WWII veterans tell their stories – Central Florida WWII Museum

November 1, 2010

Part of the Veterans History Project, a museum in Florida interviews World War II veterans, and much of the material shows up on YouTube.

These interviews offer great resources for student projects, and are simply a grand way to capture history.

See this story about “Flying the Hump,” transporting war materiel over the Himalayas into China; it’s an interview with E. W. “Bill” Cutler, one of the fliers who survived:

This interview caught my attention for a personal reason.  My uncle, Bruce Davis, died flying the route.  His aircraft and remains were recovered more than 30 years later — someone stumbled on the wreckage accidentally.  When an aircraft went down for any reason (usually weather), the crews passed into a limbo that comprised a special hell for their families.  It was almost impossible that anyone would survive, as Cutler details.  But, with no wreckage and no remains, there were always questions.

Update: Brother Dwight informed me his father-in-law served at the last base before the airplanes went over the mountains.  We have more family Himalayan connections than I knew.

This interview has a mere 152 views as of this posting — pass it around, let’s bump the viewing total up, and get the story out.  At YouTube, the Central Florida WWII Museum has its own channel, listing several similar interviews.

I could see each student assigned to one interview, to tell the story of the interview to the class, to research the background of the theatre of war discussed, the battle, the incident, the armaments, the nations and people involved — to make a history narrative out of the interview, in other words.    What other uses do you see?

Here’s the rest of the story:  The museum has not yet been built.  This project, the video interviews, is a place-holder, a way to communicate while raising the money to build an edifice to honor the veterans more appropriately.  It’s a virtual museum — one your students may browse from the classroom.  How cool is that?

Music stopped the deadly sniper

October 2, 2010

Fascinating story well told by the man who lived it:  After D-Day, an Allied unit was pinned down by a sniper.  Unable to move, and on an inspired whim, one of the American soldiers, Jack Leroy Tueller,  took out his trumpet, and played “Lili Marlene.”

Jack Tuler holding his trumpet, at 90 (maniacworld)

Jack Tueller holding his trumpet, at 90 (image from maniacworld/ Wearethemusic.com)

In the morning he was introduced to a German soldier, a sniper who had surrendered, unable to keep fighting after some mysterious trumpeter played the song that made him think of his home, his mother, his girlfriend, and love.

Two minutes of amazing history, vividly told and played, suitable for classroom use.

Go view “Taming a Nazi sniper with a trumpet,” at ManiacWorld.

[Is this the lost video from above? I think so.]

Videos say that Jack Tueller is 90 years old.  I’m guessing the video is about a year old — does anyone know any more about Col. Jack Tuler, his story, or where he livesCould this be the late Jack Tuler of Chicago? Hey, anyone:  Where is Jack Tueller today?  Who has his life details?  (Tueller lives today in Bountiful, Utah, with his wife, Marjorie.  He still plays the trumpet.)

Tip of the old scrub brush to Kenny, in China, and to Common American Journal, who had a YouTube copy.  Special tip of the old scrub brush to J. A. Higginbotham, who tracked down the Deseret News stories.

(Our YouTube host misspelled the name of the song, I think.)


Update, October 3, 2010: Reader J. A. Higginbotham tracked down two stories in the Deseret News, in Salt Lake City, about Col. Tueller.  I’ve corrected the spellings above, and edited otherwise to point to the details.  A new post is probably warranted.  Go to the Deseret News site and read their fine work, especially the long story by Doug Robinson.

Update March 2019: Both video links above seem to have died; here’s a video from StudiesWeekly.com, put up on YouTube in 2015.

Sad to hear, Jack Tueller died in 2016, at age 95.

Capturing history: Jim Brown at IUPUI and the Delaware Tribes

March 10, 2008

While you’re over looking at IUPUI and wondering whether you’ve ever heard of the campus before (sure you have — you follow the NCAA basketball tournament, right?), take a look at this video about Prof. Jim Brown and his work to record the history of the Delaware Tribe in photojournalism.

The Order of the Arrow, the camping honor society within U.S. Boy Scouting, takes much of its Indian Heritage from a tribe of the Delaware group, the Lenni Lenape. The last speaker of the Lenni Lenape language died in Oklahoma a couple of years ago; it’s good to see more efforts to record the rest of the heritage before it, too, slips away.

On-line workshop: How to do good oral history

September 13, 2007

Here’s what you need to get going on oral histories, especially for student projects:  A how-to guide (warning — 16 megabytes in .pdf), a workshop on doing oral histories, suggested questions to get you started, a budget sheet, interviewer and interviewee release forms — instant oral history project for your class, complete with lesson plans.

The T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History is a branch of the Louisiana State University (LSU) Library.  These materials are offered in workshops the library will do for you, but there is no reason not to use them yourself.

An important issue for student projects is where the oral histories they do should be archived — these are not just student projects, after all, but real, live, semi-pro history.  If you’re in Louisiana, the Williams Center will be happy to take some submissions (see their guidelines).  The Library of Congress is looking for interviews with veterans.  What other depositories invite submissions, and what local archives should you grace with new oral histories?  The LSU site offers links to dozens of other oral history depositories and sources.  See for example the University of North Texas Oral History Program, which has a focus on World War II veterans,  and The Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin.

Baltimore Scout collects, makes history

September 7, 2007

How about having your students work with the Library of Congress on a history project?

The Veterans History Project encourages people to contribute oral histories of veterans, a project that I think has some wonderful possibilities. Below the fold, read about Tim Mantegna, a Baltimore teen who collected histories as part of his Eagle project. This fall he enters the University of Maryland – Baltimore County to study political science, as an Eagle Scout.  (Also see this story:  “Iraq Veterans Record Their Stories”)

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