The morning smelled of coffee and eggs, and the buzz of conversation floated in and out.

On Wednesday, veterans came together for Military Morning — a breakfast at Truman Bar & Grill to celebrate those who serve and have served in the U.S. military.

The breakfast occurs once every month from March to November, but Wednesday’s was special because of the guest speaker: Vietnam War veteran and author, Stan Adams. Adams wrote “Mokane to Mole City,” a memoir about his struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder and the stories of men who fought alongside him in the war.

Before the speech, about 35 women and men sat at tables throughout the bar eating breakfast and sharing stories. Each person wore a name tag and military apparel that identified the branch and conflict in which they served. Veterans donned hats saying “Vietnam Veteran” or specifying a branch of service, and some people in the crowd wore simple dog tags.

Sharing memories and future dreams

Dennis Grey, who served in the intelligence branch within the Army, spoke of his time in service before Stan Adams’ speech.

“I was drafted and served for 21 months and 13 days. Yes, I know it down to the day,” Grey joked. “So, I might have a story or two.”

He then pointed over his shoulder to a friend sitting at the next table and said, “But this guy really has a story.”

Bob Leonard, who served in the Army during World War II, responded with a laugh and leaned back in his chair.

“Well, we were in Korea, and we were hungry,” Leonard said. “We had to cross over six railroad tracks to reach our meal cart, and one day it didn’t come. I warned that we would stop the next train coming in if they didn’t bring us our meals, and that’s just what we did. We got our food after that.”

Creative outlet as a means to cope

When Stan Adams was introduced and brought on stage, he spoke about where the inspiration for his book came from. What first sparked the idea, he said, was when his counselor suggested writing about his military experiences because it can be a beneficial coping strategy for those struggling with PTSD.

Things began solidifying into a “real book” when he took notice of how few veterans were present at the annual Vietnam Manchu veteran’ reunion. He said was worried that their stories were going to die with them.

“All of these stories were going to be lost if I didn’t do something about it,” Adams said.

Adams interviewed various military families with his wife, Rita, to collect stories for his book. It took the couple about three years to collect all the stories before the book was published in January of this year. The couple’s oldest daughter, Kim Force, helped format the book for publication.

The stories included in the book touch on various subjects, including describing the pet monkey Adams’ base camp had in Vietnam and how each soldier dealt with the traumatic events they witnessed.

“Everyone has their own way of dealing with things,” Adams said. “You kind of just do what helps you survive at the time.”

That’s why Adams said he needed to get this book out there.

“Writing is supposed to help me deal with what I’ve gone through,” he said, “and I think it can help others going through similar experiences to read it.”

Supervising editor is Kaleigh Feldkamp.

  • I am a junior at the Missouri School of Journalism and I am a reporter on the Public Health and Safety beat for the Columbia Missourian.

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