veterans

Searching For Heroes


By Bud Elder

 

When one “googles” the search engine company Google, it might come as a surprise to find that the giant conglomerate is one of Oklahoma’s strongest corporate citizens. Now, through the cooperation of the Oklahoma Lt. Governor’s office, soldiers from the 45th Infantry returning from Afghanistan will have the opportunity to participate in the company’s new program for veterans and their families.

 

According to Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, googleforveterans.com will offer a myriad of support tools for those soldiers trying to return to civilian life.

 

Google's Logo“This website was designed by the Google Veterans Network, the company’s employee community of veterans, reservists, guardsmen, family members and other supporters who have had firsthand experience with the challenge of serving, coming home and transitioning back into the real world,” said Lamb. “This site includes tools such as ‘Google Resume Builder,’ video transition tips and ‘Vet Connect for Google.’”

 

Lamb also states that Google has established a veterans channel at youtube.com/veterans, where individuals can share their video thanks with veterans who have served, as well as those who are currently serving America both home and overseas.

 

“These videos are organized by state, which will allow thankful Oklahomans to communicate with their vets, active duty servicemen and women and the soldiers of the 45th infantry,” Lamb said.

 

It was Larry Page and Sergey Brin who, as Ph.D. students at Stanford University, discovered Google in March 1996, as part of a research project – the Stanford Digital Library Project. Funded through the National Science Foundation, the goal of the program was to “enable technologies for a single, integrated and universal digital library.”

 

Through a series of experiments and tests far too complicated to explain here, the duo first placed the engine on the Stanford website at google.stanford.edu. The domain google.com was registered on Sept. 15, 1997; then the pair formally incorporated their company, Google, Inc. on Sept. 4, 1998 at a friend’s garage in Menlo Park, Calif.

 

At its peak in early 2004, Google handled upwards of 84.7 percent of all research requests on the World Wide Web.

 

On May 2, 2007, Google took a decided turn toward all things Sooner state when they announced plans to invest $600 million to build a data center complex at the MidAmerica Industrial Park in Pryor, Okla.

 

Lloyd Taylor, director of global operations for Google and then-Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry made the announcement.

 

“Our new project in Oklahoma will help us to provide fast, reliable and innovative online services for our users and customers,” Taylor said. “The assets we found here at MidAmerica Industrial Park are an outstanding fit to our needs. The state of Oklahoma has been wonderfully helpful during our site selection process, and we look forward to growing our business here and becoming an active participant in the successful future of Mayes County and Oklahoma as a whole.”

 

Gov. Henry was pleased at the announcement.

 

“This announcement marks a real milestone for Oklahoma, so it’s only fitting that it arrives in the year of our state’s centennial,” he said. “Google is one of the most innovative and exciting companies in the world today, and this data center means the creation of good paying, high-tech jobs. The establishment of this facility will have a continued and positive economic impact on Pryor and other communities across Oklahoma.”

 

Actually, Google first looked at Oklahoma in 2005, when they began to survey the central region of the nation for potential data sites. The following year, Google site selection representatives began to visit a short list of states that would provide a good environment for a data center.

 

“What Google was looking for was right here, including available land, water, electricity and a rich and reliable telecommunications infrastructure,” Gov. Henry said. “Our talent pool of potential employees was also attractive to the company.”

 

That was then … this is now.

 

On April 4, Google announced that it was planning to double its server capacity in Oklahoma, adding 50 new jobs and building an entirely new facility.

 

Mike Wooten, data center operations manager, announced that the new facility would be built next to the data center already located in Pryor. Jobs will include equipment maintenance and positions working on the deployment of servers.

 

Oklahoma’s current Google center employs more than 100 workers and contains systems that support Gmail, Google Maps, Google Search and Google Plus. Wooten says the new facility will have a café, gym, game room and office space, and will bring Google’s investment into Oklahoma at some $700 million.

 

“In addition to expanding our operational footprint, our new facility will enable us to offer services to our employees that will improve their day-to-day work experience and contribute to their health and well-being,” Wooten said.

 

As Oklahoma corporate citizens, Wooten felt it important that the company take part in the return of the 45th Infantry from its service in Afghanistan.

 

“Google believes in supporting the communities in which our Googlers work,” he said. “Since we opened the data center in Pryor, we feel it’s only natural that we would support the state’s National Guard.”

 

According to Wooten, the decision to build the military websites was a team effort.
”We are doing this because our own employees, who are members of the veterans’ community, believe strongly that our products and tools can be helpful to those who have served in the military, particularly those going through their transition out of the military. Google has a large veterans’ community, called VetNet, which is made up of veterans, family members and supporters,” he added. “There are nearly 500 members in the group. Google and VetNet continually support veterans and members of the military. Recently, Google donated 500 Chromebooks to several military hospitals to help wounded, injured and sick service members connect with their friends and families.”

 

Wooten adds that most of the support is totally free.
”All of the tools are free for members of the military. For veterans who are no longer part of the military, only one tool, ‘Google Voice,’ can require payment,” said Wooten. “These tools are designed to help veterans and their loved ones connect, communicate and help each other through deployments and transitions back to civilian life. We believe that greater understanding of veterans’ issues encourages communities to celebrate their veterans. This is why we also have created a forum for civilians that allows them to learn more about veterans’ experiences and give thanks to those who have served.”
All members of the military need do is visit googleforveterans.com and explore all of the Google products and tools available. From there, they should take a look at the “Tools For Veterans” section and share with their families the “Tools for Families” as well. Military personnel may also visit youtube.com/veterans, where they can share transition tips with other veterans, along with sharing other experiences with civilians to help them understand the importance and complexity of service.
Those not in the military can visit youtube.com/veterans and explore the “Veterans’ Voices” section to hear veterans talk about their experiences in their own words. These are organized by question (like “why did you choose to serve” and “how was your transition out of the military”). In the “Tributes” section, one can upload a video message expressing appreciation for service members and their families.

 

Lt. Gov. Lamb is thrilled with the concept.

 

“I am proud to work with Google on this meaningful and thoughtful initiative to honor our service men and women, many of whom are far away from home” he said. “In Oklahoma, we hold the highest respect and appreciation for our soldiers and officers who serve in the military. Our fellow Oklahomans who have volunteered to serve our country deserve our thanks for their patriotism.”

 

If you enjoyed this article, some of Google’s other widespread motives might interest you. Check out the teenage girl who expanded cancer research at the Google Science Fair. Google is also fighting for Net Neutrality, so that you can keep reading, and we can keep posting. You might also consider learning about the global conferences that determine just how far Google can take Google Fiber. If Google policies and stories don’t interest you, maybe Google’s media branch – Youtube – will. Youtube recently engaged in some rascally shenanigans over copyright claims during the Mars landing of the Curiosity Rover.

Operation Oklahoma Honors Vietnam Veterans At Three Events Across State

 

Story and photos by Darl DeVault

Oklahoma will salute its Vietnam veterans July 2-4 in a three-day, three-city remembrance of the sacrifices made by the 103,600 Oklahomans and their families who served in Vietnam, our nation’s longest war. Operation Oklahoma, a long overdue tribute to the brave servicemen and women who risked their lives and died while defending our country, will take place in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Norman.

Vietnam Veteran MemorialThis public display of Oklahoma’s gratitude for these sacrifices concludes at a special Independence Day event at Norman’s Reaves Park. The park is home to the new Cleveland County Veterans Memorial and, for that week, the traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. These events are free and open to the public.

The events allow the families of the 988 fallen Oklahoma heroes from that war to meet and connect with others who share a similar loss. Oklahoma also experienced 35 service members become Prisoners of War or Missing in Action in Vietnam.

It is only fitting that Operation Oklahoma kicks off in Tulsa. Just southeast of Tulsa, the town of Coweta, Okla., has the singular distinction of the highest per-capita service member death toll in the war, losing eight young men. This loss, in a town of 2,800 at the time, meant the war’s toll had a greater impact on this community than any other in America during the Vietnam era. These deaths impacted this Oklahoma town even more by occurring in less than three years (1967-1970) in a war that lasted from 1964 to 1973.

Sparked by Gov. Brad Henry naming 2010 the Year of the Vietnam Veteran in Oklahoma at 2009’s Veterans Day ceremonies, Major Gen. Myles L. Deering, Adjutant Gen. of the Oklahoma National Guard since 2009, was appointed by Henry to lead the state’s efforts. Deering serves as the governor’s military advisor and commands the Oklahoma Army and Air National Guard, and led the Oklahoma National Guard’s Joint Task Force following the devastating Katrina and Rita hurricanes in 2005. He also led Oklahoma National Guard troops in 2007-2008 in a tour in Iraq.

“Although these events are intended to honor Oklahoma’s Vietnam veterans for their service, family and friends share in the sacrifice each veteran has made for their country,” Deering said. “Therefore, we want to honor them as well.”

Major Gen. Miles L. DeeringIn speaking with active service members for this story, many point out that it is always the Vietnam veterans who support American troops in transit. Although 35 years have passed since the fall of Saigon, Vietnam veterans are often the most supportive of men and women who presently serve their country.

“Groups of Vietnam veterans are at every homecoming of troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan,” Deering said, “because they want to see them get the welcome they didn’t get when they returned from fighting in Vietnam.”

Operation Oklahoma kicks off with a free classic rock concert July 2 in Chapman Stadium at the University of Tulsa featuring “LIVERPOOL – A Tribute to the Beatles,” followed by a fireworks display. The City of Tulsa supports this evening that opens at 6 p.m. with military equipment displays. The stadium opens at 7 p.m., and the concert begins at 8 p.m.

The second day features an all-day event in the Bricktown Entertainment District in Oklahoma City, supported by the City of Oklahoma City and the Bricktown Merchants Association. A military band, the 145th Army Dixieland Band, will perform mini-concerts along the canal. Military equipment displays will grace many Bricktown locations, and merchants will be offering discounts to all veterans.

Oklahoma City honors its heroes by throwing open all its museums and attractions free to veterans that day.

On the Fourth of July, the festivities finale of remembrance for these veterans and their families is another day-long event in Reaves Park in Norman, site of the latest unveiling of a major veterans memorial. Then-Brigadier Gen. Deering spoke at the unveiling of the new Cleveland County Veterans Memorial in November 2008. Now a major general, Deering will again serve as a keynote speaker in Norman.

The day offers a parachute demonstration by the U.S. Special Forces “Black Dagger” parachute team, an aerial event by Oklahoma’s 138th Tactical Fighter Wing, a flyover of Vietnam-era aircraft, and special presentations of the colors by Oklahoma’s Tribal Color Guards. Visitors can also pay their respects at the traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on display at the park.

Vietnam Veteran Memorial WallThe event’s conclusion, “Our Salute to Vietnam Veterans,” caps this final day of remembrance at 8 p.m. with a special musical and choral presentation. The Independence Day fireworks display that follows the program is billed as Oklahoma’s biggest fireworks show.

Veterans from all other American wars and military service are invited and will attend to show their solidarity with the Vietnam veterans, organizers said.

“Norman is honored to be selected as the primary venue for hosting Operation Oklahoma’s celebrations on the Fourth of July and honoring our Vietnam War veterans,” said Norman Mayor Cindy Rosenthal. “On the Fourth of July, our community will be in the spotlight of hosting the Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall, a three-quarter-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, and welcoming dignitaries, veterans and their families from all across the state.”

The traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. is an eight-foot faux-granite wall 240 feet long, inscribed with the 58,195 names of Americans who died or are missing in Vietnam.

“I just wish this tribute had been sooner. We’ve been several times to see the Wall and my brother’s name, Edwin Lawrence Armstrong, etched there. There were nine of us brothers and sisters (alive) when my brother got killed in Vietnam and it was hard on us, especially my mother,” said Mary Lou Mitchell, a Minco resident. “My husband Jimmy Mitchell, who retired as a master sergeant three years ago from a career in the Army, and I look forward to attending the Operation Oklahoma tribute in Oklahoma City or Norman. We thank the folks who planned this and we are looking forward to paying tribute to my brother and all the living veterans.”

Event planning committee members said the replica wall will be on display around the clock from June 30 through July 4.

Vietnam Veteran MemorialThe July 4 celebration of America’s 234th birthday will be even more poignant as those gathered ensure the lives lost, the lives altered and those left behind are honored for their sacrifices. This tribute will extend to the 2,757,196 who have perished in America’s wars preserving the American way of life for 234 years. Also remembered will be the more than 3,000,000 veterans seriously injured in the line of duty. These permanently disabled heroes and their families are confronted daily with life-altering disabilities and challenges.

A president who saw the enormous cost of war, Abraham Lincoln, once said: “A nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure.”

Vietnam veterans and their families should visit the Operation Oklahoma Web site at www.operationoklahoma.org for more detailed information about the three days of remembrance. The event planning committee has also provided information on social network Facebook at www.facebook.com/operationoklahoma.