In 1965, Jill Hunting’s brother Pete was killed in Vietnam, becoming one of the first civilian casualties of the war. The questions surrounding his death ultimately led her to write Finding Pete: Rediscovering the Brother I Lost in Vietnam (Wesleyan University Press, October 2009). Here, she reflects on Pete, the war, and her Wheaton experience.
Forty-five years ago this summer I saw my brother, Pete, for the last time.
He was home on leave from Vietnam, where he worked with a Peace Corps–type group called IVS. Two years earlier, in 1963, he had graduated from Wesleyan. Martin Luther King and Pete Seeger came to campus and he saw them both. John Kennedy was president. Combat troops had not yet been introduced in Vietnam.
Pete’s homecoming is as clear to me as yesterday. I was crossing the lawn, carrying a load of schoolbooks, when he stepped onto the porch. I ran and embraced him with both arms. My father captured the moment on film.
Thinking about Pete’s homecoming has led me to reflect on my coming home to Wheaton.