Memorial Day is observed in the United States on the last Monday in May to honor military personnel who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings, and participating in parades. For many Americans, the day unofficially marks the beginning of summer.

AFS, which started during WWI as the American Ambulance Field Service (AAFS), uses this holiday to honor all of its volunteer ambulance drivers. During WWI and WWII, AFS’ drivers transported hundreds of thousands of wounded soldiers and civilians. After WWII, AFS transformed into an international student exchange organization with the belief that young people can make a difference, that they can help make the world a more just and peaceful place. AFS’ drivers truly left a legacy of peace.

R. Bayly Winder and [Michael Kirchwey] Clark, Q.M. Tent, [El] Tahag, circa 1942-1943

Just a few weeks ago, AFS President and CEO Daniel Obst had the pleasure of meeting with Philip Winder, the son of Richard Bayly Winder IV, a WWII ambulance driver who had served in the Middle East (1942-1943), Italy (1944), and France (1945). Following the war, Bayly embarked on a career in Arabic and Middle Eastern studies. He obtained multiple degrees from Princeton University and traveled extensively with his family. Bayly also volunteered with the AFS student exchange programs, serving as a director and trustee between 1961 and 1968. During that time, AFS began operations in Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.

“AFS was a seminal event in his life. He was catapulted into this unknown romantic sphere. He originally intended to be an English major! Instead of writing the great American novel, he learned Arabic and the culture. It was no doubt a life-changing event for him.”—Philip Winder reflects on the influence AFS had on his father’s career.

Richard Bayly Winder
Lunch at Quartel [?], Bayly Winder and Dr. [Mina? Minci?], November 1942

Philip followed in his father’s footsteps by fostering other cultures’ understanding of the Middle East. Philip serves on the board of the American University of Beirut, which established a scholarship in his father’s name for students studying Arabic.

During his meeting with Daniel, Philip kindly donated a collection of black and white photographs taken during his father’s service abroad. The Richard Bayly Winder IV Photographic Collection not only documents Bayly’s AFS service, but also the service of many other WWII drivers as well as the natural beauty of the regions Bayly visited.

To read further about Bayly’s AFS experience and his family’s commitment to educating others about the Middle East, please see the Fall 2017 issue of the AFS Janus. You can also read the St. Albans School’s The Archaist Bulletin latest article about Richard Bayly Winder on pages 22-23 here.

“AFS is a force for positive change in an environment where we desperately need one.”—Philip Winder

*all images in this article are from the Richard Bayly Winder IV Photographic Collection, 1942-1945; courtesy of the Archives of the American Field Service & AFS Intercultural Programs (AFS Archives)
Ambulance 1312204 on coast looking across small bay into Turkey, October 1942