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USD Assistant Professor and Students Share Fallen Veterans' Stories in Second Book

Jing Williams with Matthew Booth Jing Williams, Ph.D., with Matthew Booth, one of the students whose researched was published in the new book.

VERMILLION, S.D. – Jing Williams, Ph.D., assistant professor of social studies education at the University of South Dakota, is preserving the stories of Clay County’s fallen veterans and showcasing student research in her second book.

The book, "Hometown’s Fallen: Discovering the Human Aspects of Wars (Volume II)," shares stories of nine Clay County veterans who served in World War II and the Korean War. Additionally, four authors who were published in Volume I wrote short paragraphs recording how their feelings for the research project and their fallen heroes have evolved during the past 12 months since original publication.

The "Hometown’s Fallen" books began as a collaboration with the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3061 on “Clay County’s Fallen,” a community-based research project sponsored by Post 3061 that challenges education students to uncover the forgotten stories of Clay County veterans killed in action.

“I did preliminary research on each one of the people on that list. To my surprise, I could find almost nothing about them,” Williams said. “’Who were these young service members?’ I decided to uncover their stories with my future teachers.”

The students in Williams’ social science methods courses searched through archives, spoke with local experts, visited cemeteries and interviewed the veterans’ family members to piece together their life stories.

To preserve these stories and contribute to a record of local and national history, Williams donated over 100 copies of the new book to local organizations, including VFW Post 3061, American Legion Wallace Post 1, the Clay County Historical Society and the W. H. Over Museum. The book is also available at the Vermillion Public Library and the I.D. Weeks Library. 

“This is our way of giving back to the community, which is an important component of social studies education," Williams said. "It also cultivates young people’s civic competence and serves the public good.” 

The students whose research is published in the new book include Dustin Whitney, Morgan Hartenstein, Sarah Barnhardt, Katelyn Kendall, Matthew Booth, Brett Hughes, Connor Burchill, Jessica Jordano and Margaret Frank. The four authors from Volume I who shared new thoughts on the project and their fallen veterans are Sydney Evans, Joseph Knoer, Paige Wright and Lexy Zimmerman.

The veterans honored in the book include Tommy G. Hendricks, Foster R. Kilbourn, George McCammon, Phillip L. Miner, William O. Paulsen, Lloyd M. Thompson, Gerald E. Warner, Dwyce D. Wince and Howard K. Ahlgrim. 

The book’s printing was made possible by the Allene R. Chiesman Fund for Civic Education.


USD's School of Education is transformative in preparing students both inside and outside the classroom. Its research- and practitioner-based programs train future educators, counselors, leaders, fitness and sport-related professionals for successful careers. The school focuses on a comprehensive learning experience, lifelong learning and developing professionals grounded in best practice. The school’s divisions include counseling and psychology, curriculum and instruction, educational leadership, kinesiology and sport management, and teacher residency and education.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News