A man being interviewed.
December 21, 2015

[Vietnam] Oral History Interview: Richard Bartolotti

Richard Bartolotti of Valier, Illinois was drafted after high school, joined the Marines and was sent to Vietnam in 1965 where he was involved in dozens of “skirmishes,” as he calls them, and injured by a grenade. Bartolotti reflects on the positive and negative effects of war and military training, and how his experiences shaped his life and perspective on the battlefield and life back home.

Central Illinois Vietnam Stories - Richard Bartlolotti

A man being interviewed.
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
December 17, 2015

[Vietnam] Oral History Interview: Patrick Lam

Patrick Lam was just five years old in 1979 when he was forced to leave Lái Thiêu, Vietnam by his grandmother who had organized an escape by boat. He left with his uncle’s family leaving behind his mother and three siblings. After being rescued at sea by the captain of an oil rig, Patrick and his relatives were taken to Kuku Island where Patrick learned self-sufficiency.

Central Illinois Vietnam Stories - Patrick Lam

Pham Thien Khoc
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
February 23, 2015

[Vietnam] Oral History Interview: Pham Thein Khoc

In 1967, Pham Thein Khoc’s college education came to a halt when he joined the South Vietnam Army as a combat engineer. Shortly after the Vietnam War, Pham was arrested and taken to a prison camp in Bình Thuận, where his physical and emotional health deteriorated. After enduring years of post-war anxiety in Vietnam, Pham and his family were finally able to immigrate to the United States, although Pham had to leave his oldest son behind in Vietnam.

Central Illinois Vietnam Stories - Pham Thein Khoc

October 10, 2008

Oral History Interview: Sam Weldon of Urbana

Sam Weldon grew up in Champaign, Ill., a Midwestern college town. He was drafted and became a member of the 4th Marines Division at 18. Following a shortened training session, he and his fellow Marines were put on ships and sent to the Pacific. He was part of the second wave to land on Iwo Jima. His stories of the days and nights of battles there are amazing and touching and very human. He became a Corporal when the officers ranked above him were killed. Weldon talks about friendships made and friends lost and those who survived during the fights on Iwo Jima and afterward. His stories of being discharged and celebrating in Chicago add another picture. Looking back over it all, he can still say he would do it all again.

August 28, 2008

University of Illinois WWII Veterans Presentation

Three hundred people attended a community conversation August 28, 2008 at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center at the University of Illinois IL featuring musical storytelling emphasizing the events of WWII and prominent songs of the period with vocalist and narrator Dena Vermette , Don Heitler and his jazz trio with Ben Taylor on bass and Jeff Magby on drums. The musical performance will be narrated by veteran John Weaver.  The musical performance was followed by a video screening of people who lived and trained at the U of I during WWII and discussion with panelists plus an archival display.

Speaking were Katie Harper Wright, who attended the U of I from 1940 to 1944 and was one of a small number of black students on campus; Jim Stallmeyer, who was drafted into the Navy and trained at the U of I from 1944-1946; Earl Swanson, who attended the U of I before joining the Army in 1943; William Prather, a soldier in the Army who trained on campus, and Kathryn Luther Henderson, a student from Champaign.

The event was co-sponsored by co-sponsored by WILL, the U of I Alumni Association, and the U of I Archives' Student Life and Culture Archival Program, funded by the Stewart S. Howe Endowment. The panel and audience discussion were moderated by Tom Rogers of WILL AM-FM-TV.

April 24, 2008

Interview Excerpt: Joseph Smith of Champaign

Joseph Smith enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on June 11, 1943.  Smith selected the Marine Corps after a USMC recruiter convinced him that he would be treated just the same as white recruits and could expect a job other than cook.  While Smith would eventually serve in the Okinawa Campaign as a truck driver, he quickly learned during his trip to boot camp that institutional racism was alive and well in the Armed Forces.

April 17, 2008

Trumpet Player John O’Connor Recalls World War II

John O’Connor of Champaign served in the U.S. Air Force during World War II. He was chosen as lead pilot with the first experimental flying unit aboard the B-24 Liberator. He flew 50 missions and also used his skills as a trumpeter and band director. Flying back from a mission, John and his crew would often pull out their instruments and play. O’Connor later became a member of the Medicare 7, 8 or 9 Jazz Band, performing around the country.

(Aired on WILL-TV's "Prairie Fire" at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 17, 2008)

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