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DVD project helps capture WWII memories

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POSTED December 8, 2013 11:20 p.m.

The introduction is brief, but it packs a heady and heavy punch, not just in an emotional but in a very inspirational way.

This is no ordinary project after all – a living history relieved by the 14 people interviewed for the DVD project put together by O’Connor Woods Independent Living in Stockton – American men and women soldiers from the Greatest Generation who served during World War II overseas and on American soil. They are now in their golden years, several of them walking with the aid of a cane or walker, but memories of their war experiences remain fresh in their minds as their interviews show.

“From the pages of history, meet fourteen World War II veterans who share memories and experiences that bring this historical event to life. Whether stationed in the United States, living in a fox hole in the Vosges mountains, or spending time as a POW, they have stories to tell that offer glimpses of history women throughout World War II from 1939-1945. These veterans served in a wide variety of capacities, from pilots to nurses, and parachute rigger to the Royal Air Force Police. It is with great gratitude and respect to these brave men and women that we present the O’Connor Woods Memories of World War II,” the four-sentence introduction reads as black and white war scenes are played out in the background at the beginning of the roughly hour-long program.

Linda Kay of Manteca played a major part in this historic project. She was, at the time, working at O’Connor Woods as marketing director. Kay, who recently retired, is a writer whose first book was about feng shui and was one of the authors featured in last month’s Great Valley Bookfest held at the Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley in Manteca.

Below are the 14 veterans who were interviewed for the project and were residents of O’Connor Woods at that time. Included in the information were their ranks and the years they were in service during the war. One of them has since passed away.

•Marsha Atkinson – Army Air Force sergeant, parachute rigger and repairman, 1942-45.

•Frank Bertram – Army Air Force, navigator, 1st lieutenant, POW 1943-45.

•Morris Brockman – Royal Air  Force

•RegDunster – Royal Canadian Air Force

•Elaine Fineran – Army Nurse Corps

•Ed Greef – Army staff sergeant, heavy weapons platoon, 1942-45

•Keith Cornell – Army Air Force, B-17 pilot, 1st lieutenant, 1941-45

•Bob Harrell – Navy

•Marjorie Johnson – Navy WAVES 1st class petty officer

•Gaius Little – Air Force, sergeant, engineer/mechanic, 1941-45

•Alice Rainwater – Army, physical therapist, 1st lieutenant, 1944-46

•Frank Reed – Marines corporal, engine changer on F4U Corse Air Fighter, 1943-46

•Presley Schuler – Army infantry, PFC, Rifle Company, 1944-46.

•Richard Wong – Army division pharmacist, 28th Infantry, 1942-45

While the DVD living history project was under way last year, several of the veterans who were interviewed were invited to the Haggin Museum to be part of the May 19 Armed Forces Day event that was taking place that day. The museum main event was a photo exhibit featuring photographs taken by various photographers during World War II, explained Kay who said she was deeply touched by the veterans’ stories in their own words, particularly that of Battle of the Bulge soldier Ed Greef.

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