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Veterans Share Stories at History Roundtable

Joseph Vater, a World War II Veteran, talks with Kevin Farkas of the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Oral History Initiative.

Joseph Vater, a World War II Veteran, met with Kevin Farkas of the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Oral History Initiative during VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System's oral history roundtable Nov. 6.

By Sheila Tunney
Friday, November 7, 2014

Veterans and historians gathered at VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System Thursday for an oral history roundtable in honor of Veterans Day. VA Pittsburgh organized the event after local historians approached the VA to partner in recording Veterans' experiences in their own words.

"This was a terrific opportunity to meet several VA staff members and to talk about the importance of preserving and sharing our local Veterans' amazing stories--truly living history," said historian Kevin Farkas of the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Oral History Initiative.

Historian Chuck Jennings who submits histories to the Library of Congress' Veterans History Project collection, also participated. Jennings was able to pre-interview two World War II Veterans who are now in their mid-nineties. He said he will research the battles and units the Veterans mentioned during the interviews, then schedule times to formally record their stories.

VA Pittsburgh videographer Scott Guido who made on-the-spot recordings of Veterans who came to the event, said some of the stories were very compelling.

"One of the guys recounted losing his friend who had to go outside the wire during the Tet Offensive and feeling responsible for his death because he didn't lend that buddy his forty-five," Guido said. The Veteran later learned his friend had died in a bomb blast. But for a long time, the incident affected the Veteran's ability to say no to other people.

World War II Veteran Edward Noullet is interviewed by historian Chuck Jennings during the Oral History Roundtable.

World War II Veteran Edward Noullet is interviewed by historian Chuck Jennings during the Oral History Roundtable.

Another historian, John Bailey, was unable to attend but sent a copy of his documentary, "Duty, Courage, Honor (The Alle-Kiski Valley Goes to War)." The film features short oral histories of Veterans from communities straddling the Allegheny and Kiskiminetas Rivers who went to war from the 1940s to the 1970s, and played during the event.

Army Lt. Col. Bruce Kish, a military historian, also attended and provided information about submitting soldiers' histories to the Army's archives.

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