Central Illinois Vietnam War Stories

WILL AM-FM-TV’s project to capture and share the stories of central Illinois Vietnam War veterans and their families has been completed. We thank the many people who contributed to this effort. 

A man being interviewed on camera in a studio
Courtesy WILL

Oral History Interview: Donald Hyche

Donald Hyche of Champaign, Illinois enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and served as an area door gunner during the Vietnam War from 1970 – 1971.  He reflects on race relations, combat and his recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder.

two women, Constance Edwards in uniform on the right
Courtesy of Constance Edwards

Oral History Interview: Constance Edwards

Constance Edwards of Frankfort, Illinois served as an officer in the Army Nurse Corps during the Vietnam War from 1966 until 1967.  The United States Army recruited her while she was a student at Tuskegee University in Alabama, where she was born and lived until joining the Army.

Bruce Thiemann

Oral History Interview: Bruce Thiemann

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.

A man being interviewed on set
Tim Meyers/Illinois Public Media

Oral History Interview: Joseph Rank

Joseph Rank of Urbana, Illinois served as an officer in the Navy during the Vietnam War and remained in the Navy for years after. As an officer, he was responsible for 60 gunners’ mates and fire control technicians who operated the guns. Making precise measurements while getting little sleep was just part of the job.

A man being interviewed on set

Oral History Interview: John Metzger

Not too keen to join a combat unit, John Metzger of Metropolis, Illinois jumped at the opportunity to become a chaplain’s assistant after enlisting in the Army in 1969 and being sent to Quy Nhơn, Vietnam. After serving his time, he graduated from Southern Illinois University with a Ph.D. in history.

Joseph LaHood

Oral History Interview: Joseph LaHood

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.