Tag Archives: vietnam war

Four Dead in Ohio

Much of America’s history was made during times of war, which is sad, but not surprising, since our nation has been involved in so many conflicts.

Today marks the anniversary of one of the darkest days of the Vietnam War – which is saying a mouthful – when in 1970 the Ohio National Guard gunned down four unarmed students on the campus of Kent State.

The tragedy was sparked by President Richard Nixon’s speech a few nights earlier when he announced his expansion of the war into neighboring Cambodia.

Student protests erupted on campuses around the country, including at Kent State in northeastern Ohio. After an ROTC building on campus was torched, the mayor of the city of Kent asked Ohio Governor James Rhodes to send in the Ohio National Guard to protect the school.

Another protest took place on the afternoon of Monday, May 4, where for reasons that remain unclear, 29 of the 77 National Guard members fired 67 rounds of ammunition at the unarmed students, killing four and wounding nine others.

The dead were Jeffrey Miller, 20; Allison Krause, 19; William Schroeder, 19; and Sandra Scheuer, 20. None of the four were a threat to the Guardsmen, as they were on average 345 feet away from the shooters. Scheur and Schroeder were not even participating in the protest, but were walking between classes.

The country was sharply divided by the shootings between the "My-country-right-or-wrong" Americans, and young people who feared that Nixon’s incursion in Cambodia had just punched their ticket to Vietnam.

Governor Rhodes, representing the view of the old guard, blamed the violence on “communist militant revolutionaries.” Nixon, in typical ham-handed fashion, reached out to a group of student dissidents a few mornings later at the Lincoln Memorial, but alienated them even further when he called them “pawns of foreign communists.”

The killings sparked even larger protests around the country, prompting 4 million students to go “on strike.” A huge antiwar protest took place later in Washington, prompting Nixon to flee to Camp David for his own safety.

Some well-known people who were attending Kent State at the time include Alabama Crimson Tide football coach Nick Saban, Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, and Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerald Casale of Devo. Casale was at the protest and was standing just a few feet away from his friend Allison Krause when she was killed.

The massacre is remembered every time Ohio by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young comes on the airwaves, with it’s oft-repeated refrain of “Four dead in Ohio.” The band performed the song at the campus of Kent State on May 4, 1997, the twenty-seventh anniversary of the tragedy.

The Son of Captain Blood

War kills indiscriminately, sometimes even claiming the life of a person with a famous pedigree.

That happened on this date in 1970 when photojournalist Sean Flynn, the son of actors Errol Flynn and Lily Damita, went missing in Cambodia during the Vietnam War.

Flynn was born in L.A. in 1941, a year before his parents divorced, and inherited his father’s dashing good looks and addiction to adventure. For a time he followed his parents into acting, first appearing at age 15 on his father’s television show.

Errol Flynn died in 1959 at the age of 50, and two years later Sean starred in The Son of Captain Blood, the sequel to the film that first rocketed his father to stardom in 1935.

Flynn made a few more films over the next four years, mostly in Europe, before tiring of the “hurry-up-and-wait” aspect of the movie business. For a short time afterwards, he pursued a singing career, before heading to Africa to work as a safari guide.

He returned to Europe in the mid-60s to appear in a couple of Spaghetti Westerns before picking up his camera and flying to South Vietnam in 1966 to be a freelance photojournalist.

Flynn quickly earned the reputation of taking any assignment, however dangerous, to capture the most compelling photographs, even parachuting into hot zones with the 101st Airborne Division.

A few months after his arrival in Vietnam, he was wounded in the knee. During his “recuperation” he covered a war in the Middle East and starred in a film in Singapore.

He eventually returned to Vietnam, where he created the independent Dispatch News Service with John Steinbeck IV, the son of the Nobel Prize-winning author. Together, they helped break the story of the My Lai Massacre.

On April 6, 1970, the 28-year-old Flynn was inside Cambodia on assignment from Time magazine, when he and CBS journalist Dana Stone were captured by Khmer Rouge guerrillas.

Despite a fortune spent by Flynn’s mother chasing down leads to her son’s whereabouts, he was never seen again. It’s believed he was held in captivity until being executed in 1971. He was declared legally dead in 1984.

Flynn has since been the subject of a smattering of books, films, and songs, including Sean Flynn by the Clash on their Combat Rock album.

Last year, it was thought for a time that Flynn’s remains had been discovered in a Cambodian mass grave, but later DNA tests proved otherwise.