Veterans History Project

Oral History of Veterans.

Flying Thuds into North Vietnam

F105s in Thailand Thuds, the Ridge, and 100 Missions North. Air & Space Magazine, Smithsonian. On the weekend of April 4 & 5th, I was in Arizona to attend a wedding and to interview my uncle for the Veterans History Project. Among the many things my uncle did in his Air Force career was to fly F105s as a fighter pilot, flying 5 more missions than the required 100 missions into North Vietnam that completed a tour of duty.

My uncle mentioned that the latest Air & Space magazine had an article on the F105s. I found the article online; hence this link and post.

Other things my uncle mentioned that the article does not:

The tires would last for two flights. Takeoff, land, takeoff, land, change tires. That plane was so heavy on takeoff—what with fuel, external fuel tanks, and the ordinance they had on board, the plane was heavy at takeoff—50,000 pounds. Sometimes they had to rolling at 300 mph before the plane got airborne. Landing, the plane was 25,000 or 30,000 pounds. (I’m reciting the weights from memory; I’d have to go back and listen to get exact figures, but the point is takeoff weight was close ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on April 14, 2009 in • HistoryPersonal HistoryVeterans History Project
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Sens Feinstein, et. al., introduce bill to create Civil Rights Oral History Project

From Sen. Feinstein’s office: “Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today introduced legislation to create a Civil Rights Oral History Project, a joint effort between the Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress to collect oral histories of those involved in the Civil Rights Movement and preserve them for future generations.” It will be like the Veterans History Project in that it would be a project of the Library of Congress

Just saw word of this from Senator Feinstein via Twitter. I asked how it will differ from the Voices of Civil Rights project, which I wrote about yesterday. The Voices of Civil Rights project is a joint project, where the Library of Congress is one of the sponsors, along with AARP and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR).

While I was poking around on the Voices of Civil Rights site yesterday, I had a question to ask them—is the project still conducting any interviews, or is their total populatino of interviews limited to those collected during their national bus tour in 2004. Good question, right? The email address doesn’t work, though: It bounced!  Doesn’t need an act ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on February 09, 2009 in • Oral History ProjectsVeterans History Project
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Oldest WW1 Veteran Dies

[UPDATED] J Russell Coffee, 109, one of 3 remaining WW1 Vets, died. (See also Toledo Blade story). Born 1898. This is not the WW1 Vet I mentioned recently from a NYTimes article.

Coffey had enlisted in the Army while he was a student at Ohio State University in October 1918, a month before the Allied powers and Germany signed a cease-fire agreement. He was discharged a month after the war ended.

His two older brothers fought overseas, and he was disappointed at the time that the war ended before he shipped out. But he told The Associated Press in April 2007: “I think I was good to get out of it.”

Born Sept. 1, 1898, Coffey played semipro baseball in Akron, earned a doctorate in education from New York University, taught in high school and college and raised a family.

He delivered newspapers as a youngster and would read the paper to immigrants, his ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on December 21, 2007 in • Veterans History Project
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Thou shalt not send media to Veterans History Project through U.S. Postal Mail

Side view of a CD that arrived to the Veterans History Project via regular US Post Office mail. When you send your submission, use a commercial delivery service, says the Veterans History Project. Otherwise our screening procedures will obliterate your submissions. I saw dramatic proof of this at the Oral History Association annual meeting in a presentation from the Veterans Health Administration and Veterans History Project.

Talk about Warp Speed! Here’s another view of the damaged disk. This is also a cautionary tale about making sure that you create more than one disk. Redundancy is good. Oh, and make a backup, so you have a second copy. Did I say that redundancy is good? Yep. Thought so.

Top view of a CD that arrived to the Veterans History Project via regular US Post office mail.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on December 19, 2007 in • Oral History ProjectsVeterans History Project
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The Last WW1 Veteran

Over there and Gone forever is a story about Frank Buckles, born 1901, the last surviving veteran of World War 1, found by writer Richard Rubin.

A few years ago, I set out to see if I could find any living American World War I veterans. No one — not the Department of Veterans Affairs, or the Veterans of Foreign Wars, or the American Legion — knew how many there were or where they might be. As far as I could tell, no one much seemed to care, either.

Eventually, I did find some, including Frank Buckles, who was 102 when we first met. Eighty-six years earlier, he’d lied about his age to enlist. The Army sent him to England but, itching to be near the action, he managed to get himself sent on to France, though never to the trenches.

After the armistice, he was assigned to guard German prisoners waiting to be repatriated. Seeing ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on December 12, 2007 in • HistoryVeterans History Project
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Veterans oral history projects roundup

Here’s a roundup of a number of Veterans History Project efforts that have been in the news.

  • Fargo, North Dakota Fargo Jaycees sponsor local oral history collection effort, focusing on WW2 Veterans. Signup information “Please call or contact Lance Akers at (701) 238-9298, visit www.tristateveterans.com or e-mail adoptavet@loretel.net to set up an appointment.”
  • Congress resolution establishes “National Veterans History Project Week.”
  • From Library of Congress site: National Veterans History Project Week was November 11-17, 2007. “The resolution calls upon the people of the United States to interview at least one veteran from their family or community, following guidelines provided by the Veterans History Project.” Didn’t know it then, but I did do a recording with my dad on ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on November 26, 2007 in • Veterans History Project
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Veterans History Project digital specs

I got the “digital file format wishlist” from Sarah Rouse at Veterans History Project. This is specification for video, audio and image file formats.

Video: .mpeg-2 file, at least 3Mbps, with a spatial resolution of 702x480 at 30fps

Audio: .wav file, CD-Audio quality (44.1 KHz, 16-bit)

Images: Color tiff files, 300dpi, scanned at 8 bits per channel.

Veterans History Project
Download PDFs of forms from this page of the VHP site.

If you’re doing video, check out the Ken Burns and Lynn Novick guide PDF file, from The War’s Veterans History Project page.

 

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on September 28, 2007 in • Do it: YourselfVeterans History Project
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Latino Vet Stories, Day 3

Latino WW2 Vet stories from the Pacific and Italy, in keeping with The War’s third episode, “A Deadly Calling.” Taking Tarawa island in the Pacific and fighting in Italy at Anzio and Monte Cassino, here are some highlights from the US Latinos/Latinas & WWII Oral History Collection.

Joseph Alcoser concentrated on getting a good education, but then volunteered for the service when he was a senior in high school.

“I never thought about returning home,” he said. “I thought we were sent off to die.”

Consequently, Joe did not communicate very much with anyone back home while he was overseas. He sent only one letter to his mother.

“If anything happened to me, my family would find out,” he said.

“The scariest battle for me was the midnight battle at Surigao Straight,” he said. It was dark and we could only see shells flashing by the ship. The unknown was what caused great fear.”

The battle that occurred near Tarawa Island, an island east of New Guinea, had a ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • Online Oral History CollectionsVeterans History Project
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A PodCamp SoCal report

Audio gadgets, workflows, meeting people, and stories. PodcampSoCal was a good day yesterday. I was expecting to have different breakout regions in the room, but we all followed a single track together as one room. I saw several Zoom Handy H2s set up on small tripods, recording the proceedings. And one or two Zoom H4, too. Looks like I’ll be turning from The War and what’s your story to an audio geek gadget maven for the next day or so. The agenda was full and continuous I didn’t get a chance to ask people what their experience was like using their various recorders. But I’ll be at the show Friday and Saturday, so I hope to do that then.

Oh, and family stories did come up; I managed to get myself on the agenda at day’s end and spoke of the Veterans History Project. One guy, Dan Bach (he produces a math show and wore a tee shirt filled with lovely graphic symbolic goodness related to prime numbers), mentioned his dad during the Q & A: A WWII vet, a prisoner of war who received his purple heart 60-some years later. Perhaps I heard about him in the news? Just looked it up, and here’s the story of Leo Bach. He was at Pearl Harbor the day it was bombed, and he was shot down over Germany. I told him, you gotta interview your dad; this field kit has your name on it (I only had a handful of Veteran History Project field ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • AudioAudio: HardwareInterviewingVeterans History Project
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Latino WW2 Vets companion stories, Day 2

More companion stories from the Latinos and Latinas & WWII Oral History Project that echo the theme of “last night’s episode” of The War, When the Going Gets Tough. These are stories of the war in North Africa and Italy, and of being shot down from a plane.

Joseph Diaz made it to Naples when Mt. Vesuvius was erupting.

Pvt. Diaz was the only Mexican in his unit, which included Audie Murphy, the most decorated combat soldier in World War II. Mr. Diaz said Murphy admonished the soldiers not to waste ammunition.

Once he landed in Morocco there was no time to travel slowly. His division moved into Tunisia, where fighting subsided, and Pvt. Diaz thought he was heading home.

Unfortunately, there was more fighting to come against Germany’s Gen. Erwin Rommel. By marching or riding on tanks and trucks, Pvt. Diaz quickly moved into Palermo, Italy, where soldiers were rebuilding the area. From Palermo, Pvt. Diaz headed to Naples and reached ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on September 25, 2007 in • Online Oral History CollectionsVeterans History Project
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Two stories from a Latino WW2 Oral History archive: War in the Pacific

Here are two excerpts from the oral history project that has interviewed Latino World War 2 veterans. A trip through news search engines brings lots of latino response to Ken Burns not-including and then including stories of latinos in The War. I’m less interested in reactions than in the stories themselves. So I’ll dip into one oft-cited oral history archive to find stories that keep with the theme of “last night’s show” for inclusion here.

Today, two stories from the Pacific theatre of war: Bataan death march and being taken prisoner of war by the Japanese.

From the narrative of Philip James Benavides, who served in the Pacific. He was a musician that was part of the Marine Band; he fought on Guadalcanal and Bouganville, and was taken prisoner of war.

Circumstances forced the 9th Marine bandsmen into combat as they headed back to the frontlines to replenish supplies and retrieve the wounded and the dead.

“It was unbelievable. The more we battled,” he said. “I guess you could say you got used to it.”

Hungry and tired, the Marines would eat anything they could scrounge up, including roots and grubworms.

After contracting (and recuperating from) malaria, he went island-hopping again in the Pacific

On Nov. 1, 1943, Staff Sgt. ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on September 24, 2007 in • Online Oral History CollectionsOral History ProjectsVeterans History Project
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Two Companion Web Sites to Ken Burns’s The War

The Veterans History Project’s companion site features stories from its collection about the events described in each episode. Episode 1 covers Pearl Harbor, Bataan Death March, Guadalcanal and Japanese American internment camps. And I’ve linked to it before, the PBS Site for The War… the site got a revamp and facelift. Happy to see a prominent link from the PBS site to the Veterans History Project site.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • LinksOnline Oral History CollectionsOral history in the newsVeterans History Project
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Veterans History Project casts wide net

Veterans History ProjectThe Veterans History Project is casting a wide net for 20th and 21st century wartime stories. The project is soliciting submissions from veterans –and civilians who directly participated – during the conflicts of WWI, WW2, Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War, and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Back in April of this year, Sarah Rouse, Senior Program Officer of the VHP, spoke at the Southwest Oral History Association’s annual meeting. Rouse described the project’s wide scope.

While many oral history projects are focused on a limited population, the Veterans History Project stands with the Slave Narrative Collection, the 1930’s WPA effort to record the recollections of as many living former slaves as possible, or the Shoah Project, which collects personal narratives of those survivors of the Nazi holocaust. Like these other collections, the Veterans History Project’s purpose is to collect, archive and curate as many personal recollections as it possibly can.

I like the fact that this national effort, funded by Congress and run through the Library of Congress’s American Folk Life division, is rooted in family oral history. Congressman Ron Kind of Wisconsin ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on September 23, 2007 in • Oral History ServicesTranscriptionVeterans History Project
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Veterans History Project Medal Controversy: Fraud or Clerical Error?

Veterans History Project buttonThe Veterans History Project’s web sites posts stories from its collection. An independent Medal of Honor watchdog fact-checks the recipients listed on the Project’s web site against the official records. Watchdog finds discrepancies, notifies Project. Vets History Project scrubs the bad records. Investigates. Is this a case of Lie-induced Nausea or Unfortunate Clerical Error?

Test yourself. Quick: Which of these is the true Medal of Honor? the Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal or the Medal of Honor (Air Force)?

This week, MSNBC reported that the Veterans History Project (VHP) took down listings of veterans whose reports receiving the Medal of Honor were false. And here’s the tricky bit. Were those listings fraud? Exaggeration? Error?  Doug Sterner, who operates an independent web site honoring those who have received the Medal of Honor, fact-checked the Veterans History Project‘s site and database and found the errors and reported it to the VHP. The Project notes that many of the false listings are due to clerical errors.

The accusation: “Gross Negligence”

Doug Sterner’s efforts are devoted to debunking false claims to receiving medals—and honoring the known recipients of the medals. He ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on September 22, 2007 in • Online Oral History CollectionsOral history in the newsVeterans History Project
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Yessss! A Mention in the US News cover story!!!

USNWR Sept 27 2007 cover
US News: Making History, by Alex Kingsbury. “From World War II soldiers to the survivors of Hurricane Katrina, more people are sharing their own memories to bring the past back to life.” I spoke with him back in June, the story mentions me and this site. Color me stoked. I’m planning to do a roundup of stories about Ken Burns and The War; I’m tickled that one of them will be slightly self-referential.

I discovered it this afternoon, immediately after posting Genealogy Carnival, after I took my broken-footed boyfriend to doctor’s office. So glad they subscribe to around 4 copies of US News & World Report. They said I could have a copy before I even said, “I’m in here. My name is right here.” 

Ahem. Back to business. There are several related articles and sidebars in this issue. In addition to the main story talking about the phenomenon of oral history and personal memory projects, there are these stories:

A Ken Burns profile—An Intimate View of ‘The War’.

Tips for Recording Oral Histories. Emphasis on equipment and video, and the wisdom of Donald Ritchie, author of Doing Oral ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on September 18, 2007 in • Oral history in the newsOral History ProjectsVeterans History Project
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