Operation Song

WUTC's 2016 Operation Song Memorial Day Special won an Edward R. Murrow Award and a Golden Press Card Award. This year's rebroadcast includes a new song and story, "Change," which explains the meanings behind pennies, dimes, and other coins left on military headstones.

The song “Change” explains why people around the nation are leaving coins at the graves of soldiers, sailors, and other military service members. 

The East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists recognized WUTC 88.1 during the Golden Press Card Awards ceremony that took place April 30, 2017.

WUTC's Operation Song Memorial Day Special was awarded second place in the Documentary/Public Affairs Programming – Radio category.

WUTC

Click this link to hear the winning story.  

WUTC FM 88.1, the National Public Radio affiliate licensed to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, has been awarded a 2017 Edward R. Murrow Award for feature reporting.

Cathy Wells

  

  "He was a momma's boy, and I don't care what anybody says about that--there's nothing wrong with that," Cathy Wells says of her son.

 Lance Cpl. Squire Wells, known as "Skip," was one of the "fallen five" service members killed during a July 16, 2015 terrorist attack on Chattanooga's Navy Operational Support Center.

Cathy Wells has written "Tennessee Blood," a song honoring her son.

  WUTC 88.1 FM has created a program featuring segments from Operation Song, a Nashville-based nonprofit organization that empowers veterans, active duty military and their families to tell their stories through songwriting. The Operation Song Memorial Day Special is an hour of music and interviews about unforgettable experiences on the battlefield and back home. Several veterans collaborated with hit songwriters to create the music.

  On July 16, 2015, a homegrown terrorist attacked a recruiting office and a Navy Operational Support Center here in the Scenic City. Four Marines and one sailor were murdered. In the aftermath, the city united, with local residents visiting the attack sites and building makeshift memorials. The phrase #NoogaStrong appeared all over social media and T-shirts, a way for residents to express solidarity and sympathy for the heroes who died.

  Veteran Nashville songwriters Don Goodman and Steve Dean come down to Chattanooga every Wednesday to meet with a group of veterans in a counseling session called Operation Song. The songwriters listen to the veterans talk about their experiences in a war zone and then they distil their experiences into a song. This song, called “I Fought A Battle,” tells the story of Joe Engle, a veteran of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and his wife Kayla who faced equally devastating challenges of her own at home.  

  Operation Song is a local program that pairs two veteran songwriters from Nashville with local military veterans coping with post-traumatic stress. The songwriters help the veterans turn their stories into songs. Richard Winham talked to Randall Scheil, a veteran of the Iraq war, about the song he wrote called “Three Ring Binder.”  

  Jerry Harris was drafted into the army when he was 19 years old in 1968. Within a few months he was in Viet Nam. From the moment he left the plane he was traumatized. Almost immediately he began developing an alter ego, a separate identity he called “Old Jerry.” He spent the rest of the year he was in Viet Nam sublimating his emotions. It’s only in the past decade that’s he been able to talk about his experience in the war.

  The statistics on military veterans suicides are a national tragedy. A group of songwriters in Nashville made the decision several years ago to do whatever they could to help. They started a program called Operation Song in which veterans are encouraged to share their memories are then taught how to turn them into a song. The program has been here in Chattanooga for about a year. Beginning today we are going to be talking to some of the veterans in the program and sharing the songs they have written.