Jerome Wiese of Rantoul, Illinois served as a combat medic in the Army during the Vietnam War from 1970-1971. Destined to become a soldier, he loved the friendships he developed in the Army and has no regrets about what he and other soldiers did during the war.
Paul Wisovaty was hanging out in pool halls in Taylorville, Illinois when he was drafted into the military in 1966. In 1968, he served six months as a radio operator in an armored personnel carrier during the Vietnam War. His war experiences and college education transformed him into an anti-war activist.
Bruce Thiemann of East Peoria, Illinois dropped out of college and enlisted in the Army in 1968 and was sent to Vietnam where he was assigned as a helicopter mechanic who assisted with insertion missions and dropping off and picking up troops. He was eager to experience combat first-hand but after serving in Vietnam, he was ashamed and took more than a decade to heal his psychological wounds and feel proud of his service.
Robert Ritter grew up in Monticello, Illinois and served in the Navy during the Vietnam War from 1967 – 1969. He maintained and operated the gunfire control equipment and was support for the forces on the ground. War taught him how to appreciate life and what America has to offer.
Joseph LaHood of Peoria, Illinois joined the Marine Corps in 1969 after getting kicked out of numerous local high schools. He was sent to LZ Ross in Vietnam where he administered supplies and was a patrolman. He attended years of therapy to unpack traumatic memories that he had repressed from his experiences in Vietnam. In the process, he rediscovered his Catholic faith and became a deacon for three different churches.
Daniel Kennedy served as an adjutant in the Army from 1969 – 1976 and was also an aviator. He made phone calls to young men telling them when they were going to be deployed in Vietnam. Kennedy himself was never deployed, and suffered “survivor’s guilt” for several years.
Randall Richardson served as an Army infantry platoon leader during the Vietnam War from 1969-1971. He survived combat and a life- threatening note from one of his soldiers and fired upon a group of Montagnards. He’s a better father and worker as a result of his military training.
Central Illinois Vietnam Stories - Randall Richardson
During the Vietnam War, Timothy Kendall was a student at Notre Dame where his thinking about the war evolved gradually until he became a pacifist. He was later imprisoned after refusing to comply with the draft.
Central Illinois Vietnam Stories - Timothy Kendall
Richard Hertel served in the Army as a personnel clerk and chapel organist in Phu Loi during the Vietnam War from 1969 to 1970. Upon returning home, he started a long journey of divorcing his wife, separating from his daughter and coming out as a gay man.
Terry Hairrell of Waukegan, Illinois served in the Army from 1967 – 1969. While on combat missions in Vietnam, he was awarded a Purple Heart. His war experiences scarred him deeply; but with help of a loving wife, he has recovered to make meaning of his experiences with those he served.