Honoring Black Hawk County

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posted on Monday, September 23, 2019

Oct. 10 Event to support Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum and Cedar Valley Honor Flight

Jim Hamlyn took a 35mm film camera with him from Waterloo to Vietnam in 1966-67, along with a lucky silver dollar from his family.
He came back with both, plus a Bronze Star for valor in combat – and his life.

He didn’t expect to.


Five of his Waterloo West High School classmates didn’t – as well as many others he served with.
Hamlyn digitized his old home movies from Vietnam in preparation for a high school class reunion in 2015. Various veterans groups became aware of them. The head of an American Legion post in Carbondale, Ill., told Mark St. George, a producer at public television station WSIU in Carbondale, about them. He connected with Hamlyn who agreed to be interviewed about his service.

The end result was a WSIU-produced documentary, “A Bad Deal-My Vietnam War Story,” which has been picked up by about 100 public television stations around the country and has been aired on The World Channel.

Vietnam War Story

Hamlyn had a well-attended premiere screening of the documentary before Memorial Day this year at West High School’s Kersenbrock Auditorium.

Now, with WSIU’s and Hamlyn’s cooperation, the Grout Museum District will hold a special screening of the documentary in the theater of the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum Oct. 10, as a joint fundraiser between the museum and Cedar Valley Honor Flight.

The event is entitled “Honoring Black Hawk County’s Fallen: Remembering Vietnam Heroes.” Hamlyn, a John Deere retiree and former president of United Auto Workers Local 838 in Waterloo, will be on hand to meet attendees and answer questions.

Doors will open at 4:30 p.m. and continuous screenings of the half-hour documentary will be shown from 5 to 8 p.m. in the museum theatre. Chili, courtesy of Vietnam veteran Tom Brickman of Janesville, and beverage and snacks will be served.

No admission will be charged but free-will offerings will be accepted in support of the museum and Cedar Valley Honor Flight, which will equally share the proceeds.

Commemorative booklets with photos and brief biographies of all of Black Hawk County’s residents who were killed in Vietnam will be available for purchase. Honor Flight staff will be on hand to register veterans for future Honor Flights.

Cedar Valley Honor Flight, part of the national Honor Flight network, offers veterans a free one-day flight from the Waterloo Regional Airport to see Washington, D.C. military memorials, including the national World War II, Korea and Vietnam memorials as well as the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.

The flights began in 2011, after a large number of Waterloo-Cedar Falls veterans participated in the inaugural sister Honor Flight program from the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids.
 Initially the Waterloo flights were limited to World War II veterans but eligibility was later expanded through the Vietnam era.
Veterans from Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Grundy and the northern half of Tama counties are eligible.

Cedar Valley Honor Flight

Applications can be picked up at any of the Waterloo, Cedar Falls and Waverly Hy-Vee stores or by going to the organization's website, www.cedarvalleyhonorflights.org, or the Cedar Valley Honor Flight's Facebook page.


It costs roughly $100,000 to put on one Honor Flight; the local organization has managed to state three flights a year, but scaled back to two in 2019. Donations are always being accepted to continue the flights. That’s the purpose of the Oct. 10 event, in addition to supporting ongoing operations of the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans museum which opened in November 2008.


The museum is named for George, Francis, Joseph, Madison and Albert Sullivan, who served and died together on the cruiser USS Juneau during World War II when it was sunk during the naval Battle of Guadalcanal. But the museum is dedicated to honoring all Iowa veteran serving in all U.S. conflicts up through the present.


The museum has a historic archive of several thousand video recorded oral histories of Iowa veterans. It also has exhibits from various conflicts in which Iowans served, from the Civil War to the present . Veterans, including any veterans attending the Oct. 10 event, are invited to sign up with the museum to schedule a time tell their story and have it recorded for posterity. They will receive a complimentary DVD they can share with their family.

 Earlier this year, the museum opened an interactive video screen on World War II and Korea as well as an exhibit on Iowa’s namesake battleship, the USS Iowa, including shells and powder bags from the battleship’s 16-inch guns. Staff of Battleship Iowa Museum at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, Calif., provided invaluable assistance with the exhibit.

We invite all veterans, particularly Vietnam veterans,  their families, and the general public to come to the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum Oct. 10 to view “A Bad Deal: My Vietnam Story,” visit the museum and support it and Cedar Valley Honor Flight.

Written by Pat Kinney, Director of Insitutional Advancement, Grout Musuem District

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