Each week we’ll take a step back into the history of Great Bend through the eyes of reporters past. We’ll reacquaint you with what went into creating the Great Bend of today, and do our best to update you on what “the rest of the story” turned out to be.
This week in 1973, on March 29 it was announced that the United States withdrew from Vietnam. According to Wikipedia, The last United States soldier leaves Vietnam. According to History.com, “The Vietnam War was the longest and most unpopular foreign non-war in U.S. history and cost 58,000 American lives. As many as two million Vietnamese soldiers and civilians were killed.”
A few days earlier, on March 25, the Senate Watergate Committee began its investigation which would ultimately lead to the impeachment of then President Richard Nixon.
The 45th Academy Awards occurred on March 27, with Marlon Brando winning best actor in “The Godfather”, and Liza Minnelli winning best actress for her role in “Cabaret”. Brando did not attend, sending Satcheen Littlefeather of the Apache tribe in his stead to respectfully decline the award in protest of the treatment of Native Americans by the film industry, television industry, and for recent events at Wounded Knee, http://www.oscars.org/awards/academyawards/legacy/ceremony/45th.html .
According to an AP story appearing in the Tribune the next day, “Miss Littlefeather, who said she represented the Native Americans Affirmative Image Committee, said backstage that Brando “would have been here in person but thought he could be more helpful at Wounded Knee.” She declined to answer any questions about whether Brando had actually left for the besieged Indian village.”
In February, 1973, members of the Sioux tribe were involved in a standoff with the FBI and other U.S. government officials that stemmed from a failed attempt to impeach a tribal president and a protest against the U.S. government for failure to fulfill treaties. The standoff lasted for months, with loss of life on both sides.
Throughout the week, the Great Bend Tribune featured front page stories about the negotiated releases of P.O.W.s as the troops prepared to leave Vietnam. This was part of the cease-fire agreement from earlier in the year. Other related stories concerned allegations the Central Intelligence Agency was behind the My Lai massacre of 1968.
There was no mention of local men returning from service. A check on www.virtualwall.org reveals only one Great Bend casualty of the Vietnam war listed, PFC Edward Lloyd Saenz. At the age of 20, Saenz, a Marine, began his tour on June 26, 1968. Less than four months later, on October 2, the rifleman became a casualty at Quang Tri Province in South Vietnam. His death was listed as non-hostile, and it is unknown if he volunteered or was drafted.
Columnist Don Oakley took a position in his syndicated column appearing in the Tribune against amnesty for Vietnam “war exiles”, those soldiers who left the country to avoid the draft, and deserters.
Another AP story, “POWs have big income waiting”, shed light on the amount of pay many returning soldiers had built up in accounts during their service, anywhere from $25,000 to $100,000 for some. According to
On Sunday, Great Bend readers learned of an exciting musical adventure some GBHS students had at the State Capital the prior week. In “GB trio sings for dignitaries”, a trio made up of Bonnie Laughlin, Mary Law and David Halbower entertained in Topeka at the March 20 Legislative Wives luncheon in front of 80 members. All three sang, and Halbower accompanied on guitar. Earlier, while practicing in the lobby of the hotel, they delivered an impromptu performance for members of the U.S. army Command and General Staff College of Fort Leavenworth, who were just finishing up their luncheon. The audience included “94 high-ranking officers from 49 countries in addition to the U.S. staff members in charge.” Later, while touring the State Capitol building, they ran into the group again having refreshments outside the rotunda, and once again sang, drawing a crowd. They also gave an impromptu performance in the Senate chambers and for friends in various parts of the Capitol Building, the story said.
For at least one of the trio, music continues to be an important part of her life. In a Jan.2, 2007 Tribune story, “International music maker to speak locally,” Bonnie Laughlin Deuschle, her husband and five children would be in Great Bend to talk about their African ministry.
“Dueschle, who is a 1973 Great Bend High School graduate and a Barton County Community College graduate as well, will speak and sing at two local churches Sunday,” the article said. “The Dueschles have been building their ministry in Africa since 1981. She has kept active in music throughout the years, writing more than 100 Gospel songs.”
Dave Halbower may have moved and settled in St. Louis, Mo. and no information could be found about Mary Law, other than she was a member of the class of 1973.
It was proving to be a wet Spring, with several days of rain in a row. Tuesday, March 27 featured a photo of a high-running Arkansas River nearing the edge of it’s banks. However, reports indicated danger of flooding was slight. The next day, a photo of water covering the Kenneth Scheufler farm near Ellinwood appeared on the front page, warning of dikes breaking and needing repair once the high water subsided. State Highway Commission crews were called in to remove debris from fallen trees at the Fort Zarah bridge. The logs came from dead trees along the Walnut Creek.
Monday, March 26, a photo of judges of the Tribune’s student advertising writing contest sorting preceded the announcement of the winner, Michelle Mohney, on Thursday. Miss Mohney received the grand prize award from then Tribune General Manager Robert Werner. The daughter of Mr. and Ms. Herb Feltes, she was a sophomore at Great Bend High School, and beat out 1,040 entries. The ads were for actual Great Bend merchants, 75 of which paid to have the ads run in the paper. There were awards for elementary school students and junior high and high school students as well. Debra McMahan, Ron Wright, and Jody Fruehouf were elementary school winners. Doug Welch , Kurt Gotsche, and Mary Turner took the junior high honors.
Edward Maresch, Robin Badwey, and Debbie Robison, won at the high school level. Terry Radenburg, a fourth grade student at Morrison, won a special award. We were unable to locate any of the winners today.