SIOUX FALLS (KELO) — A retired Sioux Falls police officer and Vietnam veteran is bringing back memories of that war from behind a microphone. A former Air Force disc jockey is now spinning records and war stories for local audiences.
You may be familiar with the Robin Williams movie Good Morning, Vietnam. It was based upon the real-life story of a popular Air Force radio announcer who broadcast from a studio in Saigon.
Sioux Falls has its own version of Good Morning, Vietnam, and this announcer is still connecting to his audience.
Dave Rowe is a one-man golden oldies radio station.
“Good evening, this is Air Force Sergeant Dave Rowe and you’re listening to Nightbeat on AFVN Da Nang,” Rowe said.
Rowe recreates the radio show he hosted as a young Air Force sergeant stationed in Vietnam, when he volunteered for the American Forces Vietnam Network.
“All we played was Rock & Roll music, we didn’t play country or any other variety, but the music was the plus-side of working over there, because everybody had a transistor radio,” Rowe said.
Decades later, Rowe is dusting off his records and turntable for local veterans groups.
“I got interested back in this probably about six years ago when the miniature Vietnam Wall came to Sioux Falls and I was asked if I would recreate my Vietnam radio show during that time,” Rowe said.
Rowe and other armed forces disc jockeys had a loyal following during the war.
“That was the only thing that reminded us of home. The songs, the current songs,” Vietnam veteran Ken Headrick said.
Now, Rowe provides a voice to veterans who still aren’t willing to discuss their time in Vietnam.
“A lot of us Vietnam vets didn’t talk much and there’s still that. I think that happened in World War II, it probably happened in all wars,” Vietnam veteran Bill Peters said.
While many veterans may want to forget their time in Vietnam, Rowe says it’s important to preserve the memories, good and bad. Rowe still isn’t about to sign-off, decades after the war.
“We just felt the music was a very positive glue that helped everybody get through the time because nobody wanted to be there, we didn’t want to be there anymore than anyone else did, we were there, we had to make the best of it to get through, so we did,” Rowe said.
Rowe says he didn’t achieve any level of celebrity serving as a disc jockey until after he started recreating his shows back home. He says he’ll often hear from veterans who say they listened to him while stationed in Vietnam.