Vietnam veteran Bob Stanton, 60, was drafted into the army at the age of 19.
Stanton did basic training in California, before advanced training took him to Colorado. He was deployed in 1970 and served in the Proud Americans 32nd artillery. He served in Vietnam and Cambodia for 14 months.
After coming back from Vietnam, Stanton said, he was met with hostility. He said that people threw rocks at the bus transporting other soldiers and him home after arriving back in the United States.
“It was like returning out of prison trying to forget everything,” Stanton said. “I came home and hid for 30 years.”
His wife finally encouraged him to join a veterans’ counseling group that helps those with post-war trauma.
“It’s like seeing your close family all over again,” he said. “That’s what’s kept me sane.”
Stanton said Veterans Day is the day when he remembers his experiences and is proud to be a veteran.
Erica Ronquillo, a fourth-year student at UCSC, is the first and only member of her family to enlist. In Oct. 2005 she joined the Marine Corps as a reservist where she went through physical, combat and trifle training.
After a year of training, she enrolled at UCSC and reports to her unit in San José monthly. Every summer she undergoes rigorous training meant to prepare her for a last-minute draft.
Although her contract ends in October 2011, Ronquillo said she has a future with the Marines.
Ronquillo decided to enlist when she was enrolled at a community college.
“I was looking for something new, an adventure,” she said. “I didn’t want to stay at home [and the military] always sounded really enticing.”
Ronquillo hopes the media will present veterans in a more positive light this Veterans Day.
“These negative sentiments about the war have transcended to veterans and they are not honored as they should,” Ronquillo said. “We are the warriors, not the war.”
Charlton “Charlie” Scarborough, 90, is a World War II veteran who joined the military when she was 22. She served in the Army WAAC (Women’s Army Auxiliary Corp) from 1942 to 1943 and was part of the WAC (Women’s Army Corp) from 1943 to 1945 in Algiers, North Africa. She was among the first women to go overseas in WWII.
Of her motivation for enlisting in the army, Scarborough said, “I had two brothers. They were in Alaska in the National Guard and I wasn’t about to stay home.”
Scarborough recorded her experiences in the army through scrapbooks with pictures she took during her service. She did this in secret because taking pictures was not allowed.
Scarborough said of Veterans Day: “It doesn’t excite me very much. I’d rather it slide by.”
She was one of the veterans to go to Washington, D.C. through Honor Flight Network, a nonprofit organization that flies veterans out to the state to visit the World War II Memorial.
UC Santa Cruz second-year Katherine Alvord enlisted in the Marine Corps two years ago at the age of 17. She is an army reservist enlisted for a mandatory six years and is on the regular deployment schedule.
Alvord recalls her initial drive to enlist in the army.
“I had signed up for a scholarship program,” Alvord said. “But the recruiter called me and asked me if I was interested in the reserve. I said, ‘If I can [enlist] while attending school concurrently, sign me up.’”
Alvord hopes to go to Officer Candidate School. If not, she will seek a doctorate in chemistry.
For Alvord, Veterans Day is important not only to remember veterans, but also to bring awareness to those who don’t know much about them.
“There are veterans of all races, ages and colors, from the past and the present,” Alvord said. “It is a great way to open up a line of communication between [veterans] and those who are unaware.”