A Veterans Day Salute to a Vietnam War Army Correspondent

November 8, 2021
Hosted by Ron Roel

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Guest Information

Episode Description

As we prepare to celebrate Veterans Day this month, today’s episode features veteran Jim Smith, who served as an Army correspondent for Stars and Stripes, the Defense Department’s daily newspaper, during the Vietnam War, reporting from every major city in Vietnam, from the Delta to the Demilitarized Zone. Whether it was observing training of South Vietnamese troops by U.S. advisers, watching massive U.S. firepower take out enemy targets or reporting on efforts to repel the North Vietnamese Easter Offensive, Jim was there to witness the events.He laughed at Bob Hope’s jokes, took cover during rocket attack, pulled guard duty at night in the jungle, got in trouble with the brass, and got caught up in the adrenaline rush of war. In today’s conversation, Jim will draw on a number of these vignettes, which appear in his gritty 2015 memoir, “Heroes to the End.” He witnessed many acts of bravery and commitment, as well as the frustrations and incongruities of the Vietnam War—dozens that were published in Stars and Stripes, and dozens that previously never made it into print. A dedicated journalist to the end, Jim will also discuss his long civilian career as a sportswriter and editor for Long Island’s daily newspaper Newsday, covering the New York Giants, the New York Rangers and New York Islanders. And coming full circle, Jim will reflect on his changing views on the Vietnam War—and subsequent wars—over the years, as well as his advocacy on behalf of social and racial justice causes, and his tireless support of the United Veterans Beacon House, which provides housing for hundreds of homeless veterans and their families at 47 locations on Long Island.

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Ron Roel

Ron Roel

I’m a veteran journalist who spent a wide-ranging career covering business, politics and social issues, the last two decades focusing on the blend of diverse life skills I call successful aging.

I have written extensively on aging topics, spoken at conferences, radio and TV shows, and launched several entrepreneurial ventures, discovering along the way that the path to aging well also requires an unexpected entrepreneurial vision. I spent 20 years as a writer and editor at Long Island’s daily newspaper, Newsday, helping to found Act 2, a weekly section for 50-plus readers. I created Roelresources.com, a website offering practical advice and inspirational essays for people ages 40 and above. I have been a volunteer and consultant to AARP Long Island, writing articles, advocating for seniors, and developing action plans for the AARP Age-Friendly Communities initiative.

I am active in programs and organizations that support seniors, such as the National Aging In Place Council and the Senior Umbrella Network. I have developed a special expertise in family caregiving, as one of four brothers who took care of their mother for almost 25 years. I regularly collaborate with many professionals who provide services and support for older Americans, and I am completing a book for caregivers on Long Island, “The Caregiving Navigator/How to Plan, What to do, and Where to Turn When Caring for you Aging Loved Ones. And Yourself,” scheduled for publication in early 2021.

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