Veterans Oral History Project of the 8th AFHS-Mn

 
 
      The Eighth Air Force Historical Society of Minnesota Veterans Oral History Project interviews veterans about their time in service at a time and place that convenient to them. This should preferably be in a relaxed and quiet setting, such as across  the kitchen table at home or in a conference room at the Knights of Columbus Hall. Photos and documents can be scanned at the interview.
       Interviews are conducted by a trained and experienced interviewer and videotaped. Copies of the resulting video DVD are made for the veteran's family, and copies are archived for the use of future scholars. The interview is also published for the education and benefit of the general public on the web.
       Interviewees are required to sign a release of the incidents of ownership and copyright to the interview to the Eighth Air Force Historical Society of Minnesota, which may re-release the interview rights to other historical archives, such as the Minnesota Historical Society. (See form below under attachments.) Eventually, edited interviews may also be published in transcript and book form, with proceeds, if any, used to support other activities and projects of the Eighth Air Force Historical Society of Minnesota-a non profit organization which perpetuates and preserves our history and cultural heritage.
     The Veterans Oral History Project is a good alternative for veterans who do not wish to give a luncheon presentation due to health issues, a general aversion to public speaking, or other reasons, and who want to permanantly preserve their story for their family, later generations, and the education of the general public, while potentially benefiting future 8thAFHS-Mn activities.
     If you would like to participate, please contact Vince Parker or Kevin Callahan (call0031@gmail.com).
 
Some examples of topics 
 
Full Name (name in service, if different)
Nicknames
Date and Place of Birth
Parents and their background
Siblings
Place where you grew up
Schools attended
First experience with airplanes
Early jobs
Memories of Pearl Harbor
Induction
Basic training
Ground school
Classification
Specialty training school(s)
Advanced school(s)
Crew assignment
Memorable other crew members
Unit and designators
Airplane pickup
Airplane characteristics
Job responsibilities
Memorable equipment
Transportion to war zone
Training missions in theater
Memorable missions
Photos, log books, diaries, letters home, telegrams, written orders, other saved documents
Mission dangers/losses
POW experiences
Life on base
Meeting locals
USO shows/Meeting famous people
Trip home
Memories of V-E and V-J Day
Discharge
Life after the war
Reunions and Honor Flights
Trips back to Airbases
etc.
 
TRANSCRIPTS OF ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEWS
James Robert McDougall WWII NAVY PBY ORDNANCEMAN SW PACIFIC.
Yvonne (Welch) McDougall WWII NAVY WAVES, PAYROLL, SAN DIEGO.
Clinton Benedict Johnson WWII B-29 NAVIGATOR-BOMBARDIER, SAIPAN.
Alvin H. (Al) Lieberman WWII P-47 FIGHTER PILOT, 9th AF, ENGLAND, FRANCE, GERMANY. 
Floyd Everel Keller WWII NAVY GUNNER"S MATE, USS GOLDSBOROUGH (APD) OKINAWA.
Dexter Charles Shultz WWII B-24 PILOT, 15TH AF, 49TH BW, 484TH BG, 824TH SQ, ITALY.
Robert Vernon Gravrok WW II B-17 NAVIGATOR, 8TH AF, 390TH BG, 568th SQ, ENGLAND.
Robert Edwin Holden WWII ARMY QUARTERMASTER CO. 1914, PEARL HARBOR, SW PACIFIC.
Edmund M. Erickson WWII B-24 BOMBARDIER, 8TH AF, 801ST & 492ND BG, 859TH SQ. ENGLAND, ITALY.
Albert Joseph Carriveau WWII B-29 AIRCRAFT ELECTRICIAN, 8TH AF, ALAMOGORDO, N.M.
Henry Vennemann (Pete) Patzke WWII ARMY MEDIC ON SHIPS, NORMANDY AND ANZIO.
Lawrence Glenn (Larry) Taylor WWII B-24 NAVIGATOR, INTELLIGENCE OFFICER, 8th AF, 448TH BG, 715TH SQ, SEETHING, ENGLAND. 

 
This project was made possible by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on November 4, 2008. Administered by the Minnesota Historical Society.
 
 The Minnesota Historical Society on their "Minnesota's Greatest Generation" website suggests the following procedures with possible questions and topics for an Oral History Interview.

"Each interview should begin with a brief introduction, which the interviewer may record before leaving for the interview. Include the date, the names of the narrator and the interviewer, and describe the place where the interview will take place - such as the narrator's home.

For best results divide the interview into a series of topics, with questions relating to each topic asked in sequence. While there may be some overlap, the interview will proceed more smoothly if it is organized around topics like those suggested below.

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

  • What is your full name? For married women ask for a maiden name as well.
  • Where were you born, and when?
  • Briefly describe your life before the war (particularly education and the job you held)
  • Were you married or single?
  • Where were you when you heard the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor?
  • Did you enlist or were you drafted?
  • What did you deal with your job at the time your enlisted or were drafted?
  • If you were married, how did you arrange things with your spouse?
  • Describe why you enlisted or how you felt when you were drafted

WARTIME EXPERIENCES

  • What was your branch of service?
  • Why did you choose that branch of service?
  • When did you enter service?
  • Where did you enter service?
  • Where did you receive your basic training?
  • How did you travel to the training site?
  • Describe basic training.
  • Describe the people you trained with in basic training.
  • What weapon(s) did you qualify on during basic training?
  • What was your job?
  • Were you sent overseas? If so, describe where you were sent and how you got there
  • What theater of operations were you in?
  • How long did it take for you to reach your theater of operations?
  • Describe any training you received after you arrived overseas?
  • What type of equipment were you issued before you were sent overseas?
  • Were you involved in combat? Describe your most memorable combat experiences
  • If you were not in combat, describe the most memorable experiences in your work
  • Were you ever a prisoner of war? If so, describe that experience
  • How long did you serve overseas?
  • When and where did you return home?

OTHER EXPERIENCES DURING THE WAR

  • During service how did you keep in touch with your family?
  • How was the food during the time you were in service?
  • What did you do for entertainment?
  • Did you ever go on leave? Where did you go and what did you do?
  • Did you feel stress? How did you deal with it?
  • How did you feel about the people with whom you served? Describe some of them

LIFE AFTER THE WAR

  • Where were you when your service ended?
  • How soon were you able to come home? Describe your homecoming
  • What did you do in the months after coming home?
  • Did you return to the job you left? If not, why?
  • Did you take advantage of the G. I. Bill?
  • If so, where did you go to school what did you study?
  • What has your career been since the war?
  • How did your military service affect your life in the years afterward?
  • Do you still have friends you made while in service?
  • How often do you see them?
  • Would you like to add anything to this interview?
  • Thank the narrator for his or her time and for sharing their memories.
 Some examples of videotaped  interviews of the Veterans Oral History Project of the 8th AFHS-Mn appear on the web pages listed on the right side of this page and also on You Tube.
For example see:
 
Al Lieberman P-47 Pilot, 9th AF, 02:09:39
James McDougall, PBY Ordnanceman, SW Pacific, 01:00:43
Yvonne McDougall, Navy WAVE, 00:56:38
Clinton B. Johnson, B-29 Navigator-Bombardier, 20th AF, 01:51:53
Bob Gravrok, B-17 Navigator, 8th AF, 01:09:50
Larry Taylor, B-24 Navigator, 8th AF, 4 hrs in editing
Floyd Keller, Gunners Mate, US Navy APD Okinawa, 01:57:56
Al Carriveau, Aviation Mechanic, 8th AF, 01:24:02
Bob Holden, Quartermaster Co. Army Air Corps, 01:13:40
Dexter Shultz, B-24 Pilot, 15th AF, 00:41:37
Ed Erickson, B-24 Bombardier, 8th AF, 01:17:56
Pete Patzke, US Army Medic, 01:02:57
Bernard "Bud" Dicks, USMC Bazookaman, Tinian and Okinawa, 01:05:17
 
 The Library of Congress suggests the following possible questions for interviews:
Sample Interview Questions: General Questions
It is the interviewer’s job to make the interviewee feel comfortable and to be a good listener. Each interview session will be unique. The following is an outline (not a script) to help the interviewer guide the veteran through the conversation. Tailor the questions as you and the veteran see fit, and focus on asking thoughtful follow-up questions on topics of conversation that might be of interest to historians and researchers.

Introduction
The interviewer must begin the recording by stating his or her name and organization affiliation (if any), the veterans full name, the date and general location in which the interview is being conducted. Please do not disclose private information such as home addresses, military serial numbers or Social Security numbers.

Biographical Details
Where were you born?
Who are/were your parents and what are/were their occupations?
Who are/were your siblings? Names and genders?  Which, if any, serve/served in the military?
What were your parents’ or siblings’ feelings about you joining the service
What primary and secondary schools or college did you attend?
Did you hold any jobs before entering the service? 
Early Days of Service
Can you tell us about when you went into the military? Were you drafted, or did you enlist?
(If enlisted) Why did you join?
What or who did you leave behind (family, child, pet) when you left to serve?
In which branch did you enter? 
(If enlisted) Why did you choose that branch?
How did you get to your initial point of entry?
What type of training or schooling did you have?  (Advance Course Warrant Officer Basic, Warrant Officer Advance, Warrant Officer Senior Course, "Boot-strap" Command and General Staff College or equivalent, War College or equivalent (getting a degree-either Bachelors, Masters or PhD).
What is your most vivid memory of your time training or in school?  What was the best part?  What was the worst part?  
Does any particular instructor stand out in your mind?  If yes, why?
What was your first assignment after basic training?
Did you receive any specialized training?  If so, what?
Do you recall your instructors?  If so, what were they like?
Did you qualify with equipment (vehicles, aircraft, radios, weapons, etc.)?
(If Yes) What was training with that equipment like?
What was the hardest part of training?
Did you receive any promotions?  Could you tell me about them?
What was the hardest part of the military life-style for you to adapt to? Why do you think it was?
What was the easiest part of the military life-style for you to adapt to? Why do you think it was?
Wartime Service
Recommend using Wartime Service Questions as natural follow ups when individual starts describing wartime service.

Where did you serve?
What are your recollections of that experience?
Were you in a combat, combat support, or combat service support role?  Or did the war zone make that designation irrelevant? 
(If combat/ wartime) How did your combat (wartime) experience change you?
What kinds of friendships and camaraderie did you form while serving, and with whom?
How did you stay in touch with family and friends?
What did you do for recreation or when you were off duty?
Do you recall any particularly humorous or unusual events?
Was there something you did for "good luck?"
What was the best part of your service experience?
End of Service
Do you recall the day service ended? Where were you when your service ended?
Did you return home? Where were you?
How were you received by your family and community?
How did you readjust to civilian life? Did you work or go back to school?
Did the G.I. Bill support your education?
How did service change you?
Did you continue any friendships after service? For how long?
How did service affect the way you relate to others?
Did you join a veteran organization?
Do you attend reunions?
Reflections
How did your military service experiences affect your life?
What are some life lessons you learned from your military service?
How has your military service impacted your feelings about war and the military in general?
What message would you like to leave for future generations who will view/hear this interview?
Conclusion
Thank you for taking the time to share your recollections of your military service.

Is there anything you would like to add that we have not covered in this interview?
Is there anything you've always wanted to share about your service or veteran experience that you never have?
What would you like people to know or remember from your story?
Is there anything else we should talk about that we haven't covered?
What do you wish more people knew about veterans?
 
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K Callahan,
Nov 3, 2011, 10:42 AM
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K Callahan,
Nov 3, 2011, 10:42 AM
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