September 13, 2018 Veterans History Project Highlights Cold War Collections
Press Contact: Benny Seda-Galarza (202) 707-8732
Public Contact: Megan Harris (202) 707-8205 | Lisa Taylor (202) 707-2333
Website: Cold War Dispatches: Service Stories from 1947-1991
The Veterans History Project (VHP) in the Library of Congress today launched a website feature, titled “Cold War Dispatches: Service Stories from 1947-1991,” as part of its “Experiencing War” online series. The feature highlights the stories of veterans who served in non-combatant roles within the military between 1947 and 1991, commonly referred to as the Cold War era.
The feature focuses on 12 digitized collections found in the VHP archive, each of which includes the first-person narrative of a veteran who served during this challenging period marked by global tensions, and the absence of clearly delineated front lines.
One of the collections included in “Cold War Dispatches” is that of Agnes Gomez Patterson, who enlisted in the Air Force in 1950, armed only with her birth certificate, high school diploma and five dollars. When she arrived at the Lackland Air Force base, located in Bexar County, Texas, for basic training, she discovered she was the only Mexican-American within her 150-woman squadron.
Patterson served as a teletype operator with the 62nd Communications Squadron for two years. During that time, she engaged in several activities to help boost her confidence and improve her communication skills, such as softball, basketball and bowling.
Inspired by his older brother, Vincent William Patton III first attempted to enlist in the Navy – only to mistakenly walk into the Coast Guard recruiting office and never look back. Over the years, Patton rose in the ranks, despite the racist treatment he received aboard ship.
He made history as the first coast guardsman to serve as a senior enlisted advisor on a joint task force to send troops into Haiti. Later in his career, he served as master chief of the Coast Guard, during which time he developed a branch-wide culture of diversity and support for cultural differences, including sexual orientation.
Also included in the feature is the story of private first-class Tecumseh Nathaniel Underwood, a Seminole Indian who enlisted in the Army because he faced such limited prospects for employment in his native Oklahoma.
He also chose to serve out of a strong sense of patriotism and family duty – both his grandfather and father were veterans. Stationed in West Berlin from 1962 to 1965, Underwood witnessed some of the Cold War pivotal moments.
Go to loc.gov/vets/stories/ex-war-coldwar.html to access these veterans’ collections as well as those of others who served their country with distinction during the Cold War era.
Congress created the Veterans History Project in 2000 to collect, preserve and make accessible the firsthand remembrances of U.S. war veterans from WWI through the more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war. For more information, visit loc.gov/vets/ or call the toll-free message line at (888) 371-5848. Subscribe to the VHP web feed to receive periodic updates of VHP news and on Facebook @vetshistoryproject.
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