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Events honor veterans, premiere new KET Vietnam documentary


Events honor veterans, premiere new KET Vietnam documentary

For Release: 10/14/16 11:31 AM

KET and the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs are honoring the service of Kentucky’s Vietnam War veterans and their families with events in Lexington and Louisville. During the ceremonies, KET will premiere its new documentary Kentucky Veterans of the Vietnam War: In Their Own Words, which shares first-hand accounts of the war from 65 veterans who lived it.

The Lexington event takes place Thursday, Nov. 3 at the Aviation Museum of Kentucky, beginning at 6:30 pm. The Louisville event will be held Monday, Nov. 7 at the Kentucky Science Center, also beginning at 6:30 pm. Admission to both events is free, but guests are asked to pre-register online at or by calling (502) 589-3538.

Narrated by Kentuckian Nick Clooney and rich in archival photographs and home movies, the documentary focuses on the intimate, ground-level experiences of Kentucky troops in Vietnam. Veterans share harrowing memories of facing mortar fire as their planes arrived in South Vietnam and dodging their way through a jungle canopy rife with bullet and rocket fire. Several veterans recount the pain of watching their friends and fellow soldiers make the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

“These soldiers are proud of what they did, but they often felt that they were not appreciated for putting on the uniform of their country,” said the film’s producer/director Tom Bickel, alluding to the social unrest surrounding U.S. participation in the war at the time. “It wasn’t easy for them to tell these stories.”

In the program, veteran Marj Graves of Louisville, who served as a nurse in Vietnam, recounts how the experience of identifying 35 charred bodies following a helicopter crash was so traumatic she left the field of nursing altogether following the war.

Veteran Don Parrish of Bardstown details the devastating attack on his National Guard artillery unit, which resulted in the loss of five of his fellow Bardstown soldiers.

Another veteran, John Outlaw of Owensboro, recalls the first time he was faced with the brutal choice of killing an enemy combatant – in his case, it was a woman armed with an AK-47. “I was raised not to harm women,” he said. “But in this case it was ‘kill or be killed.’ That is not what we were raised to do.’”

Kentucky Veterans of the Vietnam War: In Their Own Words airs statewide Thursday, Nov. 10 at 9/8 pm on KET and Sunday, Nov. 13 at 9/8 pm on KET2. It is a KET production, produced and directed by Tom Bickel.

KET is Kentucky’s largest classroom, serving more than one million people each week via television, online and mobile. Learn more about Kentucky’s preeminent public media organization on Twitter @KET and and at


Todd Piccirilli
Senior Director, Marketing and Communications