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It’s one thing to write a book; it’s another to live it. Wendell Affield never knew who his father was. His childhood was punctuated by a volatile mother and stepfather. At sixteen he left home, rode the rails out west, and lived in hobo camps. At seventeen he enlisted in the navy. At twenty, he was wounded in an ambush while driving a river patrol boat in Vietnam and medevac'd home. He spent thirty years working in the food industry.
Affield retired in 2001 and knew he had stories to tell. He spent several years attending Bemidji State University (BSU), learning how to tell a story. His Vietnam “memory stories” evolved into a memoir, "Muddy Jungle Rivers." The memoir has opened surprising new paths. Today he speaks to groups about PTSD. Autumn 2016 he taught a writing workshop to veterans. Spring 2017 he’ll speak to students who are using his memoir in a history class, at Indiana University, South Bend.
Affield’s mother, Barbara, lived an unusual life. He began a series of interviews with her, hoping to tell her story, never suspecting that the key to it lay decomposing in an old building seventy feet from where they sat visiting in the old farmhouse. After she died in 2010, Affield and his sister discovered and salvaged their family history, dating back to 1822. Over the past six years, he has spent countless hours studying, scanning, and transcribing the documents he discovered locked in the Chickenhouse on his childhood homestead.
Affield lives with his wife, Patti, in a log cabin overlooking a small lake in northern Minnesota, where they enjoy feeding birds. They have three children and several grandchildren. Sadly, their son, Jeff, died in 2015. Affield continues to write, study writing, and psychology. His greatest fear: that he dies before all the stories are told.