Vietnam Center & Archive News and Updates
Mindy will soon leave us to work for Covenant Health Systems. Good luck in all your future endeavors, Mindy!
Student Assistant Jake Bitonel has been with the Vietnam Archive since February 2007. Originally from Amarillo, Texas, Jake is majoring in Exercise Sports Science. A cadet in the R.O.T.C. and U.S. Army Reserves, Jake will serve five years on active duty after graduation. His long-term career plans include becoming a pilot and an athletic trainer. Jake is currently digitizing the Ron Frankum Collection. He’s taken some time off this summer for Army Reserve training and to visit his father, who has recently completed a tour of duty in Iraq.
Mr. David Shelly, an Army Combat Veteran of the Vietnam War, and Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Center Advisory Board, passed away on July 4th after a long illness. He was 59 years old. Services are pending with Bartley Funeral Home of Plainview.
Update: Memorial services for David A. Shelly will be 10 a.m. Friday at the Lubbock Area Veterans’ War Memorial at 4001 82nd Street under the direction of Bartley Funeral Home of Plainview. Interment will follow at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery at a later date.
A delegation from Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training visited Texas Tech University today to discuss plans to bring 100 Vietnamese students to TTU annually for graduate programs. The Vietnam Center and Archive was the first stop of a day packed with meetings and tours. After a presentation on our mission and our projects and partnerships in Vietnam, the delegation spent time viewing and photographing the Tram diaries. More information about the visit and the role of the Vietnam Center and Archive in Texas Tech’s interactions with Vietnam can be found here.
On June 6, Vietnam Center Director Steve Maxner, along with Dr. Ron Milam and Mr. Khanh Le departed for Hanoi, Vietnam with six TTU students for a Study Abroad program through Southeast Asia. During the four-week trip, the students will visit historic and cultural sites in Hanoi, Hue, Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh City, and the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam; Vientiane, Laos; Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Angkor Wat, Cambodia; and Bangkok, Thailand. While on the trip, our Tech students will have opportunities to meet with Vietnamese college students, government officials, and other friends of the Vietnam Center. The group will return to the States the first week of July. For more information about this program, visit Study Abroad at Texas Tech website.
Documents tell story of U.S. allies and employees sent to Vietnamese reeducation camps.
Texas Tech University’s Vietnam Archive hosted the grand opening of its Families of Vietnamese Political Prisoners Association Collection May 28 in the Marshall Formby Room of the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library. At the conclusion of the Vietnam War, thousands of U.S. allies, employees and Vietnamese dissidents were imprisoned in communist reeducation camps. The collection provides more than 10,000 primary sources for studying the experiences of these prisoners and refugees and their families who immigrated to the U.S. once they were released. Donated in 2005 to Texas Tech by the Vietnamese American Heritage Foundation, the collection contains 156 linear feet of documents meaning the materials stretch approximately 52 yards when stacked end-to-end. “We hope this collection will help historians and others understand the experiences of this group of Vietnamese immigrants,” said Ann Mallett, project archivist for the collection. “These people were our allies; they were U.S. employees or they didn’t agree with communism and they were forced into reeducation camps. The collection contains photographs and handwritten letters, so it is very personal, and it gives another piece of the story of the Vietnam War – what happened after the war ended to these people who were our allies.”
Dr. Kelly Crager, head of the Oral History Project at the Vietnam Center and Archive, delivered the keynote address for the May 26th Memorial Day Program at the National Museum of the Pacific War in Frederickburg, Texas. The title of Dr. Crager’s address was “Honoring our Veterans and Their Families.” After his presentation, Dr. Crager held a book signing for his recently published book Hell under the Rising Sun: Texan POWs and the Building of the Burma-Thailand Death Railway.
Dr. Kelly Crager’s article, “‘God Knows What’s Going to Happen to Us': The ‘Lost Battery’ of Texas’s ‘Lost Battalion’ in World War II,” will appear in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly in the July 2008 edition. The article presents a history of the little-known E Battery of the Lost Battalion, whose members were captured by the Japanese on Java in March 1942 and who spent the remainder of the war laboring for their captors in the Japanese home islands. His account follows the men throughout their experiences and attempts to explain their high survival rate; one of the most important factors for their survival was the comradeship shared among these Texans POWs. Dr. Crager based this study on oral history interviews with survivors of the experience, as well as on governmental and U.S. Army documents gathered at war’s end. Dr. Crager is the current head of the Oral History Project at the Vietnam Center and Archive.