Originally from the Washington, D.C. area, Jason Nulton is an Air Force veteran and author who served as a logistics officer and unit commander at locations throughout the United States, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Afghanistan. Now teaching leadership and energy science at Ohio Valley University, he holds two masters’ degrees and has appeared in the webcast “The Bulge: The First Seven Days.” In addition, he has collaborated with British historian and History Channel commentator Martin King on a documentary book detailing a century of combat by the US Army's 4th Infantry Division from World War I to Afghanistan and Iraq, which will be published in the fall of 2016. He is currently writing his next volume based on the true story of a Vietnamese family who escaped Saigon the day before it fell in April 1975.
Belgian nurse Augusta Chiwy, left, talks with author and military historian Martin King moments before receiving an award for valor from the U.S. Army, in Brussels, Dec. 12, 2011. (Associated Press/Yves Logghe)
Most people haven't heard of an elderly Belgian-Congolese nurse named Augusta Chiwy. But students of history know that adversity and dread can turn on a dime into freedom and change, and it's often the most humble and little-known individuals who are the drivers of it.
During the very darkest days of the Battle of the Bulge in World War II, Chiwy was such a catalyst, and hundreds of Americans lived because of her. She died quietly on Aug. 23, 2015, at the age of 94 at her home in Brussels, Belgium, and had it not been for the efforts of my friend — British military historian Martin King — the world may never have heard her astonishing story.
August 2012, The Pentagon. I had just reported for duty on what would become my last assignment in uniform. Gen. Mark Welsh had just taken over as Air Force chief of staff. Having recently served in Germany, I was very familiar with him; he was the commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe for part of my tour there, and I’d heard him speak on numerous occasions.
It’s often said that if we don’t study our own history, we will be doomed to repeat it. This is probably true, mainly because we can learn great lessons from it and use them in our own lives to grow. Twenty years in uniform taught me a great deal; there’s very little substitute for on-the-job training and experience to help with personal or professional growth, but about halfway through my career, I started asking questions that transcended what was happening to me day to day. How did we get here? Who came before me? Professional Military Education revealed some things, but it always felt distant and watered down. What if I dug deeper? What could I glean from learning the politics and individual experiences of the soldier on the ground? Could I apply it?
In early December, I had the humbling honor of being connected with a former Marine named Hershel "Woody" Williams, a World War II Medal of Honor recipient. Williams, a man with blood ties to the American Revolution, participated in combat on a rock called Iwo Jima in 1945, and I might not have paid as much attention to his incredible story had it not been for my own roots in our nation’s birth. It turns out that as direct descendants of Revolutionary War soldiers, both Woody Williams and I are able to claim membership in the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.
Flying machines have only been around for a little over 100 years, but the state of human aviation as a military discipline has always been dynamic. The U.S. Army adopted airplanes in 1907 under the Aeronautical Division, Signal Corps, but the uniformed piloting of airplanes has never been without controversy.
Most people haven’t heard of an elderly Belgian-Congolese nurse named Augusta Chiwy. But students of history know that adversity and dread can turn on a dime into freedom and change, and it’s often the most humble and little-known individuals who are the drivers of it.