Armed Services

Durrie Bouscaren / Iowa Public Radio

James Yee spent nearly a year as a military chaplain at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He was appalled by the conditions he saw there, including what he describes as humiliating interrogation methods which he says often targeted prisoners' religion.

On his way home in 2003, Yee was detained by the U.S. military and accused of spying. He was held in solitary confinement for 76 days before ultimately being released, cleared of all charges, and honorably discharged.

Bernie Contreras

They were known as "POW bracelets," a symbolic metal band bearing the name of a Vietnam POW, or a man missing in action. More than 40 years after the prisoners came home, a Florida man rediscovered the bracelet he wore as a teenager and traced it back to a Navy veteran in Des Moines. We interviewed both men for Veterans Day.

The partial government shutdown the country just came out of is often compared to the face-off nearly 20 years ago between President Bill Clinton and House Speaker Newt Gingrich. This News Buzz edition of River to River looks at the aftermath of the latest clash, compares it to what happened in the 90’s, and examines how Iowa and national politics have changed since then.  

We also hear about the World Food Prize ceremony this week and the protests associated with it.  And, a unit with the Iowa National Guard had a homecoming this week. Plus, Willie the pig has been captured.

U.S. Air Force

The fight to save Iowa's last jet fighter squadron is history; Des Moines' F-16s are gone and training for the next mission is well underway.

Run Hide Fight

Sep 13, 2013
Pat Blank

Nearly 400 teachers in the Cedar Falls School District spent today learning some new options should they ever have to deal with someone with a gun in their classroom.  The training was provided by the Cedar Falls Police Department and focused on updated protocols from the Department of Homeland Security. Much like the fire drill, Stop, Drop and Roll,  public safety officials have developed Run, Hide, Fight for use in an active shooter situation.The Cedar Falls School District is one of the first in the state to involve all teachers, not just administrators.

Mojave Desert / flickr

For this News Buzz version of 'River to River' we hear about legally blind Iowans and gun permits, astronaut Clayton Anderson will join the Iowa State University faculty, the Cyclone/Hawkeye game is tomorrow, and hear about superstitions on this Friday the thirteenth.

Klaus Wagensonner / sipazigaltumu / Flickr

The crisis in Syria has been in the headlines for weeks, but the roots of the two-year-long conflict can be traced back decades. Today host Ben Kieffer gets an in-depth understanding of how history of the region brought Syria to the point of civil war, how terrorism figures in and the conflict's potential outcomes.

End of an Era

Sep 8, 2013
Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

One-hundred-ten years after the Wright Brothers made aviation history, a ceremony was held to commemorate the end of manned flight by a unit of the Iowa Air National Guard.

Ben Stanton / IPR

When Otty Schmakal left Austria at the beginning of World War II, she left behind her homeland and a fiancé who was training to be a doctor.  He was conscripted into the German Army and she eventually joined the US Army.  Today on Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe hears the true World War II love story of Otty and Fred Blodi.

Charity also speaks with Tom Morain, of Graceland University, who provides insight on the Women's Army Auxillary Corps in Des Moines, as well as other WWII preparation efforts.

Ben Stanton / Iowa Public Radio

In this encore edition of River to River, listen back to host Ben Kieffer's tour of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum with its Director Tom Schwartz.  Schwartz talks about the role of presidential museums and libraries in light of the recent opening of the George W. Bush Library in Dallas.  Schwartz also discusses President Hoover himself and the museum’s exhibit that commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.  It’s called Iowans and the Civil War: The Western Theater.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

The Iowa National Guard has taken some significant casualties in recent months. Since late last year, five soldiers have taken their own lives. Three former members have also committed suicide.

F16 Fighting Falcon prepares for training flight in Des Moines.
Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

Relief is coming soon for Des Moines residents bothered by noisy F-16 jet fighters. All 21 planes, with their roaring engines, will be phased out by fall. We observed flight training for the full impact.

Iowa Army National Guard

The Iowa National Guard will face furloughs next  month due to the federal government sequester. Approximately 11 hundred full-time guard members, called federal technicians, will be idle one day each week without pay from July 8th through September 30th. Guard spokesman Colonel Greg Hapgood says the last time they dealt with furloughs was in the mid 1990s.

Hapgood says the furloughs will not affect active guard and reserve members. Those who will be impacted do everything from accounting to aircraft maintenance.

Eric Anderson / flickr

Marine Sgt. Ross Gundlach and a military service dog, a golden lab named Casey, faced more than 150 missions together in Afghanistan, sweeping roads for bombs in the south Helmand Province. Today on River To River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Sgt. Gundlach about his experience and reunification with Casey in Iowa earlier this month. Also, anthropologist Matt Hill of the University of Iowa, on what makes our relationship with dogs so unique.

Ben Stanton / Iowa Public Radio

Host Ben Kieffer takes a tour of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum with its Director Tom Schwartz.  He talks about the role of presidential museums and libraries in light of the recent opening of the George W. Bush Library in Dallas.  Schwartz also discusses President Hoover himself and the museum’s exhibit that commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.  It’s called Iowans and the Civil War: The Western Theater.  The exhibit includes a Civil War field hospital, and signed copies of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment. 

Above the Din of War

Apr 4, 2013
Peter Eichstaedt

"River to River" sits down with journalist Peter Eichstaedt to talk about his new book "Above the Din of War" which examines the results of the war in Afghanistan through the eyes of the Afghan people.

Nicole Shumate

Thousands of veterans have returned from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. Nightmares or flashbacks, angry outbursts, and hyper vigilance are common symptoms. In addition, many veterans also have to learn to live with physical injuries. A Des Moines-based not-for-profit called Paws & Effect is helping some Iowa veterans live better lives by training and placing psychiatric service and mobility dogs.

Retrieving Freedom

Feb 21, 2013
Pat Blank

A unique project in Northeast Iowa combines Wartburg College students with service dogs-in-training who will eventually be paired with military veterans or children with special needs.  The dogs can profoundly assist physically and emotionally wounded soldiers and give hope to families who need a boost to help cope with a child with challenges. The non-profit organization Retrieving Freedom is supplying the dogs. Their website is retrievingfreedom.org.

In 1862 Private Silas W. Haven marched off to fight in the Civil War.  He left behind his wife and three small children for four long years.  During that time he wrote nearly 200 letters home. Those letters have now been published in the new book, “A Punishment on the Nation: An Iowa Soldier Endures the Civil War.”  I’ll talk with editor Brian Miller.

Rick Fredericksen / IPR

It was code-named Operation Homecoming, when the U.S. and North Vietnam signed a peace agreement and our prisoners of war started coming home.We remember the defining events of that time, with historic sound from our Iowa Archives project.

Carmen, Los Angeles / flickr

Thanksgiving traditions may reach back to the Pilgrims, but Thanksgiving didn’t become an official holiday until 1863.  On today's Talk of Iowa, we explore the history of Thanksgiving.  We find out how the holiday was celebrated during the Civil War, how Iowans made it their own and, of course, we’ll talk about food! 

Pat Blank

William Schaefer, professor emeritus of photography talks about his exhibit showcasing some of Iowa’s notable veterans, which is currently on display at the Gold Star Military Museum at Camp Dodge in Iowa. Then, Captain Dan Grinstead of the Iowa Army National Guard is one of the veterans featured in the exhibit and he shares his story of his decision to enlist later in his life.

Doctor Michael Merzenich, a professor emeritus at the University of California at San Francisco, talks about the human brain how it works and how it can recover from injury.

A keepsake from the Vietnam War will be returned to an Iowa soldier who lost it in 1971 on the bottom of Iowa’s Lake Delhi. John Jones’ gold, 25th Infantry Division ring came off while swimming. Two years ago, after the dam broke and the lake drained, a Chicago treasure hunter found it under the muddy lake bottom, and a veterans official was able to trace it back to Jones, who lives in Cedar Rapids.

IPRs Rick Fredericksen has the story.

John Pemble / IPR

For those of us who haven't served in the military, it's hard to imagine what it must be like. A new theatrical performance called, "Telling: Des Moines" gives Iowa veterans and change for them to share their stories and gives the audience and opportunity to understand the experience.

Bill Schaefer / Gold Star Museum

A new photo exhibit honors living Iowa veterans at the Gold Star Museum at Camp Dodge. Most Iowans will recognize many of them. Exhibit opens to the public on Nov. 9th.

Civil War Medicine

Jul 9, 2012

More than six hundred thousand men died during the Civil War and twice as many men died of disease than of gunshot wounds. Charity talks with Dr. Kendall Reed from Des Moines University medical practices during the war and how the period led to numerous medical advancements.  Later, Lester Menke,  author of  “When Apples Had No Worms”, shares his stories from growing up in the 1920s and 30s.

Memories of the USS Iowa

Jul 4, 2012

One of the largest battleships to serve during World War II was the USS Iowa. Now the Iowa has found a place to rest, rather than rust, as a museum in the port of Los Angeles.  On Tuesday she welcomed many of her seamen back home. Iowa Public Radio’s Sandhya Dirks visited the ship to hear their stories.

 

34th Army Band

When Iowans gather in Des Moines tomorrow to thank veterans for their service, one of the National Guard's most decorated units will be among those leading the parade. Historic 1965 audio from the 34th Army Band in Burlington and the Val Air Ballroom in 1967.

During World War II, Canadian forces had only two aircraft carriers and one, the Nabob, was torpedoed by German forces. Filling in for Charity Nebbe, IPR’s Dennis Reese talks with Iowan Charles Read about his time on the Nabob and surviving the attack. Dr. Read, a University of Iowa emeritus professor of pediatrics, also talks about his time in the Navy and afterwards his work on developing diabetes treatments. Dennis also talks with recent graduate Carmen Smith, a former student ambassador for the UI College of Public Health about her  health research efforts in Gambia.

Nicole Shumate

Thousands of veterans have returned from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.  Nightmares or flashbacks, angry outbursts, and hyper vigilance are common symptoms. In addition, many veterans also have to learn to live with physical injuries.  A Des Moines-based not-for-profit called Paws and Effect is helping some Iowa veterans live better lives.

Sgt. Wade Baker’s solid physique and square jaw contrast nicely with the dark, lithe form of Honor, the young psychiatric service dog at his side.

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