Military Voices Initiative

3:52am

Sat July 13, 2013
StoryCorps

Brothers Lost On Deployment; Sister Mourns 'Soul Mates'

Originally published on Sat July 13, 2013 11:22 am

Monica Velez and her two brothers, Freddy (left) and Andrew, in 1996. Freddy died in Iraq in 2004, and Andrew died in Afghanistan in 2006.
Courtesy of Monica Velez

Cpl. Jose "Freddy" Velez served in Iraq. His brother, Spc. Andrew Velez, deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Both died in their early 20s. They are survived by their sister, Monica.

"My mom left us when I was 7, so my dad was a single parent," Monica says. "And I did all the household chores. I got the boys dressed for school, I taught them how to ride their bike, I taught them how to read and write."

One of her favorite memories is when both brothers came back from basic training and told her she could no longer be bossy.

Read more

11:54am

Sat May 25, 2013
StoryCorps

Sole Survivor: Iraq Rescue Mission Ended In Tragedy

Originally published on Tue June 4, 2013 1:52 pm

In 2005, Lance Cpl. Travis Williams lost his squad to an IED. He was the only survivor.
StoryCorps

Lance Cpl. Travis Williams, 29, is an Iraq War veteran — and the only post-9/11 Marine to lose every other member of his 12-man squad. It happened in August 2005, when Williams and his teammates were sent on a rescue mission in Barwanah, Iraq.

"That morning, we loaded into the vehicle," Williams recalls. "And I get tapped on the shoulder, and I got told that I need to bounce up to the next vehicle. I said, 'Catch you guys on the flipside.' And that was the last thing I ever said to them."

Read more

6:32am

Sat April 13, 2013
StoryCorps

A Pianist's Ultimate Sacrifice: Giving It All To Go To War

Originally published on Sat April 20, 2013 2:25 pm

Staff Sgt. Daniel Hodd on deployment in Anbar Province, Iraq, 2008.
Courtesy of Daniel Hodd

In 2001, Daniel Hodd was 17 and starting a promising career as a concert pianist. But he also wanted to become a U.S. Marine.

"At 3 years of age, you walked over to the piano, and you just started playing," Evelyn Hodd tells her son.

He played until he was 17 and performed in the Metropolitan Opera Theater. Juilliard offered him a scholarship. But Daniel decided to go to the military instead. He enlisted in 2002 and deployed to Iraq in 2003.

"That was devastating for me. And then, you had an accident," his mother says.

Read more

3:42am

Sat March 9, 2013
StoryCorps

Returning From Duty, Finding Families' Embrace

Originally published on Sat March 9, 2013 10:29 am

Luke and Mark Radlinski reunite at the airport after Mark's deployment in 2007.
Courtesy of Luke Radlinski

StoryCorps' Military Voices Initiative records stories from members of the military who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of the participants in this project have been speaking about being separated from their loved ones.

This week, Weekend Edition is featuring two stories of families reuniting after deployment.

Brothers' Bond

Both of the Radlinski brothers served in the Navy. Luke deployed in 2001 to the Persian Gulf in support of the conflict in Afghanistan. His brother, Mark, went to Iraq in 2006.

Read more

3:20am

Sat February 16, 2013
StoryCorps

In Loving Memory Of A Wife, Daughter And Fallen Soldier

Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 2:20 pm

Tracy Johnson and her mother-in-law, Sandra Johnson.
StoryCorps

North Carolina National Guardsman Tracy Johnson is an Iraq War veteran and an Army widow.

She is also one of the first gay spouses to lose a partner at war since the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell."

On Feb. 14, 2012, Tracy married her longtime partner, Staff Sgt. Donna Johnson. But eight months later, Donna was killed by a suicide bomber while serving in Khost, Afghanistan.

Read more

Pages