Just another soldier

by David Buchanan, Curator of Decorative Objects and Furniture

Museum curator David Buchanan served in the U.S. Air Force from 1969 to 1977.

I never considered myself a “hero”; just another who volunteered. Though I lost friends and classmates to the war in Vietnam, my personal experiences just lead to wonderful memories. I was an Air Force chapel manager, handling administrative duties thus freeing the Chaplain for spiritual duties. I was also his personal bodyguard. Because he was expected to liaison with the civilian religious leaders, I was one of the few who left the base for surrounding civilian communities.

I often wonder what happened to the wonderful people I met through those trips, like those running the leprosy camp (where I heard a Vietnamese Christmas carol sung to the tune of “Old Black Joe”), the Catholic priest whose French parents had emigrated to Vietnam and he’d been born and raised there, and the missionaries who ran the orphanage with many mixed race children from American servicemen.

Viet Cong mortars came in about once a month and, during the attacks, I was supposed to use the building’s earth-filled ammo box and sandbag shelter.  Instead I would just curl into a corner.  Pit vipers had been found inside our shelter during inspections and I’d rather take a chance with shrapnel than cuddle with a viper!

Honor Indiana’s veterans and active military personnel this fall at the Indiana State Museum. Heroes from the Heartland, a photo display, runs from Nov. 1 through Veterans Day, Nov. 12, 2012. Submit photos of your Hoosier Hero to kcreagh@indianamuseum.org and include the following information:

  • Name:
  • Date of service:
  • Branch of military:
  • Hometown or Indiana connection:
  • Submitted by:
Photos will be accepted through Oct. 25, 2012. Please view our 2012 Heroes from the Heartland photo album on Flickr.

Indiana State Museum wants to Honor Your Hoosier Hero

Warren Bandy; July 1942 - January 1946; U.S. Navy; Terre Haute, Ind.; submitted by Ken Bandy

Warren Bandy; July 1942 - January 1946; U.S. Navy; Terre Haute, Ind.; submitted by Ken Bandy.

We’re working on a Veterans Day project and we need your contribution. Last year, we introduced a new component to our Veterans Day celebration that consisted of a community photo mural. We sent a call out for photos of Hoosier veterans and active military personnel and then turned those photos into magnets that were displayed on a giant Heroes from the Heartland display board. Visitors to the Museum could turn the photo over to find out about the person featured. We received photos from across the state and as far away as Afghanistan.

This year, the program has been expanded. Instead of four days, the community photo mural will be displayed from Nov. 1 through 11. We have also decided to accept electronic photos this year in lieu of physical copies. Photos will be accepted from today until Sept. 30. Due to limited space, we will only be able to post the first 300 photos received and we are limiting photos to one per person (meaning that you can submit more than one photo, but they have to be of different people).

In addition, from Nov. 1 through 11 the Indiana State Museum is offering FREE ADMISSION to veterans and active military personnel and discounted admission to their families. Closer to November, we will update the blog with more information about music and demonstrations we will offer as part of our Veterans Day celebration.

Heroes from the Heartland

  • Photos accepted electronically until Sept. 30
  • Community photo mural displayed Nov. 1 – 11, 2009.
  • E-mail photos to: kbaugh@dnr.in.gov

The first 300 photos will be displayed on the community photo mural and on the Indiana State Museum Facebook Fan page and Flickr Heroes from the Heartland Group.

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