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Vietnam Reflections: Mississippi Stories – Jackson
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Panelists From Left to Right: Yates, Grimes, Short, Toporek
Ellie Banks


On Thursday, November 9, Mississippi Public Broadcasting hosted a celebration for Vietnam War Veterans. The afternoon consisted of a screening of the MPB Orinigal Documentary Mississippians in Vietnam: A Shared Experience, a panel discussion, Entertainment by Gospel icon Melvin Williams and a reception courtesy of the MPB Foundation.

The event was emceed by Sweet Potato Queen, Jill Conner Browne. Governor Phil Bryant presented the opening comments to the audience and shared his personal story from the era.

The panel discussion featured members of a reunited squad that served with Pfc. Milton Lee Olive, III during the Vietnam War. Some of them live today because Olive gave his 18-year-old life for them. Olive is from Lexington, MS and was the first African American to receive the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War. MPB celebrated Olive’s bravery and all of Mississippi veterans’ service to America.


 (Weapons squad, 3rd platoon, Company B, 2nd Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade / 1965-1966) 

  • William Yates (Mobile, AL)

  • Robert Toporek (Audubon, PA)

  • Wayne Short (Carthage, NC)

  • Samuel Grimes (Enterprise, AL)

Mississippi’s own legendary Gospel icon, Hall of Famer, 7-time GRAMMY Award nominee, 17-time Stellar Award winner, and U.S. Music Ambassador for the U.S. Department of State Cultural Affairs, Melvin Williams provided entertainment for the evening.

Watch The Panel Discussion:

Locally Supported By:

Sponsored in part by Hilton Garden Inn.

This program is financially assisted by the National Endowment for the Humanities through the Mississippi Humanities Council.

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