CompuData Level 2 Helpdesk Analyst Kurt Fago, far right, serving in Iraq in 2010.

As Veterans Day approaches, we are reminded of the strength, sacrifice and honor of the men and women who served the United States in times of war – and peace.

Who do you think of on Veterans Day?

Veterans Day was originally celebrated as Armistice Day, commemorating the end of fighting between the Allies and Germany in World War I—at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918. One year later, President Woodrow Wilson announced November 11 as Armistice Day, emphasizing the gratitude and deep pride all Americans should take in the heroic acts of the many who died protecting our freedoms.  Moving forward, Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, with Nov. 11 becoming a national holiday beginning in 1938. Unlike Memorial Day, Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans—living or dead—but especially expresses the nation’s deepest respect and gratitude to living veterans who served their country honorably during times of war and peace.

The Census Bureau reports there are currently about 20 million U.S. military veterans living in the United States out of a population of over 326 million.

Throughout American history, approximately 45 million Americans have served in the armed forces during times of war, along with additional millions who served our nation during times of peace. Since 1775 close to 1.4 million members of the military have died in fighting wars and military actions. Whether a grandfather, father, mother, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, cousin, nephew, niece, son or daughter, everyone knows a veteran. A coworker. A colleague. A classmate. A neighbor. A teacher. A friend. During CompuData’s more than four decades of service to businesses throughout the Philadelphia region and beyond, the company has proudly hired veterans and supported the strength and sacrifices of military families.

At CompuData, we honor all men and women who have served our nation during times of war and peace – sharing a few stories along the way.

Andrew Refsnider, Enterprise Software Consultant: I served in the Air Force from 1977 through 1981. No military conflict going on at the time, thank goodness. Served in Administration for three years, 1977 to 1980, at Pease Air Force Base in Portsmouth, NH. Pease was a MAC (Military Airlift Command) base that served as a fuel/refuel site for KC-135 aircraft tankers. The base has since been converted to a shopping mall. Served for one year 1980 – 1981, at a small island in Japan know as Ie Shima, which was off the coast of Okinawa, where a major air base was located, Kadena Air Force Base. The only way to get from Ie Shima to mainland Okinawa and back was by ferry boat. Ie Shima was inhabitated by about 3,000 Japanese locals with approximately 40 military members assigned to the base. The mission of Ie Shima air base was to serve as a training base for helicopter emergency rescue flights and helicopter armament target practice at the on base shooting range. The highlights of my year at Ie Shima were watching tape delayed broadcasts of the 1980 World Series when the Phillies beat the Kansas City Royals for the MLB championship, playing bass guitar in a band with a military friend and a couple of civilians at a downtown coffee shop, and learning to play ping pong, or as it is correctly called in Japan, table tennis!

Michael Ulrich, Level 2 Helpdesk Analyst: My maternal grandfather, and two cousins from my father’s side – all served in the military. My grandfather Jerry Boccella was Junior Enlisted (drafted) Army following WWI who served in Germany beginning in 1956 shortly after he was wedded to my grandmother, Nancy. He was a non-combatant, however he served a variety of roles for the US forces stationed in West Germany. My cousin Thomas Furhmeister, SSgt. In the Marine Corps., served as part of the Assault Amphibian Battalion during multiple tours in Iraq. He was recently honorably discharged after almost 20 years of service. Another cousin, Joseph Grazioso, Sgt. In the Marine Corps., served various roles through his military career before medically retiring. Most recently, he was a part of the US support force that aided Japan with relief efforts following the tsunami in 2011. He was stationed in Okinawa, providing direct support to affected areas including areas in and around the Fukushima Daiicha plant.

Erika Heaney, Enterprise Software Consultant: I thank and honor my husband of 30 years, Lt Col. Ken Heaney, for his more than 20 years of service in the U.S. Army. Ken spent much of his military service at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in the 82 Airborne Division and U.S Army Special Operations Command. His military service has taken him to Asia and the Middle East in peace and in war. He is a Ranger-Jumpmaster combat veteran and is the recipient of a number of awards and citations culminating in the Legion of Merit.  He is as dedicated to family as he was to his military career and is the proud father of Joshua Heaney – he is forever a hero to me. Hooah!

VeteransDay Marie Alonso, Marketing Strategist: My great uncle, Michael Ranoia, was a WWII veteran, Purple Heart recipient. The sweetest, most gentle guy in the world, he rarely spoke of his years overseas fighting the war although it was known his young eyes saw much devastation. He met the love of his life a few months before being drafted. They married right before he left for WWII and, a few years after his return, had a son.