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

War Through the Looking Glass

Sep 29, 2017
Bryan Grigsby

There's a certain luxury to examining war from behind the lens. Crop out what you care not see. Focus on the atrocities, without reference to the so called savages. Film maker Ken Burns appears to know this in his Vietnam documentary. It is unapologetically full exposure.

Burns calls it unsettled business. He says it is proof that in war, as in life, more than one truth can exist at the same time. Yet, here we are, trying to make sense of that duality some 50 years later.

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.

NASA image of Hurricane Irma:: A series of massive hurricanes have threatened and impacted parts of the Caribbean.
NASA

As Hurricane Maria continues to move forward, mandatory evacuations have been ordered for parts of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Here in South Carolina, hospitals are receiving patients evacuated from islands decimated by the storm.

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.

Homer Steedly
Tibby Steedly

 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.

(Broadcast 11-14-08) - When we talked to Vietnam War veteran Homer Steedly in 2007 the South Carolina native told us of his plans to return to Vietnam. One of his goals has been to, at last, meet face-to-face with the family of Hoang Ngoc Dam, the young North Vietnamese soldier (a medic) whom he'd killed in March of 1969; and to help locate Dam's remains and return them to his family's village for burial.

During Vietnam, Music Spoke to Both Sides of a Divided Nation

Sep 15, 2017
Bob Dylan with Joan Baez during the March on Washington in Washington, D.C., 1963.
Rowland Scherman (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration), via Wikimedia Commons

(THE CONVERSATION) -  Music is central to Ken Burns's new Vietnam War documentary, with an original score accompanied by samples of the era's most popular musicians, from the Rolling Stones to Bob Dylan. According to USA Today, the people interviewed for the film were even asked to provide their 10 favorite songs from the war years.

While it's natural that a historical film would include period-specific songs, music played an outsized role in the Vietnam War era. Whereas during past wars, musicians wrote songs to unite Americans, Vietnam-era music spoke to the growing numbers of disillusioned citizens, and brought attention to the cultural fissures that were beginning to emerge.

The exact nature of the crescent which adorns the corner of the South Carolina state flag has been the subject of debate for years.  Is it a moon, as many people say?  Two state historians say it sure looks like one, but according to the flag's creator, t
Wikimedia Commons [CC0 1.0]

South Carolina is widely acknowledged to have one of the most beautiful state flags in the country.   Created by Col. William Moultrie, the flag features a palmetto tree, which became a beloved icon of the state.  But what about that crescent shape in the corner?  Many people call it a moon but is it really?  

Sept. 7 Hurricane Irma Update News Conference
www.scetv.org

South Carolina is planning for a category 4 storm to impact the state starting Saturday. During a press conference Thursday, Gov. McMaster said 800 SC National Guardsmen have been activated. Sunday, September 10th, 2500 Guardsmen will be on duty and by Tuesday, September 11th 5000 guardsmen will be on duty.

McMaster said as of 2pm Thursday, healthcare facilities along the coast in potential impact zones are ordered to evacuate. Those are facilities in the following counties: Jasper, Beaufort, Colleton, Dorchester, Berkeley, Horry, Charleston and Georgetown.

Narrative: Everything Changed Overnight

Aug 29, 2017
Jonathan Jackson and Licia Jackson, Columbia 2016
StoryCorps

This edition of Narrative features an interview from StoryCorps, an oral history project where friends and loved ones interview each other. When StoryCorps visited Columbia in 2016, Licia Jackson talked with her son Jonathan about his time in the military in the early 2000s.

John C. West, South Carolina Governor, 1971 - 1975.
library.sc.edu/p/collections

This French language film shows the Governor of South Carolina, John West, as he signed a petition of support for American Prisoners of War in Vietnam at the state capital. Hundreds of South Carolinians showed their support too, by signing the petition.

Note: Although the narration in this report for French television is not subtitled, the film contains historical footage of the event, and some of West's comments are audible.

S.C. Hall of Fame: Lt. William Farrow (1918-1942)

Aug 4, 2017
Crew 16 of the Doolittle Raiders. Left to right: Lt George Barr, Lt William G. Farrow, Sgt Harold A. Spatz, Lt Robert L. Hite, and Cpl Jacob D. DeShazer.
USAF

William G. Farrow was born in 1918 in Darlington. He trained to be a pilot at the Hawthorne Aviation School where he received his commission and the silver wings of an Army Aviator in 1941 before joining the 17 Bombardment Group.

In January 1942, Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle asked for volunteers from the 17 Bombardment Group for a secret, hazardous mission, and in April, the crew and B-25s were loaded aboard the USS Hornet headed for an unknown destination on a mission now known as the Doolittle Raid story.  

SC Hall of Fame: Gen. Thomas Sumter (1734-1832)

Aug 4, 2017
Gen. Thomas Sumter
SC Hall of Fame

Virginia native Thomas Sumter wound up in debtor’s prison following the French and Indian War, escaped and came to South Carolina. He became a landowner and early advocate for American independence and in 1780 became the state’s first militia brigadier general. For more than a year he harassed the British, earning the name "Gamecock.” He opposed ratification of the United States Constitution, but was still elected to the First Congress. He served in the United States House of Representatives (1789-1793) and the United States Senate (1793-1810), then retired and lived to nearly 100.

Gen. William Westmoreland
SC Hall of Fame

 General Westmoreland’s rise through the ranks of the army coincided with television coverage of the Vietnam War in the 1960’s, making him one of the most recognized military figures of the 20th century. Born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, he went on to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point and served in 17 battle campaigns during three wars: World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Promoted to the rank of brigadier general at age 38, he later earned a second star, making him at the time the youngest major general in the U.S. Army.

SC Hall of Fame: Sgt. William Jasper (1750-1779)

Aug 4, 2017
Sgt. William Jasper
SC Hall of Fame

Sgt. William Jasper distinguished himself as a patriot during the American Revolution. He was probably born in the vicinity of Georgetown, South Carolina. During the bombardment of Sullivan’s Island by a British fleet on June 28, 1776, Jasper recovered the South Carolina flag after it had been shot from its staff and, in the face of deadly fire, attached it to a sponge-staff and remounted it upon the walls of the fort.

Pages