A movement is afoot to lobby the President of the United States to present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Chris Noel, the one-time Hollywood starlet who was a popular AFVN radio disk jockey in Vietnam during the war.
Noel, who received a VVA President’s Award for Excellence in the Arts at the 2008 National Leadership Conference in Greenville, South Carolina, hosted “A Date With Chris” on AFVN Radio, and toured the war zone on morale-boosting entertainment missions.
Her current mission is running Vetsville Cease Fire, a homeless veterans shelter in Florida.
You can read (and sign) the petition on line.
Posted on January 31st 2011 in Honors and Prizes, Radio
Director Rodney Ray’s Some Called Them Baby Killers…We Call Them HEROES is a well-made documentary that consists of the un-narrated, close-up testimony of twenty Vietnam veterans and several of their family members. The veterans tell their war and post-war stories with black and white archival photos behind them and with soft music behind their words.
Nearly every one of veterans on camera saw combat; many continue to suffer emotionally from their war-time experiences. The group of veterans is diverse, in that there are former officers and enlisted men, some black and some white, from various services. On the non-diverse said, nearly every one of them is from what sounds like the deep South.
Nearly all are articulate and have stories to tell that are worth hearing.
To learn more or to order the DVD, go to the R2 Productions web site
Posted on January 27th 2011 in Documentaries
The John F. Kennedy Library made some 250,000 documents and 200 hours of audio and video from the library’s archives available on line on January 13. This batch of information most used by researchers–including office files, personal papers, correspondence, speeches, and recorded telephone conversations–is the first of what the museum promises will be many more digitized document releases.
The goal, library director Thomas J. Putnam said, is to get about eight million of the 48 million pages of documents in the archives on line. That, of course, includeds a treasure trove of Vietnam War-related documents.
You can read a speech Sen. John F. Kennedy made on June 1, 1956, titled “America’s Stake in Vietnam,” or the transcript of a November 12, 1964, oral history interview with William P. Bundy, one of JFK’s best and brightest Vietnam War advisers as Assistant Secretary of State and Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. It it, Bundy discusses planning the Bay of Pigs invasion, the escalation of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam during the Kennedy Administration, and Robert S. McNamara’s role in developing Vietnam War policy.
And that’s just the tip of the Vietnam War iceberg. To search yourself, go to the main Digital Archive page.
Posted on January 19th 2011 in Archives, History
Abbie Hoffman (above), the political activist and Yippie Party founder who was a member of the “Chicago Seven,” is the subject of a new one-man show, “Abbie,” which is running through January 29 at the West End Theater in New York City.
Actor Bern Cohen plays Hoffman. He also wrote the script, using words from the Yippie leader’s books and speeches. The monologue deals with the personal details of Hoffman’s life: his upbringing, his family, his radicalization, antiwar activism, life underground and his mental collapse. The performance also features video images assembled by Morgan Paul Freeman. Thomas Caruso directed.
Cohen resembles Hoffman–so much so that the actor was arrested in 1970 in Ohio because the police thought he was Hoffman, who committed suicide in 1989. Hoffman, who was arrested at an antiwar demonstration in Washington in 1968 for wearing an American flag shirt, was one of the seven men charged with conspiring to disrupt the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Their bombastic trial became a memorable moment in the history of the Vietnam War peace movement.
For tickets, call 212-868-4444, or go to www. smarttix.com
Posted on January 19th 2011 in Drama
Folksinger/songwriter Phil Ochs was one of the most important artistic voices in the antiwar movement during the Vietnam War. He wrote (and performed frequently) one of the most famous and strident anti-war songs of the era, “I Ain’t Marching Anymore,” as well as “Draft Dodger Rag,” which pokes fun at those who evaded the draft for specious reasons. The former contains the all-too-true lyric: “It’s always the old to lead us to the wars/It’s always the young who fall.”
Ochs, who took his own life in 1976, is perhaps best known, though, for his song, “There But for Fortune,” which fellow folksinger Joan Baez made popular. “Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune” is the title of a new documentary written and directed by Kenneth Bowser that looks at Ochs’ short life and times.
The film received good reviews in the few cities where it had theatrical releases earlier this month. Melissa Anderson, writing in The Village Voice, wrote: “Rich in archival material, Kenneth Bowser’s documentary traces his subject from handsome, skittishly affable troubadour in a turtleneck to a mentally ill ranter puffy from too much drink and irrevocably broken after the Chicago ’68 riots (Ochs hanged himself in 1976, at age 35).”
The documentary, she concluded, “is densely researched enough to yield insights not just into its overlooked subject, but also into his overly analyzed era.”
Rock critic Stephen Holden, writing in The New York Times, called it “respectful” and “nonmaudlin.”
Posted on January 13th 2011 in Documentaries, Music
The new documentary “Michigan: Our Vietnam Generation,” produced and directed by Detroit-based Keith Famie, will have its debut on Friday, January 28 at the Fox Theatre in the Motor City. The doc, which pays homage to the service and sacrifice of Michigan’s Vietnam veterans, was made with the help of two Michigan VVA Chapters, 154 in Mount Clemens, and Chapter 9 in Detroit.
“My intention is that on Jan 28th the Fox attendees will walk out of there with a much greater understanding of who is a Vietnam veteran, what they went through and why they are so important to our society today,” Faimie said recently in an email to Vietnam veterans. “I cannot not turn the back the hands of time but I can sure help our everyday folk and generations to come better understand all of you.”
The Jan. 28th event includes, in addition to the screening, the singing of the songs of the five military branches by the U.S. Army’s 126th National Guard Marching Band with singer Stewart Francke and the Cornerstone School Children’s Choir; and a showing of “One Soldiers Story ” a short film about Sgt. Michel Ingram, who was killed in Afghanistan.
DVDs of “Michigan: Our Vietnam Generation” will be available at the event. And Capt. Ivan Castro of 7th Special Forces will make remarks.
For ticket information, call 248-869-0096.To learn more about the film, go to www.ourvietnamgeneration.com
Posted on January 10th 2011 in Documentaries
John P. “Jack” Wheeler III, a Vietnam veteran who was one of the three founders of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, was found dead on New Year’s Eve in Wilmington, Delaware. According to the Wilmington News-Journal, Wheeler’s death at age 66 is being considered a homicide.
Wheeler, a 1966 West Point graduate who also had an MBA from Harvard and a juris doctorate from Yale University Law School, was the first chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund’s board of directors. He and co-VVFM founders Jan Scruggs and Bob Doubek, were responsible for the Fund’s successful multi-million dollar campaign that resulted in the construction of The Wall.
Jack Wheeler served as a staff officer in Vietnam, and later held positions with the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Staff. After he left the Army in 1971, Wheeler founded the Vietnam Veterans Leadership Program during the Reagan Administration.
Posted on January 3rd 2011 in Memorials, Obituaries