Vietnam on Tape

Historian Jim Kearney approached the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin, Texas, with a remarkable artifact: a cassette tape from his time serving as an Army medic during the Vietnam War. The tape’s survival is incredible, but the audio is extraordinary. The tape captured an intense recording of Jim’s last medical evacuation mission, including the moment his helicopter came under enemy fire and he was wounded. 

The Museum originally intended to display the tape along with other artifacts, potentially allowing visitors to listen to the recording in the gallery. But talking with Jim revealed a story bigger than the recording or the tape itself–one of disappearing history, life-long friendship, and future reconnection. The host of the Bullock Museum’s Texas Story Podcast, Senior Digital Producer Evan Windham, sought to learn more.

The podcast follows along as Evan’s role as investigator turns starkly human, balancing research on the 1-A-O conscientious objector (CO) classification with deeply personal stories. Through Jim’s story, Vietnam on Tape uncovers a little-known military classification and its particular connection to Texas, and explores timely subjects including duty, patriotism, generational conflict, and the aftereffects of war.