No doubt: People honor stories. Of all the national holidays, Independence Day in particular is the most symbolic of the link between storytelling, country, ceremony and faith.
Memory, story and ceremony are part of the ongoing fabric of life for military families. With these in place, there is meaning added in the experience which both helps commemorate and adds a perspective for the listeners. In this season of parades and barbeques, Tucson Meet Yourself listens with respect and appreciation to special stories by three within our ranks:
Bob Berzok, TMY Board Member,
U. S. Army, Specialist 5 (equivalent to rank of Sergeant), Fort Gordon, Georgia & Neubreuke, Germany.
In May 1966 (just after he graduated from NYU), Bob enlisted in the U.S. Army for three years with the expectation that because of his journalism experience (sports reporting for Reuters News Agency in New York) he would be assigned after basic training to the Army journalism school at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Ind. While Bob was in basic at Fort Gordon, Ga., he learned that all the ‘slots’ at Fort Benjamin Harrison were filled. Mid-way through training, the Fort Gordon Public Information officer came through the barracks preparing to do training film. In just a few minutes, Bob gave him a piece of paper with his name, service number & information about his pre-Army journalism experience. Four weeks later, at the conclusion of basic, Bob was assigned to the public information office. At Fort Gordon Bob was part of the 3rd Army, which was the same group that George Patton led across Europe after D-Day into Germany. Bob cherished the 3rd Army patch that was on the uniform.
For the next two years, rising in rank from “buck” private to Specialist 5 (equivalent to the rank of Sergeant), Bob served as the editor of the post newspaper, which was published twice a week. With 13 months remaining in his military commitment, Bob was reassigned to the U. S. Army Europe’s 98th General Field Hospital in Neubreuke, Germany, located near the French-Luxembourg borders. There he was responsible for putting out the hospital newsletter, monthly, until being honorable discharged in April 1969.
With his notepad and his typewriter, Bob’s old-school journalism may be likened to a traditional folk art. In fact, at the print shop, which was about 30 miles west of Augusta, Ga., when he was stationed at Fort Gordon, Bob also set hard lead for headlines and the copy for the newsletter using a classic linotype machine.
On this day for BorderLore, Bob’s military memories are also of his father, Benjamin Berzok (Jan. 1902 – Nov. 1980).
At age 6, Ben Berzok arrived in New York from Odessa (then) Russia (now, Ukraine) with his mother & two brothers. The family settled in Brooklyn, NY. While World War I raged in Europe, Ben, who was big for his age (16), was eager to serve, and attempted to enlist in the US Navy (he was too young). He then went to Montreal to enlist in the British Expeditionary Force that was destined to fight the Ottoman Empire in (then) Palestine. But before his unit could head overseas by ship, Ben’s parents learned where he was and arrived in Canada. They told the British military authorities that their son did not have permission to enlist, so, once again, Ben returned home to Brooklyn. Finally, at age 18, Ben legally was drafted into the U.S. Army, where he spent two years at an Army post in Frankfort, KY, getting an honorable discharge in 1922. A little more than a decade later, Ben met and married Dorothy Schoenbrun. Their four boys (Joseph, Steven, Bob and Richard) were born and raised in Brooklyn.
Bob’s dad maintained a scrap book for each of his boys beginning at birth and through their entire lives, until he died in 1980.
Hilary Walker, TMY Associate Program Director, Military spouse, Numerous stateside and overseas base locations.
Hilary’s husband CMSgt Bruce Walker served in the Air Force for 30 years, and is recently retired as a Chief Master Sergeant. Thanksgiving was always time spent with family – families, says Hilary, are the ones to help service members get through the difficult situations during deployment, and then to be there to give thanks, through prayer, for well being and togetherness. As an international spouse (from England), Hilary has a tradition with a group of other international spouses to share a pot luck dinner around the time of Thanksgiving. She and her group have enjoyed this tradition for the five years she has been here in Tucson; she enjoyed the pot luck tradition at her prior base, as well. In Hilary’s words: “We tend to have a mini Tucson Eat Yourself since all the ladies try to make a dish from their country of origin…”
International Spouse Group
Hilary and her husband were married in 2005, in an era where the Internet made life a little easier when it came to communicating through deployments. Unlike military spouses from the world wars of previous decades, Hilary and her husband used phone cards/deployment phone privileges or Skype rather than printed letters.
In terms of unique traditions practiced during tours of duty, Hilary points to the international spouse group. The group meets on a regular basis to network, share information and have fun (the group motto). “It is interesting how much we can learn about each other’s culture, and the struggles of transition, when we get together,” she says.
For the past three years, Hilary has helped a variety of Air Force men and women to volunteer with TMY. There was involvement from the First Term Airmen Centre (FTAC), Davis-Monthan. Service members on first active duty station after bootcamp, as well as a Chief of Components Maintenance Squadron (CMS) also have shared in the experience of TMY. Military families have traveled from far east of Tucson, Marana and Sahuarita to TMY to enjoy an array of food & culture, which, says Hilary, reminds them of the various places across the world where they have been located for military service.
The 62nd Army Band, which has ensembles that play music in various genres, is based at Fort Huachuca. The Band’s2nd Army Band Higher Ground Brass Band ensemble Higher Ground Brass Band ensemble (pictured here in BorderLore) performed at TMY last year. The Ceremonial Band also has performed traditional military American songs at TMY.
Beth Frantz, TMY Board Member, Child of Veteran
Beth’s father Jack was in three different branches of the military. In the Navy, he served four years (1953 – 1957) with a rank of 3rd Class Petty Officer (E4), Aircraft Mechanic. Jack was stationed in Pensacola, FL for two years and then two years in Atsugi, Japan. In the Air Force, Jack served four years (1958 – 1962). His rank was Airman 1st Class (E5), Aircraft Mechanic. He was stationed at Langley Air Force base in Virginia for one year. He was then stationed in Denver, CO at Lowery Air Force base for three years. In the Army National Guard, Jack served for 18 years (1977 – 1995). His rank was sergeant and he was stationed at Camp Atterbury in Indiana and also Camp Rialia in Seaside, OR.
Jack received various awards for his service, and Beth is particularly proud of his Indiana Commendation Medal, received in 1982 for Exceptional Meritorious Service. She recalls a number of customs Jack and his family observed over the years, including participation in the American Legion and annual military reunions. Jack also participated in the honor guard at his various bases. In this duty he maintained various ceremonial traditions including flag folding and Presentation of the Colors. To this day Jack and his family continue to respect the flag and display it at every military holiday.
Jack Frantz’ Service Awards
Jack is proud of the 26 years of service he put in for our country. Additionally, Jack appreciates that the military and the American people have shown their gratitude to him through the military benefits he receives. In turn, Beth is grateful for the wonderful example her father sets, as well as the legacy of service he leaves for his family. In time of need, she says, “my father was there to serve his country. I am proud of the values of bravery and loyalty that personify his life.”
– Library of Congress Veterans History Project http://www.loc.gov/vets/
– The 62nd Army Band of Fort Huachuca http://huachuca-www.army.mil/pages/band/ensembles.html