Veterans Day is a perfect opportunity to recognize men and women who have served the United States as members of the Armed Forces. When we asked for some stories about veterans throughout the Oasis network, there were many from which to choose. We’ve selected Dean Zimmerman and Ethel Mariam this time around, but look forward to hearing more great stories from veterans who are now part of the Oasis community. We thank each of you for your service and commitment to our country!
Witness to history and seeing the world
He considers himself a Korean War veteran, at least officially, but as a young recruit drafted right out of high school in 1945, Dean Zimmerman (right) experienced the aftermath of World War II up close.
He found himself assigned to guarding German prisoners of war as they awaited transport to their trials at Nuremberg and in 1947, he was among the troops assigned to protect the Morgan Line, to cool down claims to the Free Territory of Trieste between Italy and Yugoslavia.
Zimmerman served in the U.S. Army in a number of capacities, from rifleman to company clerk to supply sergeant in the medical depot to squad leader, squad sergeant and master sergeant.
Zimmerman, 88, retired from the army in 1965, and remained in the Reserves until 1975. He proudly wears his U.S. Army veteran hat, and says people thank him for his service to his country, although he still seems amazed at the opportunities he had as a result.
“As a kid from a small town in southwest Iowa, the army definitely gave me a better life than I might have had,” he says. “I saw the world—nine countries.”
Zimmerman enjoys participating in the bus trips and finds himself drawn to classes on history and current events at the Indianapolis Oasis.
Making WAVES and history
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Ethel Mariam (left) was ready to join the U.S. Navy. There were a few hurdles: she was only a senior in high school, her parents wouldn’t allow it and there simply weren’t any women in the Navy yet. That didn’t stop her.
“I wrote to the navy, and they told me to wait a year. By then there was an opportunity for women. I talked my parents into it and two weeks before my 20th birthday, in 1943, I became one of the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), U.S. Naval Reserve.
“We were there to replace the desk jobs stateside so that the men could go overseas,” says Mariam. “We wanted to be there,” she recalls.
Mariam served in the U.S. Naval Reserve until 1946, and then went home to go to school at St. Louis University. Not long after, she was commissioned to organize a group of women in the reserves and stayed, advancing to the rank of captain in 1974.
Today, at 92, Mariam remembers the exact dates that she was elevated in rank and in what capacities she served during her 38 years in service.
“Many people didn’t want the WAVES, but I think we were the best thing that ever happened to U.S. forces. We paved the way for women to serve as they do today.”
Today, Ethel volunteers as a class coordinator at the St. Louis Oasis, where she has been very involved in the technology training.