Tag Archives: Colin Kirk


Service and Baseball with Luke Gillingham

Minor League Baseball player and Surface Warfare Officer Luke Gillingham shares his memories of playing baseball at the United States Naval Academy for Coach Paul Kostacopoulos, his recollection of being drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays, and the options the Navy presented to him as he fulfilled his commitment to serving his country through the Navy Reserve while having the opportunity to play professional baseball. Gillingham also shares his thoughts on playing professional baseball and baseball during the global health crisis of COVID-19.

American Valor Podcast

Changing the World One Person at a Time with Judge Michael Allen

Judge Michael Allen speaks about his path to serving as one of nine judges on the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, the youngest federal court, created in 1988. Appeals of all benefits administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs are heard by the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Judge Allen speaks about the family members and teachers who mentored him and made a difference in his life. Hear his special stories of visiting the White House to interview for the seat on the bench before being confirmed by the Senate in August of 2017, when Chief Justice John Roberts swore him in and the unique impact a lawyer had in his parents’ lives. Judge Allen explains that the goal of a judge is much like that of a baseball umpire: to get it right.

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Combining Forces to Honor the Fallen with Kevin Hertell and Chad Lennon

Over 20 veterans take their lives each day, evidence of a suicide epidemic within our country, a problem specifically prevalent within the veteran community. The Suicide Awareness and Prevention flag is a symbolic combination of the Prisoner of War (POW) and Gold Star flags. The Gold Star is displayed on a service flag to indicate that a relative of the family was killed while serving in the armed forces during wartime. This is a conversation about warrior culture, removing stigma, expressing feelings, mental wellness, and what we can do to improve the situation together.

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Just Lead: Chief Petty Officer Terry Spain, USN (Ret.)

Retired Navy Chief Petty Officer Terry Spain speaks about his leadership philosophy, lessons learned in his life from family and military service, what it means to be a Chief Petty Officer in the world’s finest Navy, and writing his new book, Just Lead!

“Terry Spain is an author and CEO of Terry Spain Consulting LLC, which specializes in diversity and leadership training along with motivational speaking and team building. Before retiring from the U.S Navy, Terry served as an Instructor for the Senior Leadership Development Branch at the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI). He has trained members of the Federal Government, the White House, Camp David, and the Naval Academy.

As a pillar in the community, he is an active member of the NAACP Central Brevard Branch and serves as the Veterans committee Chairman. Terry is also a member of the Brevard County Chamber of Commerce (Military Affairs Council) and serves as an advisor for the Bob Feller Act of Valor Foundation.

Mr. Spain received his Bachelor’s degree from Thomas Edison state university in Trenton, NJ, and his Certificate of Mastery in Diversity & Inclusion from The Institute for Federal Leadership in Diversity & Inclusion (Georgetown University). He has served over 21 years in the U.S. Navy and attained the rank of Chief Petty Officer. Terry was assigned to various ships and bases around the world, which allowed him to gain in-depth life experiences relating to diversity and leadership.

In 2014, Terry was awarded The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Roy Wilkins Renown Service Award” (from TerrySpainconsulting.com).

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Podcast: USN Captain Greg Zettler: Courage to do the right thing and ownership in the mission

Captain Greg Zettler speaks about lessons of integrity as a priority of his education at the United States Naval Academy. Captain Zettler speaks about the significance of service and recommends one assumes that everyone on their team has noble intent. Captain Zettler stresses the importance of creating individual ownership of the collective mission. The best advice Captain Zettler has received was to not try to by perfect: to rely on his innate ability and the training he has been provided. Zettler’s advice for those entering the military is relevant life advice for any person, especially youth: “Come in ready to learn, ready to work hard, ready to embrace the opportunities that come your way. Strive to achieve the mission. Embrace your own ownership for the mission.” For Captain Greg Zettler, valor is the willingness to do the right thing in the face of potential consequences to yourself.

“Captain Greg Zettler became the USS Norfolk’s 16th Commanding Officer November 18, 2011. He graduated from the Naval Academy in May of 1994 with a Bachelor of Science in General Engineering. He has also earned a Master’s Degree in Leadership and Human Resource Development from the Naval Postgraduate School and a Master’s Degree in National Security Resources from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. He has received several decorations in his career” (United States Navy).

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Podcast: Mr. Buster Olney on National Baseball HOFer, Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Coleman

Mr. Buster Olney shares his upbringing around the game of baseball, his career as a sports columnist covering the game, Hall of Fame voting and personal memories and stories from baseball legends Tony Gwynn and Jerry Coleman, including Gwynn’s gregarious personality and Coleman’s humility towards his service and respect for his comrades who did not return home from war.

Jerry Coleman: Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Coleman is the only Major League Baseball player to serve in combat in two wars, flying 57 combat missions in the SBD Dauntless Dive Bomber during World War II and 63 close air support and interdiction strike missions earning six more Air Medals during the Korean War. Lieutenant Colonel Coleman was selected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame as the Ford C. Frick Award recipient as an announcer in 2005 (Bob Feller Foundation).

Buster Olney: “Robert “Buster” Olney is a senior writer for ESPN.com and reporter for ESPN’s exclusive Sunday Night Baseball telecasts. He joined ESPN in June 2003 to cover baseball for all ESPN entities, including ESPN Radio, ESPNEWS and SportsCenter. He writes a daily column for ESPN.com and hosts the popular Baseball Tonight podcast as well as appearing on ESPN’s baseball studio show by the same name.

Olney’s two favorite events he has covered for ESPN are the 2014 and 2016 postseasons. “Particularly,” he said, “the historic performances of Madison Bumgarner.”

Olney began covering baseball in 1989 as the Nashville Banner’s beat reporter for the Triple-A Nashville Sounds. He later covered the San Diego Padres for the San Diego Union-Tribune (1993 – 1994) and the Baltimore Orioles (Baltimore Sun, 1995 – 1996). He arrived at ESPN after six years at the New York Times covering the Mets (1997) and the Yankees (1998 – 2001)” (ESPN Press Room).

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Podcast: Dr. Himesh Lakhlani: Family, Education, and Support of Country

Dr. Himesh Lakhlani speaks about lessons learned from the difficult situations his parents lived through. His parents taught him hard work, commitment, humility, and the value of family. Himesh is passionate about providing awareness to individuals who do not have a family history of pursuing higher education. Himesh defines valor as standing up for others who don’t have the ability to stand up on their own. Dr. Lakhlani emphasizes the importance of spending time with family. Dr. Lakhlani currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Bob Feller Act of Valor Award Foundation.

“Dr. Himesh Lakhani was born in a suburb of Mumbai, India and at the age of three immigrated with his parents and younger brother to Rochester, New York. While obtaining his bachelor’s degree at the University of Pittsburgh, he studied Political Science with a focus on Immigration Law. His passion and commitment to helping those that share similar backgrounds began in young adulthood. After graduating college, he went on to attend Medical School abroad and received a Doctor of Medicine in 2007 with a core focus of Infectious Disease, Healthcare Administration and Emergency Medicine. He was the first in his family to graduate High School, graduate College and graduate from Medical School. He became involved in higher education after graduation from medical school and has now spent over a decade in both health care and education. He was elected President and Chief Executive Officer for Jacksonville Management & Staffing in 2014, which operated as a Clinical and Administrative healthcare management firm. Since his relocation to Houston in 2017, he has served as Campus President of The College of Health Care Professions. He has been an advocate of access to health care and education to economically disadvantaged communities and has worked with affiliates of Mayor Turner’s office and the Harris County of Department of Public Health. Himesh was recently recognized as the “2019 Beacon of Light” by the University of Houston’s Immigration Law Center for his work with the immigration population in Houston, Texas” (Actofvaloraward.org).

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Podcast: Baseball Author, Broadcaster Mr. Ed Randall: Baseball, Cancer and Life

Mr. Ed Randall speaks about his love of baseball while growing up, leading him to broadcast, report, and anchor professionally. He speaks about the challenges of reaching Major League Baseball, being grateful for his experiences and respecting the past. Mr. Randall shares his memory of making it to the Major Leagues when he filled in for Bob Shepherd, the legendary public address announcer at Yankee Stadium. Mr. Randall speaks about his close relationship with Baseball Hall of Famer Ernie Harwell and shares stories of National Baseball Hall of Famer and World War II and Korean War veteran Mr. Ted Williams. Hear about how Ed’s battle with prostate cancer has led him to help men understand that there is a 99% cure rate when cancer is detected early through testing.

“Ed Randall is the Founder and CEO of Fans for the Cure, a 501(c)(3) charity he started in 2003 to promote prostate cancer awareness, provide free PSA screenings, and focus on the importance of early detection in achieving best outcomes.

Since the start of the charity’s annual Baseball Road Trip in 2009, Fans for the Cure has conducted nearly 1,500 prostate cancer awareness days/nights at MLB and Minor League ballparks around the country. In cooperation with the teams’ healthcare partners and the charity’s network of physicians and hospitals, Fans for the Cure has provided over 5,000 PSA screenings as part of this program.

In addition to his work with Fans for the Cure, Ed just began his forty-sixth season in baseball broadcasting, hosting Remember When with Rico Petrocelli on Sirius XM as well as Ed Randall’s Talking Baseball on New York’s WFANThe author of three books about baseball, Ed’s most recent release is Baseball for the Utterly Confused, published by McGraw-Hill. His most notable collaboration was conducting the interviews with celebrity golfers and well-known PGA players that provided the content for The Best Golf Advice I Ever Received by Donald J. Trump. (Crown, 2005)

A graduate of Fordham University, Ed is a member of the school’s College Alumni Board as well as an inductee in the All Hallows High School Hall of Fame. Ed and his wife Louisa reside in Westchester County, New York” (Fansforthecure.org).

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Podcast: Mr. Carl Erskine: Jackie Robinson’s teammate, discipline, and change

“Baseball saw some of its biggest transformations in the 1940s and 50s. The introduction of night games, television, racial desegregation, and prevalence of jet travel all had a profound impact on how the game was forever played, observed, and experienced. Through these unprecedented times stood Carl Erskine, famed pitcher of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers, and a witness to history.

Upon high school graduation in 1945, Erskine’s aspiration to play baseball came to a halt. With World War II in full swing, he was drafted into the U.S. Navy. A year later, Erskine introduced himself to the Navy recreation officer where he was stationed, and asked if he could play baseball. Already full of pitchers, he was turned away, but soon found consolation a few weeks later when scouted by the Dodgers and discharged from the Navy. Erskine spent the next year and a half in the minor leagues, at the time of widespread historical change in baseball.

While playing in 1947, baseball legend Jackie Robinson came on board the Brooklyn Dodgers as the first African American player in Major League history. After pitching in a challenging game in the spring of 1948, Robinson, who had watched Erskine pitch that game, befriended him and said, “You’re going to be with us real soon.” Truly inspired and with a great sense of optimism, Robinson’s prediction came true. Later that year, Erskine joined the Brooklyn Dodgers.

In the late ‘40s, television was beginning to permeate American society and millions of people started to see baseball in a new way. No longer restricted to archaic radio waves, the heroes of the sport now had faces to go along with their larger-than-life reputations–another milestone that would eternally change the nature of games.

Throughout the 1950s, air travel changed the way people moved across the country. With West Coast cities experiencing dramatic population increases, the major leagues started to expand. In 1957, the Dodgers left Brooklyn, New York and headed to California to become the Los Angeles Dodgers. Erskine, who did not like being away from his family, decided that relocating was not for him. He lasted only a year and a half and pitched his last game on June 4, 1959. His career spanned 12 seasons and accumulated 122 wins (.61).

After retiring from baseball, Erskine returned to his native Indiana and started his own insurance business in 1960. For 12 years, he coached the Anderson University Raven baseball program winning four championship games. While in the insurance business, he sharpened his business acumen and landed a job at Star Financial Bank serving as its president and director from 1982-1993. Erskine has also given his time and talents to many organizations, sitting on the board of trustees of Anderson University, St. John’s Medical Center, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and numerous other state and civic institutions.

Erskine was inducted into the Indiana National Baseball Hall of fame in 1979. In 2001, he wrote his first book, Tales from the Dodger Dugout, a collection of heartwarming stories recounting his days in the major leagues. Four years later, he penned his memoir, What I Learned from Jackie Robinson, sharing his memories of Jackie’s battle for racial equality and their enduring friendship that taught him important lessons about life.

The unique perspective of Erskine during baseball’s transformative years is a good reminder that change is something not to fear, but embraced with an open mind and heart (from CarlErskine.com).”

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Author Anne Keene: Baseball and Military in World War II

Author Anne Keene began her career as a writer after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a journalism degree.

Anne’s father was a batboy for the Cloudbuster Nine, a World War II team of fighter-pilot cadets at an elite Navy training school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After her father’s passing, Anne began a research project on the Major League Baseball players who attended the training school that shaped the lives of many well-known individuals. Her book, The Cloudbuster Nine, was named as a finalist for the 2018 CASEY Award for “Best Baseball Book of the Year.”

Keene shares incredible stories and lessons learned from her conversations with surviving Major League Baseball World War II veterans. Common values of these individuals include fearlessness, pride in the military and service, generosity, service-oriented, modesty, humility, appreciation of freedom, clarity of beliefs, and respect for authority and leadership. Anne’s research reminds listeners of the importance of positive values and a desire to help others and make the world a better place.

To learn more about Author Anne Keene and her work on baseball and the military, please visit her website: https://www.annerkeene.com/

Image: Anne Keene’s father receiving lessons from Boston Red Sox Ted Williams and Johnny Pesky

American Valor Podcast