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Special Collections Online at The University of Tennessee

Foster Arnett Oral History

Identifier: MS-3246

The first half of this interview with Foster Arnett documents his memories of growing up in Knoxville. He describes his youth, his time at the University of Tennessee, and the changes he saw around Knoxville through the years. His family was very influential in the creation of the Smoky Mountains National Park, which he discusses in some depth.

Arnett recalls sitting in the study of his fraternity house when he heard the news of Pearl Harbor on the radio. He soon enlisted as a paratrooper in the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He describes his training as a paratrooper and his time in the Pacific near Humbolt Bay and in New Guinea. Arnett also describes the hardships he experienced during his time in the South Pacific and recounts his experience in the Battle of Leyte, where he was wounded. He retired from the military as a Lieutenant Colonel.

After the war, Arnett quickly completed his B. A. in political science and then continued on to the University of Virginia Law School. He later established a law practice in Knoxville and was the president of both the UT and the UVA Law Alumni associations.


  • 2000 July 7

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Collections are stored offsite, and a minimum of 2 business days are needed to retrieve these items for use. Researchers interested in consulting any of the collections are advised to contact Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in this collection remain with the creator. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library.


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This collection houses a typescript of an oral history interview conducted with Foster Arnett by G. Kurt Piehler and Johnny Goins for the Veteran's Oral History Project at the Center for the Study of War and Society. The interview documents Arnett's childhood in East Tennessee, his experiences in the Pacific Theater during World War II, and his postwar legal practice.

Biographical/Historical Note

Foster Deaver Arnett was born in Knoxville, Tennessee to Foster Greenwood and Edna (Deaver) Arnett on November 28, 1920. He enrolled at the University of Tennessee in 1939 and was involved in several campus organizations, including the Scarabbean Senior Society, ROTC, and Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. He enlisted in the military shortly after Pearl Harbor as a paratrooper in the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He was deployed in 1943 and was stationed in the Pacific Theater near Humboldt Bay and New Guinea. He fought and was wounded in the Battle of Leyte and was later awarded the Silver Star and the Purple Heart for his actions in that battle.

After the war, Arnett returned to his education. He graduated from the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science on August 23, 1946 and from the University of Virginia Law School in 1948. He later served as the president of the Alumni Associations of both the University of Tennessee and UVA Law. He practiced law in Knoxville, Tennessee for nearly 50 years and was awarded the Knoxville Bar Association's top honor, the Board of Governors' Award, in 1989. Arnett died in Knoxville on December 8, 2002.


Collection consists of a single folder.

Acquisition Note

The Center for War and Society donated this collection to Special Collections.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA