Tweeting with the Tuskegee Airmen at Fantasy of Flight

TUSKEGEE, Ala. -- Maj. James A. Ellison returns the salute of Mac Ross of Dayton, Ohio, as he passes down the line during review of the first class of Tuskegee cadets; flight line at U.S. Army Air Corps basic and advanced flying school in 1941. Partial three-quarter left front view from low angle of Vultee BT-13 trainer at left. (U.S. Air Force photo)

They’ve been lionized in literature and films, most recently “Red Tails,” and now Thursday morning several members of the original Tuskegee Airmen will be in Polk City, Florida at Fantasy of Flight for a public forum.

And I will be there too to cover the event live via Twitter. If you can’t make it to the aviation museum to meet these distinguished WWII veterans in person, you can follow their comments and interaction with the audience at the special Twitter hashtag: #TuskegeeTales.

The Tuskegee Airmen scheduled to speak are Leo Gray, 91, of Ft. Lauderdale who served as a consultant on the movie “Red Tails;” Daniel Keel, 89, of Leesburg;  George Hardy, 88, of Sarasota.

The African-American Airmen will talk about their experiences flying bomber cover during WWII while serving in a segregated military. And, they will take questions from the public. Be sure to join me Thursday at 10:30 a.m. (EST) on Twitter at #TuskegeeTales.

Additional forums are planned at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. at Fantasy of Flight, 1400 Broadway Blvd. S.E. Polk City, FL. 33868 (863)984-3500.

Army Mom Uses Websites, YouTube, Facebook to Learn

Graduation from the Armor Basic Officer Leader Course at Fort Benning. Dorie Griggs with her son Nelson and family. Photo by Stanley Leary.

I’m on the steep learning curve on how to become the mom of a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. After four years of being the mom of an Army ROTC cadet at The Citadel, I thought I was pretty aware of the real military process.

I was wrong.

Over the years I have learned how to navigate various military related web sites. In my previous professional positions, I honed my Internet research skills. Those research skills and my drive to learn are coming in handy now.

The past few months, I’ve heard from other mothers of soldiers that they too are learning a lot. We learn more from our own research than from what our sons or daughters tell us directly.

I found great support from other mothers in particular about the various processes. Our children are busy starting their new careers. Many of them are in training that requires them to turn in their cell phones and don’t allow for computer access. It is during these periods, when we can’t hear directly from our own sons or daughters, that we as parents and spouses reach out to each other.

Armor school Basic Officer Leader Course graduating class. Photo by Stanley Leary.

The Army’s Family Readiness Groups (FRG) appears to be most helpful to spouses of military members. So far, I’ve not found them to be particularly helpful to family who do not live near the base. My son is scheduled to be deployed in the fall. I wonder if the FRG will be more helpful at that time.

I’ve found the base websites to be very helpful with back ground information.  During Armor BOLC both the website and the Facebook groups posted updates. The same was true when I researched Ranger School, Reconnaissance Surveillance Leader Course (RSLC), and Airborne School.

I found I could get lost in research on these sites. I also found answers to many of my questions on the various Facebook groups. To find more information on the particular training your soldier is going through, I have had  great success using the search window on the main base website. I used the search window to find the links to the various training pages and Facebook groups listed above.

Airborne soldiers during an exercise. Photo by Stanley Leary.

To find the Facebook group for my sons battalion and regiment, I put 3-69 Facebook in the search window on the main Fort Stewart website.

At Fort Stewart, they have an extensive website and also a variety of Facebook groups. Fort Benning does as well. Through these sites I’ve come to “meet” other parents and staffers who were more than willing to answer my questions.

If you want to find the group for your soldier, enter the base name in the Facebook search window. Once you find a site, you can also check the “Likes” section on the right side of the page to see what other related groups are listed.

YouTube is another source of information that I believe is under utilized by parents. I also know that sometimes you can have too much information. The videos in particular may not be very comforting if you are worried about the training your loved one is going through.

If you’d like find videos about the training or unit your soldier is in just enter the name in the search window of YouTube. I try to watch the videos posted by an official source like this one about the U.S. Army Basic Training.

Airborne graduation. Photo by Stanley Leary.

While my son was in college, he was involved in learning Modern Army Combatives. I found some training videos that helped me understand that discipline. One website gave me the background and another link showed a series of training videos. Now that he is active duty, the other videos I’ve found about the Rangers training, and the U.S. Army Special Forces are ones you need to be ready to watch. I wouldn’t recommend them to someone struggling to come to terms with this extremely challenging career choice.

The greatest gift I have received is the many new friendships, most virtual, that I have formed. Our children are on a path most of us haven’t traveled. The parents with military background help those of us without that experience.

The training we go through as family members isn’t physically grueling, but it is tough emotionally. We have peaks and valleys. The best you can hope for is that the peaks out weigh the valleys. Reaching out to others who understand this dynamic may not literally save your life, but the military family community can ease the stress.

Wounded Warriors Get Help Calculating Compensation

Image: Graeme Weatherston /

The special compensation for wounded service members can now be calculated on a website set up by the Department of Defense.

The Special Compensation for Assistance with Activities of Daily Living stipend calculator is similar to the Pentagon’s Basic Allowance for Housing calculator.

The site allows troops to input their ZIP code and level of care they receive to retrieve a monthly payment amount.

Details are available through

Veterans Train Shelter Dogs to Help Those with PTSD

Photo courtesy of

The use of service dogs to help wounded Veterans is a growing trend. A group of researchers at the University of Missouri are developing a program where veterans living with PTSD are tasked with training shelter dogs that would otherwise be euthanized.

The Mizzou research is called the “Mutual Enrichment – Walking and Training Service Dogs” study. It has three phases as detailed in this EmaxHealth story by Kathleen Blanchard.

The study runs for six months and reportedly there are openings for participates.

Contact information:

Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction, College of Veterinary Medicine, Clydesdale Hall, Annex Two, 900 East Campus Drive, Columbia, MO 65211, Phone 573-882-2266, E-mail:


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