War and the home front: New documentary analyzes Vietnam’s effect on East Tennessee

Betty BeanUncategorized

There’s battle lines being drawn

Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong

Young people speaking their minds

Getting so much resistance from behind


It’s time we stop

Hey, what’s that sound?

Everybody look – what’s going down

Buffalo Springfield



Something extraordinary is going down in Knoxville Friday, Aug. 4, at the East Tennessee History Center.

Veterans, protestors, historians and people who remember – or are simply interested in – the Vietnam War era will come together for a sneak preview of “A Sense of Revolution,” the first of a trilogy of documentary films that comprise the series, “The Vietnam War: East Tennessee.”

The series was made possible by a WETA Public Television grant, and is a collaboration among East Tennessee PBS, Nolpix Media and the University of Tennessee in conjunction with Ken Burns’ new Vietnam War series, which is set to air nationally on PBS in September.

Sparky Rucker

Carroll Bible

James Cook

There will be familiar faces, like Sparky Rucker and Carroll Bible, who, as students at the University of Tennessee, were leaders in the local anti-war movement. James Cook, an acclaimed guitarist who performs as Jimmy Logston, will also be featured. Cook had one of the most unenviable and difficult jobs in anybody’s army – he served on the Graves Registration Unit, which collected, cleaned up and placed the bodies of dead soldiers in body bags. His post-war struggles getting healthcare have been no less hellish. He will also be prominently featured in another segment, “A True American.”

It wasn’t always easy getting veterans to talk about their experiences, Nolpix Media vice president Debra Dylan said.

“Many veterans we asked to be part of the project turned us down; they either weren’t used to talking about their war experiences, or are so successful (in later life) that they don’t want to talk about what happened so long ago.”

Local actor Steve Dupree, a Vietnam-era Navy veteran, is the narrator.

Nolpix Media started out as Nolichucky Pictures, but ran into some business difficulties with the original name, Dylan said.

“Nobody at the bank could spell Nolichucky.”

Dylan is also editor of Knoxzine, an online magazine (now on temporary hiatus) that earned four Society of Professional Journalists of East Tennessee Golden Press Card awards in 2015 and four more in 2016. She served as associate producer for the national PBS debut of the first Nolpix production, “The Mysterious Lost State of Franklin,” which began airing nationwide on PBS in 2012.

Nolpix president Buck Kahler began his career as a combat photojournalist for the U.S. Air Force and is a retired master sergeant. He has edited series and specials for A&E, The History Channel, and the Discovery Channel and has filmed specials for the National Geographic Channel. He wrote, produced, filmed and edited “The Mysterious Lost State of Franklin,” produced “Fort Loudoun: Forsaken by God and Man” and co-wrote and edited “A Nuclear Family” for East Tennessee PBS.

The other films in the Vietnam trilogy are “Generations: Warriors in the Garden,” which will pair Vietnam veterans with modern war veterans and let them walk and talk, and “A True American” which will focus on the Vietnam experiences of African American GIs.

Two scholars, Dr. Jon Shefner, head of UT’s sociology department, and Dr. Thomas Schwartz, who teaches history and political science at Vanderbilt, made substantial contributions to the series, as did Helen Ross McNabb’s Military Services Programs.

Transcripts of Shefner’s and Schwartz’ remarks will be made available to the public and KnoxTNToday will post updates on the exact times of the Aug. 4 event and a planned showing at the Tennessee Theater.

Info: [email protected]

Photo credits: Tovah Greenwood took the picture of Buck Kahler and Debra Dylan. All other photos, except for James Cook in Vietnam, are courtesy of Nolpix Media.

Learn more about Nolpix Media at “Secrets of the Nolichucky River.”


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