Vietnam veteran serves as muse for student band

High school classmates write album for social studies project

Staff photo by Hannah Laclaire Nashua High School North students on Monday performed songs from their album, “War Stories,” inspired by the life of Vietnam veteran Norman Hall. From left are Brenna Rose, Skyler Ordway, Norman Hall, Austin Hall and Jacob Morin.

NASHUA – Austin Hall, a Nashua High School North junior, took his grandfather, Norman Hall out to lunch nearly five months ago, hoping to learn more about the veteran’s time serving in Vietnam for a social studies project.

He had a prepared list of interview questions, but as it turned out, he didn’t need them.

“We ended up talking for nearly two hours, and I just tried to keep up with writing it all down,” Hall said. Better yet, “He spoke it like a song,” he said of his grandfather’s memories.

Hall, along with classmates Skyler Ordway, Jacob Morin and Brenna Rose, turned the conversation into not just a song, but an entire album titled “War Stories,” which they performed for an audience Monday afternoon.

The eight songs detailed Norman Hall’s journey as a new father and husband who suddenly found himself in the midst of a war he didn’t feel prepared to be fighting, moving from bootcamp to Na Dang, Vietnam where he worked in the morgue, helping to identify the fallen, and then back home again.

“I had never shot a gun in my life, now a rifle in my hands,” Rose sang in the second song, “Becoming a Soldier.”

“My free will is gone, feels like the world’s on my shoulders, now I’m on my way to becoming a soldier.” “Fears of War,” highlighted the first time Norman Hall experienced the actual fighting, which, according to the lyrics, was one of the most terrifying moments of the his life. “We heard planes over head, I thought to myself that I’d end up dead.”

They moved through the songs, detailing the harsh, sometimes graphic elements of life working in the Graves Registration Service.

“Fallen Heroes,” is a song about Norman Hall’s time trying to identify the remains of 32 soldiers who had been killed in a helicopter crash.

“My job was not a very great one, but I guess in the end it had to be done,” Rose sang. “I wanted to be the one who brought the bodies home, instead I just identified them from their jaw bone.”

Some of the songs were a little lighter, such as “She was the Trooper,” about his wife, who stayed by his side during the war. “Horizons” focused on the beautiful sunsets in Vietnam.

Putting the songs together was not too difficult, Hall said, especially since he and Ordway had already performed in a band together. Instead, orchestrating practice times was the most challenging part of the project, as evidenced by the fact that they were only able to rehearse three times before the performance- something they admitted while on stage as well.

However, Norman Hall, who is now the owner of Davis Funeral Home in Nashua, was proud of his grandson and the other students.

“I’m glad I came home and that it’s a story I could tell; some of the men I saw over there didn’t get that chance,” he said.

Charles Ziniti, their teacher, said the project was an example of the caliber of students at the school, and showed they were all self-starters.

Of course, they got an “A.”

For more information about Davis Funeral Home visit http://www.davisfuneralhomenh.com/

Hannah LaClaire can be reached at 594-1243 or hlaclaire@nashuatelegraph.com.