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Veterans Day 2020

Veterans Day 2020

Army veteran now serves as superintendent for Center Grove Schools

By Amy Moshier

A love of country motivated Richard Arkanoff, now superintendent for Center Grove Community School Corporation, to join the Army in 1985.

“I wanted to serve my country,” he said. Arkanoff’s primary task was working on satellite dishes. It was a trade that allowed him to enjoy different parts of the country and out of the country, as well, including Ft. Lenard Wood, Mo., Nuremburg, Germany; Ft. Gordon, Ga., Ft. Huachuca, Ariz. and Okinawa, Japan. “I worked on satellite dishes all over the world,” he said.

“I had a great time in the Army,” Arkanoff continued. “I worked with so many interesting people from all over the world. I made many friends and learned a great deal about life in different countries. It was hard work and long days, but it was a great time filled with a lot of laughs and friendships.”

Rich Arkanoff, right, in 1988 with best friend from the Army,
Tim Wheeler. (Submitted photos)

He had many challenging moments as well, including working with the satellite dishes and other communication equipment. “We just would repair the equipment and send it back into the field. Sometimes I would venture out into the field to work on the equipment,” said Arkanoff, who has eight children (two teenagers and six grown children). Sometimes his work would carry him away from his family for anywhere to a couple of weeks to three months.

When asked about a typical day while serving his country, Arkanoff said, “Awakened at 5 a.m. for physical training with my platoon. Working in the shop doing computer repairs, then more physical therapy.”

There was also Platoon Confidence Training. “There were a great number of survival skills that we learned from that training that made me stronger as a person,” he said.

Arkanoff with wife, Beth and children, Rich and Emma.

After his time serving active duty, Arkanoff decided to pursue the foundation for his education through the GI Bill. He chose to study educational administration. From 1991 – 1995, he served as a battalion instructor for over 2,000 men and women and taught courses such as Survival, Escape and Evasion, Land Time Warfare and Leadership.

Arkanoff served a total of eight years in the Army; seven of those years were active duty. “I learned to truly appreciate my freedom and all that we have here in the U.S.A.,” he said.

In his spare time, Arkanoff is an avid skier and loves fishing and hiking.

The story of an officer and a gentleman in the Vietnam War

By Nancy Price

An IU student may prefer to wear crimson and cream, but when Jack Ernsting attended the school more than 60 years ago, he decided he looked better in blue.

In the 1950s, state colleges required that male students attend two years of ROTC. “People were being drafted because of Vietnam and I thought, Well, if I’m going into the military, I’d rather be an officer and a gentleman. You didn’t get as dirty in the Air Force as you did in the Army,” Ernsting replied with a chuckle.

A graduate of Southport High School, Ernsting married his college sweetheart Mary Ann on a Saturday in late August of 1960. Two days later, Ernsting reported to McConnell Air Force base in Wichita, Kans. as a second lieutenant with Mary Ann starting a new teaching job in suburban Derby, Kans.

Jack Ernsting, far right, passed out 1,500 pounds of food and clothing to villagers in Wakkanai, Japan.

Ernsting was assigned to the 42nd Air Division and was responsible for training B 47 pilots. By the time the couple had welcomed their first child, a daughter named Kriss, Ernsting was given an assignment in Osan, South Korea and was introduced to the intelligence field, however, his wife and newborn daughter were not permitted to join him. A year later, his supervisor offered Ernsting a job in Hawaii, and his family relocated with him. For three years, Ernsting traveled to southeast Asia and northern Japan when copy and fax machines were introduced. He delivered the equipment to remote sites.

“We were there when Vietnam really started,” he said. “Since I had a very high security clearance I wasn’t allowed to go to Vietnam. If you were a certain rank and a certain job specialty, you were required to apply for ROTC instructorship.”

Ernsting and his family, which by then included a second daughter, Marty, packed up their belongings for a move to the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He instructed juniors in ROTC for their induction into the military and served as a mentor.

Ernsting was assigned to the 42nd Air
Division and was responsible for training B 47 pilots.

Ernsting’s last assignment was in Wakanni, Japan. “I knew that I was going to the snow capital of Japan,” he said. Mary Ann was responsible for most details involving the family’s moves to the military bases. “She was a great military wife and a great support and had a lot of responsibilities,” he added. In Japan, Mary Ann started a troop for Girl Scouts, was involved with the city council of Wakanni, organized Christian groups for women and picked up Japanese easily. “She was selected as Air Force Military Wife of the Year in Japan,” Ernsting said.

Ernsting served a total of 11 years in the military before he and his family moved back to the Southside, settling in Center Grove. Ernsting worked with his father’s construction business, which helped to build St. Francis Hospital, the libraries in Noblesville and Carmel and schools in Nora and Lawrence Township.

Later, he attended school to be a travel agent and worked with a local travel agency before retiring at 75 to help care for his wife and volunteer as a driver with Perry Senior Services. Ernsting is a member of Optimist International, sings in the church choir and is active with his church.

Air Force veteran served country to follow in grandfather’s footsteps

By Amy Moshier

When airman for the United States Air Force Joe Hubbard, 48, was fighting for our country in Japan during Desert Storm, he spent a lot of time with his comrades under Red Alert.

“I was stationed in Las Vegas, Nevada and in Okinawa, Japan,” said Hubbard. “When I was living in Japan, they would have threats on you during Desert Storm when we would get locked down, and I had a temporary assignment in South Korea, and we were always on Red Alert. North Korea would play Death to America (an anti-American political slogan and chant) on loudspeakers 24 hours a day at the border.

Hubbard served as a fuel specialist. “We would receive, sort and distribute fuel to the aircraft,” he said.

Joe Hubbard served in Japan during
Desert Storm.

The most challenging aspect of Hubbard’s time spent in service was being separated from family. “I was in Okinawa, Japan for three years and it was difficult to get home and very expensive,” he said. “I would call home once a week or so.”

Hubbard spent seven years in the Air Force. “My fellow servicemen and I are still close,” he said. “One of my best friends was someone I served with in Japan.”

Hubbard said he joined the Air Force partly because there is a military tradition in his family. “My grandfather was a hero and was in the Army and he actually stormed Normandy,” he said. “He was very prideful of his service. I wanted to follow in his footsteps and serve my country.”

Hubbard with his family: wife, Brittney and Ali, Kaylee and dog, Jonny.

“I hope the relationship between the local Japanese and the military personnel is the same today as it was when I was there,” added Hubbard. “They were always nice and respectful.”

Hubbard said he has great memories from serving his country. “I encourage anyone to join the military and see the world,” he said.

A Center Grove resident and 1990 graduate of Mooresville High School, Hubbard owns ATM Indy and ATMs for Veterans, which donates a percentage of projects to local fraternal organizations that help Indiana veterans. He was a supervisor of manufacturing at Eli Lilly and Company for 13 years and owned multiple restaurants throughout central Indiana. He serves on the Center Grove Community School Corporation Board of School Trustees as secretary and is vice president for the Governing Board of Central Nine Career Center.

Beech Grove Vietnam veteran learned hands-on skills for a lifetime career

By Nancy Price

After Pete Passios graduated from high school in Pittsburgh in 1959, he knew he had to make a life decision for the next several years of his life. Yet, choosing a job or college was not one of them.

“You didn’t have a choice back then, you had to draft,” said Passios. “I didn’t want Army, I didn’t want Marines, so I had a choice of Navy or Airforce. For some reason I picked the Navy and for me it worked out.”

The son of a first-generation American (his father was from Greece), Passios enlisted on March 1, 1960. He attended Boot Camp in Great Lakes, Mich. and then served on the Douglas H Fox DD79 Destroyer. The ship was featured in the 1962 war movie, The Longest Day.

Although Passios served during the Vietnam Era, he did not serve in Vietnam. He was on a 7-month Mediterranean cruise while on the DD79 Destroyer. He was trained to be an interior communications electrician, working with gyrocompass security systems and sound-powered phones on the ship.

Pete Passios with wife, Margaret. He served as her prom date while they dated.

During his first time out to sea, Passios had a near bout with seasickness. There were some rough waves rocking the ship. He had since quit smoking and was digesting crackers to help ease his stomach while standing in the smoking area of the ship. “Everything was fine until my division officer was coming in smoking a cigar,” he recalled. “I got out of there in a hurry.”

When Passios was back home in Pittsburgh while on leave, a friend of his set him up on a blind date with his cousin, a woman named Margaret who became his future wife. The date did not go well. “I was a Navy guy and just came back from a 7-month Mediterranean cruise. You don’t behave yourself or try (to),” he said. However, he wrote a letter and “the second date went much better,” said Tamara Gray, Margaret and Passios’ daughter.

Passios served on the Shenandoah AD Destroyer Tender for the remainder of his time in active duty.

In addition to sightseeing at the Leaning Tour of Pisa; Niece, France; and on the French Riviera, one of his favorite memories included the ship’s servicemen throwing a Christmas party for orphans in Naples, Italy. “You didn’t hear of servicemen doing that, but on the holidays, they made sure the orphans met Santa,” Gray said.

Passios and his wife celebrate their

During his time in service, Passios learned how to repair 16-mm projectors with sound, a helpful skill when movies were shown at night on deck. Passios was paid $1 for showing each movie and recalled swapping movies with other ships as they passed one another.

In 1963 Passios and Margaret married, and on Feb. 28, 1964, he discharged from service. Their daughter Tamara was born just a few days later. Passios worked as a stock boy for a while before working in electronics with a company called Friden, until it was bought out by Singer Company and became Singer Business Machines, a manufacturer of electronic calculators, copying machines and other products.

Passios asked for a transfer within the company, and in 1970 the family moved to Garfield Park, where they lived for 28 years. He also studied electronics at Penn Tech Institute, under the GI Bill.

Passios now lives in Beech Grove. He sometimes speaks to students in elementary schools to explain what a career in the military can do for them.



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