Fifty-five years later, wartime newlyweds document ‘The Hardest Year’ of marriage

The Hardest Year: A Love Story in Letters During the Vietnam War, by Carole and William Wagener

Carole and William Wagener (a 1972 UW-Green Bay graduate) share their stories in this memoir, which takes place on the former UW-Green Bay Decker campus, UW-Madison and South Vietnam in the 1960’s.

“The Vietnam War—a war that she never served in or been to—was the single most important event of her life.” Dr. Andrew Wiest, author of Charlie Company’s Journey Home: The Forgotten Impact of Vietnam on the Wives and Families of Veterans

The year is 1969. Newlywed William Wagener, on active duty in South Vietnam, has exchanged over 300 handwritten letters with his dear wife Carole, a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. These intimate letters were the foundation of this heartfelt memoir, written by Carole, to both preserve a vital piece of history and their own unique love story. During a time of social unrest where many college campuses were torn apart by anti-war protestors clashing with police and National Guards, Carole struggled to navigate married life from across the ocean.

“A personal snapshot of the turbulent sixties as framed through the hearts of two souls divided by a war that would ultimately divide a nation.”  “…engrossing memoir…”  Tom Avitabile, best-selling author of Give Us This Day and The Devil’s Quota.

Author-poet Carole Wagener’s writings have been published in several anthologies, including Shifting Sands and Turning Tides. Co-author William Wagener produces two local TV shows, On Second Thought and Take Back America, in northern Santa Barbara County, California. The couple celebrates their fifty-fifth wedding anniversary on September 11.

Their latest collaboration, The Hardest Year, was an International Book Award Finalist – Military History and may be purchased online at, Barnes & Noble, and from local bookstores. To find out more about The Hardest Year, please visit

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