Actor Bryan Cranston’s Ancestor Discovered at Dayton VAMC

On August 23rd, 2015, the TLC television channel featured Hollywood actor, Bryan Cranston, on their show “Who Do You Think You Are?” The show, fueled by the popularity of, takes famous people on often convoluted journeys into the secret world of archives and genealogy as they trace their family roots. Bryan Cranston knew little about his father’s side of the family and his particular trek landed him at the Dayton VA Medical Center.

Joseph H. Cranston, Bryan’s great-great grandfather, abandoned his family to fight in the American Civil War. We don’t know his personal reasons for doing it, but he was not alone. Thousands of men from the U.S. and foreign countries left their homelands and families to fight in that war. Their reasons varied: some were enslaved and they fought for freedom, some sought adventure, some did it for the money or felt passionately about the political reasons behind the war, and many others kept their convictions for fighting to themselves. Some returned home after the war, many did not.

What we know of Joseph H. Cranston is that he entered the Central Branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers (VHA’s origins)in Dayton, Ohio, on September 1, 1883. He served as a private in four different Union regiments during the Civil War: 23rd Illinois (Co. K)—an “Irish brigade,” 39th Illinois (Co. B), 26th Pennsylvania (Co. D), and the 99th Pennsylvania. While serving with the 23rd Illinois, he was captured at Lexington, Missouri, along with most of his regiment and held as a prisoner of war. He was released at Benton Barracks, Missouri, and later joined another regiment. He served in the war from August 1861 until its end in 1865. While serving in the Virginia Wilderness campaign in 1863 he contracted his disability—varicose veins. Many lower rank soldiers suffered from debilitating varicose veins because of marching, standing guard for long hours, cramped sleeping quarters, etc. Read the rest of this entry »

I Don’t Want the President; I Want my Dad

Porter Broyles

I was a scout in BSA troop 964 in Dale City Virginia in the early 80s. My dad, U.S.A.F. Lt. Colonel Stephen D Broyles (retired) and an Eagle Scout, was very involved in the troop. Well, I earned my Eagle rank shortly before moving to Germany.
They didn’t have time to award me the rank of Eagle before I left. So i arrived at Patch Barracks in the Summer of 84 and the BSA troop there gets started to award me the Rank of Eagle.

Now getting Eagle is a big deal—especially in military communities. Well, I’m on perhaps one of the most important military bases in Europe. Patch Barracks—HQ for United States Army in Europe. We didn’t have a “Colonel’s Row” like many bases. Colonel’s row was where the top ranked officers lived—we had a General’s Row. Scores of General’s were assigned there.

So Lt Colonel Roberts is the adult leader who is helping to put together my Eagle Ceremony and he comes over some evening to talk to me about who I want to get to present me with the award. He explains that this is for the Eagle Scout and that I can ask for basically anybody in the world. He tells me that if I want President Reagan to present me with the award, that he’d make the call. If I wanted a state governor or congressman, that it was possible. This was for the Eagle Scout Award and we were at the most important military base in Europe. I might have to wait, but he said that he would do his best to get me whomever I wanted to present me with the award. This was, after all, for the Eagle Scout Award and we were at one of the most important bases in Europe, so it would be possible. “Even for the President.” Or a general—which for a career military brat is a big deal.

Lt Col Roberts was basically begging me to ask for somebody that would give him the chance to call somebody above his pay grade.
He was sorely disappointed when I told him that there was only one person from whom I wanted to receive the rank… that there was only one person from whom I would accept the rank. My Dad.

32 years later, I am so glad that I made that choice. I have never forgotten the expression on Lt Colonel Roberts face or the smile on my dad’s. My dad tried to talk me out of it, he kept telling me that they could get the President to give it to me, but I knew in his heart that it had to be one of his proudest moments.

New Mexico Author Seeks Photos for Book About Kirtland Air Force Base

Joseph Page, who has authored several books about military installations, is looking for good-quality photos about Kirtland Air Force Base and, especially photos of its families. If you’d like to submit your photos to add to the book–due out in late 2017–please email Joseph at

The East German Border

Sylvia Ingrid Winegard

We were on our way to visit relatives, when my dad pulled over and we all sat that there looking at the abandoned buildings and fields with mines, behind the barbed wire… This was 1967…I think about the awesome opportunities and education we military dependants all had,and got to see such amazing sights as this…

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To: You, From: Us

A Navy Wife's Life

Today, instead of being with us, you are thousands of miles away. Again.It’s not your fault, and we don’t hold it against you. We always knew this life wouldn’t be easy, but no matter what we are still a family, and nothing; not time, distance, or the United States Navy can ever take that away from us. We may celebrate a lot of holidays via technology, or a couple of days in advance of the actual date, but that doesn’t really matter to us anymore, does it? We’ve been doing this too long now to shed a tear over stuff like that. Does it mean we are numb to it? No, I don’t think so. I think it just means we’ve learned to truly cherish the time we do have together. Any time is good time, right? Dates on a calendar…well, they have their meaning. But the days I truly…

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“SHOUT: Sharing Our Truth: An Anthology of Writings by LGBT Veterans and Family Members of the U.S. Military Services”

MAMF Special Projects Writer Caroline LeBlanc is seeking stories for:

SHOUT: Sharing Our Truth: An Anthology of Writings by LGBT Veterans and Family Members of the U.S. Military Services”

This anthology seeks first-hand experiences—good, bad, and in between—as an LGBT veteran or family member, during and/or after military service. Our goal is to create a book that will allow you to tell parts of your story that will also be helpful for others to read—others who live or want to understand the LGBT veteran experience. The last chapter of the book will list resources available to LGBT veterans.

Do not submit any materials previously published in print or online. Identifying information should be included in the body of the email only.

What Genres to Submit:

Fiction: up to 1200 words.

Non-Fiction (memoir, essays, and other non-fiction): up to 1200 words

Poetry: up to 40 lines.

Reviews: up to 1200 words about a movie, book, music, etc. that you think are important for others to know about.

Resources: submit information on resources you have found particularly helpful. (Name, webpage, telephone number, and services)

 You may submit up to 2 pieces in each genre. Each piece must be attached in a separate file. All pieces in a given category must be submitted in the same email. Pieces in separate categories must be submitted in separate emails.

Submissions are accepted between March 20 and June 20, 2016. For more information or for guidelines on how to submit, please visit:

our projects website




Triple Take

   We hadn’t been in England very long before I, as young people will, started picking up the various English accents. The Cockney accent was the most fun, and the most useful to know since my parents, especially my Mother, couldn’t understand it easily, and I sometimes had to translate for her, and on occasion translate her Midwest accent for the local sales people. And, as a child will, I sometimes just played around with the accent. And that is just what I was doing one weekend when my parents and I and another couple and their son went to Oxford to have a look at the University and Law Quadrangles there.

It is usually easy to spot someone from another country, and Americans were easy enough for the English to identify, and with my black and white saddle shoes and a red trimmed white coat, I was obviously American. Which is what accidentally set up the situation.

British barristers make a fetish of being proper, in their bowler hats with the inevitable black umbrella in hand along with a brief case. And that was just the way this paragon of the legal profession was dressed, in his dark suit, and air of being both important and busy. Such an upper class member of Britain’s legal profession would never ordinarily deign to notice mere tourists. But he did notice us… I unintentionally saw to that!!

There I was, and obviously American girl, chattering away in a definitely working class cockney accent! What his eyes had seen definitely didn’t match what his ears were hearing. Before he realized what he was doing, he just had to stop to take a second look! Then he realized we had seen him taking that second look, and strode off as if he’d never done any such thing. But my accent was just too much. Before he could prevent himself from doing it, he stopped to take a third look! By now, he knew the adults in our group were watching him, so he put on a stern face that clearly said, “Crazy Americans”.

Jan Wertz


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