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H is for Hero

H is For Hero

When it comes to facing life challenges, veterans are the first who come to mind. With the loneliness and stress that comes with service, they worked to endure and find their own ways of finding peace and happiness.

John Hanson was in the Air Force between 1974 and 1994 serving as a Facility Engineering Officer. He was stationed throughout the country during his service, but the most stressful of times was when he was at Turkey’s Incirlik Air Force Base during Desert Storm, the Persian Gulf War.

“There wasn’t time for much more than working and sleeping,” John said about the Desert Storm experience. “My wife, Pat, had to be evacuated back to the states so she was safe since we were close to the fighting in Iraq.”

It was a scary time for Pat, who flew back to her previous home in Alaska and volunteered at the Red Cross to support the cause. “We didn’t get a lot of information during that time and news reports weren’t really a reliable source,” she said.

Prior to the war, John faced life challenges in the service by exercising a lot at the gym, swimming, jogging and weightlifting. He was married in 1987 so together he and Pat spent time with members of his unit and their families to relax.

Tom Mayhew, my brother-in-law, was in the Navy between 1972 and 1976. He was a nuclear power plant operator on a submarine.

“You are so busy on a sub you don’t’ really dwell on discomfort,” Tom recalls. In his free time on the sub, Tom studied the extensive complex systems of his billet. Only 60 percent of those in the program passed the exams, so he was determined. “Some of the guys played Pinnacle or chess to deal with the stress,” Tom recalled, “I studied.”

Some of his training was in Idaho, of all places, and he fell in love with the state. After his military service, he moved from Wisconsin to Idaho’s Sun Valley. Today he faces life challenges traveling and outdoor recreation including fishing, hiking, hunting and skiing.

My brother, Donald Porior, was a Captain in the Army (03) and a Vietnam veteran. In Vietnam he was involved in the engineering of road construction, prior to that he was working on the experimentation of new weapon systems in California.

Like Tom, he was constantly studying in his free time. To deal with stress, he went to Mass several times a week and associated a lot with the unit’s Catholic priest or chaplains. He also always had a second job. He worked in the library and volunteered to run a CB radio to help troops communicate with their families back in the states.

“Everyone has an obligation to serve our country and hopefully it’s a joyful experience, whether you serve in the Peace Corp, as hospital staff, firefighters, or warriors. In the end I hope everyone can pin on a medal that says ‘a life well spent,’” Donald reflected.

Most people know a veteran. Take a moment today to ask them how they faced life challenges in the service. You’ll not only hear some incredible stories, I predict, but you’ll gain some insights into the life of a true hero.


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