(Washington, D.C.) – Former Marine W.D. Ehrhart, an award-winning poet and memoirist whose work has been strongly influenced by his 13-month tour of duty in the Vietnam War, will receive the Vietnam Veterans of America Excellence in the Arts Award at VVA’s biennial National Leadership Conference on Saturday, July 19, in Greenville, South Carolina. The honor will be presented at the conference’s final event, the Awards Banquet, at the Hyatt Regency Greenville, the site of the Leadership Conference.
“Bill Ehrhart is certainly deserving of this award,” said VVA President John Rowan. “I first came across Ehrhart when I read his war poetry in 1972 in the anthology Winning Hearts and Minds. Since then, he’s edited two exceptional volumes of Vietnam veteran poetry, has produced three first-rate memoirs, and continues to write, much of which is derived from his experiences fighting in Vietnam.”
Chris Noel, a young actress who put her career on hold to host a popular radio show in Vietnam on the Armed Forces Network, and Bobbie Keith, who as “Bobbie the Weather Girl” gave light-hearted weather forecasts on Armed Forces TV in Vietnam, will receive the President’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts.
J. Craig Venter, the visionary biologist who pioneered the work that decoded the human genome, will receive the VVA Excellence in the Sciences Award.
The Leadership Conference brings together hundreds of Vietnam veteran advocates from around the nation who will take part in four days of seminars, meetings, and other activities. Opening Ceremonies will be held Wednesday, July 16. VVA’s supporting organization, the Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America, will hold its biennial convention, and the Veterans of Modern Warfare (VMW) will have its founding National Convention concurrently with the Leadership Conference.