tony Durbin: I served in the Army for 2 1/2 years. I served in Vietnam from March 1967-March 1969 with Company A, 70th Combat Engineers. AJ Wiss: U.S. Air Force. I served for four years from March 1967-December 1970. Jennifer Yucaneer: United States Navy Reserve for 6 years. Alan Jones: I served in the United States Marine Corps; retiring at 30 years in 2013. Thomas Bellegante: U.S. Air Force for four years.
2. What does Veterans Day mean to you? Tony Durbin: It’s a time to remember and recognize all those who wore the uniform of our Country. A few years ago, we Vietnam Vets were the youngsters. Now we are rapidly becoming the old timers. AJ Wiss: Veterans Day is the commemoration of those that served their country to purchase the freedom we richly enjoy today. We are not speaking German, Japanese, Spanish, or any language of countries who would have deprived us the freedom earned by those that served and those that died in the defense of our country. Jennifer Yucaneer: Veterans Day to me means to be thankful and appreciative to those who have/are serving, like my parents. Alan Jones: Veterans Day reminds me of WW1, which is what this day originally honored as Armistice Day; the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. It changed in 1954 to Veterans Day. Thomas Bellegante: I get to be a part of a very large group of men and women that were called upon to serve our country in various parts of the world under some not so great conditions.
3. What would you like your kids and grandkids to know about your service that they don’t already know? Tony Durbin: I’ve shown them lots of pictures and told them stories about my time in the service. The reason they wouldn’t know, is because they don’t need to know some things. AJ Wiss: That the service to our country totally changes one's life. It is a wealth of opportunities. It is a chance for education beyond limits. It is a place to be while growing up with a structure and guidance. My grandson served on the USS Carl Vinson for 4 years. Upon discharge he gratuated college, firefighter's school, EMT school and is a productive member of society. The Navy taught him the values. Gramps is very proud. Jennifer Yucaneer: I currently only have fur-children (LOL) but I want my niece and future children to know that the military isn't for everyone.. But it is what you make it, just like any job/career. You use the good days to outweigh the bad and make the best of every day. Alan Jones: That although I spent so much time away from home and I wasn't always there for so many special events, I always thought of them, loved them and missed them. That’s probably the one thing that I didn't mention enough. Military life is much harder when you’re in a unit that can leave at the drop of a hat. You get caught up in the training and the actual deployment. Thomas Bellegante: My service instilled in me a very great respect for our country and we should never take our freedoms and liberties for granted.
4. What did you learn about yourself while serving? Tony Durbin: How I would react in life threatening situations. AJ Wiss: Respect for authority and following orders gave me the understanding of how to proceed when it became my turn to give the orders. Serving in Southeast Asia taught me how to interact with culture so very different than our own. Jennifer Yucaneer: I have learned that I am very versatile and I can roll with the punches, as wild and sporadic as they may be. I also learned that I can accomplish everything I put my mind to. Alan Jones: I learned when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Thomas Bellegante: That when confronted with a very difficult task, it is amazing what you can accomplish when you are part of a team working together. That I was stronger and better when I wasn't by myself.
5. What was the best part about serving your country? Tony Durbin: By far, the men I served with. Lasting friendships with men you only knew for a short time, but you will never forget. AJ Wiss: By far, the men I served with. Lasting friendships with men you only knew for a short time, but you will never forget. Jennifer Yucaneer: The best thing about serving would be the friendships and the bond you make. Nothing compares! Alan Jones: The Marines I served with will always be at the top of my list. My success was not accomplished alone, but by having the best of the best around me; having that Esprit De Corps was evident everyday. Also, knowing that these people were willing to sacrifice so much for this nation and accomplish the mission without fail, are the memories that I'll hold forever. We worked as a team always and stuck together regardless of any obstacles we had to face. Thomas Bellegante: Learning about other cultures and people and discovering that all people everywhere pretty much want the same thing; to live their lives in peace. And I served a country that respected their desire for freedom and was willing to help them achieve it.