Tonight four alumni veterans of the Vietnam War—all contributors to a new book on Vietnam—will share their perspectives on the war with about 100 students, including students in two history courses and members of Dartmouth ROTC.
The panel was organized by Ed Miller, associate professor of history, and Phil Schaefer ’64, editor of the newly published book, Dartmouth Veterans: Vietnam Perspectives. Referring to today’s students, Schaefer says, “They’re studying Vietnam as if it were history—and it is—but we’re still around to tell them about it. These alumni have a wealth of knowledge and experiences, and the idea is for them to share their different perspectives on the war with students.”
For the book, Schaefer gathered the stories of more than 50 alumni—all members of the Class of 1964—who fought in Vietnam. The book also includes essays by NBC correspondent Robert Hager ’60; Iraq War veteran and current Dartmouth undergraduate William Peters ’15; and Sage Dunlap Chase, described in the book as the “sweetheart” of Bruce Nickerson ’64, who died at the age of 24 when his plane was shot down over the Gulf of Tonkin.
Although Schaefer didn’t fight in the war—he went to graduate school for chemistry—he becomes emotional when he talks about the sacrifices his classmates made and the poor way veterans were treated when they returned. Asking veterans about their experiences, he says, “is good for historians, and good for the people involved.”
Alumni participating in tonight’s panel are Lee Chilcote ’64, former Marine Corps captain; Glen Kendall ’64, former Army company commander; James Laughlin ’64, former Army first lieutenant; and Bud McGrath ’64, former Army company captain. The students are taking the courses America’s Wars and Those Who Fought Them, taught by James Wright, Dartmouth’s 16th president and professor of history emeritus; and The Vietnam War, taught by Miller, who has been a professor at Dartmouth since 2004
In the introduction to the Dartmouth Veterans book, Miller writes, “Dartmouth students remain strongly and even intensely interested in the history of the war… In part, this enduring interest reflects the questions that students have about America’s recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and about the validity of drawing historical analogies to Vietnam. But it also reflects Dartmouth students’ recognition that the Vietnam War remains a central event in the modern history of the United States and in the living memory of Americans.” The book is dedicated to the three members of the Class of 1964 who died because of the Vietnam War.
The panel will be held at 8 pm on February 17 in Filene Auditorium, Moore Hall.