Emma Bowman

After World War II broke out, 26-year-old Gilbert Seltzer enlisted into the Army.

Soon after, he was told he was being put on a secret mission — and an unconventional one at that.

Seltzer, then an architectural draftsman, was selected to lead a platoon of men within a unit dubbed the "Ghost Army." Made up mostly of artists, creatives and engineers, the unit would go on to play an instrumental role in securing victory in Europe for the U.S. and its allies.

Editor's note: This story contains some graphic descriptions of injuries that some readers may find disturbing.

On Oct. 23, 1983, Navy hospital corpsman James Edward Brown survived one of the deadliest terrorist attacks on Americans.

When a bomb detonated at the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Brown was at his post in the sick hall on the Marine compound — about 200 yards away.

At the time, 1,800 Marines were stationed in the city during the Lebanese Civil War.

Fifteen years ago, David Wilson and his husband Rob Compton were one of the first same-sex couples to marry in the U.S.

If it had been up to Wilson and Compton, their union would've been recognized years before that. Frustrated by the injustice, both men became plaintiffs in a lawsuit that led to Massachusetts becoming the first state to legalize same-sex marriage on May 17, 2004.

They married in Boston at City Hall and at their church that same day.

Sada Jackson lost her mother, Ileana Watson, to breast cancer in 2016.

There are many things Sada, now a mother herself, wonders about her late mom. So at StoryCorps, she sat with Ileana's best friend, Angela Morehead-Mugita, to learn more. "I want to know more about my mom, as a woman, because I only knew her as Mom," says Sada, 35.

Angela, 55, says she and Ileana were each other's emotional support during vulnerable moments. When Ileana was facing cancer for the second time – when Sada was pregnant — she broke down to her friend, saying, "I may not see my grandbaby."

After surviving the Holocaust, Judel and Pauline Schuster resettled in Buffalo, N.Y., to start a family.

This Holocaust Remembrance Week, two of their children, Abe and Esther Schuster, reflect on their parents' joyful view of life in a recent StoryCorps conversation.

That philosophy didn't always mean following the rules.

Abe said that one evening when he was in high school, he introduced his parents to his calculus teacher and her husband at a neighborhood restaurant.

Lisa Bouler Daniels, 52, grew up knowing she was adopted. Seven years ago, she began searching for her birth family.

By the time she found them, her birth mother had died. So had her adoptive mother.

She tracked down her half brother, Benjamin Chambers, and showed up at his church in the Chicago suburbs.

"I kinda ambushed you," Daniels told Chambers, now 37, in an interview at StoryCorps in December.

Chambers grew up as one of four children. He had no clue that he had another sibling.

"It was shocking," he remembers.

Editor's note: This story contains language that some may find offensive.

On the morning of April 20, 1999, 16-year-old sophomore Lauren Cartaya escaped quickly from Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., after two students began opening fire.

Lauren's older brother, Zach, then a 17-year-old senior, hid for three hours in an empty classroom with his classmates. The gunmen killed 13 people and themselves in what was then considered the largest mass shooting at a high school.

Baylor gave up a double-digit lead but hung on in the final minutes to win the NCAA women's title game against defending champs Notre Dame by a single point Sunday night in Tampa, Fla.

With the 82-81 victory, the Lady Bears clinched their third NCAA women's basketball championship — joining UConn and Tennessee as the only Division I programs with three or more titles. The last time Baylor clinched the title was in 2012 against the Fighting Irish.

Nina Martinez just became the world's first living HIV-positive organ donor.

In a medical breakthrough, surgeons at Johns Hopkins Hospital late last month successfully transplanted one of her kidneys to a recipient who is also HIV positive.

"I feel wonderful," Martinez, 35, said in an interview with NPR's Michel Martin, 11 days into her recovery. The patient who received her kidney has chosen to remain anonymous, but is doing well, Martinez is told.

Shotzy Harrison grew up not really knowing her dad, James Flavy Coy Brown.

He was in and out of her life. James, who has been treated for multiple mental conditions, spent most of his adult life homeless. Once, Shotzy, now 30, found him living in the woods behind a hotel.

At StoryCorps in 2013, the two had reunited, and he had moved in with her and her two daughters in Winston-Salem, N.C. But her dad's presence was short-lived. and they would lose touch again that same year.

Army veteran Sgt. Mickey Willenbring has always been a fighter. She grew up shuffling between homes — with her parents on the West Coast, with family on Native American reservations in the upper Midwest and within the foster care system across the country — during an adolescence she describes as sometimes violent.

But the military struck Willenbring as a way to channel the aggression she says built up during an unstable upbringing. In 1998, Willenbring, then 20, enlisted in the Army and deployed to Iraq five years later.

Husband and wife Larry and Sharon Adams have spent the past 20 years bringing boarded-up homes in their Milwaukee neighborhood back to life.

The love they share for their community grew out of their love for each other. During a StoryCorps interview in October, Larry, now 65, and Sharon, 72, remember how they first met.

It was 1997, and Sharon had just moved back to her childhood home on North 17th Street in Milwaukee's Lindsay Heights neighborhood. But like several other properties in the neighborhood, it needed some work.

This story is part of the StoryCorps series of conversations.

Last Valentine's Day, Maya Altman stepped out of her freshman biology class at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when she heard booming sounds.

Rodger McDaniel was 21 years old when his father died.

His dad, Johnny McDaniel, worked over the years as a miner and milk truck driver, married and divorced Rodger's mother three times – and he loved music.

Rodger remembers his beautiful singing and his shiny, black guitar.

"Even though my father didn't have much of a formal education, he taught himself to play the guitar by ear," Rodger, 70, tells StoryCorps in Laramie, Wyo.

The Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots will face off in this year's Super Bowl after winning the NFC and AFC conference championships, respectively, on Sunday.

The Rams, who overcame a 13-point deficit to beat the Saints, last played in the Super Bowl in 2002 — against none other than the Patriots. The St. Louis Rams won the NFL title two years before that.

The Patriots defeated the Chiefs to return to the Super Bowl for a third consecutive year.

Los Angeles Rams beat New Orleans Saints

For as long as he can remember, Tommy Tomlinson has understood his identity as inseparable from his body.

The day Martin Luther King Jr. gave his landmark "I Have a Dream" speech in August 1963, a lesser known moment in civil rights history was unfolding in southern Georgia.

More than a dozen African-American girls, ages 12 to 15, were being held in a small, Civil War-era stockade set up by law enforcement in Leesburg, Ga., as a makeshift jail.

Two decades ago, Maria Rivas emigrated from El Salvador to the United States, where she received temporary protected status (TPS) allowing her to stay and legally work.

But later this year, TPS – a humanitarian program — is set to expire for nearly 200,000 immigrants from El Salvador, including Rivas. If forced to leave the U.S., Maria won't take her U.S.-born daughter, Emily, with her.

The federal judge in Texas who ruled the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional earlier this month said that the law can remain in effect while under appeal.

U.S. District Court Judge Reed O'Connor wrote in his ruling filed on Sunday that "many everyday Americans would otherwise face great uncertainty during the pendency of appeal."

Last year, friends Jeanne Satterfield and Barbara Parham reconnected for the first time in a decade at a place neither of them expected to be — a homeless shelter.

On a visit to StoryCorps in October, Satterfield and Parham recall how reuniting at the Pine Street Inn, a shelter in Boston, couldn't have come at a better time.

"When I came through the door, I was scared to death," says Satterfield, now 62. "I didn't know what to do. I had never been homeless before."

In 1973, Barnie Botone got a job in Albuquerque, N.M., working on the railroad. He was 22 years old.

Now, 67, Botone remembers when he told his grandmother that he'd be working as an engineer for the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway. He had been excited to share the news, but her reaction, he explains in a StoryCorps conversation, was not what he expected.

"She cried with a moan, because the irony — it was too much to bear," Botone says.

In keeping with presidential tradition, a detailed schedule of the funeral and memorial services for former President George H.W. Bush was released Saturday evening, with ceremonies planned in Houston, Washington, D.C., Spring, Texas, and College Station, Texas.

John Nordeen and Kay Lee served in the same Army platoon during the Vietnam War.

Nordeen and Lee had very different personalities, but in the life-or-death setting of war, the two bonded. Nordeen, a soldier from Seattle, was one of the first people that Lee, a combat medic from San Francisco, talked to.

But after the war, they lost touch.

In 2015, after a years-long search by Nordeen, the veterans finally reconnected.

Updated at 10:48 p.m. ET

Wildfires continued to tear through Northern and Southern California on Monday, where firefighters were at the mercy of dry air and whipping winds fanning the deadly blazes. At least 44 people have died statewide; many people remain unaccounted for.

In a year of record-breaking fires, Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott told NPR's All Things Considered the Camp fire in the north and Woolsey fire in the south may be "the most destructive and the deadliest" on record for the state.

Editor's note: A version of this story first aired on Nov. 10, 2017.

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