Larry Johnson speaks quietly and poignantly when he talks about his time in the military.
The Malmo man was in the United States Army infantry in Vietnam in 1966.
Johnson tells how he’d been in his outfit for just two weeks when they were ambushed in a jungle area.
He shares his story in a Northeast Nebraska Telephone Company video.
“We lost 14 guys,” Johnson said. “Most of my squad was gone. It was just me and two sergeants left.”
Johnson’s story is one of 23 that the NNTC recorded during interviews last summer.
On March 8, NNTC will host a viewing of “Service to Their Country: Nebraska Veterans Share Their Experiences of War” during a learning seminar.
The public is invited to the free seminar from 10-11:30 a.m. in the American Legion National Hall in Prague.
During the seminar, attendees can watch a 12-minute video, which features veterans from northeast Nebraska who took part in the interviews. DVD copies of all the “Soldiers’ Stories” interviews will be given to those veterans who were part of an online video series.
Melissa Lanzourakis, NNTC marketing manager, explained how the series began.
“We wanted to give veterans of war a voice and to share their stories in a way no one else ever had for these particular veterans, on camera. The end goal was to share their stories with our online audience during the month of November to commemorate Veterans Day,” Lanzourakis said.
The veterans were NNTC customers. Veteran Tom Stranik is a current board member.
A separate video was made of each veteran and then the compilation video was made.
Lanzourakis talked about the interview process.
“There were no time limits on interviews and no strict agenda, just a series of questions to help veterans open up about their experiences during war,” she said. “NNTC hoped their stories would help educate, enlighten and stimulate conversations about fighting for our country.”
Each of the individual stories was assigned a release date during November 2018.
On Veterans Day weekend, NNTC released a longer salute featuring all 23 veterans.
“That is the video we’ll show at the seminar,” Lanzourakis said.
Lanzourakis learned much from interviewing the veterans and putting their stories together.
“It amazes me that no matter what a veteran did during their time of service, they each have a unique, individual story to tell,” Lanzourakis said. “I listened to shocking details of being shot at, running from enemy fire and living in fear daily, but what touched me most of all would be the way they all had to find some sort of normalcy, no matter their role.”
Lanzourakis expressed appreciation for the veterans.
“Being a veteran is truly being a part of a group of outstanding individuals, who did something greater than themselves,” she said. “We have no real way to say ‘thank you’ to these veterans, so we at NNTC felt that creating these videos was a very small way to give back to them.”
At the seminar, Lanzourakis tell talk about the power of the internet with the number of times “Soldiers’ Stories” were viewed online.
She also will speak about the benefits of social media for seniors and be available to answer questions on that topic.
Mark Krug, NNTC information technology specialist, will speak on “phishing” emails, email scams and what people can do to protect themselves.
Facebook links to video stories of area soldiers include:
• James Bauer – Prague – United State Air Corps – end of WWII – 1944 – 1946 http://bit.ly/JamesBauer
• Myron Coufal – Prague – United States Army – end of WWII – 1944 – 1945 http://bit.ly/MyronCoufal
• Don Fujan – Prague – United States Army – Vietnam War – 1969 - 1972 http://bit.ly/DonFujan
• Larry Johnson – Malmo – United States Army (Infantry) – Vietnam – 1966 http://bit.ly/LarryJohnsonMalmo
• Larry Mach – Prague – United States Navy Reserve – Vietnam War Period – 1969 - 1975 http://bit.ly/LarryMach
• Jerry Paes – Prague – United States Air Force (combat) – two tours during Vietnam War – 1956 – 1977 http://bit.ly/JerryPaes
• Tom Stranik – Morse Bluff – United States Navy & Navy Reserve - 1960 - 1982 http://bit.ly/TomStranik
• Dwayne Urban – Prague – United States Navy – Vietnam War – 1970 - 1974 http://bit.ly/DwayneUrban
• Darwin Vermeline – Malmo – United States Army – 1953 - 1955 http://bit.ly/DarwinVermeline
• Veterans Day Salute Video http://bit.ly/NNTCSalutesVeterans
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