September 17, 2007

Oral History Interview: Olive Clark of Urbana

Olive Cocker Clark relates stories from the home front, based on her experiences as a World War II-era bride. She and George Cocker settled in Childers, Texas, while George was assigned to the base nearby. When George was later transferred to Langley Field, Va., their cross-country journey by car to their new home was an adventure of late-night car repairs, a blinding snow storm, and finally a collision with the back of a slow-moving truck. With the assistance of the Red Cross, however, they were finally able to complete their journey. To the interview, Olive brought a World War II-era photograph of her late husband George standing next to Lord Louis Mountbatten, the uncle of Charles, Prince of Wales. George had helped to build and inspect engines during the Lend-Lease program with Britain, and Lord Mountbatten had stopped by to visit with the workers and to express to them his appreciation for what the workers in the Lend-Lease program had meant to England’s efforts in the War.


September 12, 2007

Oral History Interview: Paul Hackett of Urbana

Paul Hackett was a Storekeeper 2nd class on board the USS Mindanao when the ammunition ship the USS Mount Hood exploded on Nov. 10, 1944, at Seeadler Harbor, Manus Island, northeast of New Guinea. The Mindanao, 350 yards away, suffered extensive damage particularly to her superstructure, and aft. Of her crew, 180 were killed or wounded.


September 06, 2007

Springfield Screening, Ken Burns’ The War

More than 200 people attended a community conversation September 6, 2007 at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Memorial Library in Springfield, IL about the impact of WWII on residents of central Illinois. Speaking were George Cordier, a veteran of the Guam landing; Dorothy Cordier, Mr. Cordier’s wife; Ruth Lockhart Whittington, who talked about her experiences working as a riveter; and Sandy Wheeler who was a four-year-old child when her father was drafted into WWII. The event was co-sponsored by WILL and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Memorial Library and Museum. The panel and audience discussion were moderated by Mark DuPue of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Memorial Library.


September 06, 2007

Oral History Interview: Earl Swanson of Urbana

Earl R. Swanson was a farm boy from East Lynn, Ill., when he enrolled in Advanced ROTC as a freshman at the University of Illinois in 1939. Upon graduation in 1943, he trained with the 592nd Field Artillery Battalion attached to the 106th Infantry in Camp Atterbury, Ind. When the 106th was being deployed to Europe, they had a surplus of F.A. officers, so Swanson was sent to infantry school in Camp Blanding, Fla. In July of 1945, he became a replacement officer in Cannon Company of the 161st Regiment of the 25th Division, the “Tropic Lightning” Division, in the Philippines. Their mission was to “clean up” in the Philippines and prepare for the invasion of Japan. After Japan’s surrender, Capt. Swanson served in the occupation of Japan until returning to the States in May 1946. He remained in the reserves, and served his country again in Washington, D.C., during the Korean War, 1952-53.


September 05, 2007

Oral History Interview: Clarence Berbaum of Champaign

Clarence Berbaum was drafted into the U.S. Army in February of 1942. He served in Europe with the 100th infantry, famous for being the only fighting unit ever to capture the Voges Mountains in France. Berbaum served as a radio repairman, usually a few miles behind the front lines. His prior experience in radio repair, he explains, saved him from having to fight in the front lines and probably saved his life. He also took video footage of day-to-day life in the Army. Berbaum talks about the overwhelming feeling of depression that affected him and many others throughout the war. He also talks about the dehumanizing effect that war has on soldiers.


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