Thomas A. Hunt

U.S. Army 1954–1956

While lying in bed at night, Thomas Hunt would hear squadrons of bombers fly over his home in New Canaan, Conn., and knew the types of planes from the engine sounds they made. This is just one of the stories Tom recollects about his boyhood days before and during World War II. He talks about his brother, Bob, who served in the Marines and was wounded at Okinawa, and about his own experiences serving the U.S. Army in West Germany during the Cold War in the 1950s.

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Joyce T. Hubbard

U.S. Navy 1961–1963

Joyce Tartarini grew up in Natick and upon graduation from Natick High School, and inspired by JFK’s message to “ask what you can do for your country,” she and her twin brother enlisted in the Navy. Training as a corp-WAVE (medic) she was stationed in Charleston, SC. After marrying she became a military wife and found that they were treated almost as second-class citizens. While her husband was serving in Vietnam she would receive threatening phone calls in the middle of the night. He finished his military service in 1980, and the couple moved to Florida. Their son served in the Navy and their grandson is now serving in Iraq.

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Dan Hubbard

U.S. Army 1956–1960
U.S. Marine Corps 1960–1980

 

Dan Hubbard was born and raised in West Virginia. He served four years in the Army from 1957-61, went back to civilian life and decided it wasn’t for him. So he joined the Marines. Dan talks about his 20-plus year military career in both branches, including his two tours in Vietnam. Dan also talks about the way the military was treated by the media and the public in the 1960s.

 

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Debra Freed

U.S. Air Force 1981–1985

Debra Freed joined the Air Force in 1981 to do something new and for a chance to travel. She became a jet engine mechanic and was stationed in Japan when two falls seriously injured her back. She completed her tour of duty and was honorably discharged in 1985, but her injuries eventually confined her to a wheelchair. Freed has become an advocate for fellow veterans seeking medical care. She is currently the executive director of the New England chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

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Gary Donato

U.S. Navy 1972–1994

Two years into college, with a sense of patriotism and a longing to travel, Gary Donato decided to join the Navy – a decision that would bring him up the ranks from Nuclear Machinist Mate to Lieutenant in a twenty-two year career in the Submarine Force, spanning the Vietnam era through the Cold War. He recounts “war games” played with the Russians and speaks of the difficulties of losing shipmates to accidents and suicide. Under the guidance of a tough-minded Master Chief, Gary began as a machinist mate and through his career was able to take advantage of opportunities to further his education. This enabled him to take on leadership roles while on duty on the USS Sturgeon (SSN637), Pargo (SSN650), Rayburn (SSBN635), Russell (SSN687), Kamehameha (SSBN642), and Nevada(SSBN733).

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Albert C. DelMonte

U.S. Army 1955–1956

Born in Newton, Al DelMonte grew up during World War II. He remembers food rationing, blackouts and “gasless Sundays.” After high school graduation in 1952, he worked in the local A&P until he was drafted into the US Army in 1955 and was trained in fire direction and then transported to Korea. Assigned to Baker Battalion, 7th Division Artillery, DelMonte was sent to Munsan, five miles south of the DMZ, where he became part of an eight-man unit manning a Howitzer aimed at Panmunjom, North Korea, 12 miles away. Living conditions were rough, living in tents and then a bunker dug into the side of a hill. Time passed relatively quickly until he returned to California in July 1956 and was discharged the following month. Mr. DelMonte ended his interview with the remarks that the Army taught him discipline and respect for everything.

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Maurice Chapnik

U.S. Army 1953–1955

Nazis invaded Maurice Chapnik’s home town of Mons, Belgium when he was seven. Surviving under Nazi occupation, his family hid that they were Jewish and helped people escaping the Third Reich. Maurice’s older brother, Jacques, joined the Resistance and the last the family heard was that he had been captured in France and been sent to Auschwitz. When the Liberation came, Chapnik felt a debt of gratitude that he would try to pay back the rest of his life. After moving to America, he was drafted to serve in Korea, but the Army decided that his skills were better suited as an interpreter in France. Chapnik took the oath of allegiance to the U.S. in the same building in Poitiers, France, where his brother was last known to have been.

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John Filios

U.S. Air Force 1942–1967

John Filios grew up in Westfield, one of 10 children of Italian immigrants. During World War II, he worked in Fall River assembling munitions. He joined the Air Force in 1942, shortly after the Japanese attacked Guam and Wake Island. He was trained to be a radio operator, and would eventually help test and maintain radar installations during the Cold War.

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