to the Black Hills Veterans Writing Group which meets at 930 am (doors open at 900 for social period) on the second Saturday of each month. The June meeting will be at Western Dakota Technical Institute in Rapid City (left on first light past Campbell on Omaha). Library door. No steps. Can't miss it. Lots of close parking. All meetings are open to the public. You are invited.
On June 13, combat artist and US Army veteran James Pollock will talk about his experiences with the Vietnam Combat Artists Program (CAT Team IV) in Vietnam in 1967. "I had a canteen, camera, sketchbook, some personal items, and a 45 caliber pistol" he says.
“In 1967, I was a postal clerk for APO 96231, a mini post office on Camp Ames, an army base in a remote area north of Taejon, Korea. As a draftee, I was happy to be in Korea instead of Vietnam. At the time I was never sure about the base's mission, but later I learned the base stored nuclear weapons. One day Sergeant Brooks stepped up to mail something. He said, 'Pollock, I hear you are an artist you might be interested in this.' He handed me a copy of Stars and Stripes and pointed out an article about the army looking for artists to participate in the US Army Vietnam Combat Art Program.” more, Wikipedia
On July 11, Mike Birnbaum of Rapid City will present on his Vietnam experiences with the US Army's 9th Infantry Division during 1967 and 1968 and later as only the fifth Command Sergearnt Major (ret) in the South Dakota National Guard history. He is currently chairman of the South Dakota Veterans Commission:
......"I was drafted in to the Army in June of 1967. I did basic at Fort Leonard Wood and AIT at Fort Polk. I had about three weeks leave and arrived in Vietnam on Thanksgiving day of 1967. I spent 14 months in Vietnam, serving with the 9th Infantry Division. I served eight months at Bearcat and then six months at Dong Tam in the Delta. My MOS was 11C, Indirect Firecrewman on the 81 mm Mortar. After leaving Vietnam four years later, I joined the South Dakota National Guard and served until retiring in February, 2006." more
On August 8, Harold Jansen of Rapid City will talk about his experiences in the US Navy during World War II as the US sought to retake the Philippines during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Photo shows Jansen in 1944 at the age of 21, as seen on a LCT (Landing Craft Tank) in the battle of the Philippines. more
On September 12, Evelyn Lenton of Rapid City will talk about her childhood incarceration by the Japanese in the Philippines during World War II, along with her mother and brother. Her father was a US Navy doctor. Photo below shows other Philippines-incarcerated children (with sailor) aboard the SS Jean Lafitte heading for home. We also remember the Sascha Weinzheimer story in Ken Burns' WW2 film series and book.
On October 10, John Wilkenson of Spearfish will talk about his WWII experiences as a Spitfire pilot in the RAF. YouTube video clip: "John on the Hunt" in Spitfire, combat over Germany, April 1945. John Wilkinson flying a Spitfire over Germany in 1945. The video was taken from the wing mounted camera that is only active while firing. more
On November 14, 1LT Marcella Lebeau will present on her WWII experiences as an Army nurse on Omaha Beach. “A mere 20 years after the US granted citizenship to the first Americans, a young Mniconjou woman left her reservation in South Dakota and joined the Army Nurse Corps during World War II.” more, story, audio
On December 12, USAAF B-17 veteran Maurice Crow will report on his WWII experiences. "Morry and his crew completed 27 missions during eight months of flying combat with the 8th Air Force in the European Theater, and based on the difficulty of the missions, got credit for 30." more
On Jan 9, US Army soldier Arnie Bergstrom of Rapid City will talk about his ordeals as a tunnel rat in Vietnam's Cu Chi district: "I served with the 65th Engineers in Vietnam as a demolition specialist. I was attached to several Inventory and Mechanized Units throughout South Vietnam. As a Demo Specialist, I spent a lot of time crawling through tunnels, clearing foliage and destroying enemy cover. I am proud to have served my country and, knowing the risk and fears, I would do it all over." more, Wikipedia
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