Alumnus, WWII publicist remembered in NET profile

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Alumnus, WWII publicist remembered in NET profile

World War II portrait of Tecumseh native and University of Nebraska graduate Barney Oldfield.
Nebraska State Historical Society
World War II portrait of Tecumseh native and University of Nebraska graduate Barney Oldfield.

As the 75th anniversary of D-Day approaches, the dramatic story of University of Nebraska journalism graduate and WWII press officer Barney Oldfield will be highlighted in the April 25 and April 29 episode of “Nebraska Stories” on NET.

Oldfield, born in Tecumseh and a 1933 Husker graduate, was a publicist and show business journalist often described as a larger-than-life character. His death in 2003 generated an obituary in Variety. During World War II, he served as a U.S. Army press officer who coordinated news coverage of the Allied D-Day attack in Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944.

D-Day and The Oldfield Effect
Video: D-Day and The Oldfield Effect

Oldfield, the first public relations officer to become a paratrooper, persuaded his commanders to allow him to recruit and help train war correspondents to jump into enemy territory along with U.S. Army Airborne units.

“Oldfield recruited six journalists willing to parachute through enemy gunfire,” said Barney McCoy, a Nebraska journalism professor who has studied Oldfield’s life. “They did it to tell the world about one of WWII’s most historic battles. They all did it.”

McCoy produced the NET report, with fellow journalism instruct Kristian Anderson serving as primary videographer.

Later in his life, Oldfield and his wife, Vada Kinman Oldfield, established dozens of scholarship for Nebraska students through the University of Nebraska Foundation. Several are named in honor of Nebraskans who died fighting in World War II.

The program airs at 8 p.m. April 25 and 10 p.m. April 29.

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