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Ossining Students Honor Vietnam Vets Through Artwork

Ossining seniors Austin Velger and Darren Smart explain artwork they created for Bill Winder who served in Vietnam.
Ossining seniors Austin Velger and Darren Smart explain artwork they created for Bill Winder who served in Vietnam. Photo Credit: Contributed

OSSINING, N.Y. -- Students at Ossining High School were able to transform the stories of Vietnam veterans into works of art.

Twelve Vietnam veterans from the Danbury Vet Center met with Ossining High School art students. Following the meeting, the students had two weeks to create photography, paintings, drawing and videos based on the conversation.

Juniors Katherine Pulla and Rashell Villa met with Bill Dwyer who served 15 months in Vietnam. At the airport when he arrived home, people followed him and told him he was a horrible person. Dwyer said he is not proud of his military service.

“He came back from serving to be treated horribly,” Villa said. “Imagine going through so much difficulty there and to be recognized as something terrible when you have so much pride in what you did.”

Students and teachers made welcome home cards for Dwyer so he can open up one every day for two years. Roosevelt School students made an oversized card for everyone sign.

Seniors Austin Velger and Darren Smart created their artwork for former Marine Bill Winder, who served in Vietnam from 1968-72.

“It was a very eye-opening experience hearing your stories,” Velger said. “People have traumatic experiences from these things, and sometimes they don’t ever recover.”

The students depicted Winder’s service as a “tunnel rat” in the war. Tunnel rats were sent into tunnels to find enemy soldiers and set up explosives to destroy them.

“I just want to say thank you very much because I don’t think any of you have any idea what it means to me when somebody says ‘Welcome home,’” Winder said. “There’s no way to describe what we met when we did come home, and to hear it now, even though it’s 50 years later, it still means a lot. It touches us every time.”

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