At the Veterans Breakfast Club,

Stories Unite Us.

Check out our online & in-person veterans storytelling programs and see our full event schedule below. All are welcome to join us!

Infantry Culture in the Global War on Terror

Date: May 20, 2024
Time: 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Location: Zoom, Facebook, YouTube
Events | Online Events

Marine Stew Blackwell joins us to talk about his new book, Savages: Infantry Culture in the Global War on Terror. In his debut book, Blackwell explores the complex culture, complete with its own value system, of the American warrior serving during the Global War on Terror, known as “GWOT.” The GWOT began after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and includes the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that followed.

“My hope is to immerse the reader in a vastly different society that values hardship, suffering, and deep, life-altering personal development over comfort and self-preservation,” said Blackwell, who served in the Marine Corps for 9 years and deployed 6 times to Afghanistan, Yemen, Guantanamo Bay, and with multiple Marine Expeditionary Units. “Understanding infantry culture, and its values, is the key to establishing our legacy during the War on Terror as men who dared for more out of life. We sought challenge and adventure to gain critical knowledge of ourselves and became better because of it.”

“In his book, Savages: Infantry Culture in the Global War on Terror, ST pulls the curtain back to give readers an uncensored, no-holds-barred depiction of the life of a GWOT infantryman,” said Chris Schafer, CEO at Tactical 16 Publishing. “His story is one that is sure to change your way of thinking and understanding of true American warriors and why this unique culture is critical to our country’s survival.”

We’re grateful to UPMC for Life and Tobacco Free Adagio Health for sponsoring this event!

WWII Tuskegee Airman Harry Stewart

Date: May 23, 2024
Time: 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Location: Zoom, Facebook, YouTube
Events | Online Events

WWII P-51 Pilot and Tuskegee Airman Harry Stewart shares his story with us on Greatest Generation Live.

Stewart successfully completed 43 missions during World War II and is one of only four Tuskegee Airmen to have earned three aerial victories in a single day of combat. When the war in Europe ended, Stewart and his comrades expected to go to the Pacific. But after the Japanese surrender in August 1945, Stewart returned to the U.S. In 1949, he served as part of the team from the 332nd Fighter Group that won the first ever “Top Gun” fighter gunnery competition.

Also joining is is historian David Snead, author of Flying with the Fifteenth Air Force: A B-24 Pilot’s Missions from Italy during World War II. The subject of the book, Tom Faulkner, was a B-24 pilot flying out of San Giovanni airfield in Italy . Only 19 years old when he completed his 28th and last mission, Tom was one of the youngest bomber pilots to serve in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II.

The 15th Air Force generally has been overshadowed by works on the 8th Air Force based in England. Snead’s book helps fill an important void by providing a first-hand account of a pilot and his crew during the waning months of the war, as well as a description of his experiences before his military service.

Harry Stewart, also with the 15th Air Force, grew up near LaGuardia Airport in Queens, which got him curious about airplanes. After Pearl Harbor, he joined the Army Air Corps to qualify as a pilot. He went to Tuskegee, Alabama, where the famous African American pilots called Tuskegee Airmen trained. He received his wings in June 1944. Stewart then commissioned as a second lieutenant and learned to fly P-40 and P-47 fighter aircraft at Walterboro Army Air Field in South Carolina. After combat training, Stewart served with the 301st Fighter Squadron as part of the 332nd Fighter Group, known as “The Red Tails.” He then went to Italy with 15th Air Force. Stewart escorted B-17 and B-24 bombers over Italy, Germany and Austria.

He left active duty a year later but remained in the Air Force Reserve for several years after. Stewart ended his service as a lieutenant colonel. He received many honors for his service, including a Distinguished Flying Cross.

Still wanting to work as a pilot after he left the service, Stewart applied to work as a pilot at two commercial airlines but they rejected him due to his race. He later attended college and earned a degree in mechanical engineering from New York University (NYU) in 1963. At NYU, he served as the president of the student council and chair of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Stewart later worked for the ANR Pipeline Company in Detroit, Michigan, one of the largest interstate natural gas pipeline systems in the United States. He retired as vice president of the company.

We’re grateful to UPMC for Life and Tobacco Free Adagio Health for sponsoring this event!

Memorial Day Open Conversation

Date: May 27, 2024
Time: 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Location: Zoom, Facebook, YouTube
Events | Online Events

We mark Memorial Day with Open Conversation with America’s veterans about the meaning of the day and the memories, feelings, and thoughts it stirs. Please join us for this evening of reflection and storytelling about those who served and never returned home.

Special guest Jed Henry joins us to talk about his work recovering remains of US MIAs in Europe from World War II.

Jed led a team that recently discovered Army 1st Lieutenant Nathan B. Baskind, 28, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, killed during World War II.

In June 1944, Baskind was assigned to Company C, 899th Tank Destroyer Battalion, as a platoon commander of four M-10 tank destroyers. According to historical war records, 1st Lt. Baskind and another man from his company were scouting ahead of their tank destroyers when enemy forces descended upon them in an ambush. The other soldier, heavily wounded, escaped the firefight and made his way back to the main U.S. force, believing Baskind was killed in the attack. Several attempts were made to retrieve Baskind’s body from the ambush point, but they could not locate his remains.

Following the end of the war, the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC) was tasked with investigating and recovering missing American personnel in Europe. Investigators discovered a death and burial report for 1st Lt. Baskind among the foreign records recovered from the Germans, evidently filed after the war on May 29, 1945, in Meiningen, Germany. The record revealed 1st Lt. Baskind was captured and later died at a hospital for German air force personnel near Cherbourg on June 23, 1944. German forces then buried him in the military cemetery in the city. In early 1948, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) sent the U.S. Army one of 1st Lt. Baskind’s identification tags. It is believed the German government likely submitted the tag to the ICRC, along with a death and burial report, following the war.

In November 1957, the Volksbund, the German War Grave Commission, contacted the U.S. Army regarding 1st Lt. Baskind. While disinterring a mass grave of what were believed to be 24 Germans buried in the Cherbourg cemetery, a Volksbund team discovered one of 1st Lt. Baskind’s identification tags and remnants of an American-type shirt with a first lieutenant rank and tank destroyer insignia. The remains in the mass grave were commingled, and the German team was unable to separate them into individual sets. The German investigators therefore placed the remains in seven burial pouches and then re-interred them in the Marigny German War Cemetery, 40 miles south of Cherbourg. Subsequent attempts to identify the remains of 1st Lt. Baskind by U.S. and German investigators were not successful.

In 2023, the Volksbund and other interested private research organizations exhumed the commingled remains from Marigny War Cemetery for analysis. By February 2024, these researchers contacted DPAA to inform the agency that 1st Lt. Baskind’s remains had been analyzed by a private U.S. laboratory and sought DPAA’s concurrence. To verify Baskind’s remains, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System reviewed the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), Y chromosome DNA (Y-STR), and autosomal DNA (auSTR) analysis previously performed.

1st Lt. Baskind’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at Normandy American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, along with the others still missing from World War II. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

Baskind’s personnel profile can be viewed at https://dpaa-mil.sites.crmforce.mil/dpaaProfile?id=a0Jt000001nzTqQEAU.

Playtone’s Kirk Saduski on “Masters of the Air”

Date: May 30, 2024
Time: 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Location: Zoom, Facebook, YouTube
Events | Online Events

Playtone’s Kirk Saduski talks about creating “Masters of the Air,” as well as working on Band of Brothers, The Pacific, and many other historical features, series, and documentaries.

Kirk Saduski has a B.A. in history from UCLA and an M.A. in history from S.F. State. He has been a producer and executive at Playtone since 1998. He was Executive-in-charge of the HBOmini-series Band of Brothers as well as a Co-Producer of the HBO mini-series John Adams and The Pacific and the HBO movie Game Change. Mr. Saduski was Co-Producer of the HBO documentary David McCullough: Painting with Words and Producer of the HBO documentary He Has Seen War. He is a Co-Executive Producer of the CNN documentary series The Sixties, The Seventies, The Eighties, The Nineties, 1968, and The 2000s. He is currently in production on American Movies Through the Decades for CNN. A member of the Presidential Council at the National World War Two Museum and a Narrative Advisor to the National World War Two Museum in Washington D.C., Mr. Saduski has been an instructor at UCLA since 2010.

We’re grateful to UPMC for Life and Tobacco Free Adagio Health for sponsoring this event!

Veterans Open Conversation

Date: June 3, 2024
Time: 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Location: Zoom, Facebook, YouTube
Events | Online Events

VBC Scuttlebutt is a virtual watering hole where camaraderie and connection flow as freely as laughter and shared stories.

Join us to swap stories, good and bad, at home and overseas, old and new. At the VBC, veterans from every era and branch are drawn together by the warm glow of shared purpose.

The stories bridge the gap and the years with veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, late Cold War, Iraq and Afghanistan, and other eras and deployments. Non-veterans also join the circle, eager to understand, to listen, to learn.

They ask questions with genuine respect and a desire to honor the sacrifices made. This intergenerational dialogue, forged in the crucible of shared experience, builds bridges of empathy and understanding.

These stories aren’t just for veterans; they’re for everyone who wants to understand the lives of those who served. Whether you’re a veteran seeking camaraderie, a civilian wanting to learn, or simply someone who appreciates the value of service, the VBC welcomes you with open arms. Join us online – become part of their mission to honor stories, build bridges, and ensure that every day is Veterans Day.

We’re grateful to UPMC for Life and Tobacco Free Adagio Health for sponsoring this event!

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