The Boomers: Reflecting, Sharing, Learning

Don Wildsmith, 3 Purple Hearts and 30 years of Service

Attention: open in a new window. PrintE-mail

Monday, 25 June 2012 09:55

Even with 3 purple hearts and so many years of service, Don Wildsmith doesn't think of himself as a hero.  He says he was simply doing what needed to be done at the time. He served in Vietnam in the Army as a medic, performing medical evacuations in a helicopter, sometimes in peaceful circumstances and sometimes in combat. After Vietnam he served another 30 years in the Navy.

In the recording of Don's memories of Vietnam, he tells a few stories about his service, and one of a remarkable coincidence. A doctor who attended to one of his wounds in Vietnam, was also the doctor who delivered his daughter in Georgia a few years later.

May Kay Mitchell, who interviewed Don, called him a Renaissance Man because these days you'll find Don directing cultural affairs and occasionally performing on the stage in Winder, GA.

If you are a Vietnam Vet in the Athens area who would like to share a memory, please contact Madeline Darnell, 706-613-3650 ext. 343 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


John Cranmer Reflects on his Service in Vietnam

Attention: open in a new window. PrintE-mail

Wednesday, 06 June 2012 13:57

Vietnam Veteran John Cranmer served in the Navy in Vietnam on a small landing craft that transported supplies to military outposts.  "We got shot at from both sides of the river," John explained in his short story about his Vietnam experience archived on our website. He served during the Tet Offensive at a time when fighting was most intense.

He took away from his experience the realization that life is short.  "It caused me to think seriously about my future and how I wanted to spend my life."

After the war, John worked in a publishing ministry, Source of Light Ministries in Morgan County.  He is chaplain for the Military Order of the Purple Heart, and works with high school students in ROTC and veterans from Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan among others. In the photo above, John presented an award to Timothy Hollis, ROTC Cadet from Green County High School.

Enjoy this and other stories from our Athens area Vietnam vets from our website.  If you'd like to share a Vietnam memory with us contact Madeline Darnell, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 706-613-3650 ext. 343.


Richard "Ole" Olsen Talks About Vietnam

Attention: open in a new window. PrintE-mail

Monday, 14 May 2012 10:34

For "Ole" the experience of serving in Vietnam is more than a memory. It was the source of close, life-long friendships, an insight into the "humanism of the planet," but most of all the influence on his life's work as an artist.  Watch his lively interview with Mary Kay Mitchell.

In this image Ole recalls looking out the helicopter window at the rice patties, rivers and other landscape features below.

Professor emeritus at UGA's Lamar Dodd School of Art, Ole signed up to serve as a young man seeking Hemmingway-like adventure. His war buddies are still close friends, and he was a key influence in establishing a Vietnam War Veterans Art Museum in Chicago.

The Steffan Thomas Museum of Art, 4200 Bethany Road, Buckhead, GA is host to his show Vietnam Revisited III: Another Focus, opening May 18th.

This exhibition of works by Richard J. Olsen has been curated by guest curators Drs. Andrew & Hathia Hayes. The artwork in this collection represents not only the artist's response to his Vietnam experiences as a helicopter pilot, but also the direction in which his work went post-war.


Page 9 of 11