Newspaper article leads Vietnam veteran to lost photo
WATSONTOWN — A photograph of two unnamed Vietnam soldiers found during renovations to a home along White Deer Pike that sparked a search for the families of the veterans pictured has been reunited with one of its subjects.
Jesse Schweitzer, a 74-year-old Army veteran who lives in Mifflinburg, was told by his daughter, Jamey Baker, that her husband’s cousin saw the picture of him in an article published by The Standard-Journal about the discovery of the photograph.
The photo, which had been found when removing baseboard heating in the home where Baker previously lived, was given to the Watsontown Historical Association, which put out a call for information on social media. The post prompted the newspaper to reach out to the photo’s finder, a Watsontown-area woman who asked not to be named, regarding the details of its discovery.
Schweitzer and his family subsequently contacted the historical association, which arranged a meeting to have the missing photograph returned to him.
“We were thrilled to do this, I just think it’s so cool,” said Kathi Wertman, acquisitions director for the historical association.
Wertman reached out to the National Vietnam War Museum in Weatherford, Texas, prior to the family making contact.
Baker said the photograph, taken on Dec. 3, 1967, was lost about three years ago when she was packing to move out of the house, after the envelope it was stored in apparently fell out of a moving box.
“I didn’t realize I’d lost it because I have so many boxes of memorabilia, so it was a really shocking surprise when we saw (the article). I called my dad and said ‘You’re famous!'” Baker said.
Schweitzer, who was drafted into the service in March 1967, served in Vietnam as a private and then specialist in the 4th Infantry Division, A Company, until March 1969. He couldn’t remember the name of the other soldier pictured with him, a lieutenant making a radio call that the reverse of the photograph notes as a communication soldier with a commander over attack orders. The photograph was taken only a few months after Schweitzer was deployed.
Schweitzer, who fought in the Battle of Dak To and the Tet Offensive, described his time overseas with only two words: “Like hell.”
“I’m glad I never went back. They wanted me to re-enlist but I knew as soon as you (got on) that you ship you (were) right back over,” he added.
Battlefield photographers like the one who took the photo — noted on the back as Jay Kasten — were a regular sight for Schweitzer during the early days of his service.
“We had photographers with us for quite a while,” he said.
The picture, Baker noted, appears in the music video for country music duo Big & Rich’s song “8th of November.”
“Throughout the video I was on there a couple times,” Schweitzer added.
“It’s really nice to be able to get this back,” said Baker, reiterating her surprise at the chain of events that led to the photograph being reunited with its owner. “It’s funny how this all came together.”
The photograph, Schweitzer said, is the only one of him from his time in the Army.