The Boomers: Reflecting, Sharing, Learning

John Dowd recalls his Service in Vietnamese Ranger Batalion

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Wednesday, 21 November 2012 12:47

John Dowd served north of the Mekong Delta near Saigon in III Corps in 1970. He worked on a four man team of Rangers, whose duty was to be a liaison between Vietnamese forces and American support. In this interview with Mary Kay Mitchell he recalled a surprise fire fight which ended tragically for two of his team and earned him a purple heart. CLICK HERE to listen.

After recovering from his injury he continued in the military joining the Green Berets with an interest in being part of the Special Forces.

Dowd returned to college after he decided against having a military career. Eventually earning his PhD and becoming a Geology professor at the University of Georgia, he said his military service taught him the self-discipline to pursue higher education. He commented, "I was a changed student after Vietnam."


Real Stories of Vietnam from Athens area Veterans

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Monday, 05 November 2012 12:58

These Vietnam Veterans tell some interesting and touching stories. Their differences are remarkable. Some were under fire more than others, but no one was safe. From the perspective of years since their service, each reflects on how these experiences played a part in their adult lives after the war. Celebrate their service, and the service of others on November 12, Veteran's Day. See our archive for more interviews.

In the late 1960's, Richard Nicholson served  in the Army Signal Corp as an engineer in charge of the first military satellite communications. He served in combat zones, but was not subject to hostile fire and considers his military career a very important learning experience for his later career working in India in International Satellite Telecommunications.

Brian West joined the Marines after finishing college and served as an H-34 Helicopter pilot and co-pilot. His story of the end of a long nine hour day of flying when he was shot, put later stresses in his business career into perspective.  He continues to be in touch with other combat helicopter crew through a "pop a smoke" website.

Carl LaPalm served in 1971 and was severely injured during the "mad minute" when his patrol came off its duty. His moving story tells about not only his purple heart, but also about the many horrible things that happened to others. Mr. LaPalm came back from the war to become a carpenter, in spite of his injury to his hand, working on some of our area's largest projects including the Athens Regional Medical Center.

Bill Bowden joined ROTC while a student at the University of Georgia. He served in the First Aviation Battalion as pilot of a "Huey" Helicopter in Vietnam for a year starting September, 1967. He has many stories about his varied missions including the "bloodhound" mission and how the Viet Cong figured out a map of his base camp down to the bunk he slept in.


Athens Rockin Roots Recorded

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Thursday, 18 October 2012 09:25

Music the Way it Was in Athens in the 60's and 70's was revisited in a lively event at the Melting Point on October 7. About 200, some new to the Athens music scene, listened while a panel told some stories about those days. Ron Wetherbee, the volunteer who put the event together for our community, set the stage, followed by a tribute to Athens' musicians who have died by the Voices of Truth Community Choir. CLICK HERE to listen.

You'll hear some gems in the video archive of panelist at Rockin' Roots Revisited. CLICK HERE to listen. Kemp Jones, who has written nearly all his songs at the same address on Prince Avenue, talked about how Athens had and still has all the things a place needed to grow good music.

Donny Whitehead reflected on the 60's as a time of social change and that music "broke the barriers of racial tension." He described the night the Jesters opened for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot.

Brian Burke described the path from real County Music at the Silver Saddle to fame with the Normaltown Flyers and other bands. After opening for Doc Watson at the Georgia Theater "the phone started ringing." You'll have to chuckle when you hear how he got his start--all over someone else's girlfriend.

Talk about getting a start in music, David Blackmon said he started playing violin in the school orchestra in the 4th grade because it got him out of social studies and P.E. His path, described as "tentacles," took him from classical music to bluegrass, then rock. One "tentacle" took him to Tennessee to work with Jerry Reed, another to Athens to play with the Normaltown Flyers, then on to play with many others including Widespread Panic.

Moderator John Straw proclaimed "We've had some great musicians in this town." He talked about the music clubs of the day: Mother's Mustache, The Last Resort, B & L Warehouse, Allen's, The Hedges and more. A bass player with the Acme Blues Band, he also played with other bands as musicians formed in different combinations to grow Athens music scene.

Listen to these stories and more in a four part series. CLICK HERE to enjoy the set from the Normaltown Flyers.

CLICK HERE for the Dodd Ferrelle Band.

Hopefully it brings back good memories of your own music scene when you were coming of age wherever and whenever that was.


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