MS - 044: Stephen H. Warner Collection
MS-044. Stephen H. Warner Collection
(30 boxes, 8.1 cubic feet)
Inclusive Dates: 1955-1971
Bulk Dates: 1970-1971
Processed by Joseph R. Tucker, '03
(Taken from the Stephen Warner Online Exhibit, available at http://www.gettysburg.edu/special_collections/exhibits/warner/intro.dot)
Stephen Warner attended Gettysburg College from 1964-1968, a relatively quiet period in the college's history. According to a sampling of the Gettysburgian from the 1964-1965 academic year, the student newspaper did occasionally mention United States involvement in southeast Asia. However, there were no indications of widespread student concern about this matter at that time.
As a major in History, Steve Warner came to focus his interests on civil rights and social justice. His academic advisor, Roger Stemen, emeritus professor of History, described Warner as having been "radically intellectual, a non-collegiate type interested in the arts, history, and economics."
Stephen Warner was perceived by those who knew him to be open-minded and considerate of others, but intense about those social and ethical matters that concerned him most. He was on the staff of the Gettysburgian and eventually became a Feature Editor. He was instrumental in establishing new campus organizations, including a human relations forum and the Ad Hoc Committee Against the Vietnam War. During his senior year he was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society. He also was accepted to the Yale University Law School.
Steve was drafted in June 1969, upon the completion of his first year at Yale. After finishing his army training at Fort Dix, New Jersey, he was ordered to a one-year tour of duty in Vietnam. Assigned to the public relations staff of Army Headquarters-Vietnam, his duties entailed writing feature stories about individual soldiers for distribution to the soldier's hometown newspaper. In addition, Steve wrote articles for military newspapers, including Stars and Stripes. Always aware of what was expected of him--to put the best spin possible on stories about the Army for dissemination to the U.S. public--he nevertheless made every effort to report things as he saw them. In doing his job, there was no requirement that he accompany troops into combat.
After settling into his new job as a journalist, Steve's letters to his parents began to evidence a growing frustration over the Army's management of the news. The command to "paint out beads" at the bottom of one of the photographs on exhibit is representative of such management by the headquarters' reviewers (i.e., censors). The wearing of such bodily adornments, popularly known as Love Beads ("Make love, not war!") were not only in violation of military dress regulations, they were emotionally charged symbols of the antiwar protests being led by college students back home.
Some time shortly after his arrival in Vietnam, Steve discovered the work of Ernie Pyle, the great WWII foreign correspondent. "What sold me on Ernie Pyle," he writes to his parents, "was a book by him . . . it said 'He hates war but loves the men who have to fight them.' That about sums me up too!"
Among the most touching aspects of the last year of Steve's life was the deep concern he showed for his parents. His letters to them constantly offered reassurances of his safety and well-being. "Don't worry about me," he advised them in his last letter, "I'm having a ball and believe it or not the stuff I'm involved in isn't really that dangerous."
Stephen Warner was killed in an ambush near the Laotian border on February 14, 1971.
This collection is divided into twenty-eight series.
Series I: Letters March 1970-February 1971; Series II: Letters March 1970 - February 1971; Series III: Notebooks January 1970 - January 1971; Series IV: Notebooks January 1970 - January 1971; Series V: Notes & Drafts March 1970 - January 1971; Series VI: Press Releases April - December 1970; Series VII: Press Releases April - September 1970; Series VIII: Service Club Material March - April 1970; Series IX: Press/News Release Drafts March - August 1970;
Series X: Miscellaneous January - November 1970; Series XI: Military Publications, Department of Defense June 1955 - April 1971; Series XII: Government Publications, Department of State June 1967 - January 1971; Series XIII: Miscellaneous June 1967 - December 1970; Series XIV: US Military Magazines November 1967 - December 1970; Series XV: US Military Newspapers January 1968 - November 1970; Series XVI: Civilian Publications: October 1965 - March 1971; Series XVII: Artifacts: May-June 1970; Series XVII: Artifacts May-June 1970; and Series XVIII: Photographic Materials.
Scope and Content Notes
In addition to hundreds of photographs and negatives, the collection contains letters, manuscript notebooks and notepads, drafts of articles, and copies of feature stories printed in army publications written by Warner during his time in Southeast Asia. Other supporting materials in the collection include army publications on a variety of topics, including travel guides and cultural studies. For more information on Stephen and a view of some of his photographs, see our online exhibit Stephen H. Warner, 1946-1971: Words and Pictures from the Vietnam War.