Charles Traub recollections of that tragic night when his wife Susan was killed differs in some details to what the Peace Corps staff at the time recalls, myself included. In the fog of time, that is not surprising.

In an email to me earlier this month, Charles remembers getting out of the Land Rover in the parking lot “when a police van swerved in an unlikely way into the lot, and hit us directly. It was reported that the driver was drunk and that this was just a freak accident. There was always suspicion that this had to do with some kind of anti-American sentiment, given the forthcoming regime changes in Ethiopia. Most unfortunately, the US government and the Peace Corps did very little to investigate, at least to my knowledge, and were completely insensitive to the return of personal property and the need to provide explanation for my wife’s bereaved parents.”

While there was always rumors in the Empire during the ’60s of the immediate demine of the Emperor, Haile Selesse’s last days came some 7 years later, and were directly related to the famine in Wollo Province, caught on videos by Jonathan Dimbleby, that appeared as The Unknown Famine on ITV in England, and then on television sets around the world.

Still, as Charles correctly recalls, “It was a great nightmare.”

And again, decades before the Kate Puzin murder in West Africa, the Peace Corps did not respond to the grieving PCV’s family at home.

Today, Charles writes, “It is a story that’s hard to believe, even so many years later. I’ve always thought that I should investigate the documents regarding this incident under the Freedom of Information Act. One day, I shall do it.”

What then did happen to Charles Traub in the aftermath of his brief, tragic experience in the Peace Corps? He was badly injured that night and was sent home for treatment. 

As he told Phong Bui in an interview in The Brooklyn Rail, “I went [into the Peace Corps in 1967] for the same reason that most people my age would have gone. It was during the height of the war in Vietnam, and having just gotten out of college, I had no idea what the hell I was going to do with my life. I was an English major, but I wasn’t aspiring to be a writer or anything like that, so joining the Peace Corps seemed like a good idea.”

Shortly before he graduated from the University of Illinois, and leaving for Peace Corps Training, his father passed away, and left Charles a camera. “As I mentioned early,” he tells Phong Bui, “I didn’t want to continue as an English major-or for that matter become a reporter, although journalism was one of my modules taken. Photography and the pure pleasure of its art was what captured my soul.”

It was a couple years before his soul was finally captured, so to speak. He went into the Peace Corps, as he said, for idealistic reasons and to avoid the draft. Then, he lost his wife, and next, the inevitable happened, he was drafted.

Part Four