Vietnam War Exhibit at the Heinz History Center

Alison Sinicki '22, Staff Writer

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The Vietnam War is considered the forgotten war. Of the 58,220 men killed in Vietnam, over 3,000 were from Pennsylvania, according to the National Archives. The Senator John Heinz History Center decided to honor these men with their exhibit: Vietnam War 1945-1975. The exhibit takes visitors through the events leading up to and during the Vietnam War and includes objects from the time including soldiers’ bunks, uniforms from various officers, and a life-sized medical helicopter used during the war. While walking through the collection, one can see the stories of those who served in Pittsburgh. One of these many people was “Donut Dolly,” Rose Ganter. Ganter and her colleagues earned this nickname by serving coffee and donuts to soldiers in Vietnam. They also provided recreational games and activities to keep the soldiers occupied. The women boosted morale and helped the soldiers to relax. Rose served two tours with the SRAO (Supplement Recreation Activities Overseas) program in Vietnam and later became a counseling psychologist, which was aided by her knowledge of PTSD.  Another story is that of Gary Radford of Pittsburgh and Lewis Howard of Georgia. The two men became close friends while serving in the same platoon. During a battle near Firebase Ripcord, the point man Howard went MIA. The display included a letter that Radford wrote to Howard’s family after he went MIA. Both sides of the controversy were displayed. The collection included many pins and banners belonging to anti-war protestors, as well as information on the men and women who volunteered to be a part of the war. The exhibit included a copy of Life magazine which included a feature with the faces of those dead during the week, styled like a high school yearbook that lasted twelve pages. Personalized cigarette lighters used by soldiers, lined the wall. As visitors leave the exhibit, they can stop and read the names of fellow Pittsburghers, who gave their lives for our country. Despite sounding depressing, the exhibit was very informational and interesting to any history-lover. The forgotten war is no longer forgotten.

Even if you missed Vietnam War 1945-1975, check out the Heinz History Center and Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum, which is full of fun and interactive experiences involving Pittsburgh, including a display on our very own Amanda Polk!

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