Sunday, October 22, 2023

AFVN Manny Harper 1972


Manny was born 5 February 1931, and he joined the Army out of high school just in time for Korea. "I was one of the old timers," he said, "who served in Korea as a member of a special warfare team from 1950 to 1952. I was one of the airborne troopers who was wounded twice, but made it through it all and came out in one piece." Manny may have been technically correct, but it must have taken a major effort to ignore the steel plate he carried in his head for the rest of his life.
He went on to serve two tours in Vietnam. The first was with JUSPAO, as, he explained, "chief of an information liaison team, then headquartered in the American Embassy, Saigon. My team traveled throughout the country by air, land, river, and any other means available. There were many close calls."
His second tour in Vietnam was a bit quieter, but with a new set of responsibilities appropriate for a senior noncom. By this time the war was winding down and Manny was a Master Sergeant. He spent 1972-73 as News Director and NCOIC of AFVN. Because the American music scene had drastically changed over the last several years, one of his functions was to carefully monitor the playlist. Manny took this job seriously and worked to make sure AFVN's programming reflected American values. "When the music came in," said Manny, "we'd look at it, and if the message was 'war stinks,' well we already knew that. So we weren't going to play it on the radio. You had to keep it positive," he continued. "People were dying over there."
After Vietnam, and a promotion to the highest rank an NCO may achieve, Manny assumed the prestigious post of Sergeant Major of the Defense Information School, where he bore major responsibility for the training of public affairs officers and enlisted personnel of all branches of service.
The Sergeant Major retired to Indianapolis after 27 years of service in the U.S. Army. He died 16 May 2007 at the age of 76, survived by his wife of 50 years, Evelyn, 2 sons, four grandsons, a great-grandson, a brother and two sisters.


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