UNMC veterans mark holiday

by Kalani Simpson, UNMC public relations | November 09, 2018

Image with caption: Jonathon Sample, left, with his brother.

Jonathon Sample, left, with his brother.

Sunday, Nov. 11, is Veterans Day.

It's a date Wayne Mathews, associate professor and director of research in physician assistant education, in the College of Allied Health Professions, typically marks each year.

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Wayne Mathews, left, during the Vietnam War with a buddy while patrolling just off the coast of Vietnam near Da Nang.
"I definitely do," he said. "I have a little Vietnam Veterans pin I always wear on that day."

UNMC Today and the medical center remind our readers of the holiday by highlighting just two of the many veterans who work or attend classes here at UNMC.

Mathews served in the U.S. Navy from 1972-76, taking part in minesweeping operations in Vietnam's Gulf of Tonkin, and combat support. But his most memorable service came in 1975 when the Navy helped evacuate Saigon.

Normally a radar communications specialist, Mathews was pressed into service helping with medical triage on a ship bursting with thousands of Vietnamese refugees.

"It was the first time I ever saw a child casualty," he said.

"That was the thing that shook me up more than anything else."

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Sample today Mathews today
But that assignment inspired his interest in medicine and science. Upon coming home, "I went to school here and worked at the VA hospital and came to this PA program at UNMC, where I graduated in 1981.

"It's been quite an adventure," Mathews said.

Jonathon Sample, advanced simulation specialist at iEXCEL, is another veteran who has found a home at UNMC. He joined the U.S. Army Infantry on Sept. 15, 2001 at age 17.

"I had already taken my ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test) and physical, I was just waiting to sign a contract when the September 11 attacks were carried out," he said. He signed up as a senior in high school, and went to basic training after graduation.

"By September 2003, I was deployed to Ramadi, Iraq," he said.

He earned a Purple Heart for injuries received in combat in July 2004.

He later also served in Afghanistan until June 2011.

The U.S. military is a tradition in his family: "My father did three tours with the USMC (the Marines) in Vietnam, received three Purple Hearts," Sample said. "My older brother had one tour in Iraq as a U.S. Army infantryman and earned a Purple Heart as well. My older sister was deployed to Panama for a humanitarian mission with the Iowa National Guard."

Please feel free to honor a veteran who works or attends school at UNMC, or a family member, in the comments below.


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dan mcquade
November 12, 2018 at 2:52 PM

THANK YOU for your service.

Lannie Lukesh
November 12, 2018 at 10:22 AM

I appreciate this story being about something positive about veterans instead of mental illness like the last 2 years.

November 09, 2018 at 3:49 PM

Thank you both for your service. Also thanks to all the veterans and their families who are actively servicing their country now. Be safe

November 09, 2018 at 10:29 AM

Thank you both, along with all active duty and veterans. My husband was in the Navy on a sub for 8 years. That explains a lot about his personality.

Fran Higgins
November 09, 2018 at 9:56 AM

Thank you both, and all veterans, active duty personnel, and their families, for service to the country. My husband is a disabled vet and my nephew is active duty Navy.

Liz Tierney
November 09, 2018 at 9:19 AM

Thank you to our veterans and active service members still serving. Your sacrifices matter and my family are forever grateful.

Carolyn Peterson
November 09, 2018 at 9:17 AM

We cannot thank you enough for your patriotism, your sacrifice, and your service to our country!

Cheryl Dunn
November 09, 2018 at 8:58 AM

I would like to honor my father who served in the USMC, my father in law who served in the US Navy, my uncle who served in the US Army, my other uncle who also served in the US Army, my brother in law who served in the USMC, my husband who served 29 1/2 years in the US Air Force and continues to serve Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines as a civilian. My son in law who served in the Air National Guard and last but certainly not least, my son who served proudly in the US Air Force for 5 1/2 years!

Dorothy North
November 09, 2018 at 7:35 AM

Thanks so very much to each and every one of you who has served us and our country in so many ways. Thank you. Thank you.

Vickey Cordoba
November 09, 2018 at 6:32 AM

To all of our Veterans here at work and all over the world, Thank you for your service!

Karla M
November 09, 2018 at 6:09 AM

Thank you both, for your service!