The Vietnam War was the longest war in which the United States took part and claimed the lives of 58,000 Americans and over 3 million Vietnamese. As part of the Grade 11 Project Week, students and their teachers Hendrik Schuhmacher and Alexander Klemm had the chance to carry out research on the Vietnam War. The teachers provided the students with information, documents and several documentaries about the Vietnam War. The main objective of the project was to encourage the students to examine the complexities of the Vietnam War. The students prepared interesting presentations about the most important Vietnam movies, such as “Platoon” and “Deer Hunter”. Students watched documentaries about today's victims of “Agent Orange”, the My Lai Massacre, and finally discussed Francis Ford Coppola’s famous Vietnam feature “Apocalypse Now”. The documentary about the My Lai Massacre especially raised a lot of questions and encouraged the students to discuss this horrible event. In the documentation several soldiers explained what really happened in My Lai, trying to clarify the inexplicable.
The highlight of the project was again the visit of a Vietnam War Veteran, a real contemporary witness who visited the school for the fourth time. Captain William S. Whorton, member of the U.S. Marine Corps, served 21 months in infantry combat in Vietnam: 10 months U.S. Marine Corps infantry platoon commander; 11 months senior advisor to a Vietnamese army infantry battalion. After the war he got assigned to the Joint Casualty Resolution Center at the American Embassy in Bangkok, where his duties sent him traveling throughout Southeast Asia. There he interviewed and acquired information from refugees concerning Prisoners of War/Missing in Action personnel in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Later he was employed as Ethnic Affairs Officer working for the U.S. State Department at the American Embassy Refugee Office in Bangkok. There his duties were to interview, interrogate, and translate for Vietnamese refugees and Overseas Chinese. He also assisted in verifying whether or not these refugees had pre-1975 government ties with the Republic of Vietnam.
During his two tours in Vietnam, Mr. Whorton received several medals honoring his bravery during service and was one of the men who volunteered to be in the war as opposed to being drafted.
He shared much of his Vietnam experience with the students and actively encouraged students to stay away from war.
The students asked him very interesting questions during the event. Talking with Mr. Whorton gave students a more realistic understanding of the Vietnam War.