The Military Voices Initiative, a StoryCorps' project, collects stories from members of the U.S. armed forces, with a special focus on those who served in post-Sept. 11, 2001, conflicts. Every month, highlights from that initiative air on Weekend Edition Saturday.
Spc. Justin Cliburn, 30, was deployed to Iraq in 2005 with the Oklahoma Army National Guard. His job was to train the Iraqi police in Baghdad. During his time there, he got to know a boy in his early teens named Ali, who walked through their compound one day.
Harvey Hilbert enlisted in the Army in 1964. He was in the infantry, and in January 1966, he was sent to Vietnam to fight. Five months later, his unit was sent into the jungle. That was the last time he fought in Vietnam.
"It was coming on dusk, and we went into what's called a hot landing zone — means we were under fire," Hilbert told StoryCorps. "We jumped off the helicopters and took a position. And then the enemy stopped shooting."
When voters go to the polls in San Diego on Tuesday, many of them will be greeted by Boyd Applegate. The 56-year-old truck driver has worked nearly every election — primaries and general elections — for the past 20 years.
Election Day starts early for Applegate. Around 4 a.m., he piles ballots and election materials into his car and drives the 25 miles to the precinct. Throughout the day, he is greeted by people who recognize him as the guy at the polls, year after year.
Robert Griffo was living the high life at an investment firm on Wall Street when the stock market crashed 25 years ago on Black Monday. Along with the Dow Jones industrial average, Griffo's life tumbled.
Griffo tells StoryCorps he worked with the investment company for 11 years.
"I was making a lot of money," he says. "I used to walk over homeless people at Grand Central Station when they were begging for money, and I'd say, 'You need to get a job.' But I lost myself on Wall Street."
When the market crashed on Oct. 19, 1987, Griffo thought he would be let go.