Generational Service

In celebration of Father’s Day, passing the torch of military service

Have you read the June issue of PN? In honor of Father’s Day this month, we’ve got an article in which Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) members share stories about their fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers who served in the military.

Here are few more stories from other PVA members whose paternal service members influenced their decisions to join the ranks.


PVA Mid-Atlantic Chapter member Quanda Finch, who has multiple sclerosis (MS), is 64 years old and lives in Alexandria, Va. She served in supply and logistics in the Air Force from 1981 to 1995.

Her father, Victor Finch, served in communications in the Air Force from 1949 to 1973. Quanda says she was blessed to grow up as a military “brat” and have the opportunity to travel to different countries where her father was stationed.


Although she was in Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) in high school, she says it was never her plan to go into the military. Quanda was attending college in Maryland and was on her way to an appointment when it started raining. She ducked into a building that housed the Air Force ROTC office and learned about their summer camp, which she thought sounded like fun. She never looked back.

Quanda says it’s only been within the last several years that she and her father have shared stories of their time in the military.

“We talk twice a week, and I’ve learned more about his career in the military, and he has learned about mine,” she says. “Neither of us had talked about it until, you know, over the years. So, it’s exciting to learn.”


PVA Arizona Chapter member Edward Walker, who sustained a level T3/T4 spinal-cord injury in 1989, is 75 years old and lives in Tucson, Ariz.

Walker graduated from high school May 31, 1966, and joined the Marine Corps on June 13, 1966. He served as a gunnery sergeant until 1981.

He was motivated to join the military by his father, Edwin Walker, who served in the Army during World War II.

“I wanted to go into the military because he told me, ‘Never volunteer for anything,’” Edward says. “The Army was dying like flies in ’66, ’65 in Vietnam. I couldn’t swim, so I didn’t want to join the Navy. The Air Force promised me the world, and the Marine Corps promised me nothing. They promised me that I would be fed, and they kept their promise.”


PVA member-at-large Paul Anthony Puskar, who has MS, is 77 years old and lives in King of Prussia, Pa. He served in the Navy from 1964 to 1983.

His late father, Paul Joseph Puskar, also served in the Navy for just under nine years. His father served aboard patrol torpedo boats with John F. Kennedy and was a Pearl Harbor survivor from the USS St. Louis (CL-49).

“On that morning, him and couple of his friends were on their way to Mass on the beach and as he was reaching in his pocket to get his ID card, the Japanese attacked,” Paul Anthony says. “Two of his best friends got wiped out, and he crawled to his battleship station. And the rest is history, I guess.”

Paul Anthony says his mind was made up in high school to join the Navy because he wanted to continue the family tradition.


PVA New England Chapter member Bernice Bartlett DeBlois, who has MS, is 73 years old and lives in Brooklin, Maine. She joined the Army right after graduating from high school and served as a dental assistant from 1969 to 1971.

Her late father, Wesley Cook Bartlett Jr., influenced her decision to join the military. He was a Navy gunner’s mate 3rd class aboard a Liberty cargo ship during World War II. She says he never spent money on tattoos because he wanted to send money home to help his parents care for his other eight siblings. She also had three uncles who served in various branches and a grandfather who served in the Spanish-American War.

“It wasn’t very often that father would talk about his time in service, but it was usually like a Saturday night, and maybe he’d had a drink or two. He wasn’t an alcoholic, but you know, that would loosen his tongue, as it does most people,” DeBlois says. “So he would say about how the men would get sick, because I guess he was transport to transport the troops, and they would get sick, and my father never got seasick in his life. But he also told us he loved it.”

As the middle child of seven siblings, DeBlois paid for her own incidentals with money she’d earned; and she was raised to always think of others.

“It’s not for selfish reasons that we think of our country. We have to think of others,” she says. “Those who are deployed now, those who have gone, those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, this is who we focus on. We don’t focus on ourselves.”

After high school, DeBlois tried to join the Peace Corps but was rejected because she didn’t speak a foreign language. After that rejection, she decided to join the Army, despite protests from her classmates.

“I thought, ‘We want equal rights. I don’t want to be a secretary. I don’t want to be a nurse. I want a career and I want to help my country,’” she says. “I come from a long line of sea captains, and I’m kind of embarrassed to say I get seasick. So, I joined the Army. I like terra firma, and the Army was three-year enlistment and all the others were four, and I thought, ‘That’s a long part of life.’ Here I am, 18 years old, and if I go for three, then I can make up my mind what I want to do after the three-year enlistment’s up.”


PVA Northwest Chapter member Elizabeth Stosel Fassler, who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is 51 years old and lives in Vancouver, Wash.

She served in the Army as a tactical control officer for a Patriot Missile battery from 1995 to 1997.

Her father, Kenneth Stosel, served in the 101st Army Airborne from 1960 to 1964.


“I had a daily reminder of his time in service in the 101st Airborne, as he had a large tattoo of the ‘Screaming Eagles’ on his upper arm. He talked fondly of his time in Germany, so I was interested in going to Airborne School and experiencing time overseas/deployment,” Elizabeth says through email. “His grandsons (my sons) are both in the Army. We are a multi-generational Army family.”

Elizabeth says she was interested in the military as early as high school and joined the Air Force Junior ROTC that was offered at her school.

“I received an Army ROTC scholarship and felt that I was meant to carry on the family tradition,” she says.


PVA New England Chapter member Jarid Clapp, who has MS, is 44 years old and lives in Brazil, Ind.

After high school, Clapp joined the Air Force and served from 1998 to 1999, but he says his position was eliminated during a reduction in military force. After 9/11, Clapp wanted to return to military service, serving as a mechanic, and in 2003, he joined the Indiana Army National Guard and served until 2012. He also served in the South Dakota National Guard from 2015 to 2016.

His grandfather, Foster Eugine Cooper, was a Navy seaman 2nd class on the USS Dewey, a Farragut-class destroyer during World War II.

Although his grandfather didn’t talk much about his time in the Navy and died when Clapp was just 12 years old, he left a major impression on Clapp. After leaving the military, his grandfather worked as a firefighter and mechanic, and Clapp recalls working in the garage with him when he was 5 years old. It’s that experience that inspired him to become a mechanic in the military and later a firefighter, as well.

“He would do things, but he would never, like, give me a lesson,” Clapp says. “He didn’t have to say, ‘This goes to here,’ or, ‘This does this,’ or whatever. He would do things, and I would just watch him. And then we would go do the same thing on the other side of the car or the same thing later on in the car. And I would want to show grandpa that I was paying attention, so I would try to hurry up and do it before he had a chance. And he wouldn’t say a word, so if I left something loose or if I forgot something, he would just reach in after I was done and do whatever. But he didn’t say anything. So, when I’d see him do it, I’m like, all right, well, I forgot that or I didn’t get that tight enough or something, like, I gotta remember that for next time.”

Clapp admits during his time as a mechanic in the military, he couldn’t quite muster the same patience as his grandfather.

“If he was any other way, it may have made me not want to join the military and made me not want to be a mechanic, but because he was so gentle and strong at the same time, it was utterly amazing,” Clapp says.

His father, Leonard Clapp, also served for nine years as an air traffic controller in the Air Force. Jarid recalls when he was about 9 years old and he was building a model of a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, a long-range, high-altitude, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft. As he was working on the model, his father shared a story about when he was on duty and a Blackbird had to make an emergency landing.

“So, it came in, and he was talking about how secretive it was, that they had these lead blankets that they were putting over the wings because they put it inside the biggest hangar they had,” Jarid says. “But it wasn’t far enough in, like, it was still kind of sticking out. So, they didn’t want the Russian satellites coming overhead and seeing it, so they were trying to put these lead blankets over it so they couldn’t tell what it was.”

Jarid says it’s the sense of duty and doing something for other people that his father and grandfather instilled in him that made him want to join the military.

“There’s nowhere else that you get to do that pretty much as your sole job,” Jarid says. “I just had that drive and that desire to do the same thing like I’d seen. I never sat down and said, ‘I want to do the same thing as my grandfather.’ I just knew that that was something that I had to do because I wouldn’t be happy any other way.”


Leave a Reply


Recent Posts From PN Online

error: Content is protected !!
Skip to content