Even Though He Wasn’t A “Tough Guy,” This Purple Heart Vet Made His Mark In Vietnam
As a child, Richard Hoy dreamed of becoming a hero, like the ones he saw in Hollywood movies. Growing up sheltered from the outside world, he wanted a life of adventure. So when he was 18 years old, he enlisted in the U.S. Army.
By 19, he was serving as a medic in Vietnam, and what he encountered in the field challenged his notion of being a “hero.”
Richard Hoy (left) at his new assignment after recovering from a gunshot wound to his abdomen, and a concussion by a grenade. He is applying a fresh dressing on a patient shot with an AK-47. Circa 1971, Fort Ord Hospital, CA. Courtesy of Richard Hoy.
One day, his unit surrounded a village in Vietnam, and Richard remembers seeing a North Vietnamese soldier staring at him 50 feet away. Presented with the opportunity to shoot, he didn’t. He questioned if he was cut out for war.
Five decades later, he came to StoryCorps with his daughter, Angel Hoy, to share how being a medic on the front lines of war shaped him.
Originally aired March 5 on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.
Top Photo: Richard and Angel Hoy in Seattle, WA on Feb. 22, 2022. Courtesy of Richard Hoy.
This interview was recorded in partnership with KUOW as part of StoryCorps’ Military Voices Initiative.
From Beets to Brilliance: A Grandmother’s Wisdom Lives On
Chloe Longfellow’s father died when she was just 3 years old. In order to support the family, Chloe’s mother, Dorsey Romano, was forced to take on a variety of jobs, some of which required her to work nights.
While her mother was called away, Chloe spent a great deal of time at her grandparents’ home and became especially close to her grandmother, Doris Louise Rolison.
Despite living in the Arizona desert, Doris maintained a lush garden of herbs and vegetables. Chloe would help harvest the food to make dishes from recipes found in one of her grandmother’s treasured cookbooks.
At StoryCorps, Chloe remembers the happy memories and life lessons taught to her by her grandmother, many of which took place in the kitchen.
Top photo: Chloe Longfellow at her StoryCorps interview in Seattle, WA.
Bottom photo: The cookbook, featuring the beet-juice handprints. Photo courtesy of Chloe Longfellow.
This story originally aired December 11, 2015 on NPR’s Morning Edition. It was rebroadcast April 03, 2020 on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Jay Hollingsworth and Rick Williams
On August 30, 2010, Native American woodcarver John T. Williams was crossing the street while carving a piece of wood when he was shot and killed by a Seattle Police Department officer. John, 50, a member of the Nitinaht First Nation was deaf in one ear and didn’t immediately respond to Officer Ian Birk’s calls to put his knife down. Less than five seconds after giving his first command, Officer Birk had shot John four times.
John descends from generations of well-known and respected carvers whose work is part of museum collections and has been sold for more than a century at Seattle’s famous Ye Olde Curiosity Shop. He carved his first totem when he was just 4 years old and knew more than 250 figures by heart.
Even with a long history of alcohol abuse and homelessness, carving in Seattle’s Victor Steinbrueck Park was a near constant activity towards the end of John’s life. He spent the morning of the shooting in the park with his brother, Rick Williams, carving together. Rick was waiting for John to rejoin him when he heard about what had happened.
In February 2011, the Seattle Police Department’s Firearms Review Board found unequivocally that the use of deadly force by Officer Birk was unjustified and recommended that Officer Birk be “stripped of all Seattle Police powers and authority.” Shortly thereafter, Officer Birk resigned. In April of 2011, the city settled all legal claims with the Williams family for $1.5 million.
Rick, who visits his brother’s grave weekly, is teaching his own sons to carve so that they will carry on the family tradition. He also continues to carve in Victor Steinbrueck Park where he last spent time with his brother.
At StoryCorps, Rick (right) and his friend, Jay Westwind Wolf Hollingsworth (left), remember John and the day that he was killed.
Originally aired October 7, 2016, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Top photo of John taken on August 30, 2010, the day he was killed, courtesy of Jay Hollingsworth, John T. Williams Organizing Committee.
Nick Hodges and Charlotte Wheelock
In 2014, Nick Hodges and his wife, Charlotte Wheelock, were living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with their 4- and 6-year-old sons when Nick developed a condition—spinal stenosis—that caused him to be temporarily paralyzed from the waist down.
Already struggling to make ends meet, Charlotte took a leave of absence from her job to care for their children while Nick was hospitalized, and without any steady income, their family lost their home.
Charlotte heard about a job opportunity in another state, so their family packed up and relocated to Seattle, Washington, hoping for a new start. But before they could establish themselves in their new city, Nick ended up back in the hospital leaving their family once again unable to pay rent.
Homeless for 14 months, Charlotte eventually found steady work—she is now employed at one of the shelters the family once lived in—and in time they also managed to find affordable housing for their family.
At StoryCorps, Charlotte and Nick remember what it was like to be a family without a home.
Originally aired January 1, 2016, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Erika Kalberer and Kris Kalberer
In 2003, Kris Kalberer left her job as a retail manager to raise her kids and care for her elderly mother. The family did well on her husband’s income from Countrywide, but he lost his job during the mortgage crisis.
The family’s finances spiraled out of control and they lost their home in 2011. Since then, they’ve stayed with friends or in motels. Currently they live in their car.
At StoryCorps, Kris sat down with her teenage daughter, Erika Kalberer, to talk about their situation.
Originally aired August 22, 2014, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Patrick Haggerty and Robin Bolland
Patrick Haggerty grew up the son of a dairy farmer in rural Washington during the 1950s.
As a teenager, Patrick (above) began to understand he was gay—something he thought he was hiding well.
But, as he told his daughter Robin (right), someone was onto him. One day, when he went to perform at a school assembly, his father, Charles Edward Haggerty, decided to have a serious talk with him.
Patrick later formed a band, Lavender Country, whose self-titled 1973 album is the first-known gay-themed album in country music history.
Click here to watch 2016 Sundance Film Festival selection “The Saint of Dry Creek”—Patrick’s story told as a StoryCorps animated short.
Originally aired June 27, 2014, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Bottom photo: Patrick Haggery in a 4-H drag show in 1959 courtesy of Paradise of Bachelors.
Majid Al-Bahadli and his wife Diana Klatte
Majid Al-Bahadli and his wife, Diana Klatte, remember how they met.