A Wish To Reconnect A WWII Vet with His Battle Buddies

Photo taken from John Knowles Facebook page.

Photo taken from John Knowles Facebook page.

Do you know this man?

Picture him much younger – in his teens – dressed in a WWII Army uniform on the battle lines in North Africa and Italy.

A relatively new veterans group, Team Red, White & Blue, has issued a social media challenge to its members to help this World War II Army veteran who wants to re-connect with his old war buddies.

He’s looking for anyone who fought in North Africa and Italy with the 34th Infantry Division, 125th Regiment, 3rd Battalion, I-Company.

The quest of Private First Class John Knowles, now living in Georgia, was posted on Facebook August 11, 2015. Since Team RWB took it on, the Facebook entry has had 8 shares and 40,000 views.

But that number can be doubled if you’re willing to share this link and the story of the 91-year-old who hasn’t seen anyone from his unit since he was injured in the war and returned home.

“To meet some of the people from my squad or my company or my platoon, I would love that. I would love to communicate with them. We’re all getting old so I don’t know whether any of them is even living or not,” he told a reporter with WSBTV.com in Atlanta.

CENTCOM Twitter and Facebook Accounts Hacked

(March 22, 2013) Members of the joint U.S. Central Command stand at attention as Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and CENTCOM commanders do the ceremonial "Passing of the Colors."

(March 22, 2013) Members of the joint U.S. Central Command stand at attention as Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and CENTCOM commanders do the ceremonial “Passing of the Colors.”

Either a group or an individual claiming to be a part of the Islamic State (ISIS), hacked two social media accounts belonging to US Central Command, which oversees Department of Defense operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and the rest of the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, according to Politico.

The first tweet following the hack read, “AMERICAN SOLDIERS, WE ARE COMING, WATCH YOUR BACK. ISIS,” and linked to a longer statement threatening American soldiers and their families. The hackers also targeted Centcom’s YouTube page, posting ISIS propaganda videos.

The attacks happened earlier in the day as President Barack Obama was emphasizing the importance of cyber security to keep citizens safe from identity theft. As of 1:15 p.m., Politico reports that Twitter has suspended the CENTCOM account. The YouTube account also is suspended.

New Twitter Hashtag – #VetQ – for Veterans’ Questions

vetq1Do you want to learn more about veteran benefits or are you curious about adaptive sports?

If you can ask your question in 140 characters or less, tweet it to #VetQ on Twitter.

The new social media campaign is a collaborative effort between the Department of Veterans Affairs and seven Veteran Service Organizations which includes  Paralyzed Veterans of America.

The hashtag – #VetQ – will identify the question and allow the VA and partner organizations to answer it and promote their services. The idea is that more than one of the veteran service organizations will answer questions giving veterans a range of possible answers for their individual needs.

“I am excited at the prospect of using social networking to educate veterans, dependents, and caregivers on VA benefits,” Sherman Gillums, Jr., associate executive director of veterans benefits for Paralyzed Veterans of America, stated in the VA blog. “The #VetQ initiative will provide a dynamic forum to engage stakeholders in real time, which will help VA deliver timelier services. Additionally, it gives veterans service organizations like Paralyzed Veterans of America an opportunity to partner with VA in the effort to close transition gaps for Post-9/11 service members and their families.”

The VA digital team said over time, common questions and answers will likely be categorized on a frequently asked questions page.

The other VSOs collaborating on #VetQ are Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, the Home Depot Foundation, Student Veterans of America, Team Red, White & Blue, and the American Legion.

Free Linkedin Lessons for Military, Veterans, and Family

linked inA navigator is ready to guide interested veterans and military in the Tampa Bay area in setting up an effective profile, networking and job hunting all on the social media tool Linkedin.

Julie McAdoo, former Air Force Officer and Navigator ( www.Linkedin.com/in/juliemcadoo76 ), and Nancy Laine, an independent LinkedIN Trainer ( www.Linkedin.com/in/nancylaine ), are offering a Project Transition USA Linkedin workshop this Thursday (April 4, 2013).

Their mission is to show veterans and military who are looking for a job how to use Linkedin in their search. The workshop is scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Insurance Office of America (IOA),, 2nd Floor, 4915 West Cypress St., Tampa.

It is free for all military members, veterans and immediate family members. Topics to be covered include:

  • How to showcase the skills employers want
  • Building a network that will get you hired
  • Job searching techniques on LinkedIN.com
  • How to connect with influential people who share your interests

Space is limited to 30, so pre-registration is required. Email Julie Mcadoo as soon as possible at julie.mcadoo76@gmail.com or call 813-362-0600 to register. The team has conducted the same workshop for transitioning military at MacDill Air Force Base and at a recent veterans job fair.

Help Celebrate 250,000 Visitors Reading Your Stories

Off the Base creator, Bobbie O’Brien, at the controls of a C-17 Globemaster III, thanks to the generosity of the pilot, Maj. Gaulin, and the 621st Contingency Response Wing, based at McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey.

On a Saturday afternoon in October 2010 – this blog was created as part of my Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism 2010-2011.

My deepest thank you to Mrs. Carter and to my many contributors and readers.

Off the Base has thrived and surpassed the milestone of 250,000 views – in just over two years.

Giving Thanks

The success is due to writing and photos from contributors such as Army spouse Jackie Dorr. Her first blog post: Five Years, Two Kids and Four Deployments Later.

Thanks to Dorie Griggs‘ insight and research – a lot more parents understand what their son is experiencing at the Citadel. One of Dorie’s biggest challenges now: A Citadel Mom Marks Her Son’s Transition to Army. Her son deploys soon.

Tracie Ciambotti shared so much of her heart as her son served multiple tours in Afghanistan and she got her daughter-in-law to contribute. Tracie wrote several entries and penned a book about her journey: Battles of the Heart: Boot Camp for Military Moms.

There are many more contributors including some I’ve yet to meet. But, a thanks is also due to Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Rex Temple – for our joint radio series My Last Tour (the inspiration for this project) – and to his wife Liisa who helped me establish the blog and contributed: What I Wish I Had Known About Military Retirement.

What You Can Do

The mission was and continues – to give voice to veterans, active duty military and their families  and help civilians better understand military life and tradition.

Help celebrate your veterans and military – share your story with Off the Base. How do you recognize Veterans Day – will you:

  • visit a VA Hospital
  • stop by a military cemetery
  • send a thank you note to a veteran you know

Veterans what is the most memorable thing a civilian did to acknowledge you and your service? Send me your suggestions and stories at bobrien@wusf.org or write them in the comments section.

Thank you — your stories are being read and shared!

A PTSD Family Support Group: Battling BARE

Photo courtesy of Battling BARE Facebook page.

I learned about the organization, Battling BARE,  through a wife’s letter published by Business Insider: Military & Defense. Heather Goble is a Navy spouse and has been married for nine years. Her letter is the first of a series being published:

Dear PTSD,

Before you came into my life, I had heard rumors. Back then, no one really spoke about you unless it was in hushed whispers. No one knew for sure what you looked like – but I heard you did unspeakable things… that you crept into bed with husbands and seduced them away from their unsuspecting wives.

I also heard that you drank. A lot. I heard sometimes you could be two places at once – physically in one place but mentally elsewhere. It was also said that you were a liar, home wrecker, careless and violent… that sometimes you would take your mounting anger out on walls or whatever or whomever happened to get in your way.

… I believed those rumors and I certainly never invited you into my life.

But you came anyway…

Battling BARE warns that it may be a little unconventional – but the organization is focused on the battle to heal the invisible wounds of their loved ones with post traumatic stress disorder.

Part of that battle is raising awareness. So, they share photos that catch attention. Many include their common pledge:

Broken by Battle
Wounded by War

My Love is Forever –
To you this I swore

I Will –
Quiet your silent screams
Help Heal your shattered soul
Until once again
My Love

    You are whole
Ash Wise started Battling BARE out of the frustration of not knowing what else to do to help her husband with PTSD. She found similar stories from other spouses at Fort Campbell. All didn’t want to quit on their marriages – so they choose to battle back. You can read more about her story and the organization HERE.

Military Spouse Learns of Husband’s Death on Facebook

Ariell Taylor-Brown (Photo courtesy NBC4i.com)

It’s happening more often with the growth of social media – a military family learns of the death of a loved one before official notice.

This time it was Ariell Taylor-Brown who learned of the death of her husband, Staff Sgt. Christopher Brown, two hours before Army soldiers arrived at her home with the official notice according to Columbus, Ohio station NBC4:

“I was told via Facebook,” said Taylor-Brown. “It was a girl in his platoon. She wrote to me and told me to call her immediately,” Taylor-Brown said.

Taylor-Brown called her, and the soldier told her of the death. Taylor-Brown, who has two children and is pregnant with the couple’s third was at home alone with the kids.

She told me over the phone, right in front of my kids and I completely had a meltdown. She wasn’t supposed to but I guess she took it on her own power to do it,” she said.

Staff Sgt. Brown had been in Afghanistan just a week, starting his fourth deployment, when he  was killed. Brown, was killed April 3 in Afghanistan after he died of wounds suffered in an IED attack according to milblogging.com.

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