Missouri Woman Brings Vietnam-Era Mystery to History Detectives on Nine PBS

The PBS TV Series Enlists the Help of Leon Panetta to Return a Diary Recovered 46 Years Ago by a U.S. Marine


St. Louis, MOAugust 31, 2012A 46-year-old mystery uncovered by Marge Garner, a woman from Republic, Missouri, ended half a world away on a groundbreaking diplomatic mission involving U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. The story is told in the October 2 episode of History Detectives on Nine PBS, airing Monday, October 2 at 7:00 p.m. (rebroadcast Thursday, October 4 at 1:00 a.m. and Sunday, October 7 at 4:00 p.m.).

Garner came to History Detectives with a diary found by her friend and Vietnam War veteran, Bob Frazure. In 1966, after the battle “Operation Indiana,” Bob came upon the body of a North Vietnamese soldier. A small, red diary lay on the soldier’s chest. Inside, Bob found a photograph of two young women. With mixed emotions, he’s held on to the diary for 46 years. Wes Cowan of History Detectives took on the task of returning the diary to the soldier’s family. In the episode, he attends a reunion in Missouri of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, which fought in Operation Indiana, and travels to New York City to have the diary translated by a former military translator who served during the war.

In a moving series of emotional revelations, Cowan uncovers much about the life of the Vietnamese soldier, the young women in the photo, and the man’s family. At one point Cowan says that this story is “one of the most exciting things that I’ve done in 10 years on History Detectives.” Eventually he arranges for U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to bring the diary on an important diplomatic mission to Vietnam on June 4, 2012, where the small red book was exchanged for letters found on a U.S. soldier’s body.

History Detectives is a weekly series on the Nine Network in which a team of historians explores the stories behind local folklore, prominent figures and family legends.

About the Nine Network of Public Media

The Nine Network of Public Media is a multifaceted public media organization creating a network of individuals and organizations empowered by public media to strengthen civic life. One of the nation’s most watched public television stations, Nine offers the people of the St. Louis region multiple ways to explore the world, including the Nine Center for Public Engagement, Nine Academy, nineNet.org explorehomeland.org, beyondnovember.org and four distinct broadcast channels (Nine PBS, Nine World, Nine Create and Nine Kids). The Nine Network’s rich legacy of serving the community was launched in 1954 and continues through our mission of bringing St. Louis together as we connect our region to the world and the world to St. Louis.

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