History came to life in April when three World War II veterans visited campus as part of the Veteran’s Oral History Project. Marge Behlen, Al Exner, and Dallas Kobriger (pictured below) met with U.S. History students and participated in oral history interviews. Behlen served as an Army Corps nurse with the 199th General Hospital in England and France; Exner served as a Corpsman in the U.S. Navy who saw action at Normandy and in the battle of Iwo Jima; and Kobriger served as a fireman first class with the U.S. Coast Guard on the destroyer USS Sellstrom as part of anti-submarine warfare and convoy duty. Dan Nettesheim, a history professor at West Point and an Academy graduate, also spent time with the students crafting questions and underscoring the value of primary source documentation.
The veteran’s candid accounts of their time during the war served as a powerful reminder of the importance of recording their memories for future generations to learn from. In addition to writing a paper largely based upon the interviews, the students, in partnership with the Bell Tower Memorial and St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy, will contribute videos of their interviews to add to a series of DVDs that will be presented to the Library of Congress.