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K-State Today

November 8, 2016



War shots: Unique photographs from Vietnam War displayed today at Kansas State University

By Communications and Marketing

Historic photographs from the Vietnam War will be displayed today in the Hemisphere Room at Kansas State University's Hale Library to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the war.

A reception will be from 3-4 p.m. on the fifth floor of Hale Library. Refreshments and coffee will be served.

The event, Operation Legacy, will include a presentation about the 735 photographic slides that retired Lt. Col. Mike McDermott, Manhattan, is donating to The Vietnam Center and Archive at Texas Tech University, which is the nation's largest collection of Vietnam graphic war content.

At Tuesday's event, McDermott and historian Jed Dunham, who catalogued and annotated each photograph, will discuss the slides and the process involved in preparing them for transfer to The Vietnam Center and Archive at Texas Tech University. The event will conclude with a formal signature ceremony.

Retired Lt. Col. Art DeGroat, executive director of military and veterans affairs at Kansas State University, said this is a significant act of both leadership and scholarship.

"Getting photos from the primary warfighters is very rare. Also rare is the fact that Col. McDermott saved these images for 50 years, through many life transitions and geographic moves," DeGroat said. "In so many ways, this was an exceptional act of warriorship by one of America's premier warriors. He has preserved a legacy of service for all of his brothers and sisters who experienced the Vietnam War."

McDermott was an infantry solider and served four tours with American and Vietnamese paratroop units during the Vietnam War. He is a Purple Heart recipient and one of the most highly decorated soldiers of that war. During his four tours of duty, McDermott documented important sites, aircraft and local culture in hundreds of photographic slides.

Kansas State University's Office of Military and Veterans Affairs and the K-State Libraries' Morse Department of Special Collections collaborated to ensure that these important images will be preserved for future researchers. The U.S. Department of Defense selected Kansas State University to serve as a national commemorative partner for the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. To commemorate the war, the U.S. is holding a series of events from 2015-2017. Kansas State University is one of the few academic institutions invited to participate in anniversary events.

"I hope people take away three things from this: first, what McDermott's images can tell us about Vietnam War experience beyond what we understand from the media; second, to appreciate the sense of humanity that even the hardest core warriors like Col. McDermott maintain about their experiences on the battlefield; and last, to appreciate Col. McDermott's generosity in giving to others something profoundly valuable and personal to him, and doing so for the betterment of mankind and love for his people," DeGroat said.

Parking is available at Kansas State University's parking garage on Anderson Avenue. No reservations required.