MEDIA — “Beehive, The 60’s Musical,” playing until March 31 at the Media Theatre, captures the music, culture, politics and flower-power innocence of the 1960s when beehive hairdos, mini skirts and go-go boots were all the rage, and popular songs by the Shirelles, the Supremes, Connie Francis, Tina Turner, Dusty Springfield and other female singers ruled the AM dial airwaves.
With two dozen beloved hits, the show takes its audience on a fun journey through song, documenting the dramatic changes that America underwent during the decade, while invoking many fond memories of simpler days.
The 1960s era wasn’t all about hotrods and soda fountains, bell bottoms and Beatlemania. On the other side of the world, American servicemen and women were immersed in a very different culture, far away from home fighting a war in Vietnam. So, it was only fitting that on a night when the '60s were remembered by their trademark music and unique styles, that tribute was also paid on stage to our soldiers whose memories of the '60s decade are quite different than most of mainstream America.
At a special Veterans Night pre-show reception Saturday night in the Crystal Room of the Media Theatre, which is now celebrating 25 years of bringing first-rate, professional theatre to Delaware County, the Media Theatre Veterans Alliance honored U.S. Marine Corps Combat Veteran Doug Forsythe, a Vietnam veteran who served from 1966-1970.
Now in its 19th year, the Media Theatre Veterans Alliance’s “Veterans Night” honors veterans, getting them together to share a meal and see a show with friends and family. Prior to the show, the Alliance held a short ceremony, with the Delaware County Marine Corps League Detachment #288 in Upland serving as Color Guard and the National Anthem sang by Media Theatre student Madison Van Horn. The Veterans Alliance award was presented to Forsythe by veterans Ed Buffman Sr. of Upper Providence, Arthur Burn of Linwood and Mayor Bob McMahon of Media. Burn read a biography of the honoree, which was prepared by Jolene Buffman.
“I feel very humbled to receive this award,” Forsythe said earlier that night. “There are so many guys who deserve this honor. When we came back from Vietnam, it was not a nice time and place here, but 9/11 turned things around. It’s been really nice to be appreciated and I feel very honored.”
Forsythe, currently a resident of Chester Springs, came to the event in full uniform, decorated with many of the honors that he achieved through his service, including the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnamese Service Medal, the Vietnamese Campaign Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry Medal with Palm and the Meritorious Unit Citation Medal.
Forsythe was born in Reidsville, N.C., and moved to Winter Park, Fla., as a young boy. In 1966, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and attended boot camp at Parris Island. From there, he was sent to Camp Pendleton for advanced infantry training as a rifleman, and then transferred to the 5th Military Police Battalion, 5th Marine Division.
In 1967, Forsythe was sent to Vietnam, assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 26th Marines, 3rd Marine Division at the Dong Ho Combat Base. The large ammunitions dump, where Forsythe was stationed, was bombarded day and night by enemy mortars, rockets and artillery.
In October 1968, Forsythe was wounded by exploding shrapnel during a bombing attack on his base. He was consequently air lifted to Guam, then to the Philippines and then back to the United States for his recovery at the Philadelphia Naval Hospital.
After recovering, Forsythe was stationed at the Philadelphia Marine Barracks, where he worked as Military Police, escorting deceased Marines coming back from Vietnam. In July, 1970, Forsythe was discharged from the U.S. Marines at the Philadelphia Naval Base.
Forsythe’s service to the community and to the United States did not stop there. In 1973, the U.S, Marine joined the Conshohocken Police Department where he garnered numerous service awards during his years of service, retiring in 1988. He then joined the Army Civil Affairs Battalion of Army Reserves until 1990, where he was promoted to sergeant.
Continuing a life of service, Forsythe furthered his career in law enforcement, working as an armed security guard for General Electric at the Limerick Nuclear Power Plant, in the Chester County Sheriff Department’s Criminal Unit and as part of the Chester County DARE program.
In 1995, as a licensed private investigator, Forsythe founded his own business, FCI, which his son Brett recently took over. FCI is an acronym for Forsythe Confidential Investigations. Forsythe has two sons, Jason and Brett and four grandchildren.
Forsythe is active in the community, as a member of VFW Post #106, the West Chester Veterans Council, American Legion #134 of West Chester, the Freedom Foundation of Valley Forge, the Disabled American Veterans Post #90, the General Smedley D. Butler Marine Corps Detachment 741 in Newtown Square, the Chester County Chapter #436 of the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Military Order of The Purple Heart Chapter #1777, and the Marine Corps League #436 of Downingtown. The veteran has also served on the Advisory Councils of Coatesville Veterans Hospital and the Southeast Veterans Center.
Just this year, Forsythe was honored as “Man of the Year” at Chester County Marine Corps League Detachment #286 where he served as commandant from 2016-18. He is also the recipient of the Military Order of the Devil Dogs 2019 “Devil Dog of the Year” from the Albert E. Smith Pound 179 in Chester County.
The Marine Corps League #436 recently donated $500 to the Pennsylvania Veterans Museum in Media. The Media Theatre Veterans Alliance is a partnership of the Media Theatre and the Pennsylvania Veterans Museum,
Veterans Night at the Media Theatre was the event which planted the seed for what is now the Pennsylvania Veterans Museum at 12 E. State St., Media, in the former Armory below Trader Joe’s. The museum got its start in 2001 in the Media Theatre after a stage production of “South Pacific.” Veterans were encouraged to bring memorabilia from their service days to make a display for the theatre during the show’s run. Local veterans came with photos, ribbons, letters to home and medals for the exhibit, unknowingly forging the foundation for what was later to become the Pennsylvania Veterans Museum, just a short distance down the street from the theatre.
The museum, opened in 2005, continues to expand content and exhibits, as it educates visitors of all ages to the experiences and history of veterans during times of war. It is the museum’s mission to ensure that current and future generations understand the true nature of war, and recognize the sacrifices made in the name of freedom and security
The nonprofit museum has free admission. Hours are noon-5 p.m., Thursday through Sunday. For more information on the museum, call 610-566-0788. For more information on Media Theatre’s upcoming productions, including "Saturday Night Fever The Musical," April 17-June 9, call 610-891-0100 or visit mediatheatre.org.