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Veterans History Project News: Spring/Summer 2003

The VHP, in partnership with AARP and the History Center in Atlanta, Georgia, commemorated D-Day by honoring local veterans. Distinguished participants included VA Secretary Anthony J. Principi, Governor Sonny Perdue, VHP Georgia partners and AARP representatives. Five veterans talked about their experiences: Lt. Col. Charles W. Dryden (Ret.), a Tuskegee Airman; Bob "Punchy" Powell, an Army Air Corps fighter pilot in World War II; Helen Denton, who typed the battle plans for the invasion of France; Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Harold Dye, who helped liberate Buchenwald concentration camp; and Jack Brice, an AARP board member and manager of the OIC, AFRS (Armed Forces Radio Service) during the Vietnam War. VHP partner organizations in Georgia who attended the event included the 555 Parachute Infantry Association ("Triple Nickles"), Prater's Mill Historical Society, Americans Remembered, Inc., and the Secretary of State of Georgia. U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston of Savannah launched the project in his district on May 29.

Memorial Day, 2003, was different from many in the past years in that it clearly reflected a renewed national awareness of the sacrifices made by those who serve by defending our country.

On Memorial Day, personal stories of American veterans came alive on our Web site. Under the headings of Courage, Patriotism, and Community, twenty-one fully digitized collections of materials submitted by veterans and civilians were made available for the first time on the Library of Congress Web site at http://www.loc.gov/vets/ or http://www.loc.gov/vets/stories/.
More information is available in the VHP Presents: Experiencing War section of this newsletter.

VHP's annual Partner meeting in May saw over ninety persons from seventy plus partner organizations gather in the historic Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress. After a morning bus tour of the Korean, Vietnam, and Women in Military Service war memorials, partners joined VHP Five Star Council members for a working lunch. The afternoon was spent discussing strategies and creative solutions for generating interviews, obtaining funding and equipment, as well as pairing compatible interviewers and interviewees.

The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), a Partner of the Veterans History Project, is working on a pilot program to transcribe audio cassettes submitted to the Veterans History Project, and has already completed a number of transcriptions. "This is a great example of an organization using its resources and talents to participate in a meaningful way," said Ellen McCulloch-Lovell, director of the Veterans History Project. NCRA, a 25,000-member organization, is committed to providing comprehensive and accurate information for the benefit of the public and private sectors. If you would like more information about NCRA, please visit them on the Web at http://www.ncraonline.org.

  • If your contact information has changed since you filed your partner form, please let us know by calling 202-707-4916, fax 202-252-2046, e-mail vohp@loc.gov, or write to the Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center 101 Independence Avenue, SE Washington DC 20540-4615
  • Please note that mail is still slow due to security measures. Other means of communication are recommended.

Five Star Council Profile:
Lieutenant General Julius W. Becton
USA, (Ret.)

Gen. Julius W. Becton's distinguished public service career includes nearly 40 years in the U. S. Army. He is a graduate of top military schools, including the Army's Command and General Staff College, the Armed Forces Staff College, and the National War College. He holds several honorary doctoral degrees and is the recipient of many other honors and awards.

Gen. Becton entered active duty in the U.S. Army Air Corps in July 1944 and graduated from Infantry OCS in 1945. A veteran of three wars-World War II, Korea, and Vietnam - he served in various positions at many posts. Overseas duty carried him to Germany, France, the Southwest Pacific including the Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, and Japan. One of his key duty assignments included command of the 1st Cavalry Division.

Gen. Becton has served as director of the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance AID, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, COO for the American Coastal Industries, and president of Prairie View A&M University. From 1989 to 1994, Becton was chairman of the Science and Engineering Alliance, director of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, and director of the Boy Scouts of America, Sam Houston Area Council. Finally, Becton served as the superintendent of District of Columbia Public Schools from 1996 to 1998.


African American History Month

The Veterans History project was proud to cosponsor veteran journalist and three-time Emmy-award winner Renee Poussaint at the Library of Congress African American History Month in February. Ms. Poussaint highlighted the stories of African American Veterans in the National Visionary Leadership Project (NVLP) collections. NVLP is an organization cofounded by Dr. Camille Cosby and Ms. Poussaint. The NVLP is a national effort to encourage leadership potential by recording and preserving the oral histories of African American elders. The videotaped interviews are available for viewing at http://www.visionaryproject.com and at the NVLP's research library located in Washington, D.C.

Women's History Month

Veterans History Project staff featured VHP's collections at an open house "Salute to Women" celebrating Women's History Month at the Library of Congress in March. The multimedia presentation showcased materials submitted by, and on behalf of, women who served in the Armed Forces or in support of the war effort in World War I, World War II, the Korean, Vietnam, and Persian Gulf Wars.

Did you know that:

"Women have served in the American armed forces for almost 100 hundred years-since 1901-when the Army Nurse Corps was established. The Navy Nurse Corps soon followed in 1908.

Women who were not nurses were first enlisted in the Navy and Marine Corps during World War I. Only nurses served in the Army during this war; but the Army did hire about 200 civilian women who were fluent in both English and French to serve as telephone operators. These women, often referred to as the 'Hello Girls,' were later given veterans' status."

For more information: http://www.gordon.army.mil/OCOS/Museum/hlogrl.asp

The independent, nonprofit Women's Research & Education Institute has just published the Fourth Edition of Women in the Military: Where They Stand.

Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month

Francis Y. Sogi, Esq., member of the VHP's Five Star Council, and veteran of World War II, highlighted the stories of Asian American veterans in May at a kick-off event for the Library's commemoration of Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month. Mr. Sogi's selections pointed out the irony that Japanese American soldiers had family members interned in the United States, while they in turn liberated concentration camp victims in Europe. Born in Hawaii, Mr. Sogi joined the Military Intelligence Service in 1944. He served with the Counter Intelligence Corps, rising to the rank of Captain.

Bob Hope's 100th Birthday
Library of Congress Celebration

On May 22, the Library of Congress celebrated the 100th birthday of Bob Hope with a reprise of vaudeville, Broadway, and USO tours to entertain the troops. In a special segment, Peggy Bulger, director of the American Folklife Center, interviewed Tony Hope as well as famous dancers Fayard Nicholas and Patty Thomas who shared their memories of tours made with Bob Hope during WWII, as well as the Korean and Vietnam Wars. The Library of Congress acquired the Bob Hope Collection in 1998 and opened the permanent "Bob Hope Gallery of American Entertainment" in 2000. For more information please visit http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/bobhope.

VHP Statistics/Highlights

  • At the end of May, the number of VHP partners topped 700, and the total of individual submissions reached the 7,000 mark. The actual number of items is in the 20,000 range. Since the beginning of the year, Sen. John McCain and Veterans Affairs secretary Anthony J. Principi were interviewed for the Veterans History Project.
  • The VHP Web site logged over 50,000 hits around Memorial Day thanks to wonderful publicity by congressional offices, CBS, CNN, radio, as well as national and local press.

Web-Ready Graphics

The Veterans History Project can now provide you with Web-ready graphics featuring the VHP logo. The link below displays four graphics: the standard VHP logo (one size), and a new version of the logo with an American flag background and the words "official partner" (three sizes). HTML code has been provided for each graphic, and you may simply copy the code and paste it into your HTML document for your Web site.


Please refer to our logo policy about use of these graphics and feel free to contact us if you have questions.

Workshop Reminder

To arrange a free oral interview workshop in your area, please call our Training Coordinator, David Albee, at 202-707-3410 or e-mail him at dalb@loc.gov with the date, place, and time you would like to host a workshop; indicate how many participants you will have (a group of about 20 to 30 is suggested); and who the partner organization contact will be.


Noted illustrator and author Tracy Sugarman donated his collection of drawings from World War II to the Library of Congress June 18. As he walked away from handing his important materials to the nation, Mr. Sugarman said he felt he was giving us "his youth."


Five Star Council Profile
Web-Ready Graphics

Members of Congress Share their Wartime Stories

The Veterans History Project conducted its second annual congressional briefing in March. Over 50 congressional offices were represented. We encourage partners to contact their local representatives to inform them of efforts to collect veterans' stories. The following Members of Congress have already recorded their wartime stories for the VHP collection at the Library of Congress:

  • Hon. Joe Baca, U.S. Representative, California (43rd District)
  • Hon. Leonard L. Boswell, U.S. Representative, Iowa (3rd District)
  • Hon. Steve Buyer, U.S. Representative, Indiana (4th District)
  • Hon. Thomas R. Carper, U.S. Senator, Delaware
  • Hon. Max Cleland, Former U.S. Senator, Georgia
  • Hon. Rodney Frelinghuysen, U.S. Representative, New Jersey (11th District)
  • Hon. Martin Frost, U.S. Representative, Texas (24th District)
  • Hon. Benjamin A. Gilman, Former U.S. Representative, New York (20th District)
  • Hon. Chuck Hagel, U.S. Senator, Nebraska
  • Hon. Tom Harkin, U.S. Senator, Iowa
  • Hon. Amo Houghton, U.S. Representative, New York (29th District)
  • Hon. Sam Johnson, U.S. Representative, Texas (3rd District)
  • Hon. Jim Kolbe, U.S. Representative, Arizona (8th District)
  • Hon. John McCain, U.S. Senator, Arizona
    Interviewed by Michelle Kelly, Battleship Massachusetts, with support from VHP
  • Hon. Stevan Pearce, U.S. Representative, New Mexico (2nd District)
  • Hon. Joe Pitts, U.S. Representative, Pennsylvania (16th District)
  • Hon. Edward Schrock, U.S. Representative, Virginia (2nd District)

Reunion Query

The Manhattan Project Heritage Preservation Association is holding a reunion in Washington, D.C. this October, and is trying to locate veterans associated with the project. For more information about the reunion, please contact Executive Director Michael Vickio at 607-535-5596, or e-mail him at urchin1945@stny.rr.com.

The mission of The Manhattan Project Heritage Preservation Assoc., Inc., is to preserve the historical importance of the Manhattan Project, to recognize and memorialize the efforts of the Manhattan Project veterans, and to promote the safe and beneficial use of atomic energy. Web site:


Please send us information about your upcoming events, and if you would like Veterans History Project materials (i.e., brochures, book marks, buttons) sent for distribution, please give us ample time to mail these. We are interested in hearing about upcoming reunions, public programs, and celebrations. Announcements can be sent to Anneliesa Clump at aclump@loc.gov.

Free Subscription to Folklife Center News

The Veterans History Project is part of the American Folklife Center. If you are interested in American folklife, the subscription to the Folklife Center News magazine is free. To subscribe, please contact the Center with your name and postal address. They may be reached at: folklife@loc.gov or American Folklife Center, Library of Congress 101 Independence Avenue, SE Washington, D.C. 20540--610.

VHP Presents: Experiencing War

"Every veteran has his or her own war, and each is custodian of a unique story and memories," opens the brand new VHP Web site presentation of personal narratives culled from the 7,000 collections the Veterans History Project has received to date. The interviews, letters, photographs and written memoirs covering themes of "courage, patriotism and community" can be heard and read on-line at http://www.loc.gov/vets or http://www.loc.gov/vets/stories.

Rhona Marie "Ronnie" Knox Prescott served in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps in Vietnam from 1961 to 1975. In triage, it was her job to decide... "Let that one go; put that one on the table; this one can wait..." In her interview with Judith Kent, a volunteer at the Flagler County (Florida) Public Library, Prescott recalls that it was "like playing God... there was no one else to do it."

Violet Hill Gordon of Chicago enlisted during World War II with her best friend, Mildred Osby, to join the Women's Auxiliary Army. Gordon, an African-American, entered the segregated Army and was eventually promoted to commanding officer in the 6888th Central Postal Directory.

John W. Earle from Dryden, New York, served four years as Special Services Officer in the 14th Infantry, 71st Division of the Army. Earle kept up a lengthy correspondence with his mother, grandmother and other members of his family. His letters - readable online - regale us with his extraordinary efforts to provide entertainment for the troops in service.

Other veterans featured on the site include: Corbin B. Willis Jr.; Sen. Chuck Hagel; William Valentine Loncaric; Sen. Max Cleland; William Jennings Arnett; Bruce Donald Fenchel; Rep. Steve Buyer; Rep. Joe Baca; James Walsh; Sen. Tom Carper; Isabelle Cook; Rep. Benjamin Gilman; Ben M. Snyder; Patricia Seawalt; Patricia Lala; Sally Hitchcock Pullman; John Caspar Wister; Rep. Amo Houghton.

"This project is a catalyst," said Lee Woodman, executive producer of the new story site. "Through it individuals realize how their experiences are distinct and priceless, and that they too might have a story to share."

Partner News

Sheila Lichtenstein of the Leisure World Historical Society in Laguna Woods, California, reports the following:

"The Leisure World Historical Society is in full swing in our Veterans Project. We are now finishing our 45th tape and we think they are getting better each time. Each story is more exciting than the next. It has taught us that we can find the historical facts about each World War II battle by going to either a history book or the Internet, but the visceral, straight from the gut story about actually living in the midst of that battle is the story our video tapes tell.

We are very fortunate to have the greatest group of volunteers. The Video Club of Leisure World has volunteered all their facilities and their video buffs at the disposal of this labor of love project. We have two fabulous schedulers, Tobey Greenspan and Caroline Epstein, who bring together the Veteran, the Interviewer, and the Video club for our many tapings. We have over 700 Veterans registered and in the data bank of our World War II project and we are rushing to get as many as possible on tape. The Historical Society of Leisure World, Laguna Woods, California, has been generous with their support of the Veterans History Project. With all this support we are able to bring to this project the unheard of voices of the aging group of WWII veterans."

* * * * *

For the second year, the Veterans History Project will present and participate in AARP's national conference for its members and guests. "Life@50+: A Celebration of You" will take place September 5-7, 2003 in Chicago. For more information, go to http://www.aarp.org/events/.

Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20540-4615

Newsletter email: vohp@loc.gov

Newsletter contributors: Anneliesa Clump, Jim Hardin, Nancy Mitchell, Tim Roberts, Sarah Rouse, Virginia Sorkin, Taru Spiegel.


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