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Veterans' News

Vietnam Veterans Share Their Experiences

Posted: 3/15/2013

A one-year campaign is under way to highlight Vietnam veterans’ stories and have them share their experiences as part of an oral history project
Photo credit: Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

BVA Field Reps such as Ed Eckroth (back, second from left) and volunteers provide blinded veterans with the help needed to overcome the challenges of blindness.

(NAPSI)—An effort is under way to bring the personal lessons of the Vietnam War to life by having those who were there share their experiences.

The Veterans History Project (VHP) of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress is in the midst of a campaign to highlight Vietnam veterans’ stories and increase their representation among the Project’s 85,000 collections.

Part of the campaign includes a series of “Experiencing War” website features, titled “Vietnam War: Looking Back.” The features highlight the remarkable and intriguing wartime stories of veterans who served during the Vietnam War era. Each story is digitized and accessible on VHP’s website,

“Veterans who served during the Vietnam War are still affected to this very day by what they saw, heard and experienced, and this Web feature series provides a peek into some of the most intimate details from that era,” said Veterans History Project Director Robert Patrick. “The Veterans History Project is honored to join the Department of Defense and the entire nation in commemorating the 50th anniversary of the start of the Vietnam War—a period in history that will never be forgotten.”

One of the veterans spotlighted in this series is Second Lieutenant Michael Burns, an Air Force pilot who recounts the harrowing tale of being shot down over North Vietnam and spending the next 56 months in captivity.

Other veterans include Army chaplain David Polhemus and Navy nurse Gail Gutierrez, both of whom share how they worked to heal the mental and physical wounds of the war and witnessed firsthand the toll that it took on their fellow servicemen and –women—and themselves.

Air Force Colonel Frank Tomlinson and Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Ralph Garcia describe what it was like to go on to have careers in the military, while other veterans struggled to put their service experiences behind them.

The mission of the Veterans History Project of the Library of Congress American Folklife Center is to collect, preserve and make accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war.

In addition to recorded interviews, VHP also depends on volunteers to donate veterans’ original photographs, letters, military documents, diaries, journals, two-dimensional artwork and unpublished memoirs.

To learn more or participate, visit



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