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Defenders of Freedom

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Charley Brooking: ‘All you thought about was doing your duty’

Charley Brooking spent the latter part of World War II on a PT boat, cruising the treacherous waters of the Pacific ocean, fighting the Japanese. “PT boats were involved with every major landing with the Navy,” he said proudly. Brooking, 92, reflected on his Naval career, which ...

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Ed Willits: ‘I looked out and saw sparks’

As a teenager, Ed Willits was part of the Ground Observer Corps, a Civil Defense organization formed to spot low-flying aircraft. His affiliation with the group, which numbered some 750,000 volunteers nationwide during the height of the Cold War, helped spark an interest in the military and ...

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Andrew Johnson: ‘I’m glad I served’

Andrew Johnson got into World War II late, but played an important role in supporting U.S. efforts in fighting the Axis Powers. Johnson joined the Marines in 1943 after graduating from South Williamsport High School with hopes of becoming a tank driver. The Marines had other ...

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Ed Weinhoffer: ‘We had a job to do’

South Williamsport resident Ed Weinhoffer spent just four years in the U.S. Air Force but used his military experience to find a career in the computer industry. A native of Shamokin, he joined the military shortly after graduating from of Lady of Lourdes High School in 1962. “In Shamokin, ...

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Eugene Otterbein: “It was a lot of fun”

Eugene Otterbein has no regrets about how his military career played out. The Picture Rocks resident can look back on a 20-year stint in the Air Force that brought him wonderful memories and lifelong friends. Otterbein, 74, surely could not have predicted how things would turn out. Like many ...

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Chuck Stutzman: ‘I’ve been around the world’

Chuck Stutzman served nearly 30 years in the U.S. Navy, most of that time as a reservist, but also four years of active duty including in Vietnam. The Vietnam War put him up front with combat forces where he was wounded and earned a Purple Heart. In Southeast Asia, where U.S. forces were ...

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Thomas Byrne: ‘It was good for me’

Thomas “Red” Byrne may no longer be a young man, but he still appears every bit the U.S. Marine. Husky and fit, Byrne, 85, recalled his days serving as a young Marine more than 60 years ago. From 1953 to 1956, Byrne served as a telephone lineman overseas and stateside. “I kept the ...

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Donald Head: ‘We took care of anyone who got shot’

As a medic during the Korean Conflict, Donald Head experienced the horrors of war. He would spend his days giving aid to U.S. troops wounded in combat. “It was a hectic 13 months,” he said. Head, 87, was just 20 when he found himself in the military. Up until then, the 1949 Jersey Shore ...