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Best Days Podcast

Best Days Podcast

By Best Days Podcast
We all have a story to tell. What's yours?
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Salute to Veterans special edition, Connie E. Minton
The Minton family of Kouts was one of 22 Pleasant Township families to have two or more sons serving during WWII at the same time. Connie E. Minton was aboard a LST amphibious landing ship just offshore of Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945 - just a few days before the famous iconic USMC flag raising during that costly battle. A massive US Navy presence surrounded the island early that morning bombing it from sea and air preparing for the landing on that heavily fortified and well-defended volcanic rock in the ocean. Seaman First Class Minton was topside likely taking place in the bombing and defending the air around the ships when a Japanese kamikaze pilot targeted his LST-477 - striking it near the forward gun placement and killing 8 shipmates instantly, including SFC Minton. Hear his story and how his two brothers, Marshall and Ivan fared in the war and take a moment to thank the Minton family - especially Connie - for their ultimate sacrifice. 
May 23, 2022
Salute to Veterans special edition, Charles W. Smalley, Jr.
"Then came Montelimar" is the bone-chilling 3-word sentence to start a chapter in the memoir of the 141st Infantry Regiment 36th Infantry Division during WWII - described as a unit that fought for 5 years, 5 countries and 5 campaigns. Montelimar is a commune village in the Rhone Valley in the south of France, an otherwise beautiful area of the world. In the last week of August 1944, though, it was anything but. Chesterton's Charles Smalley, Jr. was embedded with the 141st after marching across Italy and most of southern France as the Allies encountered a determined German 1st Army including a feared Panzer Division. For 168 hours in the hills, fields and clustered towns in that scenic valley, a firefight bloodbath of explosions and close combat took place. Sometime in those 168 hours, Private Smalley lost his life. A former Methodist church youth group leader, Boy Scout and big brother to Jack and Ronald - his remains were never recovered in the carnage that was left. The Germans limped out in retreat defeated, vastly weakened and disorganized - a victory for the Allies, but at a steep, steep price.
May 20, 2022
Salute to Veterans special edition Louis Paul Auble
Valparaiso's Louis Paul Auble said goodbye to his wife, three young sons and father just before Christmas, 1942 as he left for Camp Gordon in California to serve his country. He was 29 at the time and just hitting his stride as a family man and professional painter and interior decorator. He fought with General Patton's army across north Africa and into Italy as a mortarman with the 83rd Chemical Battalion. By late 1943 Italy was fractured in half with the lower part of the "boot" aligned with the Allies, while Hitler and Mussolini desperately tried to hold the north - including Rome - and retake the south. Running the Germans out of the north would create a wide-open path directly to Germany and provide vital ground operations for air attacks. Hitler established a series of defensive fronts across the central Italy that would collectively be known as the Winter Line. Private Auble was aboard LST-422 in the early-morning hours of January 26, 1944, part of a 13-ship convoy sailing into the port city of Anzio - behind the Winter Line. The ships carried tens of thousands of men, tanks, trucks, ammunitions and fuel needed to dislodge the Germans from Italy once and for all. A fierce winter storm kicked up over the Tyrrhenian Sea with gale force winds, 30-foot waves, and ice, snow, rain and hail. As the ships anchored at sea a few miles off the coast waiting for their calls to port the storm intensified. The LST-422 was blown from its anchor and was tossed into an enemy underwater minefield that until that point no one knew was there. The explosion ripped a huge hole into the starboard and bottom of the ship allowing the sea to rush into the below decks where the entire 83rd Chemical Battalion was encamped - they never stood a chance. Private Auble died in those icy waters that night; he was never recovered. He would never learn of the challenges his youngest son Ray "Buddy" Auble would endure with an often fatal heart condition and how the whole city of Valparaiso rallied around "Blue Baby Buddy," the son of a dead war hero. We learn how Lucile, Louis's wife would die young as well - at the age of 38 - making orphans out of the three boys who would live with other family members. We learn of Buddy's triumphant recovery from so much tragedy. 
May 12, 2022
Mental Health Awareness Month: Self-Care
Join VNA Hospice NWI Bereavement Coordinator Sarah Kingsbury and Volunteer Services Coordinator Erica Kerkes as they discuss self-care habits and the benefits of creating a self-care routine.
May 11, 2022
J Frank Brunk Salute to Veterans special edition
By all accounts Frank Brunk grew up in an idyllic time and place, a quiet Chesterton between the great world wars. It was a Norman Rockwell painting in real life. The scrapbook of his youth is filled with newspaper clippings of being an accomplished musician as an 8-year-old, a Boy Scout, an outstanding youth leader at the First Methodist church. He was a busy thespian appearing in a number of high school and community productions, sung in the chorus and played in the orchestra. His father JC Brunk was in the Lions Club and owned a business in town where young Frank helped out. Slight of build at 5'9" and 125 pounds, Frank graduated with recognition from Westchester High School in 1941 and in September of that year was at Purdue rooming with a new friend, James, from Pittsburgh. How quickly things change. His selective service number #12358 was soon called and in June, 1942 he left Purdue and was at Sheppard Field in Texas as part of the US Air Corp. Two years later on June 8, 1944 he was part of a six-man crew in a B-25 Mitchell bomber attacking a Japanese convoy of 8 ships off the coast of New Guinea; Staff Sgt. Brunk was the radioman and gunner, and on this day 10 bombers and 24 P-38s were taking relentless antiaircraft heat as they tried to sink the ships. Sgt. Brunk's pilot, 2nd Lt. Howard Wood, dove the bomber to make a second run when the plane was shredded by Japanese shells sending it crashing into the sea. No one survived or was recovered. Staff Sgt. Brunk and the crew is memorialized on the Tablets of Missing in the Manilla America Cemetery. A painting of Robert Woods' "Coast of Monterey" was donated to the school in 1947 by Frank's parents in his memory and hung in the library - I wonder if it still does?
May 06, 2022
PFC Laurence Siddall Salute to Veterans special edition
Laurence Siddall was a tall lanky high junior at Valparaiso High School in 1943. One of seven children to father William - a local postman - and mother Genivieve, Laurence was often pictured in his high school photos with moppish hair and a shy - if not sly grin. He participated in the Glee Club and Tumbling Club - maybe not the lineage one might expect for a future US Marine. The tumblers though, seemed to have some mettle. They performed at halftime of basketball games, and as the WWII raged on, they learned more physical routines that drew from combat training that servicemen were learning in the military. In fact in the fall of 1943, just as Laurence was beginning his junior year, the club disbanded as too many participants had left for active duty, including Laurence and team captain Malcom Varner. We heard Malcom's name in a previous salute to classmate Joe Long as they were both stationed together in Norman, OK. By 1945, now Private First Class in the USMC, Laurence was in the Pacific as a mortarman aboard a LVT - an amphibious landing craft. On February 19, 1945 the order to take Iwo Jima was given - we've all seen the famous flag raising that would occur three days later, but even on that date, the battle was far from over. But back on Monday, Feb 15, as dawn broke at 0640 across the south Pacific it was already a humid 68-degrees while PFC Siddall and his crewmates had a quick breakfast of bacon and eggs below deck. Overhead canons from the dozens - if not hundreds - of ships started booming as the bombardment of Iwo Jima started. A couple of hours later PFC Siddall was only 400 yards from shore in fierce fighting - bullets and rockets and grenades exploding all around. A Japanese mortar shell from high above found its mark in the LVT sinking it instantly - 8 crewmen never resurfaced, including PFC Siddall. Later that day SFC Connie Minton also of Valparaiso would be killed on LST-477 when a kamikaze pilot crashed into his ship. The US Marines would finally secure Iwo Jima 34 days later after some of the fiercest fighting in the Pacific ended. 
April 29, 2022
Salute to Veterans special edition, Cpl John T. McBride, Jr.
Episodes with music are only available on Spotify.
John McBride was a standout student and athlete a Valparaiso High School, graduating with the class of 1934, and after lettering four years on the basketball team. He enlisted with the US Army in April, 1943 and was soon with General Jacob Devers' 7th Army marching across southern France liberating towns and villages along the way. The 7th joined Patton's 3rd Army at the Battle of Bulge where some of the most fierce and intimate trench battles during the war occurred. Hitler was on the brink and desperately needed to defeat the 7th Army or risk the defeat of his entire military and lose the war - a win against the 7th would reinvigorate his army and push the Allies back toward the shores. The Allies, though, were up to the challenge and won the battle which forced the Germans into retreat and ultimately paved the way to Berlin for the Allies. Corporal McBride lost his life on January 24, 1945 - the last day of fighting as the Germans retreated the next day. He rests eternal in the Epinal American Cemetery in France. 
April 25, 2022
Salute to Veterans special edition - Sgt. Milton Yost
Episodes with music are only available on Spotify.
Learn how Valparaiso's own Sgt. Milton Yost stormed across France and Germany with the 82nd Airborne, likely landing with troops on D-Day in Normandy. Learn some neat history about a large factory that no longer exists where Sgt. Yost was employed. 
April 25, 2022
Lt. Magdelene Kubeck Salute
Episodes with music are only available on Spotify.
Magdelene Kubeck came to the United States as a 2-year-old through Ellis Island and settled in Whiting, IN with her family. She graduated from Whiting High in 1927 and soon began her studies to become a nurse. The bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, awoke something in Magdelene and she answered a call to serve. Right after Christmas, 1941, she was in Seattle and soon deployed to the Pacific Theater. She was killed on February 15, 1945 in a violent car accident on Guam. Her death serves as a reminder to us all on the importance of nurses in battle - throughout our history. The most famous nurses - Florence Nightengale, Clara Barton, Dorthea Dix - were all battlefield nurses risking their lives to serve. We can't do enough to thank and recognize them - so honoring Lt. Kubeck and her strength, resolve and bravery is the least we can do to start. 
April 22, 2022
Salute to Veterans special edition - August "Joe" Long
Episodes with music are only available on Spotify.
August "Joe" Long of Valparaiso died heroically in World War II serving his country in the Pacific theater. He was part of a bombing mission aboard a B24 Liberator on Mothers' Day, May 9, 1945, with a task to destroy an airfield and recently arrived Japanese planes on the vital outpost. His plane came in under heavy fire as she had to dive low and slow to deliver its payload on the tiny island - it was like dropping ping-pong balls into a cup from a car going 150 mph. The 12-man crew as able to deliver its 20 100-pound bombs and destroyed three Japanese planes getting ready to taxi for takeoff. However as the plane tried to accelerate and lift, she was strafed with terrific ground fire, ripping her apart in flight, and sending her hurtling into the sea. No wreckage or survivors were found by planes or ships who returned for rescue attempts. Joe received the Air Medal posthumously from Secretary of Navy James Forrrestal on November 25, 1946.
April 15, 2022
Robert Franklin Ruge - Salute to Veterans Edition
Episodes with music are only available on Spotify.
The VNA Hospice is proud to salute Robert Franklin Ruge of Valparaiso for his valor and bravery during WWII where he served in the Pacific Theater. Lt. Ruge fought on the island of Corregidor in 1944, was taken captive as a POW for over two years before being lost at sea as the Imperial Japanese "hell ship" Arisan Maru - a POW transport - was sunk by an American submarine. 
April 13, 2022
Paul S. Biggart Salute to Veterans Special Edition
Episodes with music are only available on Spotify.
Staff Sgt. Paul S. Biggart was born in Valparaiso in 1921 and served in the USAF during WWII in the European Theater. He was a waist gunner aboard the "Pistol Packin' Momma," a B24 Liberator that flew multiple missions over Germany. The bomber completed her last mission on February 25, 1944, delivering her payload over a plane factory deep in Germany before being slowly picked apart by German defenses, and finally downed just after crossing into safe airspace in Italy. Staff Sgt. Biggart was killed as the plane approached her target, and in fact was credited with taking out four German fighters himself - all told the Momma knocked out 15 German fighters that mission, a Bomber Group record. We salute Staff Sgt. Biggart's heroics and thank him and his family for his sacrifice. 
April 12, 2022
Salute to Veterans: National Vietnam Veterans Day
Join your host, Erica Kerkes, as she speaks with 2 local Vietnam Veterans about their service in recognition of National Vietnam Veterans Day, March 29th.
March 29, 2022
Salute to Veterans: Sgt. Wallace Victor Koselke
Episodes with music are only available on Spotify.
Join us this week as we hear the story of 21 year old, Wallace Victor Koselke of Wanatah, Indiana. We'll learn more about Sgt. Koselke's sacrifice for our nation and his ultimate sacrifice. #WeHonorVeterans #BestDaysPodcast
February 14, 2022
Salute to Veterans: Freddie K. Affeld
Episodes with music are only available on Spotify.
In this week's episode we remember the life of US Army Air Corps Staff Sgt Freddie K. Affeld. We salute Freddie and his family for his service and sacrifice for our country. #WeHonorVeterans #BestDaysPodcast
February 14, 2022
Navigating Veteran Benefits: Panel Discussion
Join us as we talk to Jim Atkinson, former Porter County Veteran Service Officer and current VNA Hospice Volunteer, Angelica Schultis, Member/Partner at Blachly, Tabor, Bozik & Hartman and Jeff Imhof, current Porter County Veteran Service Officer, about benefits available to veterans and their families.  A downloadable resource guide is available at 
January 13, 2022
Salute to Veteran's Day
In this episode we talk to John Gorski and Jim Atkinson about their military service and find out why they chose to become VNA Hospice volunteers.
November 05, 2021