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First Salute: 101st's Screaming Eagles

Two soldiers reflect on their time spent in the service.

Two soldiers -- each from different eras -- reflect on their time spent with the military.   

Skokie resident Don Nilles enlisted in the military when he was just 17 years old. He would go on to serve in the Army's renowned 101st Airborne Division, also known as the Screaming Eagles, and did several tours during the Vietnam War. He would later join the Army Special Forces and earn the iconic title of Green Beret.

The Screaming Eagles received their recognition for their brave performance during Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge in WW II. 

Now 61, Nilles spoke about his pride serving in the 101st, adding that his father served in the same unit during WW II. And while his dad survived historical battles such as Normandy, he unfortunately passed away after completion of his service in a car accident when Don was only 11 months old.

Almost four decades later, family friend Adrian  Bucur became an officer with the 101st Airborne Division. Last year, Bucur asked Nilles to give him his first salute at a ceremony honoring his accomplishment on becoming an officer.

The 27-year-old Skokie native recently completed officer infantry training and is set to start Ranger school this June. 

Both soldiers recently got together and spoke about what Memorial Day means to them and their country.

"People are going to get together, go on picnics or barbeque," Nilles said. "But I hope they take a second to think about what Memorial Day means, so it doesn't become an empty holiday."

Be sure to check out our other video as Nilles and Bucur discuss what Memorial Day means to them. To read that story, click .  

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