In January 1968 Wendell Affield went to Vietnam as the cox’n on Armor Troop Carrier 112-11 with the Mobile Riverine Force. At seventeen he enlisted in the navy and was half way through his first tour in Vietnam when his class graduated from high school. Affield, the third of nine children, grew up on a small farm north of Bemidji. After receiving an honorable discharge in 1969, he found work as a meatcutter apprentice in the Chicago area and, a few years later, became a manager, a position he held for almost thirty years. In 1980 he and his family returned to northern Minnesota where he worked at Luekens Village Foods for many years. After retiring in 2001 Affield enrolled at Bemidji State University, where, over the years, his Vietnam essays evolved into Muddy Jungle Rivers. During his time at BSU Affield attended many writers’ workshops where he made significant connections that contributed to his work. He plans to continue his studies at BSU as he moves forward with his writing.
- 2006 Stenerson Scholarship for academic excellence
- 2012 Individual Artist Grant, Region 2 Arts Council
Affield has been published nationally in Vietnam, a history magazine. Over the years he has published several essays in the Bemidji Pioneer.
- Muddy Jungle Rivers is in the process of being catalogued by the Navy Department Library as a research document.
- His memoir has been selected as a text book for a BSU history program Fall 2012.
Muddy Jungle Rivers does not glorify war. It explores the boredom and the moments of horror for the young who were sent to fight in Vietnam and the angst of the men who returned home.
“Lullaby for the Lost,” a poem that inspired the title for his memoir, came to Affield one evening as he rocked his infant granddaughter, Kadance, and mourned those who never had the chance to hold children or grandchildren:
Autumn’s rain echoes overhead
As I rock my granddaughter tonight
Another tune, staccato,
Lulled you to sleep
On a muddy jungle river
Join us for a reading, Q&A and book signing by Wendell Affield on Saturday June 16th at the Headwaters School of Music and the Arts – 4:30 to 6pm. A portion of the book proceeds goes to the Bemidji Food Shelf. This event is sponsored, in part, by the Bemdiji Library Book Festival and is a part of the Bemidji Legacy Destination Weekend.
For more information on the book festival events go to the Bemidji Book Festival and other Legacy Week events go the Visit Bemidji page