2022 Symposium: the Vietnam War in History and Memory

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Join historians, veterans and educators for a look back at the Vietnam War era and the Soldier experience. This two-day symposium invites attendees to explore and discuss Soldier experiences in battle, and in their camps, through examining works of art, artifacts, personal Soldier accounts and U.S. Army history. The symposium also includes a presentation about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund’s traveling exhibit, “Panel 44: 8 Days in March,” and an evening reception.

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Schedule of Events

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Friday, October 21, 2022

Friday’s events are offered for in-person attendance only.

1-2 p.m. – Gallery Talk: “Panel 44 – 8 Days in March,” with Jim Knotts
Jim Knotts presents on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund’s traveling exhibit, “Panel 44 – 8 Days in March.” The exhibit displays the memorial’s original Panel 44 that was produced in 1982, but not placed in the memorial because of a crack in the upper-right corner. Inscribed with the names of 337 American service members whose lives were lost between March 9-16, 1968, the exhibit also includes moving artifacts that were left at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. A tour of the exhibit follows.

Jim Knotts is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and a veteran of the Persian Gulf War. He has served on the staffs of the U.S. Southern Command and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Knotts has also served as CEO of two national military-support nonprofits, including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund for the past eight years.

2-2:45 p.m. – Volunteer Showcase: Vietnam War
Three Vietnam War veterans, who are also Museum volunteers, share their service experiences and personal wartime items, including the revealing stories behind them.

3-4 p.m. – Artifact Talk: Saving the 68-15012 Cobra Helicopter, with Jonathan Bernstein
The AH-1 Cobra was the U.S. Army’s first dedicated, armed attack helicopter. Introduced into service in 1967, the Cobra was a faster and more aggressive gunship, developed to protect unarmed helicopters from ground fire in Vietnam. In May 2022, museum curators discovered AH-1G 68-15012 at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., slated for destruction. This helicopter served with four aviation units during Vietnam War from 1969-73. Its story demonstrates the evolution of the U.S. Army helicopter gunship and the progression of attack helicopter tactics.

National Museum of the Marine Corps Curator Jonathan Bernstein shares this helicopter’s amazing story and discusses the efforts to restore it to its original configuration.

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Saturday, October 22, 2022

Saturday’s events are offered for in-person OR virtual attendance.

8-9 a.m. – Check-in and Late Registration. Army Historical Foundation Book Sale.
Check-in starting at 8 a.m. Pick up grab-and-go snacks in the Museum Café. Enjoy complimentary coffee service and explore the book sale including those authored by symposium speakers and a general selection of military history books—new and used copies will be available.

9-9:15 a.m. – Museum Director’s Welcome with Tammy E. Call

9:15-10:15 a.m. – “Standing Tall: Leadership Lessons in the Life of a Soldier,” with Lt. Gen. Robert F. Foley (U.S. Army, Retired)
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Robert F. Foley, a Medal of Honor recipient and Vietnam War veteran, discusses his wartime experiences and his new book, “Standing Tall: Leadership Lessons in the Life of a Soldier.”

Lt. Gen. Foley graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1963. He was a company commander during the Vietnam War, a battalion and brigade commander with the 3d Infantry Division in Germany, assistant division commander, 2d Infantry Division in Korea, West Point’s commandant of cadets, and commanding general, Fifth U.S. Army. His awards include the Medal of Honor, the Fairleigh-Dickinson University Pinnacle Award, and the U.S. Military Academy Distinguished Graduate Award.

10:30-11:30 a.m. – Army Advisors in Vietnam, with Andrew J. Birtle, Ph.D.
Between 1955 and 1973, thousands of U.S. Army Soldiers worked as military advisers to the armed forces of the newly created Republic of Vietnam, commonly known as South Vietnam. In particular, they helped plan, organize, train and equip the South Vietnamese army, special forces, territorial forces and paramilitary organizations. They provided advice on every facet of military affairs from grand strategy to small-unit tactics. Their efforts represented just one facet of America’s broader nation building activities, as the United States tried to help the rulers of South Vietnam establish a viable nation state under extremely unfavorable circumstances.

Andrew J. Birtle, Ph.D. is a senior historian at the United States Army Center of Military History, and author of “U.S. Army Counterinsurgency and Contingency Operations Doctrine 1860-1941,” and “U.S. Army Counterinsurgency and Contingency Operations Doctrine, 1942-1976.” He received a Ph.D. in military history from the Ohio State University.

11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m. – Remembering Vietnam: Soldier Wartime Art and Culture, with Jennifer Dubina
Museum Educator Jennifer Dubina discusses Soldier artwork from the Vietnam War era, including pieces produced as part of the U.S. Army Vietnam Combat Artists Program and informal drawings and etchings. Both methods, formal and informal, shape perspectives of the conflict and provide windows through which to view the past.

Jennifer J. Dubina is a museum educator at the National Army Museum, where she focuses on developing content for educators and students. Prior to joining the Museum, she worked at the National Museum of African American History and Culture; Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial; and Sagamore Hill National Historic Site in New York. She earned a Master of Arts degree in public history from American University in 2011.

12:30-1:30 p.m. – Lunch on your own and gallery exploration
During the mid-day break, enjoy a Simple & Fresh Lunch Box prepared by the Museum’s on-site caterer. These Lunch Box orders are $15 each and are delivered directly to participants in Veterans’ Hall. Orders must be completed no later than Thursday, October 13, 2022. The Museum Café also offers a variety of lunch options that may be purchased on-site.
Click here for the boxed lunch menu and to order.

1:30-2:30 p.m. – “Armed with Abundance: Consumerism and Soldiering in the Vietnam War,” with Meredith H. Lair, Ph.D.
Meredith Lair discusses rear-echelon life among American G.I.s and the desperate and unsuccessful effort of American officials to bolster flagging troop morale as the war lurched toward its conclusion.

Meredith H. Lair, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of History at George Mason University, where she teaches about the Vietnam War, war and American society, and Veterans in American history. She is the author of “Armed with Abundance: Consumerism and Soldiering in the Vietnam War” (2011). Lair received a Ph.D. in history from Penn State University in 2004.

2:45-3:45 p.m. – Battle Brief: The 1968 Tet Offensive, with Erik B. Villard, Ph.D.
The 1968 Tet Offensive remains one of the most consequential and controversial events of the last century in American history. Anyone who fought in the Vietnam War or lived through that era will likely have some memory of those days in January and February 1968, whether they were in country or back home in the United States. Yet some of the facts and episodes that people remember about the Tet Offensive have become distorted over the last 50 years or misunderstood from the beginning. From the role of the media to the impact of the event on U.S. strategy in Vietnam, this presentation reveals and corrects some of the enduring myths of the Tet Offensive.

Erik B. Villard, Ph.D. is the United States Army Center of Military History digital historian and a Vietnam War specialist. He received B.A.’s in history and English literature from Occidental College and an M.A. and Ph.D. in history from the University of Washington. Villard’s most recent book is “Combat Operations: Staying the Course, October 1967 to September 1968” published by the United States Army Center of Military History.

3:45-4 p.m. – Conclusion

4-5 p.m. – Symposium attendees are invited to visit the galleries and Museum Store.

Register here

Special Offerings

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Friday, October 21, 2022

5-7 p.m. – Evening Symposium hosted by The Army Historical Foundation

Ticket: $30 for Non-Foundation Members/$25 for Foundation Members

Join The Foundation for an evening reception featuring Gregory A. Daddis as he explores how pop culture from the 1950s and early 1960s helped shape the attitudes of young, working-class Americans, the same men who fought and served in the long and bitter war in Vietnam.

By examining Cold War “macho pulps”—men’s magazines boasting titles like “Man’s Conquest,” “Battle Cry,” and “Adventure Life”—Daddis reveals how war stories in popular culture tell us something important about American society’s desire to remember war in certain ways and how these stories helped establish G.I.s’ expectations and perceptions of the war in Vietnam Daddis explores the role that popular culture can play in normalizing wartime ideals of heroism, manhood and even violence, and he argues that how we construct popular tales of combat, matter in both peace and war.

Gregory A. Daddis is a professor of history at San Diego State University (SDSU) and holds the U.S.S. Midway Chair in Modern U.S. Military History. Daddis joined SDSU after directing the M.A. Program in War and Society Studies at Chapman University. Prior, he served as the Chief of the American History Division in the Department of History at the United States Military Academy at West Point. A retired U.S. Army colonel, he deployed to both Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. His military awards include the Bronze Star, the Legion of Merit, and the Meritorious Service Medals. Daddis specializes in Cold War history with an emphasis on the American war in Vietnam. He has authored five books, including “Pulp Vietnam: War and Gender in Cold War Men’s Adventure Magazines,” (2020) and “Withdrawal: Reassessing America’s Final Years in Vietnam” (2017). Daddis has also published numerous journal articles and several op-ed pieces commenting on current military affairs, to include writings in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The National Interest.

Tickets include non-alcoholic drinks and hors d’oeuvres. A cash bar will also be available for additional drink options.

This program is hosted by The Army Historical Foundation, the non-profit organization for the Museum’s revenue generating operations and fundraising in support of the National Museum of the United States Army, and does not imply U.S. Army endorsement of the views expressed or the endorsement of any associated private and commercial entities.

Register here