On June 8, 2021, the Outpost 422 interactive investigative capstone journey began at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater through an open records request seeking the last known whereabouts and location of Wisconsin Air National Guardsman 1st Lt. Jerome A. Volk under the guidance of Dr. James Kates.
The investigation, conducted and facilitated by the Outpost 422 project, historically featured new methods of storytelling never used before. The following bullet points detail the project’s trademarked social responsibility reporting style as:
- The first interactive pandemic capstone project featuring a new form of convergent journalism media and workshop pilot written for pandemic refugee and veteran civilian readjustment.
- A WordPress mobile press room converging hard news public affairs investigative journalism with brand development through YouTube documentary storytelling along with social media livestream reporting.
- Being the first convergent media pandemic Gonzo-mentary converging both corporate brand development with the university reporter’s blog diary through firsthand account coming out of lockdown.
- A prose combining Gonzo journalism with pandemic livestream documentary storytelling. The Gonzo blog diary features the reporter’s ongoing barriers and facilitators for success attending both Madison College and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
- A reporting workshop model documenting the ongoing social and virtual struggles with pandemic reporting on social media, a method converging present tense with valedictory format for chronologically reporting during tragic times, along with a university blog tracking the current state of the pandemic through a style called “Gonzo-19.” Gonzo-19 profiled the non-essential value of forgotten patriots. The workshop copy editing source provided by the Jaded Patriot Press evaluates submissions through the oversight of Bob Cobb Freelance Ink LLC.
The independent study and capstone investigation research serve two purposes. One being a social responsibility team building business model strategically working as a cold case rescue attempt of an MIA, and second, an opportunity for research grant funding for developing the evolution of convergent media coming out of the pandemic through workshops.
The capstone project turned independent study aids in the understanding of both storytelling methods and business models investigative bloggers can use for engaging and training viewers values provided through social responsibility and team building workshops.
Volk’s investigation started out during the month of August 2021, when a commemorative 70-year reflection ad was placed in the Royal Purple, which doubled as a flow code crowdsource collaboration for corporate and health communication advocacy at the Whitewater campus.
The ad placement with the university press represented the public relations outreach of Outpost 422 through social responsibility. The ad began the call to action for the POW MIA and recognition of the 70th year of Volk’s disappearance converging objective reporting with subjective storytelling as a student operating a brand as a class project.
During the investigation, on March 15, 2022, the Outpost 422 brand became a registered trademark causing quite the stir in the communications department.
The purpose of the investigation sought the retrieval of documented archive regarding Volk’s last flight on a bombing run in North Korea for an interactive journalism capstone, which incorporated records into a public affairs feature examining documents through a slide show presentation on YouTube.
The slide show interacts with the Outpost 422 lobby through both investigation reporting and press release converging public affairs journalism with public relations.
The Gonzo-mentary reporting style drives the reader through the fine line between objective and subjective convergent journalism, providing the tabling narrative for a future monumental interactive display, offering historical narration through flow code interaction narrated by Volk’s niece, Jeri Volk-Barry.
Volk-Barry’s narration maintains objectivity while the blog subjectively documents what went on behind the scenes on the Outpost 422 Facebook page. Volk-Barry, from a public relations standpoint, maintains her uncle’s namesake at Volk Airfield, whose words echo her uncle’s efforts.
“I speak to you today as a family member of a Wisconsin MIA whose remains have never been repatriated,” the words shared by Volk’s niece advocating for his return with her address to senators at public hearings. “I was named after my uncle, 1st Lt. Jerome A. Volk, who was killed during a low-level bombing run on November 7, 1951.”
The interview with Volk-Barry took place at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Biotechnology Center. Volk-Barry has a deep connection to the University of Wisconsin Missing-in-action Recovery and Identification Project’s President Charles Konsitzke.
Both obliged interviews providing in-depth information regarding the UW MIA Project’s success and current mission surveying an MIA’s location in Belgium.
“No one should underestimate the pain of not having closure,” Volk-Barry said.
Her family witnessed her father mourn and grieve endlessly his entire life, which robbed him of the ability to recover. The investigation wrapped up on May 6, 2022, followed by a revelation after our interview.
Konsitzke began working with the university developing a cold case binder with her uncle’s information collected from the Wisconsin Air National Guard.
Both UW Whitewater and UW Madison have connected with the director of the Department POW MIA Accounting Agency.
Currently, the Outpost 422 project seeks contributors who offer submissions from a social responsibility subjective vantage point as a social media canvass. Throughout the investigation, the collaboration of POW MIA affairs through Outpost 422 website, profiled the last known whereabouts of Volk and his MIA profile as an interactive class project, deliberated with the professor after class by relaying findings, and assists the university as a DPAA lobby for negotiations advocating for Volk’s return through the University of Wisconsin directed by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Biotechnology Center.
“When I started the project in 2015, we started working with cases and a family member approached us,” Konisitzke said sharing his mission’s history. “A family member approached us by the name of Jeri Volk-Barry. There was that ‘aha’ moment when she informed us that Jerome Volk was her uncle and missing.”
70 Years Not Forgotten
Volk served with the Wisconsin Air National Guard, who took a death-defying leap and re-entered service as a P-51 Mustang pilot while attending Marquette University. According to information gathered and provided by the Wisconsin Air National Guard, “Volk volunteered for training at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada,” where Skunkworks launched the F-80 Shooting Star after World War II in 1943.
Volk’s last flight with the 35th Fighter-Bomber Squadron recorded his plane shot down by enemy artillery fire on November 7, 1951. November 7, 2021, marks his 70th year still missing.
The following recalling of events witnessed many public figures “playing politics,”
according to an interview with Dept. of Finance Secretary Peter Barca (D-Burlington), with the POW MIA issue during the 2021-2023 session. “I Will Not Forget” emerged as an inclusivity campaign tackling the moral dilemma with forgetting the POW MIA due to the extinction of print news and social media lack of ethics with cancel culture.
Prior to the Barca interview, the first interview revealed there was a military family connection between the author of a POW MIA bill during the 2021-2023 session, which was the central focus for the final public affairs capstone project.
The investigation uncovered a connection linking a senator doubling as the Truax Airfield public relations officer with the niece of the missing pilot, who lives in the senator’s district and the director of the project listed on the bill.
Upon contacting Maj. Eric Dunford, program manager for Volk airfield, the name drop of Volk’s niece was mentioned where the bill’s military family discovery began unfolding.
Volk-Barry, of the 43rd Senate District, noted during the interview she spoke at the December 14, 2021, public hearing backing the bill authored by her senator, Roger Roth (R-WI), which would allocate $360,000-worth of state funding to The UW Missing-in-action Recovery and Identification Project, who hosts a convergence research-driven program, boasting his project located three MIAs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison so far.
The most common denominator amongst POW MIA advocates like Volk-Barry share their passion for rescuing Wisconsin MIAs exclusively through Konsitzke’s program because the program works on the state level.
According to Volk-Barry, sharing her public comment to senators at the Senate Bill 446 public hearing in 2019, the state-level program allows Wisconsin an opportunity with crossing the demilitarized zone in North Korea through the Wisconsin Air National Guard.
Volk-Barry’s advocacy shared through Facebook messenger throughout the investigation shared her primary passion—bringing closure to families through the repatriation of remains.
Volk-Barry believes one day, through the efforts of the UW MIA Project, her uncle will return home. She noted his crash site is off limits due to the current impasse with North Korea on the federal level.
The frustration heard by Volk-Barry’s public address shared the burden of the families of the missing.
During the month of September 2021, on POW MIA Recognition Day, the crowdfund search began inspecting documents after receiving access to the Wisconsin Veterans Museum. By November, a Royal Purple reporter asked how he could get involved.
The Senate Bill 602 Capstone 486 Investigation
The debate over politicizing the POW MIA issue revealed Rep. Jim Steinke (R-5th District Assembly Leader) and Assembly Majority Leader Robin Vos (R-Assembly Speaker) withheld the opportunity for legislative approval serving on the joint committee on finance for the state.
During the governor’s cabinet interview, members came forward speaking on behalf of the governor’s position regarding the decision for denial of the bill. Dept. of Finance Secretary Peter Barca discussed his astonishment with members of the committee and the bipartisan support the bill received but did not pass due to “someone playing politics.”
The investigation provided insight regarding the politicizing of the POW MIA issue during the election year.
“For the life of me, it’s difficult to understand,” Barca said when asked why the bill did not pass. “Financially, we certainly have the resources. We have over a $2 billion surplus.”
The investigation retrieved records, flight logs and data from the Wisconsin Air National Guard, documents provided by the Volk family, along with several interviews.
The first interview took place in Appleton, Wisconsin, at Sen. Roger Roth’s office. During the interview, Roth explained his frustrations with DPAA and that “the Department POW MIA Accounting Agency is failing.”
The Next Phase of the “I Will Not Forget” CampaignAs POW MIA Recognition Day passed on September 16, the lobby continues advocating for bringing Volk home. The Outpost 422 “I Will Not Forget” campaign teams up with Jesse Schworck, Lion of Judah, House of Rastafari founder, building bridges for inclusivity by tabling annually at the University Center. The group helps those struggling with social isolation from the pandemic learn new methods for mindfulness grounding.
The Outpost 422 website will begin working as a mandated reporter while the campaign develops workshops for those feeling left out find a group that supports them.
The coverage of the fall 2022 semester reports through UW-W blogs as a federal lobby seeking Schworck’s ministry as a method of keeping the POW MIA memory alive. In closing, the journey unearthed Volk’s exact location.
The next phase of the journey will connect with the William S. Middleton Veterans Administration Hospital by building bridges for hope between veterans being discharged after mental health treatment in the University of Wisconsin system.
The POW MIA issue, through academic honors workshops, opens doors to new horizons by connecting both the veteran and their families with hope, tranquility and mindfulness public affairs creative non-fiction journaling preparing them for a career as professional writers contributing to the various blogs developing a chaplain outreach and sanctuary next.