Sunday, September 17, 2017

Vietnam Veterans Film "The Lost Homecoming"

‘They were fighting in something the public didn’t support.’ Filmmakers hope documentary gives them a voice

Sun Herald
Tammy Smith
September 17, 2017

In “The Lost Homecoming,” about 45 Vietnam War veterans, many of them from the Mississippi Gulf Coast, talk about their experiences both in country and when they returned to the States. Dawley, who lives in Diamondhead, produced and codirected the one-hour program, and Lenny Delbert of New Orleans is co-director and the filmmaker.

‘The Lost Homecoming: When Our Vietnam Veterans Came Home’ will air on WYES on Sunday night at 10 p.m. Courtesy WYES/Pan Am Communications
As a Veterans Administration psychologist, Harold Dawley heard many stories of war experiences and the aftermath of service.
But one story haunted him for four decades. He finally has been able to use one young man’s painful struggle to tell the story of a generation that felt torn apart.
“The Lost Homecoming: When Our Vietnam Veterans Came Home,” will be aired on New Orleans PBS station WYES at 10 p.m. Sunday, Sept, 17, about a half hour after the first episode of Ken Burns’s documentary series “The Vietnam War” airs. 

“They were fighting in something the public didn’t support, and so they really felt defeated,” Dawley said. 
The story that stayed with him was that of a young African American man from a small Mississippi town. 
“His best friend in Vietnam was a young white man, and he was killed right beside him,” Dawley said. “The thing that carried him through his time in service was the thought of his homecoming. He made sergeant. When he was headed home, he was looking outside the window of the bus and thinking about what people would say.” 
When the bus stopped in his hometown, the white man who owned the service station there looked at him, finally recognized him and said, “Well, boy, I see you made it back OK.” 
“He didn’t know that was going to be all the homecoming he was going to get,” Dawley said. The rejection the young man felt affected several aspects of his life. He became a drug addict, and his marriage fell apart.
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