NORFOLK, Neb. – Keith Walton may have been born in the Imperial Valley of California, but he regards Norfolk, Neb. as his hometown. His remembering his hometown through a new book that tells of the service of those who gave their lives for their country over 50-years ago.
The 1970 graduate of Norfolk Senior High School has written a book that chronicles the stories of nine servicemen from Norfolk who died during the Vietnam War. The author/historian will be in Norfolk next week to give talks on the book, including one at Northeast Community College on Thur., March 23.
The Last Full Measure: From America’s Heartland to the Battlefields of Vietnam Remembering the Fallen from One Nebraska Town is Walton’s first book. It features stories of the nine servicemen: Jerry Allen, Dennis Anderson, Jerrome Chandler, Roger Hundt, Jerold Meisinger, Thomas Scheurich, Steven Strube, Claude Van Andle, and Michael Wemhoff.
The book includes facts about the nine men based on interviews with family, friends and Vietnam-era veterans to provide a better understanding of each of them and honor those who gave their last full measure. However, there are passages that are fictional, written to appeal to each reader’s imagination.
“History is oftentimes written as if the events described were bound to happen that way because, well, that is what happened,” Walton said. “History is about real life, and as we know, real life depends on purposeful choices but also chance encounters, random luck, and people being caught up in forces beyond their control. So it was for each of the men who are subjects of The Last Full Measure.”
The book focuses on the men’s youth growing up in Norfolk and then going off to war.
In an excerpt from the chapter on Meisinger, Walton writes, “The experiences of Jerry and (his brother) Don Meisinger resonate with many others who grew up during this time. These were the glory days, or at least that’s how many of us remember them. In our minds the neighborhood seems timeless, but as we mature we understand that this is an illusion. Time passes, children grow up, and eventually all go their separate ways. So it was for the kids of Verges Avenue, and so it was for many who grew up in small town America. Some went into the workplace, some moved on to college, and at least one of them, Jerry Meisinger, went to Vietnam.”
Following high school, Walton attended Northeast Nebraska Technical Community College (a predecessor of Northeast Community College) and went on to Kearney State College where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history and social science. His career as a social studies educator teaching high school
students in Nebraska and Wyoming spanned 36-years.
During the past 20-years, Walton has written several papers focused on the military service of family members. His great grandfather fought with the Ohio 74th Infantry in the Civil War; a great uncle sailed to Siberia with the American Expeditionary Force in 1918; and his father served as a medic on the frontlines with the 101st Airborne during World War II.
Under About the Author in The Last Full Measure, it states, “Each of these ordinary men lived during extraordinary times, and the author’s approach to each man’s story was the same; focus on his personal history and place his military service within the context of larger events, It was a formula that seemed to work, and it is one that the author has followed in The Last Full Measure.
Walton will speak, read from The Last Full Measure, and take questions on Thur., March 23, at 3 p.m., in Northeast Community College’s Union 73. His talk is sponsored by the College’s Veterans Benefits Dept. and the employee Engagement Team. Additionally, he will also speak that evening at 6:30 p.m., at the Norfolk Public Library, 308 W. Prospect Ave. Events are free and open to the public. Walton is also scheduled to speak to students at Norfolk Senior High School on Fri., March 24.