Not just a pretty face, these models are veterans too

Brenda ArnoldFive of the models in this issue of Boomer Guide are U.S. military veterans, covering military history from World War II to the recent conflicts in Iraq. They served in different branches, differenct conflicts, different countries, different times, with various jobs and for varying lengths, but every single one of them served for the sake of America.

When Mike Mauer joined the Air Force, he fell in love with flight. After completing his “four years, seven months, and five days,” he traveled internationally as a civilian, earned his pilot’s license, and became an air traffic controller. He hasn’t flown a plane in decades (though he once got to fly the Shamu blimp), but he still likes to travel, often by RV with his wife. “We like to rate and rank new restaurants,” he said, and being married for 51 years is his biggest accomplishment.

Single mom and breast cancer survivor Arla Tweedy spent more than 20 years in the Army and another seven years with the Melbourne police department, doing numerous jobs for both. She has since earned her master’s degree and is now working through her bucket list, including zip-lining and skydiving. 

Now she wants to pay off her house, see the Aurora Borealis and visit the Vatican. “Some are obvious, like ‘make a difference,’ which we try to do on a regular basis,” she said. “But others, like jumping out of an airplane with your kids — I had to be willing to
do those.”

Rex Derin, who served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, also has a bucket list. He and his wife walked the Appalachian Trail, which he calls a “life-changing episode,” and has more adventures ahead. “We’re open for anything,” he said. He’s not new to adventure, as he did plenty of traveling with the Air Force. “I went all over southeast Asia,” he said. “I went all over England. A lot of that was working hard, too, so I can’t actually say it was fun. It was interesting!”
he laughed.

Then there’s Jack Graziano. At 89, Graziano is the oldest model in the group, and he’s still incredibly lively. He performs songs for seniors and magic for children today, but 70 years ago, he entered the Army in the midst of World War II. Though he enjoyed his work as an entertainer, cargo checker, boxing instructor and clerk typist, it was still military conflict. “The general public should try to make peace instead of wars, but I don’t know how we can ever convince these
politicians,” Graziano said.

Before Brenda Arnold chose to join the military, she was a stand-up comedian and thespian, but it was  her 20 years of paralegal experience that made Navy Legalman a natural fit. After 16 years of service and some time in Iraq, Arnold was discharged for injuries in May 2013. Now she’s thinking about getting back into stand-up. “Whatever I choose to do, I give it all four engines, and I’m not afraid to try.”

Arla Tweedy   

Mike Mauer

Rex Derin  

jack Graziano