LIBRARY OF CONGRESS VETERANS HISTORY PROJECT
HIGHLIGHTS D-DAY EXPERIENCES
"D-Day Stories" Goes Online May 20 to Honor 60th Anniversary
A new installment of 21 digitized collections of materials submitted
by veterans and civilians who were involved with D-Day are now
available on the Library of Congress Web site at
www.loc.gov/vets. A total of 348 individual wartime memories
are now online.
This fourth set of personal stories comprising interviews,
letters, photographs and written memoirs is part of a Web
presentation titled "Experiencing War: Stories from the
Veterans History Project." They join the growing online
collections from the American Folklife Center's Veterans
History Project on themes that include "Courage,"
"Life-Altering Experiences," "Family Ties" and
The personal narratives focus on three topics: experiences
during the June 6, 1944, D-Day landing of American and
British troops in Normandy, France, called "On the Beach";
efforts in support of the battle, "Beyond the Beach"; and
struggles in the days that followed, "D-Day Plus 1, D-Day
Plus 2...." The digitized materials are part of the continuing
effort by the Library to make its collections accessible online.
Additional materials will be made available online in the future.
"We encourage everyone to visit the Veterans History
Project online to learn more about D-Day and, in honor of
the 60th anniversary, to ask a veteran or civilian supporter,
'What did you do during the war?'" said Diane Nester Kresh,
director of the Library's Public Service Collections Directorate.
One of the veterans featured on the new section of the
"Experiencing War" online presentation, Claud Woodring,
was supposed to be among the first soldiers to land on the
beach on D-Day to demolish barbed wire so that the troops
could advance unimpeded. But he found himself swimming
to the beach when his boat hit a mine several hundred
yards from shore. Despite horrific casualty rates, Woodring
and his men achieved their objective, only to face a new
challenge: fighting the Germans amid the hedgerows of
Normandy. His vivid descriptions of the horrors on the
beach that day are a prelude to his account of chasing
the retreating German army through France.
At the age of 7, Robert Powell, now of Metamora, Ohio,
was taken for a ride up into the clouds by a barnstorming
pilot, and he was hooked on flying from then on. In
wartime Europe, he flew escort missions for bombers,
but his favorite job was the most dangerous one: strafing
ground positions. He was in his element on D-Day and
during the first weeks of the invasion, helping to
distract the enemy and provide cover for Allied troops.
Powell walked away from one plane crash so horrible
that his buddies were sure he had died. Since his
retirement, Powell has been documenting the history
of his squadron.
Arriving on Omaha Beach on June 8, D-Day Plus 2,
had its own dangers for John Sudyk of Huntsburg, Ohio.
For starters, the water was thick with jellyfish, and the
boat nearly hit a mine. "We were the most forward
element in that sector of Normandy," recalls Sudyk.
That also meant that he and his men offered a more
inviting target as they disembarked. His battalion soon
found itself working with General Patton's Third Army,
which saw action in nearly every major engagement in
the last 11 months of the war in Europe. In the final
portion of his interview tape, Sudyk's wife, Helen,
contributes her home front memories of working in a
The Library's Veterans History Project will participate
in the National World War II Reunion on the National
Mall in Washington during Memorial Day weekend,
May 27-30. The National World War II Reunion is
produced by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and
Cultural Heritage and the American Battle Monuments
Commission. One of seven pavilions and two
performance stages on the Mall during the Memorial Day
weekend, the Veterans History Project Pavilion (located
near the National Air and Space Museum) will collect
memoirs and stories on-site from those who experienced
the war overseas and on the home front.
During the National WWII Reunion, former Rep. Sam Gibbons
of Tampa, Fla., will share his experience from D-Day in the
Veterans History Project Pavilion at 11 a.m. on May 27. Bob
Powell of Atlanta, Tracy Sugarman of Westport, Conn.,
and Brig. Gen. Alvin D. Ungerleider of Burke, Va., will
participate in a panel discussion on D-Day in the Veterans
History Project Pavilion, at 2:15 p.m. on May 27.
Veterans from World War I, World War II, and the Korean,
Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars, and the civilians who
supported them, are coming forward to record their
personal stories and contribute personal documents for
a growing archives at the American Folklife Center at
the Library of Congress. The goal is to collect, preserve
and share with future generations the stories of all
American war veterans.
Authorized by legislation passed in 2000, the project
is being carried out in the way that Congress
envisioned: with grandchildren interviewing
grandparents, veterans interviewing each other, and
students conducting interviews as part of classroom
assignments. This program is a nationwide oral history
and documentation effort that relies on volunteers
rather than professional oral historians to collect
stories and artifacts. AARP is the founding sponsor
of the project, with more than 1,000 other
organizations also participating.
The American Folklife Center at the Library of
Congress was created in 1976 to document, preserve
and present all aspects of traditional culture and
life in America. With more than 2 million items, it
maintains the largest repository of traditional
cultural documentation in the United States.
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership
organization dedicated to making life better for
Those who are interested in becoming involved in the
Veterans History Project are encouraged to e-mail the office
at [log in to unmask] to request a project information kit. The
kit is also available online at www.loc.gov/vets or by
calling the toll-free message line at (888) 371-5848.