Story of the Month – September 2014

My Hero Pop-Pop, My Everything

I love to sit down with my Pop-pop and listen to stories of his youth. He has told me stories about WWII anRochelle1d what it was like living in New York as a child with military presence right on American soil. His father was an Air Raid Warden and was trained to fight fires and conduct rescues in the event of an attack. My Pop-pop and his friends would pretend they were soldiers and ran through the mazes of ditches that were dug near the water to be used in the event the enemy came on shore.

From an early age, my Pop-pop knew the importance of protecting his country and as soon as he was old enough, he enlisted in the Air Force. This was a dangerous time to enlist, as the Korean War was going on. Knowing that his family would worry about him, especially his grandmother, he chose not to tell her where he was stationed. To protect her, he told her that he was stationed in San Francisco, as that was where all mail to servicemen was sent. That way, she would think he was on American soil and safe. After the war, when he returned safely, he told her the truth about where he was stationed. Unhappy about his true whereabouts, she was grateful he was home safely. Growing up in a family that had emigrated from Europe prior to the Holocaust, freedom meant everything. Coming to a country that opened its doors to anyone who wished to be free was worth fighting for. My Pop-pop knew the struggles his family had faced in Europe and never forgot the sacrifices they made to provide a better life for their children and the generations to follow. He wanted to give back to the country that gave his family a second chance.

Military life is a rough life. My Pop-Pop slept on a cot with one blanket, ate food left over from World War One, and had his clothing cleaned under very unsanitary conditions. Disease was rampant due to unhealthy conditions and lack of heat during the winter.

In Korea, my Pop-pop served as a radio operator. He had to keep track of all incoming air traffic – enemy and friendly – just in case there was an air raid. In his free time he would wander Seoul and give candy and clothes to the children. Even though his conditions were deplorable, he tried to give whatever he could to the less fortunate. I always believe that actions speak louder than words, and the fact that my Pop-Pop used his own money to help the less fortunate when he was hungry and freezing proves that he has an impeccable character and always thinks about others.

While serving our country, my Pop-pop earned several medals. He earned the national Defense Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal and a Good Conduct Medal. Once he returned from Korea and was honorably discharged from the Air Force, he went to college to become an attorney. He wanted to continue to work for our country and practiced law for the United States Treasury Department until his retirement.

Sixty years later, my Pop-pop still speaks of his days as a serviceman with pride and a twinkle in his eyes. He just recently returned from Korea, where he was a guest of the Korean government. As he toured South Korea, he was genuinely touched by the graciousness of the people, the growth of the country, and his time with college students who speak admirably about those from far away who came to protect their country. Seeing the regeneration of a war-torn country is the best reward he could receive.

Growing up, my Pop-pop has been extremely influential in my goals for my future. I credit him with my love for the sciences, as he would take me to museums every time we were together. We would not just walk through them; he would stop and explain everything to me, question me, and expose me to opportunities to actually partake in

activities that would increase my understanding of our world. For this I am grateful, and a little confused. It was not easy choosing my career path as my Pop-pop showed me so many topics that I was interested in. So, I did not choose just one. I plan to study Astronomy and Physics at the University of Arizona – both are areas that I share a passion for with my Pop-pop. Words cannot express how much I love and admire him. I truly believe that I would not be the person I am today without his love and wisdom. Not everyone is as fortunate as I to have someone in their life that they can truly say helped mold them into the person they are today, but I can. My Pop-pop is my hero – my everything!



From an early age Rochelle was taught to be a caring individual and to do for others. She had two piggy banks when she was growing up – one for savings, the other for charity. Her first donation from her piggy bank was to the Susan G. Komen Foundation at the age of 3. This was in honor of her Grandma Rochelle, who passed away from breast cancer before Rochelle was born. That was just the beginning of her giving spirit. Rochelle continued to get involved with charities and did not limit herself to just one. From raising money for cancer research, to helping at-risk youth and their families, Rochelle knew that she could help make a difference. One project that Rochelle started at the age of 12 was Pillows and Prayers. She sewed heart-shaped pillows for men and women who had lumpectomies or mastectomies from breast cancer. These pillows helped alleviate the pain and pressure from surgery and worked wonders as a barrier between the seatbelt and the chest in the car. In her first year making these pillows, she sewed over 300 and delivered them to the Virginia Piper Cancer Center in Scottsdale, AZ. She continues to make the pillows for friends, family, and even strangers who could use some tender, loving care. Now a freshman at the University of Arizona, Rochelle plans to study Astronomy and Physics and continue to pay it forward.