South Carolina Military and Veterans

South Carolina has a rich military history, beginning in the Colonial Era. Today, the state has a significant military presence. SC Public Radio and SCETV offers news coverage of South Carolina's active bases, military personnel and veterans, and the economic and cultural impact they have on communities throughout the state and across the nation. We will also offer stories and profiles exploring our state's military history.

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Orders in hand, Navy Capt. Marc A. Mitscher, skipper of the USS Hornet (CV-8) chats with Lt. Col. James Doolittle, leader of the Army Air Forces attack group. This group of fliers carried the battle of the Pacific to the heart of the Japanese empire.
U.S. Navy

76 years ago (April 18 1942) 80 brave men did what had never been attempted: they flew army bombers off a U.S. aircraft carrier on their way to bomb Tokyo.  The attack, which has become known to history as the Doolittle Raid, was America’s first strike back at Japan after the infamous sneak attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States into World War II.  In this report, Mount Pleasant author James Scott talks about the significance of the raid to the war, and its great psychological effect both on the American and Japanese publics. 

James and Tammy Blackwell take a picture of a box containing the names of all South Carolinians who died during the Vietnam War.
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio

The last American troops withdrew from South Vietnam in 1975. On March 29, the 50th anniversary of this historic event coincided with the first National Vietnam War Veterans Day. Vietnam War Veterans Day is a new holiday, established when President Trump signed the Vietnam War Recognition Act of 2017. Veterans and supporters across the country gathered to remember their sacrifices and also to finally hear the words "thank you for your service."

Charleston Book Club Gives Veterans a Voice

Mar 29, 2018
Members of Charleston book club for veterans meet at downtown Charleston County Library
Victoria Hansen/SC Public Radio

It’s a Saturday morning and a small group meets at the downtown Charleston County Library, their thick books cracked open to the same page of “The Illiad”, an epic poem recounting the final weeks of the Trojan War.  It’s intense reading for 10 a.m.  But the ancient story resonates with the young soldiers at the long table.  It’s part of their book club for veterans.

“He was going to leave town without going to hunt her down and say goodbye,” said the group’s facilitator Kate Hudson.  “Why would he do that?”  There’s silence.   Then, former Marine Lee Gonzalez weighs in.

The South Carolina Disaster Recovery Office provides home repairs and replacements to victims of the 2015 floods and Hurricane Matthew.
SCDRO

For the past few years, we've brought you a lot of stories about recovery from the 2015 floods and Hurricane Matthew. Many people across the state might be wondering "isn't this recovery taking a long time?" As JR Sanderson, Program Director for the South Carolina Disaster Recovery Office, explains, the answer is yes—and no. 

U.S. Marine Band

Mar 27, 2018
A Minute with Miles
SC Public Radio/Mary Noble Ours

Some years ago I had the privilege of appearing as viola soloist with the United States Marine Band, “the Presidents Own,” and I can tell you it was a great experience. Like the members of the other premier service bands, the bands of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard, the Marine Band players are graduates of some of the nation’s top conservatories, and they’re terrific musicians. And they include great string players, too, not just winds, brass, and percussion. 


Spinners and doffers in Lancaster Cotton Mills. Lancaster, S.C., circa 1912.
National Archives/Hine, Lewis Wickes

South Carolina in 1918 was still struggling with the changes to its economic and social systems brought about by the Civil War and Reconstruction. The United States’ entry into World War I affected the daily work life of South Carolinians and the state’s economy in a way that was unique to our state.

"W" is for World War II (1941-1945). Prior to the entry of the US into World War II, the federal government constructed or expanded military installations, including Camp Jackson (Columbia), Camp Croft (Spartanburg), the Navy Yard (Charleston), and several smaller bases. At least 900,000 men received military training in South Carolina. More than 180,000 Carolinians (including 2,500 women) served in the armed forces. Thousands more wanted to serve, but 41% of those examined were rejected for mental or physical problems.

"W" is for World War I (1917-1918). When Congress declared war on Germany in April 1917, part of South Carolina was already on a war footing. More than 65,000 South Carolinians served in the armed forces. Eight men from the state were awarded the Medal of Honor. At home civilians supported the war effort through liberty bond drives, home gardens, and meatless and wheatless days. Patriotism cut across racial boundaries in broad support for bond drives and the Red Cross.

Former Slave Honored at James Island's Pinckney Park

Feb 27, 2018
Friends and family unveil marker honoring Simeon Pinckney on James Island.
Victoria Hansen/SC Public Radio

James Island's Pinckney Park, with its colorful playground, iconic oak tree  and tire swing, is less than a  year old.  But its history goes back 150 years.  That's when a former slave bought the property just outside of Charleston.   It's still  thick with palms and pines that back up to a tributary of Parrot Creek.  His  name was Simeon Pinckney. 

"Most of the stories  that my mother told of him was him straightening someone out for not doing the right thing," said Jerome Harris.  He is the great- great grandson of Simeon Pinckney. 

Written on print: Spartanburg, S.C. Saxon Mills; "Girl workers in the half-time mill school."
Library of Congress/Goldsberry Collection of open-air school photographs.

There were progressives in South Carolina in 1918. And the progressive movement in this state was different from the movement in the Northeast. However, the United States’ entrance into World War I provided an extra momentum to the movement that led to some fundamental changes the interaction between state and federal authority that lasted through the 20th century. 

Unidentified African American soldier in uniform with marksmanship qualification badge and campaign hat, with cigarette holder in front of painted backdrop.
Library of Congress

Upon the United States' entrance into World War I, President Woodrow Wilson told the nation that the war was being fought to "make the world safe for democracy." For many African-American South Carolinians, the chance to fight in this war was a way to prove their citizenship, in hopes of changing things for the better at home.

Former Charleston City Mayor Joe Riley at the site of the planned International African American Museum.
The Citadel

There's no slowing down for Former Charleston City mayor Joe Riley.  The 75 year-old is as ambitious as ever, finalizing plans for the city's new International African American Museum.  He's even teaching a class about it this semester at his Alma Mater, The Citadel.

"I work hard on it every day," said Riley from his office on Broad Street.  He gazes out the window as he talks about a  past he says is rarely acknowledged.   "Across the street from me are historic buildings built during times of enslavement."

Detail from a poster showing a Red Cross nurse with an American flag and the Red Cross symbol. (Artist: Howard Chandler Christie)
Library of Congress

Dr. Amy McCandless, professor emerita of history at the College of Charleston, joins Dr. Edgar for a public Conversation on South Carolina History, World War I: S.C. Women during the War. The conversation took place at USC’s Capstone Conference Center, in Columbia, on January 16, 2018. It was part of a series presented in January and February, 2018, and sponsored by the USC College of Arts and Sciences.

All Stations: Fri, Feb 02, 12 pm | News & Talk Stations: Sun, Feb 04, 4 pm

Greg Wilsbacher, checking film in USC's Moving Image Research Collection.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

Since 1980, the University of South Carolina has built a national reputation as one of the top film preservation archives in the nation.  Its Moving Image Research Collection has recently become the recipient of a significant national gift – the archival films of the United States Marine Corps.  Tom McNally, Dean of Libraries at the University,  says the school took the collection with no funds to preserve it, but with the faith that revenue donors could be found, which they were.  

Future drill sergeants practice their techniques on their fellow trainees at Fort Jackson. (File)
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

A new study finds South Carolina among ten states with a larger number of unfit Army recruits compared to the rest of the nation. The research comes from the Citadel, a military school in Charleston, and shows potential soldiers who are not physically fit are more likely to be injured during basic training, costing the Department of Defense and putting our nation's military readiness at risk.

World War II veteran Marvin Veronee of Charleston with a photo book, for which he wrote the text, on the Battle of Iwo Jima.  Veronee was in the battle as a 19-year-old sailor.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

In February and March 1945, one of the most significant battles of World War II took place:  Iwo Jima, just 760 miles from Tokyo itself.  Among the 70,000 marines assigned to the operation was 19-year-old Marvin Veronee of Charleston, a navy gunfire officer who went ashore with the Marines to call in fire from warships stationed off the coast when he found good targets.  75 years later, a 93-year-old Veronee recalls his  duties in the battle, his narrow scrape with a Japanese banzai charge ( a suicide attack), and his sight of the first (not the second, world-famous) American flag raised on

An historic marker honoring the 371st Infantry now stands at Childs Cemetery in Columbia.
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio

For those who love military history, the date September 28, now carries an additional significance. It’s the date Cpl. Freddie Stowers was killed in battle. Stowers was an Anderson County native and a member of the 371st Infantry Regiment, the first African-American unit to train at then Camp Jackson. The date now also represents the placing of the first historic marker in the country to honor and recognize this unit. 

More than 75 organizations from across country attend Fort Jackson career fair.
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio

Before a service member transitions out of the military, the Department of Defense requires they complete a pre-separation counseling session. Fort Jackson's Solider For Life Transition Assistance program manager says its the beginning of 12-month period that prepares service members and their family for life outside the military.

Steve Bannon poses fo rpictures at Citadel Republican Society fundraiser
Victoria Hansen/SC Public Radio

Streets were blocked for hours and police appeared ready, high atop Johnson Hagood Stadium as former presidential advisor Steve Bannon arrived in Charleston Friday  to speak at a student fundraiser just off the Citadel campus.  People with several civil rights groups peacefully gathered across the street from the Holliday Alumni Center where inside there was a party and the guest of honor relived the glory days of helping get Donald Trump elected president.

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