Vietnam Center & Sam Johnson Vietnam Archive News and Updates

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Dr. Kelly Crager to speak in Washington, D.C.

Oral Historian Dr. Kelly Crager will travel to Washington D.C. next week to participate in academic gatherings and a Congressional briefing. First on his agenda is a panel discussion, “American POWs of the Japanese: World War II Experiences,” at the Sigur Center for Asian Studies, part of The Elliot School of International Affairs, at the George Washington University. On Wednesday, September 10 he will speak before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the issue of compensation for prisoners of the Japanese during World War II. Finally, on September 11, he will make a presentation on his recently published dissertation, “Hell under the Rising Sun: American POWs and the Building of the Burma-Thailand Death Railway,” at the Navy Memorial Lecture Hall, in an event co-sponsored by Navy Memorial and the Asia Society. Congratulations, Dr. Crager, on these outstanding achievements and contributions!

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Posted by at 1:13 pm
Labels: oral history,staff spotlight
Thursday, August 21, 2008

Medal of Honor Winner Ed Freeman, 1928-2008

Retired Army Helicopter pilot and a winner of the nation’s most prestigious military honor, Captain Ed Freeman, passed away on August 20 in Boise, Idaho, after a long illness. He is survived by his wife Barbara, and sons Michael and Douglas Freeman.

Captain Freeman was a veteran of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, and the recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions on November 14, 1965 at Landing Zone X-Ray, in the Ia Drang Valley of Vietnam. His citation credits him with helping save 30 seriously wounded soldiers in 14 separate rescue missions in an unarmed helicopter. The heroic actions of Captain Freeman and others at the battles of Ia Drang were chronicled in the book We Were Soldiers Once…And Young and the Mel Gibson film adaptation.

Vietnam Center and Archive staff had the honor of meeting Freeman at the 2005 40th Anniversary Reunion of the Ia Drang Battles held in Washington D.C. At the reunion, Dr. Richard Verrone interviewed Captain Freeman about his experiences in that campaign.

Related Links:

Posted by at 11:30 am
Labels: oral history,veterans' associations
Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Gamewardens of Vietnam Reunion

From 17-19 July, I had the pleasure of attending the reunion of the Gamewardens of Vietnam in Norfolk, Virginia. 2008 marked the 40th anniversary of the Gamewardens, so this was certainly a very special event. The U.S. Navy initiated Project Gamewarden to combat enemy traffic on the inland waterways of the Mekong Delta during the war, and this Brown Water Navy was involved in some of the most harrowing experiences of the Vietnam War. Mainly operating PBRs (patrol boat river) these sailors plied the rivers and canals of South Vietnam, searching for shipments of enemy weapons, food, etc.

As you might imagine, I met a number of very colorful individuals at the reunion, and enjoyed the distinct honor of speaking with members of River Division 593, a group whose gallantry in combat earned them a number of medals, including the Navy Cross which was bestowed upon David Larsen in 1970.

The Gamewardens have offered much support to the Vietnam Center and Archive over the years (see Gamewardens collections donated to the Archive), and I look forward to working with them in the Oral History Project in the future.
Monday, July 28, 2008

Vietnam Archive Welcomes Mr. Jason Stewart

The Oral History Project at the Vietnam Archive is pleased to announce that Jason Stewart will be joining our faculty. Jason comes to us from the University of Southern Mississippi, where he is ABD in his doctoral studies. Jason is a specialist in the history of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) and is working with Professor Andy Wiest at USM. Jason will be conducting interviews for the Project, and we are very pleased to have him aboard. Please join us in welcoming Jason to Lubbock.

Posted by at 10:31 am
Labels: oral history,staff spotlight
Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Oral History Interview of Interest

We have recently posted to our Oral History web page an interview conducted with Mr. Allan Lavelle. Lavelle enjoyed a long career as an aviator and as a foreign language specialist with the U.S. Air Force. He also worked with the U.S. State Department, eventually becoming the Director of Refugees and War Victims in II Corps in South Vietnam under the famous John Paul Vann in the CORDS program. In this interview, Lavelle recounts his experiences in Vietnam, especially his time devoted to caring for Vietnamese and Montangnard refugees in II Corps, working with the hard-charging Vann. Lavelle’s story is one of a remarkable individual who understood the “big picture” of the war, while working tirelessly to aid the most helpless victims of the conflict.

Lavelle passed away at his home in San Antonio, Texas, on 15 June 2008.

Link: Allan Lavelle Interview

Posted by at 11:21 am
Labels: oral history
Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Dr. Kelly Crager delivers Memorial Day keynote address

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.

National Museum of the Pacific War
Fredericksburg Standard Radio Post Online

Posted by at 12:12 pm
Labels: oral history,staff spotlight
Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Oral Historian Kelly Crager publishes article

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.

Texas State Historical Association

Posted by at 9:25 am
Labels: oral history,staff spotlight
Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Oral Historian Kelly Crager Publishes Book

Hell under the Rising Sun: Texan POWs and the Building of the Burma-Thailand Death Railway by Kelly E. Crager has been published this month by Texas A&M University, Military History Series. Dr. Crager is Assistant Archivist and head of the Oral History Project at TTU’s Vietnam Archive.

Texas A&M University Press

Posted by at 9:05 am
Labels: oral history,staff spotlight
Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Dr. Kelly Crager to lead Vietnam Archive’s Oral History Project

The Vietnam Archive is pleased to announce that Dr. Kelly Crager has joined the Vietnam Archive as the new Head of the Oral History Project. Dr. Crager will coordinate and manage all aspects of the project, to include outreach, interviewing, transcription, and other administrative duties.

Dr. Crager earned a B.A. in Political Science and an M.A. in History from Pittsburgh State University in Pittsburgh, Kansas. He completed his Ph.D. in History at the University of North Texas. While at UNT, he worked under Dr. Rob Marcello in the Oral History Program. Dr. Crager comes to the Vietnam Archive from Texas A&M University, where he taught United States History and American Foreign Relations. His forthcoming book, Hell under the Rising Sun: Texan POWs and the Building of the Burma-Thailand Death Railway, will be published by Texas A&M Press later this year.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Departure of Oral Historians Richard Verrone, PhD, and Laura Calkins, PhD

The Vietnam Archive regretfully announces that oral historians Richard Verrone, PhD, and Laura Calkins, PhD, have both left the Vietnam Archive for other opportunities. The Vietnam Center & Archive wish them the best of luck with their new endeavors.

The Oral History Project will continue as before. The Vietnam Archive is in the process of hiring new oral historians to fill the two vacancies. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the Oral History Project please don’t hesitate to contact the Vietnam Archive at 806-742-9010 or

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