A Vietnam Veteran and an Orphan Named Ana

C. Douglas Sterner, Vietnam Combat Engineer

The voice of Americas Veterans
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Doug Sterner served 18 months in Vietnam mostly as a combat engineer with the 25th, 1st Cav and 101st Airborne divisions from August 1970 to March 1972. In the latter part of his tour, he served as a writer/photographer for his unit newspapers. Upon his discharge from the Army, Sterner returned to his native Montana before relocating to Colorado. After learning that Pueblo, where he was then living, boasted four Medal of Honor recipients, he and his wife Pam sought a way to recognize them.

In 1998, Doug launched the Home of Heroes website to document the citations and biographies of our Nation’s Medal of Honor recipients. His research led him to expand the site’s mission to include other medal recipients that have been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star and others.

For over 20 years, the site has provided a valuable resource and thereby garnered a huge following from the general public, military departments, news and educational organizations. Legal Help for Veterans, PLLC, one of our sponsors, took over the site in mid-2018.

Doug has also published over 10 books which can be found on Amazon.

Doug Sterner Books

Ana O’Brien “Home Sweet Home”

An email message from Ana who came to the United States as a 3 month old orphan from Seoul, Korea on a Fighting Tiger plane. December 28th, 1958

I was an orphan baby from Seoul, who was brought to this country by the loving, generous hearts of my American parents, by the grace of God and a handful of soldiers who’d get to come home on leave by agreeing to change a few diapers of the one-hundred and one orphans in shoe boxes, lined along the wall of a Flying Tiger airplane.

Among the many families waiting for the plane to land in Portland Oregon was my new and forever mother from Midland Michigan,
Madelene L. Ritenour. I was a Christmas present to my older sister.

Five years ago I happened to visit a house that was for sale. Until I entered, I did not know it was a WWII veteran’s home. As I toured the home I made my way up a narrow, steep flight of stairs. Entering a small, sloped ceiling bedroom, I was struck with all the thoughtfully placed memorabilia from years of a WWII veterans service. Through a small window in the room, I heard fabric snapping and fluttering. The sound drew me to look outside. As I did, I came eye-to-eye with a large American flag waving at the top of a tall pole. I lingered in that room, looking at the old photos and cherished items, wondering what this veteran went through, feeling a heartfelt connection to the life of a man I would never meet.

As my husband and I pulled away from the house, I noticed a small wooden board nailed proudly to the front of the 1920 old farmhouse, the words carved upon it read, Home Sweet Home. I was touched by the whole experience in a way that kept gnawing at me long after returning to my home.

So much so that I sat down the next morning and penned, (being words are my expression because I am a poet/songwriter), a poem which became the lyrics to a song, Home Sweet Home.

Home Sweet Home – Still Free

Written by Ana O’Brien. Accompanied by Randy Vaillancourt, Midland, Michigan.

Home Sweet Home

These ol’ pine floors slope, seemed to have lost my get up n’ go
I’m well on the downhill-side now n’ going faster
Living on a spit of land, 1920 farmhouse of lathe n’ plaster
Please disregard all those disrepairs outside
For inside still reigns a Lord n’ Master

Every morning I go out n’ raise the stars n’ stripes
Saluting those brave souls who still haunt me at night
Some fifty years ago, we were just mere kids
Fighting on foreign soil, in a hell-war, all for one, together
The battle weary, lucky ones who made it out alive
Would come back stateside, changed forever

Now, that ol’ flag waving out my window, I turn to see
Is there keeping those heroes alive in my memory
Those never-to-be-forgotten soldiers who paid the highest price
Just to keep this spit of land I live on n’ me
Still free,
Still free,
Still free.

Dr. Boyd Cooper, WWII (To be rescheduled)

Unlikely Hero Boyd CooperAt age nineteen Jim leaves the sanctity of his little Mormon town and goes to fight in World War II. Jim is made a lead navigator in the army air corps and during his many combat missions over Germany becomes a highly decorated officer. On his return home Jim is lost. He cannot deal with being treated as a hero, for Jim feels responsible for the deaths of his comrades. He suffers from post-traumatic shock syndrome. To escape, he goes into the mountains of northern Idaho in the middle of a snowstorm to find a childhood love. Instead Jim finds himself.

All Gave Some. Some Gave All. Always Remember.

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