War Veterans’ Oral History Project
Dr. Gary Rice, MCJ professor of print journalism, started the War Veterans’ Oral History Project in 2009-2010 and is the director of the project. The project gives veterans an opportunity to preserve their stories in their own words while students learn history from the people who made it. MCJ journalism lecturer Alice Daniel is the co-director.
In the fall 2010 semester, students conducted more than 80 interviews. This was the second semester for the project. The new interviews will be added to the first group, already cataloged and available to scholars, researchers and the public in the library's Special Collections Research Center.
Interviews with more than 50 veterans of conflicts from World War II through Iraq and Afghanistan were presented on Dec. 9, 2010 to the Henry Madden Library at California State University, Fresno as part of the Central California War Veterans’ Oral History Project.
The veterans and the 28 mass communication and journalism students of Dr. Gary Rice's class who interviewed them were honored at a reception in the Table Mountain Rancheria Reading Room of the library.
At the ceremony, Charlie Waters, state judge advocate of the American Legion, praised the project for bringing together veterans and students.
The project will continue in 2011, involving mass communication students as well as 15 students from the Smittcamp Family Honors College.
The oral histories — transcripts and audio recordings that meet accepted historical standards and guidelines — will be kept permanently in a special collection at the library.
Veterans include survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack and the Battle of the
Bulge and a bomber crew member, who was one of the first Americans to fly against a German-built jet during World War II. Other interviews are with former prisoners of war; participants in Korean War events like the Battle of Heartbreak Ridge and the POW riots at Koje-do; a Vietnam War bugler and soldiers involved in fierce fighting during the Tet Offensive; and several recent veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.
“Every veteran has a story to tell, and our students are doing their part to ensure the stories get told,” Rice said.