The Operation C.R.E.S.T. podcast is a student-led production where Veterans share their memories of Courage, Resilience, Empowerment, Service, and Teamwork during their time while enlisted in the Armed Services. Students are given the opportunity to learn important lessons from these conversations, and are tasked with a service opportunity of their own: the digital preservation of the Veteran experience as a part of the Library of Congress' Veterans History Project. Join our students and veterans as they sit down and engage in important and meaningful conversations, and stay tuned for updates via our newsletter regarding new programs coming soon.
Through this experience, students design interview questions, lead discussions, select audio tracks, and finalize recordings. In the process, they learn important skills in technology and leadership, and provide an invaluable service by donating all recorded interviews to the Library of Congress to be preserved for future generations.
When given the opportunity to share their memories, participating Veterans are renewed and refreshed. Sharing their stories provides an opportunity to continue to serve the nation even though their enlistments are up. These conversations are just the beginning of a host of ways that we're designing that will allow veterans to continue to serve America by working with youth.
Stay tuned for our next episode coming soon!
Join Eli and Rohan as they sit down with Lieutenant Colonel Kate Clarke. LTC Clarke was born and raised in the small town of Macon, Missouri. In 2000, she graduated from Austin Peay State University and Army ROTC where she was commissioned as a second lieutenant. To date, LTC Clarke has completed twenty years of service to the United States Army, Missouri National Guard, and the United States Army Reserves with assignments in Korea, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom. LTC Clarke is branch-qualified in Military Police and Logistics and holds a Master of Science in American History from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Currently, LTC Clarke continues her service in the US Army Reserves assigned within the Protection Division of the United States Army Corps of Engineers in Washington D.C. Kate is an author with the publication in 2005 by Penguin Publishing of her memoirs entitled “The Heart of a Soldier.” She has been invited to speak at a variety of events across the nation and presently, Kate is in her final year of PhD work at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, where she is completing original research on the American Revolution. When not studying or hiking in Scotland, Kate resides in Enterprise, Alabama with her husband Michael, and Border Collie, Hawkeye.
Join Jacob and Evan as they sit down with SFC (Ret.) Jason McNutt. Mr. McNutt currently serves with the Defense Contract Management Agency as a Program Integrator in Huntsville, Alabama, where he is currently supporting the Missile Defense Agency with the nation’s homeland defense mission. He has previously served in several capacities within DCMA at locations spanning across the country to include the Pentagon in Washington D.C. Prior to his current career with DCMA, Mr. McNutt served in the U.S. Army where he held the rank of Sergeant First Class within the Army's Aviation Branch as an AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopter Senior Maintainer. He is a combat Veteran of the 101st Airborne Division with combat deployments to both Afghanistan and Iraq. Mr. McNutt's military service also includes five years overseas stationed in the Republic of South Korea. His military awards include the Bronze Star Medal and two Meritorious Service Medals. Mr. McNutt has over 25 years of combined military and government experience in his professional career and holds a Bachelor's of Science in Business from Bellevue University.
Join Julia and Matthew as they sit down with Colonel Wendy E. Odden (Ret.), who served in the United States Air Force (USAF) from 1989 to 2019 as a Bioenvironmental Engineer. Her last assignment was as the Department Chair for the Occupational and Environmental Health Department at the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine (USAFSAM), Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio. She was responsible for enhancing human performance and reducing total exposure health risks through occupational and environmental health (OEH) education, consultation, knowledge management, laboratory analysis, and innovation for the Department of Defense. Colonel (retired) Odden received her commission through the Reserve Officer Training Corps program and degree in Environmental Engineering at Pennsylvania State University in 1989. She served in various roles as a Bioenvironmental Engineer, including flight commander, Chemical, Biological, Radiation, and Nuclear specialist, staff officer, international health specialist, Deputy Command Surgeon, Medical Operations Squadron Commander, Major Command Bioenvironmental Engineer, and Department Chair. Her assignments included Bergstrom AFB, Austin TX; Ramstein AB, Germany; Peterson AFB, Colorado Springs CO; Charleston AFB, Charleston SC; MacDill AFB, Tampa FL; Langley AFB, Hampton VA; Stuttgart, Germany; Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, TX; Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph , TX; and Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton OH. Her deployments took her to Republic of Georgia; Royal Air Force Akrotiri, Cyprus; Al Udeid, Qatar; Kuwait; Iraq; and United Arab Emirates. While not working, Colonel (retired) Odden enjoys spending time with “daughter” Brittany dog, family, and friends, as well as traveling to see new places. Colonel (retired) Odden is married to Chief Master Sergeant (retired) Troy Odden. They live in a cabin in the mountains in Capon Bridge, WV near Wendy’s family in the Washington DC and Northern Virginia area. They also have property in Grand Rapids, MN, where Troy grew up and much of his family still lives.
Join Dakota and Autumn as they sit down with retired Lieutenant Colonel Cayton Johnson as he shares lessons and memories from his 22 years of service in the U.S. Army. Mr. Johnson is from Isle of Palms, South Carolina, and is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. He served as an Apache attack helicopter pilot with the 101st Airborne Division, 3rd Infantry Division, and 1st Cavalry Division. He also served on Army and Department of Defense level staffs in the Pentagon. Cayton’s service included six combat deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. He is a recipient of the Legion of Merit, three Bronze Star Medals, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, five Meritorious Service Medals, four Air Medals, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Combat Action Badge, Senior Aviator Badge, Air Assault Badge, and Parachutist Badge. Cayton is married to fellow ‘Soldier for Life’ and retired Lieutenant Colonel Robin Johnson. Since retiring in 2021, Cayton spends his time supporting his wife’s career in comedy, parenting their two children, and assisting the Army with one of their talent assessment and selection programs.
Join Zack and Evan as they talk with retired Lt. Col. Lee Olyniec. Mr. Olyniec retired from the Air Force as a Lieutenant Colonel with over 22 years of active duty service. He started his career as an engineer supporting flight tests at Edwards Air Force Base. In 2000, he graduated from the Air Force Test Pilot School as a flight test engineer and supported initial testing of the F-22 fighter aircraft. Additional assignments include program offices with the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile, Air Traffic Control and Landing Systems, the E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning And Control System, and various staff positions. Lieutenant Colonel Olyniec deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 with Task Force Paladin and the Counter Improvised Explosive Device (C-IED) mission at FOB Shank and Kandahar. In 2011, he deployed to FOB Union III in the Baghdad Green Zone supporting the Iraq Security Assistance Mission. Mr. Olyniec graduated from Texas A&M where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. He also holds a master's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He retired in 2016 and currently works as a technical consultant.
Join Luke and Ava as they talk with Lieutenant General DeAnna M. Burt. Lt. Gen. Burt is the Deputy Chief of Space Operations for Operations, Cyber, and Nuclear, United States Space Force, the Pentagon, Washington, DC. As the Chief Operations Officer, Lt Gen Burt has overall responsibility for Operations, Sustainment, Cyber, and Nuclear Operations of the United States Space Force. Lt Gen Burt entered the Air Force in 1991 as a distinguished graduate of the Air Force ROTC program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Her career has included numerous satellite operations and staff positions in Air Force Space Command and U.S. European Command. The general has commanded the 2nd Space Operations Squadron, the 460th Operations Group, and the 50th Space Wing. She is a graduate and former instructor of the U.S. Air Force Weapons School and a graduate of the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies. Prior to her current assignment, Lt Gen Burt was the Commander, Combined Forces Space Component Command, U.S. Space Command, and Vice Commander, Space Operations Command, U.S. Space Force.
Listen in as Mallory and Jaslyn sit down with Sergeant First Class (retired) Tim Huggins. Mr. Huggins was born in 1981 in the Mount Pleasant Neighborhood of Washington, D.C., and has two kids aged 19 (Anthony) and 11 (Kennedy). He joined the Army in January of 2000 and was sent to the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks in Hawai'i. Tim served as an Infantryman and Aviation Operations Specialist and has deployed to Bosnia, Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Some of his awards include the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal, and the Combat Infantry Badge. He retired from the Army in 2021.
Join Shaw and Rohan as they sit down with Technical Sergeant Tina Laing, who served 15 years of active duty service in the Air Force and two years in the California Air National Guard before she received a medical discharge from the Air National Guard in 2006. After retiring, Sergeant Laing served as a government-contracted financial analyst in Air Force Space Command managing the Air Force’s Cyber Infrastructure 13.1 billion dollar portfolio. In 2014, Sergeant Laing felt a moral obligation to finish serving a full twenty years in uniform and opted to apply to become an Air Force Junior ROTC Instructor teaching leadership to high school students. What was supposed to be a few years' commitment ended up being a true passion and she continues instructing today at Unity Reed High School. She is the back-to-back-to-back three-time Virginia state drill champion coach, as well as a first-place trophy winner at the Air Force JROTC National Drill competition competing against 865 units across the globe. She holds an advanced degree in Business Administration and is married to her husband, Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Charles Laing, and has two children, Kate and Zach.
Join Matthew and Riley as they sit down with United States Army Major Rudy Salcido. Mr. Salcido is a veteran with a combined 10 1⁄2 years of active-duty service, and 19 years of Federal Service with the Army National Guard. Born in El Paso, Texas, he was raised in a small town just outside El Paso named Socorro. He graduated from Socorro High School in 2000 while attending the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) Academy and was a multi-sport athlete and very involved in extra-curricular activities. After high school, he attended the University of Texas at El Paso and graduated in December 2005 with his Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and a Minor in Military Science. In the same month, he received his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant with the United States Army National Guard. After graduation and commissioning, he reported to Army flight school and graduated in October of 2007 as an Army Aviator. While attending flight school, he applied for the United States Border Patrol, entered on duty in December 2007, and was named class leader. Continue reading...
Join Miguel & Rohan as they sit down with Marine Corps Infantry Sergeant Richard Machamer. Richard completed three combat deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. During that time he participated in combat operations to expel insurgent forces from Fallujah, Ramadi, Ar Rutbah, and Mosul. During Operation Koa Canyon in Hit, Iraq, Richard's unit was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation. In the latter part of his military career, Richard led an intelligence cell and was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal for operations that resulted in the capture of several key insurgent and Al Qaeda leaders operating in Al Anbar province including Multinational Forces West’s 2nd most wanted insurgent leader. Richard recently founded a corporate intelligence firm that he currently runs in addition to serving on the Board of Directors of The 9:57 Project. In his free time, Rick enjoys touring local wineries and breweries, competitive axe throwing, hanging out with his dog, Freya, and playing video games online with his Marine Corps buddies.
Join Shaw and Luke as they sit down with United States Army Lieutenant Colonel Rogers “Roge” Stinson. Roge is a veteran with over 20 years of active-duty Service. During his career, he served as a CH-47D “Chinook” heavy lift helicopter pilot and maintenance test pilot. He has served both in combat and in support of peacetime operations around the world. Roge served in Iraq with the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 5/6 where he commanded an Aviation Support Company, leading over 350 Soldiers and Department of Defense contract support personnel. He is a 1995 graduate of Furman University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry and then was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Roge also holds a Master of Arts degree in Human Resources Management from Webster University. Roge retired from active duty in 2015 and is the co-founder of Logistics Associates, LLC, headquartered in Northern Virginia, where he currently serves as Chief Operating Officer and Vice President for Human Resources. He’s a proud father of two children and a professional photographer.
Join Ava and Riley as they sit down with Captain Jason Smith. Jason is a 25-year military veteran serving as a pilot and leader in both the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Army. He has served on the National Security Council; as Senior Policy Advisor on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee; and as strategic advisor and communications director for the Commandant of the Coast Guard.
He has led soldiers and sailors during three combat deployments, nine afloat deployments, and in emergency response to several hurricanes, including hurricane Katrina - rescuing more than 200 lives. He has served at the operational and strategic level working with state, federal, tribal, and foreign agencies.
Jason has a Master’s in Public Administration from Harvard, a Master’s in International Relations from St. Mary’s University, and a Bachelor’s in Biology from Sam Houston State University. Jason also serves on the Board of Directors of The 9:57 Project.