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.

Ways to Connect

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.

Soldier's comrades watching him as he sleeps, Thievpal, France, during World War I.
National Library of Scotland

Furman University's Dr. Courtney Tollison co-curated “Over Here, Over There: Greenville in the Great War,” an exhibition on display in the spring of 2017 at Furman University’s James B. Duke Library. The exhibit examined World War I’s (1914-1918) impact on the Greenville community as well as the contributions of the area to the war effort, domestically and overseas; and it assessed the mixed legacy of progress emanating from the war years.

S.C. Hall of Fame: Maj. Thomas Dry Howie

Nov 10, 2017
The flag-draped body of Maj. Thomas Howie rests on the rubble of the St. Lo Cathedral, 1944.
National Archives

Major Thomas Dry Howie was a World War II hero who was killed during the Normandy campaign. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, French Legion of Honor, French Fourragere, and Combat Infantry Badge. Howie was born in Abbeville, South Carolina. After graduating from The Citadel, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. On the front line when his division landed on D-Day, Howie fought through the Normandy campaign until July 17, 1944, when he was killed by German mortar fire in route to the French town of St. Lo.

S.C. Hall of Fame: Lt. James Butler Bonham

Nov 10, 2017
The Cenotaph in Alamo Plaza, a memorial to the Alamo defenders.
gillfoto [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Lt. James Butler Bonham was a hero of the Mexican War, who bravely sacrificed his life in the defense of the Alamo from the Mexican Army. Bonham was born near the present-day town of Saluda, South Carolina, and attended South Carolina College. He studied law and practiced in Pendleton, S.C. Bonham moved to Alabama and then to Texas where he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Texas cavalry. He left the Alamo twice during the seige by the Mexican Army in a futile attempt to secure reinforcements.

SC Attorney General Alan Wilson announced new program to help veterans, active duty military, and members of the reserves.
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio.

Attorney General Alan Wilson announced a new program that will help Veterans, active duty military, and members of the reserve get free legal help. The program is called V.A.L.O.R., which stands for Veterans, Active/ Reserve Legal OutReach. Wilson said the program will better connect veterans and members of the military with legal help they need and may not know where to get or may not be able to afford.

50 years ago, Columbia resident Jack Van Loan was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. Recently, Van Loan spoke with South Carolina Public Radio about the six years he spent in captivity. Today, the retired Col. of the U.S. Air Force is preparing to serve once again, this time as Grand Marshal in the City of Columbia’s 39th annual Veterans Day Parade.

WATCH: Sights and sounds from the 2016 City of Columbia Veterans Day Parade 

Image of Gen. Andrew Pickens, 1739 - 1817. A photo of an oil painting hung in Fort Hill in Clemson, South Carolina.
blahedo [CC BY-SA 2.5] via Wikimedia Commons

In his new book, The Life and Times of General Andrew Pickens: Revolutionary War Hero, American Founder (2017, UNC Press), Dr. Rod Andrew, Jr., of Clemson University, explores the life of the hard-fighting South Carolina militia commander of the American Revolution, was the hero of many victories against British and Loyalist forces. In this book, Andrew offers an authoritative and comprehensive biography of Pickens the man, the general, the planter, and the diplomat.

World War II Veterans A Vanishing Generation

Oct 25, 2017
Families say goodbye to USS Yorktown veterans.
Victoria Hansen/SC Public Radio

95 year old Bill Watkinson and 97 year-old Arthur Leach have been coming to the USS Yorktown Reunions just outside of Charleston for decades.  Both were fighter pilots aboard the ship during World War II. But each year, they find fewer of their own.

"It's interesting to see those of us who are still standing and those of us missing," said Watkinson.  "The missing list is getting pretty long.

Retired Army Major Miguel Santana stands in front of his home in Columbia. Santana says he is a victim of contractor fraud and it's stalling his flood recovery.
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio.

Since 2005, the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) has received over 70,000 complaints from 50 states, 6 territories, and 4 countries involving over 50 natural and man-made disasters. Retired Army Major Miguel Santana says after the October 2015 flood, he became a victim of contractor fraud. His costly mistake is stalling recovery for what was to be his retirement home.

Soldiers participate in final salutes for Privates Timothy Ashcroft and Ethan Shrader during a memorial service at Fort Jackson Post Chapel.
Thelisha Eaddy/ SC Public Radio

This past September, Timothy Joseph Ashcraft of Cincinnati, Ohio and Ethan McKay Shrader of Prospect, Tennessee enlisted in the United States Army. The two were members of the 2nd Battalion 13th Infantry Regiment and were in their eighth week of training when they were killed during a training exercise on base. During a memorial service Tuesday, the two were remembered as brave aspiring soldiers who answered the call of duty.

Narrative: A Grandfather's Army Career

Oct 17, 2017
Colonel John Paolucci and grandson Jack Paolucci, Columbia 2016
StoryCorps

This edition of Narrative features an interview from StoryCorps, a unique oral history project that collects the voices of our times. Here, eight-year-old Jack Paolucci asks his grandfather Colonel John Paolucci about his time in the army.

S.C. Hall of Fame: Col. Charles M. Duke

Oct 10, 2017
Charles M. Duke, Jr.
NASA

On April 20, 1972, Colonel Duke joined the select body of Americans who walked on the surface of the moon. Colonel Duke was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, grew up and graduated from high school in Lancaster, South Carolina. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1957 and was commissioned in the U. S. Air Force. In 1966 NASA selected him for the astronaut program. Colonel Duke was the lunar module pilot for Apollo 16 (April 16-27, 1972). Apollo 16 collected a record 210 pounds of lunar rock and soil samples that provided a wealth of new information for scientists.

S.C. Hall of Fame: Col. Peter Horry (1743-1815)

Oct 10, 2017
A photograph of a South Carolina historical marker about the Battle of Black Mingo Creek.
LKeiner [CC BY 3.0] via Wikimedia

Peter Horry (1743-1815) was a planter from Georgetown County, South Carolina, who became a politician and leader during the American Revolutionary War. He served at the Battle of Fort Moultrie in 1776 and fought alongside Gen. Francis Marion later in the war. Horry is buried In the churchyard of Trinity Episcopal Church in Columbia.

John Slaughter, Superintendent of US Park Service's Southern Campaign of the American Revolution Parks group.
SCETV/Original SC

The Southern Campaign was critical in determining the outcome of the American Revolutionary War, yet the South’s importance has been downplayed in most historical accounts to date.

Historic Brattonsville

South Carolina is steeped rich in military history. The state is home to several war battles and historic sites. In York County, Historic Brattonsville, a 775-acre historic Revolutionary War site, has hosted a Civil War reenactment event, for the past years. Recently, the Culture and Heritage Museums of York County, which oversees the site, recently announced it was cancelling the event. Officials cited safety and protest concerns following the violence in Charlottesville, VA and also the 2015 murders of nine black church members in Charleston, SC.

"D" is for Donaldson Air Base. Early in World War II, the US Army Air Corps leased more than two thousand acres of land from the city and county of Greenville to construct what was then known as the Greenville Army Air Base, with barracks, hangers, and related buildings to train B-25 crews. The base was deactivated at the end of the war, but in 1946 was reconstituted as the headquarters of the nation’s Troop Carrier Command [later called the Military Air Transport Command]. Its planes played roles in the 1948 Berlin Airlift and during the crisis in the Belgian Congo a decade later.

WWII B-17 Bomber
Thelisha Eaddy/ SC Public Radio

Between 1935 and 1945, more than 12,000 World War II Boeing B-17 Bombers were produced. The aircraft was dubbed the “Flying Fortress,” as a result of the defensive fire power used during the war. A little more than a third (4,735) were lost in combat and today only 12 still take to the skies.

The Madras Maiden is a B-17 that was built towards the end of the war; it was used as a training aircraft. Today, the bomber is owned by the Liberty Foundation, a nonprofit museum whose mission is to preserve WWII aviation history.

U.S. Army Bell UH-1D helicopters airlift members of the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment from the Filhol Rubber Plantation area to a new staging area, during Operation "Wahiawa", conducted by the 25th Infantry Division, northeast of Cu Chi.
James K. F. Dung, SFC; U.S. National Archives Catalog:530610

Acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns’s new documentary The Vietnam War airs this week on SCETV.  As a companion piece, we talked with Vietnam veterans Wade Fulmer and Jim Knight, as well as historian Fritz Hamer, who pointed out that Vietnam was the most unconventional of wars the U.S.

U.S. Marines with Company G, 2d Battalion, 7th Marines, direct a concentration of fire at the enemy during Operation Allen Brook, 8 May 1968.
Official Marine Corps photo 371490, via Wikimedia Common

Acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns’s new documentary The Vietnam War airs this week on SCETV. In this segment, we continue our talk with historian Fritz Hamer and Palmetto State veterans Jim Knight and Wade Fulmer. Knight recalls many small firefights and one really big one – the TET offensive of February, 1968. Hamer said even though TET was a military disaster for the the North Vietnamese, it was a propaganda bonanza.

Narrative: Ambush in the Vietnam War

Sep 18, 2017
Gary Jackson and Charles Philips, Columbia 2016
StoryCorps

This edition of Narrative features an interview from StoryCorps, an oral history project based on the idea that the stories of everyday people are the most important and interesting of all. When StoryCorps visited Columbia in 2016, Charles Philips interviewed his friend Gary Jackson about his experience in the Vietnam War as tank gunner. Here, Jackson talks about what happened to him in March 1971 when he was involved in Operation Lam Son 719.

Marine Corp HMM-263 (Vietnam) Helicopter Squadron, know as The Peach Bush Book Club
Marine Corp HMM-263 (Vietnam) Helicopter Squadron, know as The Peach Bush Book Club

Note: Coinciding with broadcast on SCETV of The Vietnam War, a film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick,  Walter Edgar's Journal is re-publishing podcasts of some of our earlier programs.

(Originally broadcast 05/27/11) - Walter Edgar talks with Col. Walt Ledbetter and Duncan McCrae, veterans of the 263rd Marine Helicopter Squadron. Their aim is to compile a history of their experiences in the Vietnam War in 1969-70. They share stories from some of the missions they flew. Ledbetter and McCrae are joined by Clint Chalmers, producer.

Orvil Bumpus, Tim Campbell, Butch Gay, Mike Dickerson, James Henderson, Arthur Beaufort, and John Trulock.
Gordon Humphries / University Of South Carolina, School Of Visual Art and Design

 

Note: Coinciding with broadcast on SCETV of The Vietnam War, a film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick,  Walter Edgar's Journal is re-publishing podcasts of some of our earlier programs.

In 1968, the 319th Transportation Company, an Army Reserve unit, was sent to fight in the Vietnam War. The unit drew most of its members from the Augusta, Georgia/Aiken, S.C. area. During their 11 month tour of duty, they drove their trucks over one million miles, delivering ammunition, supplies, and soldiers to bases around South Vietnam. They called themselves “Troxler's Truckers,” after their commanding officer.

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