Audio History Interview at the Pritzker Military Museum and Library


On May 18th, I had the privilege of taking part in the Pritzker Military Museum and Library‘s oral history project.

The project seeks to record oral histories of Illinois veterans who served in all branches of the military. After filling out a small application, and emailing back to the museum, I was contacted a couple of weeks later by Teri Embrey of the Museum/Library.

Challenge Coin from the Pritzker Military Museum, Chicago

The museum is located at 104 S. Michigan Avenue, on the corner of Michigan Ave and Monroe St, directly across from the Art Institute of Chicago. Located on the 2nd floor, the library and museum are well stocked, with thousands of books and military memorabilia donated by veterans and their families. The staff at the front desk were very polite and accommodating.

The interview began promptly at 10am. The audio/visual technician, Angel, was very helpful and put me at ease. After performing a sound check, the interview began. The questions were prepared in advance, and as the Q&A session began to gain momentum, I began to relax. I could see that Teri had read my book, Last of the Glow Worms, and had her questions tailored to the knowledge that pertained to my experience, and to my MOS more specifically. She was very professional, and if she could not tell at the time, I was extremely nervous!

After the interview, I was presented with a Pritzker Museum challenge coin. I donated my book and some photo scans of the 64th Ordnance Company, along with certificates I received in the military.

This was my first experience with an interview, and after overcoming my initial fear of speaking about myself with strangers in an intimate setting (I am rather introverted), with Teri’s help I began to relax and open up.

I would suggest to all Illinois veterans to visit the Pritzker Military Museum and Library at least once. They are working very hard to keep our veteran stories alive, for future generations to study and research.


Business Insider’s Misguided Article on Trump and Nuclear Weapons


I came across a fascinating op-ed piece written by Dave Mosher in Business Insider, Trump Wants to make Nuclear Weapons Easier to Use, and that Should Frighten Everyone. 

The piece posits that President Trump’s support of expanding nuclear capabilities may eventually lead to nuclear warfare, or at the very least make it easier for low yield nuclear weapons to be stolen by terrorists.

During the Cold War, the United States had over 5000 nuclear weapons deployed throughout Europe, both intermediate range nuclear missiles (e.g. Pershing 2 and Lance), and artillery fired nuclear projectiles (e.g. the M454 (155mm) and the M422 (203mm). These systems were spread across Europe, from the Dutch Border in the north, to North Italy in the south; and from West Germany in the west, to Turkey in the east. The United States Army was the custodian of the weapon systems; in the event of a Soviet invasion, the weapons would be released to host countries’ artillery and missile units for deployment. The 59th Ordnance Brigade commanded most of the nuke sites (I was with the 64th Ordnance Company, Fischbach, West Germany, which fell under the 197th Ordnance Battalion, 59th Ordnance Brigade), and it’s AOR stretched from Flemsburg, Germany near the Danish border, to Vincenza, Italy. Until 1992, the 59th was the Army’s largest brigade, with over 5000 soldiers assigned to it.

After the decommissioning of the Army’s tactical nuclear weapons stockpile in 1992, the 59th Ordnance Brigade’s mission was completed, and it was reassigned to the United States.

During the almost 50 years that nuclear weapons were deployed in Europe and South Korea, there were zero thefts by terrorists, and zero accidental nuclear explosions. There was a case in 1985, when a Pershing 2 solid fuel motor caught fire, resulting in the deaths of three soldiers. (NY Times article here ). No radiation was released during the accident.

The security at the former nuke sites was performed by the military police, who patrolled the sites in HUMV’s, and guarded over the concrete and steel storage bunkers while perched in watchtowers that circled the complete circumference of the storage site. Add to that volumetric motion sensors and the internal WADS (Weapons Access and Delay System) inside the bunkers themselves, and what we had was an impenetrable fortress that would make stealing a 100 pound nuke artillery shell impossible.

And that was over 25 years ago.

America’s present day nuclear stockpile is less than half of what it was at the peak of the Cold War. Intermediate range nuclear missiles and nuke artillery shells no longer exist. The tactical nukes that the BI article is referring to are gravity bombs, which in layman’s terms means a bomb that falls from a plane to the ground, using it’s weight as it’s propulsion system. They have been tweaked though; as referenced in the BI article, fins and small guidance systems may have been added to improve accuracy to 100ft of the target, which is a remarkable advancement, when compared to an artillery nuke shell with a max range of 15 miles.

Being nuclear capable as a deterrent had stopped the Cold War from becoming “hot”. The rhetoric between the U.S. and North Korea will remain rhetoric, with both leaders strutting for their respective populations.




Cold War Recognition Certificate


The Cold War Recognition Certificate is available for any veteran and government employee who served honorably between Sept. 2nd, 1945 and Dec. 26th, 1991. From the Army HRC website:

In accordance with section 1084 of the Fiscal Year 1998 National Defense Authorization Act, the Secretary of Defense approved awarding the Cold War Recognition Certificate (CWRC) to all members of the armed forces and qualified federal government civilian personnel who faithfully and honorably served the United States anytime during the Cold War era, which is defined as Sept. 2, 1945, to Dec. 26, 1991, are eligible.

The certificate is a nice addition to a shadow box, or a wall of honor. Many young people have little understanding of the Cold War; the anxiety and tension that were prevalent up until the late 1980s. The certificate is a good way to answer those question that the younger generation may have about the military during the Cold War.

Information and the application to apply for the Cold War Certificate can be found on the Army’s HRC (Human Resources Command) website, which can be found here: Army Human Resource Command

While there, a veteran can also search for other awards that may be available. During my search, I found that my unit was awarded the Army Superior Unit Ward in 1992. I applied for a correction of my DD214 on 3/26/17, and still have not received a response. Corrections of records may take up to 12 months, and it seems the Army is using up every bit of that time.

The Nuclear Option with North Korea


When I was in the army in the early ’90s, nuclear weapons were still deployed by the Army in South Korea; artillery fired 155mm and 203mm nuclear shells were maintained as a deterrent to possible North Korean aggression. After the enactment of the INF Treaty, both the United States and Soviet Union decommissioned their respective nuclear artillery shells and intermediate range nuclear missiles. This included the Pershing 2 (United States) and the SS-20 Sabre (Soviet Union). Complete decommissioning was completed by the end of 1992, supposedly to usher in a new era of peace.

25 years later, the threat of North Korea has escalated, especially under the current U.S administration. The youthfulness of Kim Jong Un is reflected in his rash decisions, and the purging of party members within his regime. The executions have included family members among those thought to be lacking in the expected 100% support of the young dictator, regardless of how irrational his thought processes are.

The NorKs threaten a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula, have test fired missiles over Japan, and claim to have developed the technology to hit targets deep within the United States with nuclear warheads. They have threatened for decades, but always seem to fall short when it comes down to actually committing themselves to war. The Clinton and Obama administrations approached North Korean policy cautiously, not wanting to provoke the anger of Kim Jong Il, then after his death, Kim Jong Un. The American policy was much like Chamberlain’s before World War 2, namely that of appeasement. During Clinton, the NorKs promised not to pursue nuclear weapons, and we promised to help them with technology for peaceful nuclear energy. What ended up happening, much to the strange bewilderment of previous administrations, was the weaponizing of the nuclear technology they were provided, which ultimately led to the current situation.

In 2017 Donald Trump took office. The rhetoric escalated, with President Trump promising “Fire and Fury” if the NorKs tested American resolve to the defense of South Korea and Japan. Kim Jong Un had never dealt with a leader who had threatened retaliation, especially if that leader happens to be sitting on the largest nuclear stockpile on the planet. The rhetoric began to slowly fade, with Kim Jong Un poking the stick at the U.S. every couple of weeks to prove to his people that he is still a world player.

But there is one thing holding Kim Jong Un and the NorKs back; power. Absolute, unquestioned power. Kim Jong Un knows that if a war with the ROK and U.S. were to begin, his power would be lost instantly, The NorK government would collapse, though the fanaticism of the people would most likely continue for months, or even years after the fall. Kim Jong Un will not risk his position of power for a war with the ROK and U.S.

The rhetoric will continue. It was always there, and has been since the ’50s. As long as the war of words continues, a war with missiles and gravity bombs will most likely not happen.


Military Veteran Truck Driver Positions


Open truck driving positions are at an all time high in the United States. Large companies such as Swift, C.R. England, J.B. Hunt and Werner are suffering from a high turnover of drivers. Many reasons abound; some want a 9 to 5 job; others want to be home for the weekends. Fact is, when signing on to become an over the road driver, you most likely will not be home for two to four weeks at a time. This can be taxing on a family, and is one of the top reasons drivers leave to pursue other careers.

On the other hand, many are quitting their current positions in other industries to try their hands in trucking. Reasons can vary between wanting to travel the United States and Canada, or to have a sense of freedom from the prying eyes of a boss constantly looking over your shoulder.

The larger companies offer incentives to attract drivers; $2000 sign on bonuses and fully paid health benefits. But the pay may be lower, and when speaking with company drivers from large trucking companies, they complained of the lower pay per mile, and the constant pressure to become a lease owner-operator. Leasing to own a truck can bring down a driver’s weekly pay as low as $800-$900 per week.

Former army 88M’s, and drivers from the other branches can find driving positions rather easily once they ETS. While the larger companies pay less, smaller trucking companies usually offer a higher per-mile pay. I know of guys making $2000-$2500 per week driving (but they really pushed hard).

If you are soon to, or already ETS’d, and you are looking for a driving job, contact me. Location does not matter.



Illinois Veterans Grant


The Illinois Veteran Grant was implemented as a tool for returning veterans to attend to public colleges and universities in Illinois at no cost. The program allows for a veteran, regardless of time separated from the military, and who was discharged under honorable conditions, to receive a 4 year education, with the State of Illinois picking up the tab. Of course, there are stipulations;

To be eligible for the Illinois Veteran Grant, a student must:

  • Meet one of the following two criteria:
    • Have served at least one year of federal active duty service in the Armed Forces of the United States, which may include the Illinois National Guard and the Reserve component of the Armed Forces, or
    • Regardless of length of service, have served in a foreign country in a time of hostilities in that country; was medically discharged for service related reasons; or was discharged prior to August 11, 1967.
  • Have received an honorable discharge (general discharge under honorable conditions is not eligible) for each period of federal active duty service, and/or be honorably serving.**  Contact information is available for Illinois military personnel who need to request a copy of the DD214 (equivalent to the DD214 Member 4).
  • Not be a member of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC).
  • Meets one of the following two criteria:
  • Meets one of the following two criteria:
    • have established, or plan to establish, Illinois residency within six months after leaving federal active duty service, or
    • if married to a person  in continued military service:
      • have applied for this grant within six months after and including the date that the spouse was stationed within Illinois, or
      • if the spouse was stationed outside Illinois, have established or plan to establish Illinois residency within six months after and including the date the spouse separated .
  • Reside in Illinois unless the student is serving federal active duty service at the time of enrollment in college or residing with a spouse in continued military service who is currently stationed outside of Illinois.
  • Not be in default on any student loan, nor owe a refund on any state or federal grant.

In order to receive benefits, qualified applicants must be enrolled at an Illinois public 2- or 4-year college and maintain the minimum grade point average (GPA) required by that college.

*If the student receives benefits from the IVG Program while serving on federal active duty service, upon discharge the student will be required to verify that service has been characterized as honorable.


I have used the program in the past. I suggest all Illinois veterans take advantage of the program, before funding runs out.

VA Suspends Veteran ID Card Application Process


The VA has suspended the process to apply for the newly issued Veterans ID Card.

After waiting decades for a form of veteran identification to be approved and released by the government, veterans rushed to the site to apply, causing such a backlog that the VA had to shut the process down.

During most of it’s history, the VA only issued ID cards to disabled vets, military retirees and

their families. States began to offer a endorsement on states IDs and drivers licenses that had the word “veteran” printed somewhere on the ID, as a small recognition for veterans. This made shopping at Lowes (10% discount for vets) and eating at Applebees (free meal on Veterans Day) easier; the vet no longer had to walk around with a paper DD214 in his/her pocket, they could just pull out a drivers license.

If you still want to apply, go to and enter your email address. They will contact you when the application process starts up again.

Cold War Service Medal Act


Earlier this year, representative David Young(R-IA) introduced House Bill H.R.1419, which would issue a Cold War Service medal based on the following conditions:

This bill authorizes the military department concerned to issue the Cold War Service Medal to members of the Armed Forces who: (1) served on active duty for at least 24 consecutive months during the Cold War (September 2, 1945, through December 26, 1991), (2) were deployed outside the continental United States for at least 30 days during such period, (3) were members of a reserve component of the Armed Forces and were called or ordered to active duty to participate in exercises or operations directly related to the Cold War, or (4) performed other Cold War service as DOD may prescribe. Any such person who is already discharged or released from the Armed Forces shall be eligible only if the discharge or release was under honorable conditions.

This bill has been introduced many times, and has been shot down each and every one of them. Reasons included cost (estimated in the tens of millions), and the fact that the National Defense Medal was introduced in the 1980s as a sort of surrogate medal for soldiers who were never deployed to war zones.

A medal should be awarded to the veterans of the Cold War, who lived under constant threat of nuclear annihilation with the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact. Some have gave their lives, including Major Arthur D. Nicholson, who was shot and killed by a Soviet sentry in Germany. He is regarded as being the last official casualty of the Cold War.

This medal is long in the making. All veterans, whether Cold War era or not, please contact your representative for your district and ask them to support H.R. 1419.

Use this link to find your elected representative.

Veterans Should not be Deported


I came across a website called the Deported Veterans Support House, and was astounded by what I read. I did not realize that undocumented people in the United States could sign up for the military, but they did. After being deployed to war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, these men and women came back home, only to face deportation. The U.S. government, instead of granting them automatic citizenship after their honorable service, decided to send them back home. This is from their website:

The mission of the Deported Veterans Support House in Tijuana is to support deported veterans staying at the “Bunker” on their path to self-sufficiency by providing assistance in the realms of food, clothing, and shelter as they adjust to life in their new country of residence. Ultimately, we hope to see an end to the need of our services as we advocate for political legislation which would prohibit the deportation of United States Veterans , both former and current. We advocate for Veterans & their families.

I feel for these veterans, our brothers and sisters in arms, who have been literally thrown away after their service. They need our support.

Book Sales for Last of the Glow Worms


Since being published, my book, Last of the Glow Worms: Memoir of a Nuclear Weapons Technician at the End of the Cold War has fluctuated in rankings on Amazon. The recent events in North Korea have brought the threat of nuclear once again into the minds of Americans, just as it had during the Cold War. I saw a spike in the book rankings a few days ago, when North Korea launched their most advanced missile system to date.

I have learned that news and popular sentiment do have an effect on what people are reading. Holidays are also a good time for book sales. If you are an author, try to schedule your sales promotions and KDP giveaways (if on Amazon) around the holidays. I found out this marketing strategy worked when I published my first book, When Giants Speak in 2011. I had 400 downloads in a day, and every page read does count towards your money earned with the KDP worldwide fund.