"Ask the traveled inhabitant of any nation, in what country... would you rather live? Certainly in my own.... Which would be your second choice? France."
- Thomas Jefferson's autobiography
DR. THOMAS HATFIELD
Tom Hatfield is director of the Military History Institute at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin. At the Briscoe Center, his main interest is the improvement of public understanding about America's military heritage with lectures and publications. A corollary to this effort is the expansion of archives relevant to American military history by acquiring memorabilia, photographs, papers, and oral accounts. As for his own military service, he enlisted in the Texas National Guard while in his teens and was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army Reserve a decade later as a captain in military intelligence.
From his undergraduate days, Hatfield has found understanding and adventure by going to the scene of historic events. He has trailed the great campaigns of the Second World War across Western Europe, North Africa, through Sicily, Italy, and southern France and into Germany. In the Pacific he has walked the beaches of island fighting from Guadalcanal to Tarawa to Pelelieu and swum with scuba gear through the sunken Japanese fleet on the bottom of the Truk Lagoon. For more than thirty years, Hatfield has lectured on American military history, emphasizing the diplomatic and strategic background of the wartime. At the same time, he pioneered the development of university based international education by organizing and leading groups of adults, as well as undergraduates, to historic sites of the global war.
Hatfield was a founding faculty member of the Normandy Scholar Program at UT Austin, an undergraduate honors program focused on the World War II. He has made guest appearances discussing the war on the History Channel, Discovery, PBS, Fox, and CNN. His writings include the widely acclaimed biography of James Earl Rudder, war hero and president of Texas A&M University (1958-1970), published in 2011 as Rudder: From Leader to Legend, and Normandy Adventure: My Search for Tommy Rouse plus numerous essays. He is UT Austin's Dean Emeritus of Continuing Education (1977 to 2007). Earlier he was the founding president of Austin Community College, 1973-1977. He has undertaken this historical tour to foster support for the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History and its Military History Institute.