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Intellect

Latter-day Saint veterans of Korea, Vietnam urged to participate in "Saints at War" project

Brigham Young University professors Robert C. Freeman and Dennis A. Wright are collecting and preserving the written accounts of veterans of the Korean and Vietnam Wars who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for placement in a special archive housed in BYU's Harold B. Lee Library.

As directors of the "Saints at War" project, they have already collected more than 1,000 accounts of LDS veterans of WWII, and now invite LDS veterans of Korea and Vietnam to participate.

Wright and Freeman collect, organize and preserve written accounts, photographs, journals and other material donated by the LDS servicemen. The results of their work will be added to a special collection in the Lee Library.

The "Saints at War" project invites veterans and their families to contact the office for an information packet: 375 Joseph Smith Building, BYU, Provo, UT 84602. Interested parties can also call (801) 422-2820 or e-mail saintsatwar@byu.edu. There is also a Web site located at saintsatwar.org.

As many as 20,000 LDS members served during the Korean War. During the Vietnam War, 25,000 members responded to their country's call to serve. Typical of the unique experiences of the LDS veterans are those of Frank Willes in Korea and Stanley Shults in Vietnam.

Willes served during the Korean conflict. His account relates a medical miracle that began when doctors in a M.A.S.H. unit in Chunchon, Korea, diagnosed him as having encephalitis, a mosquito-borne brain fever that killed most men it infected.

After hearing this news, Willes asked for two LDS chaplains, who arrived a short time later. They laid their hands upon his head and blessed him to heal completely. In less than a month, he returned to his camp, fully recovered, with no brain damage or trace of sickness.

Shults shares his story of giving his jeep the name of a Book of Mormon character. As an officer in Vietnam, he received a jeep for his use. Dismayed over the graffiti that decorated it, he cleaned it up and gave the jeep its own distinctive LDS identity by painting "Mahonri Moriancumer" across the front.

He reports that the unusual name prompted many interesting discussions with other servicemen throughout his tour of duty.

"The success of the 'Saints at War' project is due to the participation of the LDS veterans," Wright explains. "Their accounts represent a wide range of experiences, some are humorous, others are heartrending. Some provide vivid accounts of the reality of war, and others detail the joys of Church service in the most difficult of circumstances. All are meaningful and important to the balance of the collection."

Said Freeman, "The Korean War is generally regarded as the forgotten war. Our great hope is to change that. It is not too late to preserve the legacy of service for the LDS Korean and Vietnam veterans."

Roan A. McClure, an LDS Vietnam War Veteran, shared his feelings about taking part in the "Saints at War" project.

"What I learned through my military experiences in Vietnam has helped me throughout my life. Because I have neither shared, nor recorded them until now, my children and grandchildren may be lacking something that might have helped them. Today, that changed. Please join me in gathering our experiences so that the lessons we learned will be available to those who come after us, and who may need our help."

Saintsjeepweb.jpg
Photo by Mark A. Philbrick/BYU Photo

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