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: THE DEFINING GENERATION is a project begun by Doug and Pam Sterner in 2002 and completed in 2006. Initially is was prepared for publication as a book, however with their changing focus to development of a database of military awards, was postponed indefinitely so they could concentrate on that larger, more important work. The stories found herein however, need to be shared, and they have consented to make this compilation available in this format. While each story can stand alone, it is recommended that for continuity, readers will be best served by reading the chapters sequentially from first to last.

The Defining Generation


Doug and Pam Sterner




To Our Children
Jennifer, William, Douglas and Tiffany


Their actions today will someday become
The history of another
Great Generation of Americans




"Even this evil is productive of good. It prevents the degeneracy of government and nourishes a general attention to the public affairs.

"I hold that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical."

Thomas Jefferson - In a letter to James Madison regarding Shay's Rebellion





Since the birth of our nation in 1776, no single generation of Americans has been spared the responsibility of defending freedom by force of arms.

In 1958 the first American "advisors" visited the land known as Vietnam. It wasn't until 1975 that the last troops assisted the Vietnamese evacuation process. Over 9,800,000 U.S. troops served in Vietnam and more than 58,000 were lost. Many more died after the war from wounds, the effects of Agent Orange and PTSD. Some suffer to this day. Most have gone on to become productive citizens.

It has always been popular throughout our Nation’s short history to take wars and somehow, for posterity sake, condense them down with some catchy title and memorable synopsis. World War I was known as "The War To End All Wars". It wasn't!

Twenty-three years after the Doughboys returned home a new generation of Americans was confronted with the challenges of Normandy, Guadalcanal, and Iwo Jima. The veterans of that war have become known as "The Greatest Generation" which is a fitting tribute to the men and women who may well have saved our world.

Five years later it was "The Forgotten War"……..battles at Inchon and The Chosin Reservoir, Korea, where thousands lost their lives. Still, as long as that struggle is remembered as "The Forgotten War", it is never truly forgotten nor are the brave men and women who wrote that chapter in world history.

Vietnam was not a popular war and we, as a nation, have struggled for over 25 years to define the Vietnam War. I have heard it called "The War We Lost", others have hailed it as "The Wasted Effort", but no one has put Vietnam into a context that really defines this chapter in our Nation’s history.

I truly believe that the Vietnam experience has shaped our nation and the world, more than most wars in our Nation's history. The Vietnam War experience has forged the decisions of nine presidents.

Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy sent the first troops to Vietnam. President Johnson knew in his heart he could not succeed as he intended in Vietnam, but this provided him the motivation to succeed here at home with regard to minority equal rights. First Amendment rights were used to protest Vietnam, but it also provided the media a means to cover the war so that it could be brought into millions of homes and watched at the dinner table. The Federal Elections Commission was developed out of the Watergate scandal in order to make politicians accountable to its citizens. The pro Vietnam War California Governor, who went on to become President Reagan, came to our Nation as though he was in the last period of a football game determined to rally our country to overcome the cold war and defeat the Soviet Bloc. President Bush Senior along with General Colin Powell used the history of Vietnam to gain a staggering defeat over Iraq in the Gulf War. President Clinton sent Pete Peterson, a Vietnam Veteran, to be our ambassador to Vietnam. The second President George Bush faces hard lessons of Vietnam in Afghanistan and Iraq. Whether you are in the chambers of United States Congress, the halls of the Pentagon, or listening to the news of the day, major decisions always use Vietnam as a reference point.

We can't say what would have occurred if we as a nation had not gone into Vietnam, nor can we say what would have occurred if we still occupied Vietnam. We can't speculate because it's not history. What is history is what I've described.

So how should we assume the challenge to encapsulate the Vietnam War with a historical defining phrase? Humbly, I believe it should go down in history as the "The Defining War."

To define means to mark, to identify, to discover, to find meaning.

Through the Vietnam War, whether experienced as a veteran, an anti-war protestor, or just someone who watched it on the news, we discovered ourselves, were given meaning, and an identity for which we can stand as a nation. It defined us either directly or indirectly, during the war and after, in terms of strength, compassion, tolerance, patriotism, rights, perseverance, determination, sacrifice, and freedom. Today, we are being tested with regard to how we define ourselves and the price we are willing to pay for our freedom. The Vietnam War was not our darkest moment, but has been our nation's guiding light.


Peter C. Lemon, Recipient
Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient

From a Veterans Day Address in his home state of Michigan, 2001

The Defining Generation: Copyright 2006 by Doug and Pam Sterner
All Rights Reserved


Cover & Introduction
Out With the Old
     The Defining Generation

I. - Defining the New
     John Fitzgerald Kennedy
     Roger H.C. Donlon
     Robert Robin Moore
     Barry Sadler
     The Green Beret

II. - Defining Equality
     When Worlds Collide
     Dr. Martin Luther King
     Jimmy Stanford & Vince Yrineo
     Milton Lee Olive, III
     Specialist Lawrence Joel
     Sammy Lee Davis
     Black MOH Recipients - Vietnam War

III. - Defining the Role of the Sexes
     Evolution of a Husband
     Remember the Ladies
     Rosie the Riveter
     Dr. Marguerite Guzman Bouvard
     Linda G. Alvarado
     Karen Irene Offutt
     Women in Military Service
     Lieutenant General Carol Mutter
     The Modern Woman in Combat
IV. - Defining Human Rights
     My Brother's Keeper
     Who is My Brother
     Christopher Dodd & Christopher Shays
     Peace Corps Politicians (Memories)
     Don Bendell
     Sir Edward Artis
     General Colin L. Powell

V. - Defining Entertainment
     Life Imitating Art
     Troubled Waters
     Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
     Brian's Song
     All in the Family
     Adrian Cronauer

VI. - Defining Dissent

     From Berkeley With Love
     The Pen and the Sword
     General David Shoup
     Muhammad Ali
     John Forbes Kerry

VII. - Defining the Future of Politics
     An Act of Congress
     All Politics is....Hereditary?
     Hillary Rodham Clinton
     Condoleezza Rice
     James Henry Webb
The next Section is scheduled for posting on May 20, 2011
VIII. - Defining Memories
     Jaime Pacheco
     The Glory of their Deeds
     Jan Scruggs
     Delbert Schmeling
     Peter C. Lemon

The authors extend our thanks to the following who granted personal interviews for this work
: Roger Donlon (MOH), Robin Moore, Don Bendell, Jimmy Stanford, Vince Yrineo, Sammy L. Davis (MOH), Linda Alvarado, Karen Offutt, Lieutenant General Carol Mutter, Sir Edward Artis, General Colin L. Powell, Katharine Houghton, Adrian Cronauer, Jan Scruggs, Delbert Schmeling, and Peter Lemon (MOH).
Our thanks to the staff of the following who either wrote or allowed reprint of their own works for this book: Dr. Marguerite Guzman Bouvard, Don Bendell, Congressman Sam Farr, Congressman Thomas Petri, Congressman Mike Honda, Congressman Jim Walsh, Governor Jim Doyle, and Scott Baron.
Our special thanks also to the staff of the following who provided information and fact-checked the chapters related to their subject: Staff of Senator John Kerry, Staff of (then) Senator Hillary Clinton, Staff of Senator Jim Webb
A SPECIAL THANKS also to Dr. Marguerite Guzman Bouvard for his assistance in writing and editing the entire section on the Role of the Sexes.


Copyright 1999-2014 by
2115 West 13th Street - Pueblo, CO 81003
Unless otherwise noted, all materials by C. Douglas Sterner

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