Ohio Veterans Oral History Project

The Ohio Veterans Oral History Project is an ongoing initiative of the Ohio History Connection to collect and preserve the stories of Ohio’s veterans. The Ohio History Connection believes that every veteran’s story is important and shows different aspects of military service and sacrifice, so we are collecting veterans’ stories of their military experiences to make them available for future generations. We have partnered with the National Veterans Memorial and Museum and Honor Flight Columbus to locate veterans interested in participating in the project. These histories help inform designers working for the Ohio Veterans Memorial and Museum and some will be used in the memorial and museum itself.

All Veterans, whether they served during World War II or the war in Afghanistan and from any branch of service are welcome to participate.  The only criteria is that the veteran has some connection with Ohio. They might be an Ohio native from birth or have settled here later in life.  This opens the collection to people of diverse backgrounds and heritages.  Being from different branches means the experiences themselves vary drastically, including front-line infantry, pilots, engineers, medical personnel, psyops, and many others.  Despite this, the stories they tell all reflect the nature of military service: the honor, sacrifice, and patriotism common in the United States military.  We have organized these oral histories based on branch of service, listing those with the earliest service at the top.

Please Note: Oral histories are to be considered historical materials. As such, they may contain offensive language, ideas or negative stereotypes reflecting the culture or language of a person, period or place. The Ohio History Connection is presenting these items as part of the historical record.


Army Veterans

Michael and Regina Quinn

Regina Quinn was born in November of 1930 to a family with a significant military tradition. Her older brother, a military veteran, swore her into the Army in December of 1952. Regina went to Fort Benning, Georgia where she trained to be a nurse. Michael Quinn was born at Fort Sam Houston in 1928. His father was an Army Colonel and a Japanese POW in the Philippines during World War II. Michael joined the Marine Reserves where he served for two years before he was accepted to the Army ROTC program at the University of Kansas. He transferred to Fort Benning, Georgia so that he would be eligible to be deployed to Korea. At Fort Benning Regina and Michael met and got married before Michael was transferred to Japan with the 187th Infantry Regiment. Regina worked as an Army nurse in Fukuoka, Japan and at Camp Wood until her pregnancy progressed to the point she couldn't wear her uniform. Michael served as the P and A officer until he returned to the United States and joined the National Guard in 1955. He transferred to Columbus, Ohio where he joined the Army Reserves Special Forces. Michael and Regina have continued the tradition of military service through their children and grandchildren, many of whom are still serving today.

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Joseph H. Byrne

Joseph H. Byrne was born in 1932 in Columbus, Ohio. He was drafted into the Army in November of 1952 as support for the Korean War. After 18 weeks of training at Camp Breckenridge, Kentucky he was sent to Korea with the 7th Division Mortar Platoon, 1st Battalion. He was stationed on the 38th parallel in an active combat zone, because of this, he was able to return to the United States within 9 months. He returned to Fort Carson, Colorado where he was discharged. He has an amazingly positive viewpoint of a difficult time in his life.

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Marvin Shrimplin

Marvin Shrimplin was born in Marion, Ohio in June of 1942. Rather than be drafted he enlisted in the United States Army Field Artillery School. He trained on 105mm Howitzers at Fort Sill in Oklahoma and found that he was good at fire direction center, which became his position on the field artillery team. Shrimplin was deployed to Quảng Yên, Vietnam with the 7th Battalion, 13th Field Artillery. He was stationed at LZ Hammond and moved to temporary camps from there wherever artillery support was needed. Upon his return, he served as a protocol officer at Fort Knox, Kentucky. After leaving the Army he got a computer-programming job with Nationwide Insurance and settled in the Columbus, Ohio Area.

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Dennis B. Schultice

Dennis B. Schultice was born in Caldwell, Ohio in 1946. His father, a World War II veteran, was highly influential throughout his life and service. He trained as a meat cutter and left home to pursue his career. His first letter from home contained his draft notice and he enlisted in the United States Army as a cook. He trained at Fort Knox and deployed to Germany with 81st Field Artillery Regiment in 1965. He ran the mess and was responsible for cooking in the field. Schultice's last nine months were spent at Fort Hayes in Columbus, Ohio as the personal cook for the base commander. He went on to have various civilian jobs in the food service industry, retiring from Aramark Food Services.

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John Flinn

John E. Flinn was born in 1948 in Akron, Ohio.  He enlisted in the United States Army in 1968 after learning that he might be looking at fines or jail time because he had not registered for Selective Service.  He was assigned to the 148th Infantry Platoon Scout Dogs under the 196th Infantry Brigade.  He and his dog “Scout” would walk point for companies and scout perimeters with a special eye for detecting booby-traps and ambushes.  He was awarded the Purple Heart and Combat Action Badge for meritorious service.  He continues to be active in many veteran organizations including the Order of the Purple Heart and AMVETs.

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Dennis Laich

Dennis Laich was born in New Brighton, Pennsylvania in 1949. Laich enrolled in the United States Army Reserve Officer Training Corp in 1971 while going to college on a football scholarship. He spent 35 years in the Army Reserve attaining the rank of Major General. In 1992 he became Commander of the 94th Regional Readiness Command where he lead all of the Army Reserve Forces in the six New England states. Laich served overseas in Iraq, Germany, Honduras, Kuwait and the Netherlands. He earned the Meritorious Service Medal, The Legion of Merit, and the Defense Distinguished Service Medal.

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Burt Logan

Burt Logan was born in 1954 in Rutherfordton, North Carolina. Logan attended the United States Military Academy at West Point. He chose the Field Artillery Branch and after graduating West Point moved to Fort Sill, Oklahoma for Officer Basic Training. He was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division, or the Big Red "1", and was stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas. He served as a Forward Observer, Commander for a Reconnaissance and Survey Platoon, Service Battery Commander, and Assistant S-4. After finishing his five years with the Army he resigned his commission to follow his interest in history to the museum field.

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Gina Freeman

Dr. Gina Freeman was born in 1956 in Springfield, Ohio. A high school guidance counselor told her that she wasn’t college-material; looking for other opportunities she was inspired by her father and uncle’s military stories to join the Army. She specialized in Recreation Services where she was recognized for her work with children and Physical Training scores with the Commendation Medal. She was part of the women’s All-Army basketball team. She began college courses in teaching to help her work with kids. This is where she learned she was college-material and went on to get her Masters and PhD in Sports Management, Physical Education, and Adaptive Education. She credits her service as giving her the confidence and opportunity to pursue her passion.

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Peter Mansoor

Dr. Peter Mansoor was born in New Ulm, Minnesota in 1960. He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point and graduated first in his class in 1982. He was a tank company commander on the Inter-German Border when the iron curtain came down in 1989. Mansoor was commander of the 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry 4th Infantry division during Operation Desert Spring in 1999 and of the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division in Operation Iraqi Freedom during the invasion. His service culminated when he took the position as the Executive Officer to Commanding General Petraeus during the Surge in Iraq from 2007 to 2008. After retiring in 2008 he became the Raymond E. Mason, Jr. Chair of Military History at The Ohio State University. He has written several books including two on his time in service, "Baghdad at Sunrise: A Brigade Commander's War in Iraq" and "The Surge: My Journey with General David Petraeus and the Remaking of the Iraq War".

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Paul Craft

Paul Craft was born in 1965 in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He enlisted in the United States Marine Reserves In 1983 and commissioned into the Army National Guard in 1986. Craft’s military occupational specialty was a 12B or Combat Engineer; he served in that capacity for many years. In 2001 he took an opportunity to retrain as an Air Defense Artillery Officer, which opened the way for him to command the ground-based missile defense at the Joint Air Defense Operations Center in Washington DC. He deployed to Afghanistan in 2003 and was stationed in Washington DC in 2008.

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Marc Lopez

Marc A. Lopez was born in 1975 in New York, NY. Lopez attended The United States Military Academy at West Point from 1993 to 1997. After graduating he joined the Armored Calvary where he served as a tank and scout platoon leader. He deployed to Kuwait for operation Desert Spring where he trained the Kuwaiti Armored Brigade and provided force protection on the Iraq-Kuwait border.

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Edwin Medina

Edwin Medina was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1979. He spent the school year with his mother in Columbus, OH and the summers with his father in Puerto Rico. He enlisted in the Army in 2000 and specialized as a Personnel Sergeant doing workforce planning. He deployed to Iraq in 2003 where he served as a SAW Gunner, or squad automatic weapon. He was assigned to the Quick Reaction Force, which was capable of rapid deployment to developing situations. He received the Bronze Star for his service and returned home to Columbus, Ohio after an honorable discharge in 2005.

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Cassandra Merrill

Cassandra Merrill was born in Portland, Oregon in 1982. She enlisted the United States Army Reserves in 2005 in order to serve her country. Merrill was assigned to the 12th PSYOP Battalion as a Psychological Operations Multimedia Specialist. She was responsible for winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people through positive message and product distribution. Merrill was deployed to Jordan in 2008, Iraq from 2008 to 2009, and North Carolina from 2009 to 2012 where she was a PSYOPs trainer.

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Marine Corps Veterans

Peter Zoretic

Peter D. Zoretic was born in 1962 in Columbus, Ohio. Zoretic joined the United States Marine Corps in 1986 after graduating from The Ohio State University with a degree in Aviation Management and Operations. He flew the Ch-53 helicopter, the largest and heaviest helicopter used by the U.S. Military, and was low light level night system qualified. He deployed to Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm and Desert Shield, to Afghanistan from 2001-2002, to Iraq from 2003-2004, and was part of Thailand tsunami relief in 2006.

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Tony Storey

Tony Storey was born in 1971 in Columbus, Ohio. He joined the United States Marine Corp in high school and trained for the Military Occupational Specialty of Infantryman. He served in the United States Marine Corp and Marine Reserves from 1989-2010. He was deployed in 1990 in Saudi Arabia for Desert Storm and in 1992 in Somalia for Operation Restore Hope. Storey returned to Quantico in 2001 as a marksmanship trainer and in 2006 traveled to Iraq to work training security forces.

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Jason Dominguez

Jason Dominguez was born in Columbus in 1980. Dominguez joined the United States Marine Corp Reserves in 2000 and was deployed to the Al Anbar province in Iraq in 2005. He was trained as a 0311, Rifleman, at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island. Dominguez was part of Lima Company in the 3rd Battalion of the 25th Marine Regiment. Lima Company participated in more fighting than almost any other military unit and suffered heavy losses in combat. He worked as a Military and Veterans Affair Case worker for Congressman Pat Tiberi and as Assistant Director of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services.

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Johnny Dawson

Johnny Dawson was born in Columbus in 1985. Dawson joined the United States Marine Corps in 2003, directly from high school. He became a squad leader for the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, and served as personal protection for the 7th Marines higher command. Dawson deployed to Iraq in 2004 where he fought in the battle of Fallujah. He deployed again from 2005 to 2007.

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Navy Veterans

Ruby Gilliam

Ruby C. Gilliam was born in 1922 in Neon, Kentucky. Gilliam joined the United States Naval Women's Reserves (WAVES) after the death of her first husband in WWII. She was stationed in Washington D.C. where she worked for the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery as a data entry professional. She used computers to record the names of servicemen who were killed or wounded. After the war, she remarried and moved with her husband to the Canton, Ohio area. She has been very active in politic working for the State Treasurer, Directing the Carroll County Board of Elections, and is on the Executive Board of the Ohio Democratic Party. In 2016 she was the oldest delegate to attend the Democratic National Convention where she had the honor of leading the Pledge of Allegiance.

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James "Bob" McDaniel

James R. McDaniel was born in 1945 in Evansville, Indiana. He left home to attend Indiana State University, but after several years decided he needed a change. In August of 1965, he joined the Navy. He attended boot camp and was accepted to the Naval Nuclear Power School. He was temporarily assigned to the USS Arneb (AKA-56) on routine operations in the Caribbean before transferring to the USS Skate (SSN-578), a nuclear submarine. During his time on the Skate, they were primarily deployed in the Mediterranean and took several trips to the Arctic.

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Tim Barker

Tim Barker was born in 1956 in Portsmouth, Ohio. Barker joined the Navy in 1974 looking to broaden his experiences and see the world beyond the small town he knew. He served in the communication division aboard the USS Hancock, an aircraft carrier from World War II. In 1975 he was part of Operation Eagle Pull evacuating Phnom Penh and Operation Frequent Wind evacuating Saigon. He spent his last two years at Machrihanish airfield in Scotland as part of North Atlantic Treaty Organizations (NATO) operations.

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Ruben Minor

Ruben A. Minor was born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1969. Minor signed up for the delayed entry program and entered the United States Navy in 1988. He trained as a radioman and served aboard the USS Duluth, an amphibious transport dock. In 2003 he started Graduate School, and after receiving his MBA, became a commissioned officer in the Navy serving until 2011. He was deployed to the Indian Ocean during Desert Storm and Desert Shield.

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Jennifer Isenstadt

Jennifer Serene Isenstadt, a transgender woman, was born on Langley Air Force Base, VA in 1987. Following in her father’s footsteps she enlisted in the Navy in 2005 as an Information Systems Technician. She was stationed at the Naval Support Activity Naples in Italy where her father had been stationed when she was a child. Fitting in with Navy culture was a struggle and she was medically discharged in 2008. After her service, support from Veterans Affairs helped her meet her transition goals. Today she works in Peer Support providing guidance for those with mental wellness issues and addictive behaviors.

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Air Force Veterans

Alexander Kosta

Alexander P. Kosta was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1921. Kosta enlisted in the Army Air Corps on April 8, 1945, at the time he was studying physics at the University of Temple in Philadelphia. He trained to be a navigator at Ellington Field in Texas and was stationed at Royal Air Force Molesworth near Kettering England. He flew 35 combat missions 15 of which he acted as the squadron lead navigator and was part of the St. Lo breakthrough during Operation Cobra.

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Dwight Davis

Dwight Davis was born in Central West Virginia in February of 1922. He moved to Akron, Ohio as a young man and went to work for the Goodyear Aircraft Corporation. When Goodyear found that Davis wished to enlist they released him to be drafted by the United States Air Force. After his cadet training, he was assigned as a tail gunner to the 8th Air Force, 94th Bombardment Group flying in B-17s. On a mission over Munich, Germany his plane was shot down and he was taken prisoner. Davis spent the rest of the war being moved to various POW camps. After the war, he had the honor of meeting Dwight Eisenhower, twice, and returned to the United States where he studied psychology. He went to work at the International Harvester Company and settled in Columbus, Ohio.

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Hilton Carter

Hilton Carter was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1928. He moved with his mother and brother to New York in 1941 to escape discrimination. He settled in Columbus, Ohio where he met his wife while staying at Lockbourne Army Air Base. He enlisted in the United States Army in 1946 and training as an aircraft and engine mechanic specializing in the B-29. He deployed to the Pacific Theater, stationed at Northwest Field on the Island of Guam.

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Donald Elder

Donald Elder was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1928. Mr. Elder served with the 99th Fighter Squadron, one of the squadrons of the distinguished Tuskegee Airmen. He trained as a specialty mechanic on the P-47 Thunderbolt and served as a Flight Chief at Lockbourne Air Force Base. He continued his career in aviation with North American Aviation where he became the first black Crew Chief.

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Richard Reynolds

Richard V. Reynolds was born in 1949 in Aberdeen, Washington. He was commissioned into the United States Air Force after graduating from the Air Force Academy in 1971. Reynolds also graduated from the Air Force Test Pilot School in 1979. During his career he was a test pilot for the Rockwell B-1 Lancer, he was the Program Director for the Stealth Bomber, which he did pilot, and was Vice-Commander of the Air Force Material Command. He continues to hold leadership positions on many boards for both the business and non-profit sectors.

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Joshua Jacob Hoffman

Joshua Jacob Hoffman was born in 1963 in Columbus, Ohio. Hoffman joined the United States Air Force in 1984 after two years as a Mormon missionary in Los Angeles. He worked as a Material Management Specialist at Williams Air Force Base in Arizona, where he continued to be active in the Mormon Church and local community. An anonymous tip got him questioned by the Office of Special Investigations and discharged from the Air Force under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. Hoffman spent years rebuilding his life and in 2015 had his Other Than Honorable Discharge reclassified as Honorable.

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Phillip Hinson

Phillip J. Hinson was born in 1982 in Westlake, Ohio. Hinson was part of the Air Force ROTC program at The Ohio State University from 2001 to 2006 when he graduated with a degree in civil engineering. He entered active duty in 2006 and stationed at Keesler Air Force Base to help with Hurricane Katrina cleanup. He went on overseas duty and was stationed at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea for a year. In 2011 he was deployed to Gardez in Afghanistan as part of the provincial reconstruction team. While there Hinson was in a convoy hit by an improvised explosive device. He ended active duty in 2012 and has worked various jobs for the Veterans' Administration since.

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Allen Middaugh

Allen Middaugh was born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1986. His father was in the military at the time, but when he retired they settled near Canton, Ohio. He enlisted in the United States Air Force in 2007 where he trained as an Explosive Ordinance Disposal technician, the most dangerous job in the military. He has been deployed three times, once to Kuwait and twice to Afghanistan.

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