How were they forgotten?

Colby Bicentennial Seal 1964-2013

Oct. 30, 1987


William P. Cotter


Colby College

Waterville, Maine 04901


Dear President Cotter:

I write to note what appears to be a deeply troubling lapse in Colby’s institutional memory. My letter concerns the help that Boston Globe columnist Mike Barnicle received in preparation for his commencement address to the Class of 1987 (Colby Alumnus, October, 1987, P. 14).

Barnicle may have gotten the correct answer to his question about the number of Colby graduates who were killed in the Vietnam War. But, it is disconcerting to see that no one at Colby knew enough to suggest that at least he rephrase his question to more accurately assess the war’s impact on men who attended the college. It is even more disturbing to that his statement stood through an entire commencement address and publication four months later.

Three men from Colby–Les Dickinson, Dave Barnes, and Mike Ransom–died in the Vietnam War. None of them received a Colby degree so Barnicle’s phrase is painfully accurate, if it’s quoted correctly. Yet, within three months in early 1968, all three were gone. …

Those casualties were hardly invisible. So why did a columnist who wanted to make a point about who gave their fair share in the late 1960s get to do it by alleging a marked lack of sacrifice by Colby students? A better question, though, is why was the connection these men had to Colby so easily overlooked?…


Robert M. Lloyd

Class of 1968

Vietnam Service (April 21, 1969–April 4, 1970)