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Veterans learning to write their own legacies

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Posted at 5:08 PM, Oct 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-04 22:33:47-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Lloyd Niederriter never thought he'd find himself back in a classroom; much less writing about himself.

Like other veterans of war, Niederriter, who served as a crane operator in Vietnam, has a very personal story to tell.

For a while, he wondered if there was anyone who would listen.

"Who was I gonna tell it to?" Neiderriter said. "Sometimes you go out with the guys and tell them, but I don't tell them everything. I've seen quite a bit."

But now, Niederriter and other veterans can feel free to open up in a creative writing class offered at Del Mar College.

And they don't have to write it alone.

The veterans are getting assistance from writing coach Martha De Simon, who knows a thing or two about telling veteran's stories.

She wrote the biography for her father William (Bill) Morton, a World War II specialty operator who sent and received Morse code.

"I love my veterans," beamed De Simon. "I see a flag. I hear a patriotic song and I get teary. So, when I'm out with my veterans, I want to keep that going."

This class not only preserved the legacy of our war veterans, it also serves as a safe environment to reveal some of the more unpleasant and tragic memories of their service.

"You know, it's kind of good she's pulling stuff out of me nobody ever pulled out of me before," Niederriter said. "It's good to know, it's on paper. Somebody else will know. I don't have to hold that inside."

Not once, but three separate times, Niederriter was struck by enemy fire, but he still found himself back in the fight during one of the most horrifying battles: The Tet Offensive.

He also protected his war buddies from enemy fire by digging deep foxholes and providing a flat covering.

When he returned home, he was awarded the Purple Heart.

From the computer keypad in the classroom, the veterans' stories are then broadcasted on Corpus Christi's radio station 1440 KEYS on the Bob Jones show.

Jones pays tribute to them and locks in their legacy by reading their stories on the air.

"To be able to tell the stories of those who can't tell their own story, too shy to tell their own story (...) to be able to get their story out, is an honor," Jones, also a Vietnam war veteran, said.

Veterans are encouraged to participate in the creative writing class which is held every Thursday from 3-4:30 p.m. at Del Mar College. Contact Dotson Lewis (the instructor) for more details at (530) 748-8475.

More Veterans In Focus stories are available here, along with resources for local veterans.

Contact Veterans In Focus reporter Pat Simon at