On-Air Highlights

2015 Memorial Day Specials

Written by Fred Vigeant, Director of Programming and Promotions for TV and Radio | May 16, 2015 8:52 AM

Here is a rundown of specials airing on WITF TV across Memorial Day weekend.

Friday May 22:

9:00pm - The Lincoln Awards: A Concert for Veterans & The Military Family - Enjoy a concert in celebration of the Lincoln Awards, which recognize outstanding achievement and excellence in providing opportunities and support to veterans and military families.  

10:00pm - A Salute to the Troops: In Performance at the White House - President and Mrs. Obama host a PBS music special from the White House, with an all-star tribute to the men and women who serve the United States. Performances by Mary J. Blige, Common, John Fogerty, Willie Nelson, Romeo Santos, and active duty military members U.S. Army Sgt. Christiana R. Ball, U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Matt Smith and Capt. John Ed Auer. There also will be a performance by Daughtry via satellite of their USO concert at Yokota Air Base in Japan, as well as a live-viewing audience of troops from the USO Warrior and Family Center at Fort Belvoir in Virginia.

Sunday May 23:

2:00pm - Unsung Heroes - Today more women serve in the armed forces than at any other time in our nation's history, in ways never before possible. Women pilot B-2 Stealth Bombers on combat missions, drive tanks in Iraq, direct Marines in Afghanistan, command carrier battle groups, fly jet fighters and helicopters, and continue the noble tradition of providing critical battlefield care as doctors and nurses. This courageous heritage can be traced back to the Revolution where women like Molly Pitcher and Sarah Shattuck donned men's clothes and took up arms against the British. And though none had the right to vote, hundreds of women participated in the Civil War as nurses, spies and soldiers. Of the 33,000 women who served their country during the Great War, some 300 lost their lives. More than 700,000 women defended America in WW II, Korea and Vietnam. Today, there are almost 2,000,000 living female veterans whose contributions spans three generations.

4:00pm - A Company of Heroes - Easy Company, the 2nd Battalion of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, widely known as the "Screaming Eagles," remains one of the most revered combat units in U.S. military history. The Army company's legendary exploits in World War II inspired Stephen Ambrose's book, Band of Brothers,and the Emmy®-winning HBO miniseries of the same name. Following two years of hard training, the soldiers of Easy Company parachuted into Normandy on D-Day and, later, into Holland for Operation Market Garden. They fought their way through Belgium, France and Germany, survived overwhelming odds, liberated concentration camps, and drank a victory toast in April 1945 at Hitler's hideout in the Alps. In 2009, 20 of the few remaining survivors from Easy Company shared their rarely told stories of sacrifice and courage for Marcus Brotherton's oral-history book project, We Who Are Alive and Remain: Untold Stories From the Band of Brothers.

5:00pm - Homecoming -  Talk with veterans from different wars, as well as military experts and a psychologist to look at the impact of a homecoming on a soldier - even decades after he or she returns from war. The program also highlights a second homecoming some 60 years in the making for Nebraska Korean War veterans.

8:00pm - National Memorial Day Concert  - Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise co-host the 26th broadcast of this night of remembrance honoring the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform, their families at home and all those who have given their lives for our country. The concert airs live from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol before an audience of hundreds of thousands, millions at home, and to our troops around the world via American Forces Network. More information about this special.  This special replays at 9:30pm.

May 25:

Noon - Dick Winters Hang Tough -  Honors one of World War II's most respected combat leaders -- Major Richard D. Winters (1918-2011). Emmy®-winning British actor Damian Lewis (Homeland),narrates the documentary and shares his thoughts on Winters, who he portrayed in the acclaimed HBO mini-series Band of Brothers. "HANG TOUGH" traces Winters' formative years growing up in Pennsylvania, his development as a leader in the U.S. Army, the famed attack on Brecourt Manor on D-Day, and the dedication on June 6, 2012 of the Richard D. Winters Leadership Monument in Normandy, France. In addition to Winters' own recollections, original members of Winters' unit, Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne, speak of his commitment to his men, his heroism and his legacy.
1:00pm - Above and Beyond -  highlights one of the most compelling escape and survival stories from World War II -- that of former Rhode Island Governor Bruce Sundlun (1920-2011).  Sundlun, a U.S. Army Air Corps pilot, flew a B-17 bomber nicknamed the "Damn Yankee" on a dozen combat missions during World War II. On December 1, 1943, Sundlun's "unlucky" 13th mission would take him (a Jewish-American) and his crew into Hitler's backyard -- the heart of Germany's industrial Ruhr Valley. ABOVE AND BEYOND unfolds as Sundlun's daughter Kara retraces his wartime journey. In Jabbeke, Kara meets author and local historian Luc Packo, as well as witnesses to her father's plane crash, who still celebrate Sundlun's contribution to their country's liberation.
9:00pm - The Homefront - View intimate portraits of America's military families, with unprecedented access to soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen and women in the all-volunteer military. The revealing documentary tells stories of pride and patriotism, sacrifice and resilience.

Also two specials on WITF 89.5 & 93.3


Hearing Voices - For the Fallen

Green Beret and poet, Major Robert Schaefer, US Army, hosts the voices of veterans remembering their comrades.

We talk with troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, reading their emails, poems, and journals, as part of the NEA project: "Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience."

We hear interviews from StoryCorps, an essay from This I Believe, and the sounds of a Military Honor Guard, recorded by Charles Lane.

And we attend the daily "Last Post" ceremony by Belgian veterans honoring the WWI British soldiers who died defending a small town in western Belgium (produced by Marjorie Van Halteren).

Listen for For the Fallen part of the Hearing Voices series Sunday May 24 at 7:00pm on WITF 89.5 & 93.3.

We've Never Been the Same: A War Story

All wars are the same, it is said; only the scenery changes. And the repercussions are pretty much the same too

Over the course of five years, Adam Piore gathered the stories of the surviving members of Delta Company, a Vietnam-era paratrooper unit; Jay Allison joined him for the last two years when it turned from a book into a radio story.

At Fort Campbell before deployment, Delta was a ragtag bunch, the "leftovers" as one of their fellow soldiers put it, but on the night of March 18th, 1968, they became heroes. Their leader won the Congressional Medal of Honor and two others won the nation's second highest honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, for their valor that night when the company endured a long and devastating battle--not as long or as devastating, however, as the years that followed, after the men of Delta Company came home separately to live alone with the memories.

Adam Piore became dedicated to this group of guys and to their common story of trauma, guilt, courage, heartbreak, and reunion. Hear this special on WITF 89.5 & 93.3 Monday May 25 at 9:00am and 7:00pm. 

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