Four of the eight veterans (Jerry Lepinske, John Grom, Garrey Curry and Dick Kimiak) on the panel served in the Vietnam War. Some spent time in country, fighting the good fight, while others served in support positions in other countries like Germany and even in the U.S. on military bases.
Two veterans (Dino Paschetto and Al Sahm) served in World War II, one in the South Pacific and the other on a military base in Hawaii.
Another vet (George Alessio) spent his time in the service in Italy during the Cold War. He is still a member of the naval reserves.
The last veteran (Howard Subis) served on a naval ship during the Korean War.
Did you stay friends with the people you met in the service? -- Jason Ptaszek
Most expressed regret that they had lost touch with their former buddies. All pointed out that the friends you make in the service are unlike any friends you'll make anywhere else.
The camaraderie is something you never forget, Alessio said. He said that since he is a reservist and must go for training every year, he still gets to see his old buddies. It's like we never left.
We were all 19 at the same time, said Vietnam vet Lepinske. There's nothing like that.
Why did you join the service? -- Greg Cheek
While many were compelled to join by the draft, others chose to do so, and all expressed pride and gratitude for the opportunity to have served their country. Some were drawn by the promise of three square meals and clean sheets, others by the promise of adventure overseas.
I was bored, Lepinske said with a laugh. I was looking for adventure It was very difficult the first year, but it was a good experience.
Grom, who was drafted, agreed. It's good for young people to see how other people live, he said. You realize how much we have here in America. It made me very grateful.