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!

SPECIAL EVENT: Just War Theory Conversation on VBC Happy Hour

Date: September 21, 2023
Time: 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Location: Zoom, Facebook, YouTube
All Events | Online Events | VBC Happy Hour



The VBC marks International Peace Day with a special program on Just War Theory. Experts Greg Yoest and Ben Wright (retired USAF Lt. Col. and Episcopal priest) will present and comment upon the possibility of establishing ethical principles and criteria for determining whether the use of military force is morally justifiable. We call this effort “Just War Theory.”

Rooted in both philosophical and religious traditions, Just War Theory offers guidelines to evaluate the decision to engage in war, the conduct of war, and the aftermath of conflict. The main proponents of just war theory include ancient philosophers like Cicero and St. Augustine, as well as later thinkers such as Thomas Aquinas and Hugo Grotius.

The theory is built upon two primary components: jus ad bellum (justice in going to war) and jus in bello (justice in conducting war). Jus ad bellum outlines the criteria that must be met for a war to be considered justifiable. These criteria include having a just cause, legitimate authority, right intention, probability of success, proportionality, and last resort. A just cause typically involves self-defense against aggression, protection of innocent lives, or the restoration of rights. Legitimate authority ensures that the decision to wage war is made by those with the proper jurisdiction and responsibility. Right intention emphasizes that the ultimate goal of war should be to reestablish peace and justice, rather than pursuing selfish interests.

Jus in bello, on the other hand, addresses the moral conduct of warfare. It prescribes principles that govern the actions of individuals during armed conflict. These principles include proportionality (ensuring the level of force used is proportional to the military objective), discrimination (distinguishing between combatants and non-combatants), and the prohibition of means that are inherently cruel or cause unnecessary suffering.

As with all theories, Just War Theory meets its test in the ever-evolving battlefields of the real world, where technology and politics rule. The rise of asymmetric warfare and the potential for collateral damage in conflicts raise questions about the proportionality of force and the ability to discriminate between combatants and non-combatants. Additionally, the interpretation of a “just cause” has become more complex with debates over preemption and humanitarian intervention.

Critics of Just War Theory argue that its principles can be selectively applied and easily manipulated. And such concepts as “legitimate authority” and “right intention” are subjective and hard to measure.

But Just War Theory does encourage nations and leaders to reflect on the moral implications of their decisions and actions, helping to minimize the devastation caused by warfare.

Established by the United Nations in 1981, International Peace Day is a global initiative dedicated to promoting the ideals of peace and fostering awareness about the importance of conflict resolution and non-violence.

The date, September 21st, was chosen to coincide with the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly, a platform where nations convene to address global issues.

By focusing attention on the value of peace, International Peace Day contributes to a collective aspiration for a future free from violence, inequality, and injustice, and reminds us all of our shared responsibility in working towards a more peaceful and equitable world.

Thank you to Tobacco Free Adagio Health for sponsoring this event!

Bestselling Author Alex Kershaw on VBC Happy Hour

Date: September 25, 2023
Time: 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Location: Zoom, Facebook, YouTube
All Events | Online Events | VBC Happy Hour


New York Times bestselling author Alex Kershaw joins Glenn Flickinger and Michael Caldwell and Kali Schick from the National Medal of Honor Museum to discuss his most recent book, Against All Odds: A True Story of Ultimate Courage and Survival in World War II.

Against All Odds tells the untold story of four of the most decorated soldiers of World War II—all Medal of Honor recipients—from the beaches of French Morocco to Hitler’s own mountaintop fortress.

As the Allies raced to defeat Hitler, four men, all in the same unit, earned medal after medal for battlefield heroism. Maurice “Footsie” Britt, a former professional football player, became the very first American to receive every award for valor in a single war. Michael Daly was a West Point dropout who risked his neck over and over to keep his men alive. Keith Ware would one day become the first and only draftee in history to attain the rank of general before serving in Vietnam. In WWII, Ware owed his life to the finest soldier he ever commanded, a baby-faced Texan named Audie Murphy. In the campaign to liberate Europe, each would gain the ultimate accolade, the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Tapping into personal interviews and a wealth of primary source material, Alex Kershaw has delivered his most gripping account yet of American courage, spanning more than six hundred days of increasingly merciless combat, from the deserts of North Africa to the dark heart of Nazi Germany. Once the guns fell silent, these four exceptional warriors would discover just how heavy the Medal of Honor could be—and how great the expectations associated with it. Having survived against all odds, who among them would finally find peace?

Thank you to Tobacco Free Adagio Health for sponsoring this event!

Somalia and the Battle of Mogadishu, 1992-1994 on VBC Happy Hour

Date: October 2, 2023
Time: 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Location: Zoom, Facebook, YouTube
All Events | Online Events | VBC Happy Hour

As Somali civilians watch, US Marines walk single file toward the camera, down a small ally in Somalia’s Bakara Market. The Marines sweep the market looking for arms and munitions as part of Operation Nutcracker. This mission is in direct support of Operation Restore Hope.

In December 1992, 1,800 United States Marines arrived in Mogadishu, Somalia, to spearhead Operation Restore Hope. Brad Graft was one of those Marines. Brad joins us to talk about his service and experience in the complex and controversial US intervention in Somalia during its chaos and famine in 1992-1994.

The ousting of the authoritarian ruler, Major General Muhammad Siad Barre, in 1991 created a power vacuum filled by various warlords, including the infamous Muhammed Farah Aidid. Somalia descended into a devastating civil war. The strife fanned the flames of humanitarian crisis. Millions of Somalis were on the brink of starvation.

In response to the deteriorating situation, the United Nations (UN) launched Operation Provide Relief in April 1992. But armed militias hampered efforts to deliver humanitarian aid by hijacking aid convoys and stealing supplies.

The situation prompted then-US President George H.W. Bush to propose sending American combat troops to Somalia to protect aid workers and ensure the safe distribution of humanitarian assistance. In December 1992, approximately 1,800 US Marines arrived in Mogadishu to spearhead the multinational force in what became known as Operation Restore Hope. With US military support, international aid workers were now able to restore food distribution and other operations.

But the interventions didn’t solve the underlying violence and anarchy that ruled Somalia, especially its capital of Mogadishu. The prime culprit was the warlord Aidid.

On October 3, 1993, US forces attempted to capture top lieutenants of Aidid at the Olympic Hotel in Mogadishu. Two US Black Hawk helicopters went down, leading to a firefight in which 18 US soldiers were killed, as were hundreds of Somalis.

In the wake of the Battle of Mogadishu and the widespread public outrage it generated, President Clinton made the decision to withdraw all US troops from Somalia by March 31, 1994. Other Western nations followed suit, and the United Nations eventually withdrew its peacekeeping forces by 1995.

Somalia today remains an unstable, fragile, and poor nation, split along religious and ethnic lines and governed largely by violence.

Thank you to Tobacco Free Adagio Health for sponsoring this event!

Fortieth Anniversary of “Operation Urgent Fury,” the Invasion of Grenada, 1983 on VBC Happy Hour

Date: October 9, 2023
Time: 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Location: Zoom, Facebook, YouTube
All Events | Online Events | VBC Happy Hour

Capt Jeb F. Seagle drags Capt Timothy D. Howard away from their burning AH-i Cobra, shot down by enemy antiaircraft fire near Fort Frederick(Reconstructive art by Lt Col A. M. “Mike” Leahy, USMCR)


Forty years ago, on October 25, 1983, U.S. forces, with a coalition of Caribbean nations, launched Operation Urgent Fury, the invasion of Grenada, an island nation at the southern tip of the Lesser Antilles, about 500 miles from the Venezuelan coast. It was a key moment in a volatile year that saw the Cold War heat up more than it had since Vietnam.

Join us on October 9 at 7pm for a special two-hour program to talk with a journalist, museum curators, and five remarkable Marine Corps veterans whoserved in Grenada and almost never made it back.

Journalist Phil Kukielski, author of The U.S. Invasion of Grenada: Legacy of a Flawed Victory, will give us the background of the story and also tell us why so much of the war has been shrouded in secrecy.

Larry Burke and Doug Doer from the National Museum of the Marine Corps will also show us a stunning new artifact installed from Operation Urgent Fury. It’s the tail boom of a US Marine AH-1 Cobra helicopter from Operation Urgent Fury, one of two shot down by anti-aircraft fire.

Behind that artifacts is a story of rescue and survival. Five Marines involved in that story will be on our program giving their first-hand accounts.

On the first day of the invasion, two AH-1 Cobras were sent into action to assist some Navy SEALs on the ground in Grenada. Both took fire from Cuban forces.

One caught fire but managed a rough landing on the ground. Its pilots, Captains Jeb Seagle and Timothy Howard, escaped the wreckage. Seagle went for help, while Howard, right arm nearly shot off below the elbow, right leg severely injured, and a large piece of shrapnel in his neck, waited at the crash site for help.

Coming to the rescue was a Marine CH-46 crew, which also took fire as it descended to land.

Gunnery Sgt. Kelley Neideigh, a Vietnam veteran who’d been manning the door gun, braved fire at the crash site to drag Howard to the CH-46 to safety.

With no sign of Seagle, and Howard’s condition worsening, the CH-46 crew took off.  Seagle was later found dead on the beach, killed by hostile fire.

The other AH-1 Cobra still circled above, drawing fire to allow the rescue team to take off from the crash site. However, deadly anti-aircraft fire sent the Cobra into the sea, killing pilots Major John “Pat” Guigerre and 1st Lt. Jeff Sharver.

In the months and years that followed, Tim Howard learned to walk again and function with one intact arm. He remained in the Marine Corps until his retirement as a colonel in 2006.

We are honored and privileged to welcome Tim Howard to our program to remember the events of October 25, 1983.  We’ll also have Kelley Neideigh, who dragged Howard to safety.

In addition, we’ll welcome three other crew members, heroes all, who flew the CH-46 rescue mission on October 25: Pilot Major Mel DeMars, Co-pilot 1st Lieutenant Larry King, and Crew Chief Corporal Simon “Doug” Gore.

Finally, we’ll welcome Vivian Scharver, Gold Star mother of 1st Lt Jeff Sharver, USMC, KIA 25 Oct 1983, Operation Urgent Fury.

Join us to hear the remarkable story of a little-known Cold War operation from those who were there.

Thank you to Tobacco Free Adagio Health for sponsoring this event!

SPECIAL EVENT: Vietnam History and Culture: Peasants vs. the French

Date: October 12, 2023
Time: 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Location: Zoom, Facebook, YouTube
All Events | Online Events | VBC Happy Hour


Historian and VBC Director Todd DePastino presents the third in his series on Vietnam’s history and culture, focusing this week on the French colonization of the region in the 19th and 20th centuries.

France sought access to Vietnam for its raw materials and foreign markets, things needed for France’s growing industrial economy. The French also sought to stamp out Vietnam’s indigenous culture and replace it with French customs and ideals.

For example, they banned the use of the term “Vietnam” and instead referred to it as “French Indochina,” encompassing Cambodia and Laos also.

But the most catastrophic impact of the French was on the daily lives of the Vietnamese peasants. These peasants’ entire existence revolved around growing rice, one of the most labor intensive staple crops in the world. The demands of rice cultivation are so distinct, they even encourage a particular consciousness, one centered on the relations of the collective—the village—rather than the individual. Peasant rice farmers also depend on stable prices and predictable markets, neither of which the French provided when they integrated Vietnam into the global commodity markets.

Under French rule, the price of rice plummeted, and millions of Vietnamese peasants found themselves unable to pay rent, purchase a water buffalo, or buy tools, medicine, and other supplies they couldn’t make themselves.

All the social and technical arrangements peasants had painstakingly upheld for generations to keep their villages intact and their families alive had all been disrupted, to devastating effect.

The result was not only poverty, homelessness, and starvation, but revoluition.

Join us for conversation about the history of Vietnam and how it impacted the American experience there.

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