RICHARDSON , Texas (July 26, 2005) — Dr. William M. Leary, the E. Merton Coulter Professor of History, Emeritus, at the University of Georgia, will speak on “Last Flights: Air America and the Collapse of South Vietnam” at 4 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 13, in the McDermott Library Auditorium (MC 2.410) at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD).
Leary’s speech, which is free and open to the public, is part of the George W. Jalonick III and Mary Cockrell Jalonick Memorial Distinguished Lecture Series at UTD. The event is organized by the library’s Special Collections Department through an endowment established by the late George W. Jalonick IV in memory of his parents.
“We are fortunate to have such an eminent historian as Dr. Leary come to UTD,” said Dr. Erik D. Carlson, coordinator of Special Collections. “He is the world’s foremost specialist on Air America. This year will be bittersweet because of the death last month of George Jalonick IV. George and his parents were great friends of the university and of our History of Aviation Collection. This series of scholarly aviation lectures will continue in their memory.”
Leary’s lecture is central to the library’s Civil Air Transport/Air America Collection and Memorial located on the third floor. Air America, a company owned by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), had taken an important role in the wars of Southeast Asia in the early 1950’s. By 1975, as the North Vietnamese launched a major offensive against the Saigon government, Air America became a mere shadow of its former self. Its last hurrah was the frantic American evacuation effort in March and April of 1975. The image of an Air America rescue helicopter on the rooftop of an American compound in Saigon is welded in history.
Leary has written histories of the China National Aviation Corp., Civil Air Transport and the U.S. Air Mail Service. In 1995, he received the Central Intelligence Agency Studies in Intelligence Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Literature of Intelligence. He served as the Charles A. Lindbergh Professor of Aerospace History at the National Air and Space Museum in 1996-97.
A reception will follow Leary’s presentation in the Special Collections Department on the third floor of the library. Seating is limited in the auditorium and there are no reservations. Please call 972-883-2570 for information about visiting the UTD campus.
Upon the death of George Jalonick IV last month, his wife, Mary Jalonick, requested that donations be made to the lecture series endowment.
The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor®, enrolls more than 14,000 students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s web site at www.utdallas.edu.