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December 16, 2017

Vietnam War and Hoosiers: special perspectives

A very tired Dick Wolfe, left, on a grueling search and destroy mission in the Vietnam war.  The 23-year-old Army private from southern Indiana was killed in action in a small Vietnamese village fifty years ago next month.

Following our show last month featuring special perspectives on World War II - and in the wake of the recent Ken Burns documentary - we will share insights about the Vietnam War and its impact from the vantage point of Hoosiers.

Randy MillsRoxanne MillsFifty years ago next month, Dick Wolfe, a 23-year-old Army private from southern Indiana, was killed in action in a small Vietnamese village. His letters to his family and friends in his hometown of Princeton, Ind., and their letters to him, are included in a new book, Summer Wind: The Road from Indiana to Xom Bung (Cardinal Publishing) by Randy Mills and Roxanne Mills. Randy, a historian and professor of social sciences at Oakland City University in southern Indiana, and Roxanne, an associate professor of English at the university, will join Nelson as studio guests.

So will Ken Marshall, a Franklin resident who hosts a Saturday morning talk show for White River Broadcasting that airs on WCSI-AM in Columbus. Ken, who grew up in Indianapolis, enlisted in the Army in 1970, trained as a medic and was assigned to a hospital in Okinawa. He treated Army soldiers, Marines and others injured in Vietnam. Ken also became a disc jockey on a radio station in Okinawa, helped start a community theater funded by the Army and worked on a USO tour that visited islands in the Pacific Ocean during the war.

Ken MarshallIn addition to exploring the experiences of Hoosiers overseas during the war, we will delve into life on the homefront in Indiana, including the effects of the draft on Hoosier families. In Summer Wind, Randy and Roxanne Mills point out that the draft in Princeton and surrounding Gibson County "was not always even-handed." Local sports heroes, for example, often were exempted from military service when doctors discovered what they termed old sports injuries. Of the 27 million American men who came of draft age during the war, they write, "60 percent, or 16 million, escaped military service."

Their book emphasizes that many of those who served in the military were from blue-collar families, including Dick Wolfe. An avid drag racer, he had dropped out of Princeton High School. Next came the unexpected pregnancy of a 17-year-old girlfriend and the birth of his son in March 1967. After that, Dick Wolfe returned on a furlough from infantry training to get married.

Dick Wolfe in the mortar pit. His letters to his family and friends in his hometown of Princeton, Ind., are included in a new book, Summer Wind: The Road from Indiana to Xom Bung.
His letters in Summer Wind were written from July 1967 to January 1968, when he was killed on patrol amid confusing circumstances. During the show, Roxanne and Randy Mills will discuss the challenges involved in writing factual accounts of combat deaths. In addition to Dick Wolfe's letters, Randy and Roxanne used military reports, diary and journal entries and a series of interviews to write Summer Wind. The book's title refers in part to a Frank Sinatra hit song of the era played frequently on the transistor radios carried by Dick Wolfe and fellow members of Alpha Company, Second Battalion of the 18th Infantry.

Summer Wind includes a letter written by Dick Wolfe during the Christmas season of 1967 - one month before he was killed - in which he urges his parents not to feel sorry for him. The letter tells of one of his infantry comrades, a medic, who tended a shabby, artificial Christmas tree mounted on an ammunition box. (The medic would die during the same battle as Dick Wolfe.)

At the hospital in Okinawa where our guest Ken Marshall was a medic, various Army agencies and the American Red Cross extended valuable support to wounded soldiers and their families. According to Ken, he also observed how government statistics could be manipulated to distort the number of casualties.

During our show, Ken will share brief excerpts about combat experiences from a recent speech by a Hoosier veteran of the war. In addition to hosting his radio talk show, "Saturday Morning Live with Ken Marshall" for 23 years, Ken has been an adjunct professor at Ball State University, Franklin College and other colleges.

Our guests Randy and Roxanne Mills are the authors of other military history books. For Summer Wind, they not only interviewed friends and relatives of Dick Wolfe - including his closest buddy from Princeton, who also served in combat during the Vietnam War - they tracked down photos that Wolfe took in the swamps and jungles.

"His many letters home," they write, "rarely censored the perils of fighting in Vietnam."


History Mystery

The congregation of Wayman Chapel Church in 1951. The church is located in an early African American settlement in Gibson County, Ind. What is the name of the community where the church is located?

In addition to Princeton, the hometown of the Vietnam War soldier who is the focus of the new book Summer Wind, Gibson County in far-southwestern Indiana also includes a landmark community in African-American history.

During the 1830s, African Americans began arriving in the Gibson County community, which is considered one of Indiana’s earliest black rural settlements. Today, two prominent buildings stand as reminders of this rich history: the Wayman Chapel Church (pictured above) and a restored school building that serves as a community center and museum.

An exhibit about the Gibson County community is included in the Smithsonian's new National Museum of African American History and Culture that opened on the National Mall in Washington D.C. last year.

Question: What is the name of the historic African-American community in Gibson County?

The call-in number is (317) 788-3314. Please do not call into the show until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air, and please do not try to win the prize if you have won any other prize on WICR during the last two months. You must also be willing to give your first name to our engineer, and you must answer the question live on the air.

The prize is a gift certificate to Story Inn in Brown County, courtesy of Story Inn, as well as a pair of tickets to the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, as well as a pair of tickets to GlowGolf, courtesy of GlowGolf.

 

RoadTripper: Kintner House Inn in Corydon

Corydon, Ind., in 1896, looking south from Walnut Street toward the Ohio River. The Kintner House Inn is in the foreground to the right.

Contemporary image of Kintner House Inn at holiday time.
Courtesy Jane Ammeson.Guest Roadtripper and writer Jane Ammeson relates the rich history of Corydon, former Indiana State capital and the site of the only Civil War battle in Indiana. It was here that Confederate General John Hunt Morgan and his Raiders crossed the Ohio River and began their plunder of the small towns in the southeastern Indiana.

The history of Corydon's Kintner House Inn, which is still open as a bed-and-breakfast, stretches back even further than the Civil War, however. It was around 1819 that Jacob Kintner opened his two-story limestone home to travelers, and as business boomed, he built an elegant new hotel. Fire destroyed that building, and in 1873 he tried again and constructed the Inn that still stands today.

The exterior is so pretty it's been featured on two Hallmark Christmas cards. Inside, the Kintner House Inn is steeped in Victorian-era charm: both an organ and piano grace the parlor, and bedrooms feature fringed lampshades, tasseled curtains and a variety of antiques. Visitors will find such treasures as an 8-foot tall flame mahogany armoire, a walnut dresser with pink marble top, an inlaid star-patterned game table and a towering, hand-carved walnut bed dated to the 1850s.

The Kintner House Inn served as the reluctant hosts of General Morgan and his troops following the Battle of Corydon on July 9, 1863, but we'll let Jane share those historical details with you during this portion of the show. She may convince you it's worth the trip to see with your own eyes the only Civil War battlefield (aside from Gettysburg, of course!) located on Northern soil.

 

Help keep Hoosier history alive!

A big holiday thanks for your support

Holiday wreath.As you contemplate your end-of-year giving, please consider supporting the efforts of Hoosier History Live to bring its fresh and innovative approach to Hoosier storytelling to the widest possible audience.

All producers of original media content are trying to figure out how to survive financially, and Hoosier History Live is no exception. Our listeners, readers and underwriters have pretty much demanded that our shows be available as podcasts. We have met that demand with weekly podcasts of current shows available on our website and newsletter, one week after initial broadcast.

If you value what we are doing, please consider making a contribution. Just go to the "Support the show" page on our website and hit the "Donate" button; you can contribute any amount you like, using a credit card or PayPal.

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Thank you!

 

A note of support

'We hope to see it broadcast far and wide'

A particularly nice letter of support came in some time ago from authors James Alexander Thom and Dark Rain Thom. We like to re-read it from time to time!

To Whom it May Concern:

Last Spring, my wife and I were interviewed by Nelson Price on his Hoosier History radio program, as authors of frontier and Native American history books. Mr. Price's program was so well prepared and conducted that we feel it should be made available to students and general audiences as widely as possible. His program is well-researched, all questions pertinent to the chosen theme, and moves along briskly. Listeners called in with questions and comments that were intelligent and relevant, a sign of an avid audience.

As historical writers, we try to overcome the public's indifference to history, to bring alive in any way we can the important lessons of the past, and are enthusiastic about programs and writings that make those lessons interesting. The Hoosier History Live program does that so well that we hope to see it broadcast far and wide over this historically significant State of Indiana. It is an excellent program, worthy of extensive distribution and strong support.

James Alexander Thom & Dark Rain Thom, authors
Bloomington, Indiana
July 14, 2011

Shows, we got shows

We have more than 470 Hoosier History Live radio shows completed, as a matter of fact. We certainly welcome underwriting support to get more of our show audio online. Let's help support the hardworking Hoosiers who do the writing and editing for Hoosier History Live!

No one else is doing anything quite like what we're doing. We are the nation's only live call-in radio program about history. We offer a permanent and growing archive of quality content, available for sponsorship opportunities.

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor of Hoosier History Live, click here or call Molly Head at (317) 927-9101 for more info.

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Former Lilly research scientist who developed Prozac

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Ken Burns, speaking at a preview of his film "The War" at Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation, April 18, 2007

 

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