Veterans Chronicles is an hour-long program that tells the stories of America’s greatest heroes in their own words.
Featuring interviews with eyewitnesses to the great, and tragic, moments in military history. From D-Day to Iwo Jima, Khe Sanh to the “Hanoi Hilton”, Baghdad to Fallujah, the liberation of Grenada to the liberation of Afghanistan; Veterans Chronicles is history told from the perspective of those who were there.
Included in each show are archival recordings, which take listeners back to a time when heroes were made. The program also includes short features, including “Heroes of the Air,” “World War II Chronicles,” and “Vox Pop.”
The host of Veteran’s Chronicles, Gene Pell, has spent much of the last half-century as an award winning broadcast journalist. He has been both Moscow Bureau Chief and Pentagon Correspondent for NBC News, and for twenty years was news anchor for the NBC affiliate in Boston. He is also former Director for Voice of America and President of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
World War II veteran John Weston joined the U.S. Army in 1941 as part of the 758th Tank Battalion. The 758th was the first all African-American armored unit in U.S. history. Weston reflects on his service and its influence upon his life.In November 2015, AVC had the honor of conducting this interview with Weston at the annual Veterans Day Conference. Two months later, on December 29, 2015, John S. Weston passed away. This film was made in his honor, as well as all veterans of the history-making 758th Tank Battalion.
Emanuel "Manny" Mandel
Emanuel "Manny" Mandel was born in Riga, Latvia in 1936, shortly before Europe was engulfed in war. His family then moved to Budapest, which was an important Jewish center in Europe, where his father was a cantor. As the years progressed, Europe was becoming more dangerous for Jewish families. In 1944, Manny and his family were among a group of Jews who Adolf Eichmann traded for Allied material. Manny and his family were deported to Bergen-Belsen concentration Camp. Here Manny shares his story of survival throughout the Holocaust, and his journey of understanding the tragedy of the event, as he was a young boy at the time.
On December 7, 1941, Jim Leavelle was aboard the USS Whitney when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Twenty-two years later, he would witness history once again as a homicide detective for the Dallas Police Department when President Kennedy was assassinated. Leavelle interrogated Lee Harvey Oswald, Kennedy?s alleged assassin, and is known as ?the man in the tan suit? in the famed photo of Oswald?s assassination at the hands of Jack Ruby. It's not common to personally witness two major events throughout American history, as Leavelle has, and his story is surely unique.
Ned and Needa Thomas
Ned Thomas, World War II veteran of the Army Air Force discusses his experience as a "Hump Pilot" flying over the Himalayas to supply materials to the Nationalist Chinese forces fighting the Japanese. He is joined by his daughter Nedda Thomas, author of "Hump Pilot: Defying Death Flying the Himalayas During World War II."
Captain Jason Pak
Captain Jason Pak graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2011, proceeding to both Airborne and Ranger schools. In October 2012 he was deployed to Panjwai, Afghanistan as a Company Fire Support Officer, where he was eventually promoted to First Lieutenant. On December 12, 2012, he was seriously wounded by an IED while leading a patrol on foot, losing both of his legs and two fingers. His great courage on and off the battlefield has proved to be an inspiration to many.
Captain William Peacock
World War II veteran William Peacock recounts his experience as a charter member of LST 357. Peacock managed much of the navigational charts aboard the ship, and took part in many Naval missions back and forth from Bizerte, North Africa to Salerno in Southern Italy.
Lt. Col. Bill Johnson, Ohio Congressman
Lt. Col. Bill Johnson entered the U.S. Air Force in 1973 after graduating from high school. LTC Johnson would eventually become a software engineer for the Air Force, working with much of the communicating and computing technology of the nation's military. He talks about his time in the service and the impact it had on his career, which would lead him to start his own businesses. He his now Congressman of Ohio, representing the sixth district.
Ernest Hueter, veteran of World War II, saw some of the greatest action in the South Pacific, was once assigned to General MacArthur's staff, and was present when Gen. MacArthur made his return to the Philippine Islands. He talks about he inspiration for joining the service, and how his combat experience shaped his life.
Sir Martin Gilbert
This episode of Veterans Chronicles features an old show "Reminiscences" hosted by Stephen Halpert, during which he has a conversation with Sir Martin Gilbert. Martin Gilbert was an esteemed British historian and the official biographer of Winston Churchill. Gilbert was the author of over eighty books, covering topics including world history, Jewish history, and the Holocaust. On February 3, 2015, Sir Martin Gilbert passed away at age 78. This episode re-aired in memoriam.
Dr. J. Phillip London
Dr. J. Phillip "Jack" London is known for his contribution to the success of CACI International, one of the world's leading organizations working to fuse information technology with defense and security. Prior to his career with CACI, Dr. London served in the U.S. Navy, witnessing crucial moments of the Cold War and retiring as a Captain. He discusses how values such as character and integrity have been key tools in allowing him to flourish as a leader and continually serve his country. He expands on these ideas in his latest book "Character: The Ultimate Success Factor."
Former U.S. Army Ranger Nicholas Irving spent six years with the Army's Special Operations 3rd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. Irving served from demolitions assaulter to Master Sniper, and was the first African-American in his battalion to serve as Sniper. His new book "The Reaper: Autobiography of One of the Deadliest Special Ops Snipers" is a thrilling memoir detailing the experiences of his military career.
Patrick O'Donnell: First SEALs
Military historian and best-selling author Patrick K. O'Donnell discusses his latest book "First SEALs: The Untold Story of the Forging of America's Most Elite Unit." The book tells the story of four extraordinary men who in 1942 united to form the Navy's Sea, Air, and Land (SEAL) teams that would led to the establishment of one of the military's most esteemed units. O'Donnell discusses the sources he used for the book, which for a long time were unavailable, as well as the in-depth research required to tell the story.
Colonel Richard Camp
Richard Camp, retired Marine Corps Colonel, veteran of Vietnam, and esteemed military author and historian discusses his experiences in Vietnam which heavily influenced his life. A recipient of the Purple Heart, Colonel Camp was a Marine Corps officer for 26 years and served as a company commander in Vietnam. He has done much work in historical preservation through several positions such as the Deputy Director for the U.S. Marine Corps History Division. He is the author of ten books, including his most recent publication Assault from the Sky: U.S. Marine Corps Helicopter Observations in Vietnam.
Former Army ranger Steve Maguire was a decorated and successful infantry officer, commanding a 9th Infantry Division battalion reconnaissance platoon in the Mekong Delta during the Vietnam War. Maguire's life would change forever in November 1969, when an exploding Viet Cong mine severely wounded him, leaving him blinded for life.
General Bernard Trainor
After graduating from high school in 1946, Lieutenant General Bernard Trainor enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. He attended the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts, and then was commissioned a Marine second lieutenant after his graduation in 1951. In December of that year, he was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines Division, 1st Marines in Korea as infantry platoon commander. Following his time in Korea, General Trainor served as executive and commanding officer aboard the USS Columbus (CA-74). Trainor would also play a crucial role in Vietnam, where he was assigned as advisor to a Vietnamese special operations group. General Trainor would eventually receive the Distinguished Service Medal, two Legions of Merit, and a Bronze Star.