Veterans share stories
Life on board the USS Bergall wasn’t like life at home.
As a sonar technician, U.S. Navy veteran Jim Rostberg was the eyes and ears of the SSN-667, a nuclear powered attack submarine. He spent the majority of his missions searching for, tracking and collecting intelligence on high priority enemy submarines.
Standing in front of an audience at GracePointe Crossing on May 18, Rostberg shared his life story, one of the histories memorialized as veterans were honored during the event Celebrating America with Veterans’ Stories.
Following the presentation of the colors by the American Legion Post 290 Color Guard, Sgt. First
Class Chuck Harvey led the audience in singing the National Anthem.
On display at the ceremony were storyboards and collections of newspaper clippings telling the tales of veterans in attendance.
Explaining the importance of preserving veterans’ stories, LifeBio Founder Beth Sanders
taught attendees ways to record their stories and claim their place in history.
“Some of you served overseas, some of you served on the home front, some of you saw battle, some of you did not, but all of you have a story to tell and I want to be sure that you have a chance to share that,” she said. “Your story came before war and it came after war. Your story is powerful and spans many years, so don’t let that be lost or forgotten.”
As for Rostberg’s story, he went on to talk about serving on board the Bergall for three years and his service in the Naval Reserve. One of his final tours of duty involved searching for chemicals that co
uld be used to create explosives in Afghanistan.
Like the service of so many veterans, Rostberg’s service not only included acts of courage, but hardships and sacrifice. It is for those sacrifices that GracePointe Crossing Campus Administrator Laurie Sykes thanked and honored Rostberg and other veterans.
“Ordinary people who have accomplished extraordinary things. Simply said, that’s who veterans are,” she said. “Young, old, rich, poor, of every color. Men and women served, and continue to serve, our country. It is the veterans who have given us this extraordinary country. It is the veterans who have given us the freedom to walk this country in peace. All of you have sacrificed something so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we have today.”
U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack said his father served in the Navy and he knew from a young age he wanted to follow in his footsteps.
Upon graduating from the Naval Academy, he became a helicopter pilot, realizing his childhood dream. His first tour of duty was in the Philippine Islands, flying a CH-53 Echo, commonly known as the Super Sea Stallion — the largest helicopter in the U.S. military.
He taught students at flight school in Pensacola for about a year and a half before he was selected to teach future instructors.
One of the most fun flights, Cravaack said, was called the “out of control flight.” He would take future instructors 10,000 feet in the air, go into a dive, go vertical and into a tailslide, then do a cross control maneuver. As the aircraft tumbled through the air, he’d hand over control to the future instructors and say ‘you got it.’
“They were trying to instill confidence in our procedures,” Cravaack said. “If you looked outside, the world was spinning away — there was no way you were going to recover. The confidence maneuver was you look inside, neutralize control, usually went up into an inverted spin, and believe it or not, the aircraft would recover.”
While teaching, he earned a master’s degree in education from the University of West Florida. After his discharge from active duty, he served in the Naval Reserve, climbing the ranks as a training officer, executive officer and commanding officer.
After 24 years of service, Cravaack retired with the rank of Captain.
Cambridge Mayor Marlys Palmer said it is vital to record the life stories of Rostberg, Cravaack and countless other veterans so they can be heard by future generations for years to come.
As she thanked the veterans for their service, Palmer recalled the story of a young soldier who joined the military and fought through the war courageously. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by the president.
“If his story hadn’t been remembered and if it hadn’t been recorded, we would have never known about this young man joining the service and saving the lives of many of his fellow soldiers,” she said. “That to me says we have to — we must and we shall — encourage our veterans to share their life stories with us. It is so consequential that these stories took place in history, not only because it’s so important for history, but it is a daily reminder for each one of us, all the time, to thank our veterans.”