72.4 F
Cruz Bay
Thursday, March 23, 2023
HomeNewsArchivesVets, Filmmakers Examine the V.I. and the Vietnam War

Vets, Filmmakers Examine the V.I. and the Vietnam War

Brian O'Reilly, left, Cynthia Van Beverhoudt-Harris, Richard Schrader, Leander Henderson, and Harry Daniel discuss 'Proudly We Served.'“Vietnam was tough, real tough for us who had to spend sometimes 20 days in the jungle,” said Harry Daniel, director of Veterans’ Affairs, Saturday in Frederiksted, where a half dozen veterans and about 40 other residents gathered to watch a movie trailer for a yet-to-be-completed documentary on Virgin Islanders and the war.

Some 350 U.S. Virgin Islanders served in the Vietnam War. About two dozen of them gave their lives there. Two hundred are still alive.

The viewing took place at the Bromley Berkley American Legion Hall Post 133 on Princess Street.

"Proudly We Served: Virgin Islands Veterans of the Vietnam War," will include interviews of many local residents. It’s a follow up to a documentary completed seven years ago about veterans of World War II.

It begins with a moving slice from a speech from President Obama, in which calls the Vietnam War a “painful time” in our history.

V.I. Director of Veteran Affairs Director Harry Daniel, left, filmmaker Joan Keenan, Lt. Col. Brian P. O'Reilly of the V.I. National Guard appear together at the viewing of hte trailer.In discussions preceding and following the film, several speakers commented that the controversy surrounding that war has caused and continues to cause veterans from that war not to receive the recognition they deserve.

Daniel commented, a bit sadly and without irony, “All wars are different.”

Leander Henderson spoke in the film about the segregation he was exposed to when he was sent to Georgia in 1964. But most of the speakers in the film and in the panel discussion Saturday did not speak of racism as much as they spoke of the hardship of warriors in a difficult time.

The panel discussion was held and the audience commentary will help give direction to the production.

The panelists were Vietnam veterans Harry Daniel, Leander ‘Gus’ Henderson, Cynthia Van Beverhoudt -Harris and World War II Veteran Richard Schrader. Lt. Col. Brian P. O’Reilly of the V.I. National Guard was the moderator of the panel and the interviewer in the documentary.

Daniel said when he saw the World War II documentary produced by Joan Keenan he liked it so much he encouraged her to do one with the Vietnam veterans. He said it was a good idea to catalog the veterans experiences to show the local children what the veterans did for their country.

“The documentary gives a good perspective of war and how we survived it,” Daniel said.

Schrader, a local author, said as a writer he thinks the documentary will be a neatly packaged look at history. “This is a wonderful thing to pass on from one generation to another,” Schrader said. “And this will be in the Library of Congress.”

Keenan, project director and producer of the documentary, said the filmmakers plan to have the documentary finished by December. She said they have filmed 16 interviews and have about about seven more to complete from across the territory. She said she plans to go to St. Thomas for more interviews, and plans to have volunteers help with things such as compiling information from newspapers and other documentation. Keenan said anyone interested in volunteering can call 1-340-514-0643 during business hours.

Victor Belardo, a Vietnam veteran affected by Agent Orange, said the documentary is a very good idea.

“It’s great that this history of the Virgin Islands will be in the Library of Congress,” Belardo said.

The documentary is funded by the V.I. Office of Veteran’s Affairs, the V.I. Academic and Cultural Awards Endowment Program, and the V.I. Humanities Council.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.