WGCU highlights local heroes on Veterans Day

Photo via Unsplash

This Veterans Day, join WGCU as we honor the heroes who have bravely served their country. Watch, listen, or read stories of service from across the nation, including harrowing and emotional personal experiences from our own Southwest Florida vets. So whether you want to brush up on your war history facts or learn something new, WGCU is your source for Veterans Day stories that’ll help you appreciate the meaning of this important holiday.

To all of the men and women who have served, and their loved ones: Thank you for your service.


Spotlight on SWFL Veterans

Punta Gorda Army Veteran Shares ‘My Vietnam War—During, After, and Way After’

Punta Gorda resident and WGCU reporter Michael Hirsh shares a first-hand account of his Vietnam War experiences, including audio recordings he made during the war and his work with veterans in the years since. He was a combat correspondent with the Army’s 25th Infantry Division at Cu Chi, Vietnam in 1966, where he received the Combat Infantryman Badge. “My Vietnam War—During, After, and Way After” also features Hirsh’s fellow army combat correspondent David Kleinberg and an excerpt of his one-man show, “Hey, Hey, LBJ.” Read more >>


75 Years Later: Pearl Harbor Survivors, WW2 Veterans Reflect on ‘Day of Infamy’

Photo: Michael Hirsh, WGCU / From left: Pearl Harbor survivors Don Thomas and John Gideon, and World War II veterans Vernon Sigo and Joseph Funigiello, now call Southwest Florida home. They shared their memories with WGCU on the 75th anniversary of the attacks.

This GCL episode explores the 75th anniversary of an event that changed history: the attack on Pearl Harbor. Hear stories from local veterans and discover Florida’s unique connections to the war effort with historian Dr. Lois Bolin. Listen now >>


Army veteran says military background makes her a different kind of mother

Lia Coronado’s entrepreneurship photoshoot, hosted by FGCU. Lia took what she learned in the entrepreneurship program and applies it to her business daily.

Lia Coronado says she was not the most responsible person in high school. “I wasn’t going down the right path,” recalled Coronado. “Through my high school years, I was partying a lot and doing some things that I really shouldn’t have. And the military really took me out of that situation, and forced me to kind of get on the right path. Man, if I wouldn’t have gone into the military, who knows the person I would have been today.” Read more >>


WGCU Presents VETS: Stories of Service

Photo by Cristina Glebova on Unsplash

This series honors Southwest Florida veterans. Each half-hour television documentary features interviews with five local men and women who served in the United States Armed Forces as they share their often harrowing and emotional personal experiences of these conflicts. Watch Now >>


Life after service

Post-9/11 Veterans and Life after the Military

International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Via Wikimeida Commons / U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Kevin Healy exits an CH-47 Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan.

Post-9/11 veterans join WGCU-FM’s Gulf Coast Life to discuss their struggles, their support networks, and how they are moving on from life after the military. It’s a new generation of vets facing longer deployments and what many have called “a different type of war.” Guests include Marine Corps veterans Armando Hernandez and Jeffrey Swatzentruber, Cpt. John Bunch, and Rodney Van Ness with Lee County Veterans Services. Read more >>


American Veteran: The Return

Hollywood war stories mostly end with the hero’s return. In reality, the road back to civilian life is less certain. For some, there were ticker-tape parades; for others, protests, anger and silence. Some veterans return home full of confidence, while others think, “What am I going to do now?” Hosted by actor Wes Studi, Vietnam War Veteran (National Guard) and Native American (Cherokee) activist. Watch now>>


On Home Ground: Life After Service

Celebrate Veteran’s Day with PBS! Filmed primarily in the summer of 2014, On Home Ground: Life After Service gives an intimate look into the lives of three veterans who returned home to the Adirondacks in upstate New York after deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. The film poses the question: after all the sacrifice, when does home finally feel like home again? The documentary guides viewers on a journey of re-assimilation. Watch Now >>


More inspiring stories

Sanibel artist Lucas Century recounts his time working on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Lucas Century engraving names into the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

In the early 1980s Sanibel-based artist Lucas Century learned of the effort to create the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. He believe an engraving technique he’d developed could help the project along, and he was right. All of the more than 58,000 names engraved into black granite were done so using his method, which saved the memorial’s timeline and budget. Read more >>


Shuttle Veteran Leads First Human Space Mission Launched From U.S. Since 2011

When NASA astronauts launch from the Kennedy Space Center, it will be the first time humans have blasted off from the U.S. since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011. The pilot of that final shuttle mission was Doug Hurley, and he’s aboard again Wednesday, ready to make history with the launch of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule. Read more >>


From cryptographer to Special Equestrians, a Navy veteran reminisces

Fleet Air Photo Lab / Petty Officer First Class Bill Curtis shakes Captain Ryan’s hand during a ceremonial event on September 8, 1961, at NAS North Island in San Diego, California.

Bill Curtis was in the U.S. Navy for many years. He joined the service in 1953 at the end of the Korean War. For two years he was a cryptographer. He has a head for data. During his active duty in Italy, he excelled in teletype communications. His work, as you might expect, was top secret. Read more >>


Army Veteran marches to his own drumbeat, literally

Andrew Morris with a Turtle Pad backpack

Army Veteran Andrew Morris always has a drum with him. “My dad was a drummer,” said Morris. “And my dad’s dad was also a drummer, and it just kind of ran in the family. So, being around it a lot, I ended up you know, taking classes in middle school and percussion.” Read more >>


After the fast lane, this Army Veteran slows his roll

Ren Stanley, Via @Ren_stanley_boat_design On Instagram / Ren Stanley with his boat “Patience.”

Army veteran Ren Stanley joined the Army when he was 22, hoping to find a sense of direction.

“I’m this broke college student, not really motivated,” recalled Stanley. “I feel super guilty that I’m blowing all my parents’ money in college. I was in college for four years and I had 45 credit hours. I always felt like there was more to life than this sort of a stigmatized cookie cutter pathway. I showed up to the recruiter’s office and for the first time in my life I kinda took responsibility. One of the jobs that I took was 88 Mike, is what they call it, and that was a heavy wheeled motor vehicle operator, which is a fancy way of saying I was a truck driver.” Read more >>


Marine Veteran recalls “coldest spot of the world” training experience in Norway

John Bergeon displays his certificate of mission completion at our interview in Fort Myers, Florida on September 30, 2021.

In October of 1988, John Bergeron went with 185 other Marines to a remote town at the northern tip of Norway. They went in order to simulate an invasion to test Norway’s defenses. Read more >>


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Author: Anna Bejerano

Anna Bejerano is the Digital Media Manager for WGCU Public Media. She is a writer, artist, graphic & web designer. She began interning for WGCU in 2015 and has worked on the WGCU website, mobile app, and analytics ever since. She continues working closely with various departments to gather data, generate reports, create digital-first content and implement digital strategy for the station.