On this Veterans Day 2023, we invite you to explore our collection of interviews with local men and women who served in the United States military during World War II and the Korean War.
With support from the Riverboat Development Authority and the City of Davenport, the Davenport Public Library and the Davenport Historical Commission embarked upon the “World War II/Korean War Oral History Project” in early 2001. By November of the following year, seventy-four interviews had been conducted by the Special Collections Department’s Karen O’Connor (the project coordinator) and volunteers Susan Carlson, Gaynell Foster-Pray, Larry Maxwell, and Babs Treiber.
The interviews were recorded on audio cassette tapes using a standard tape recorder and microphone. Volunteers then typed transcriptions of the recordings to render the information more accessible. Further progress in this regard was made in 2009, and again earlier this year, when recordings were digitized.
About half of the memories shared are of service in WWII, including those with Melvin Muhs, Bernard Bailey, Vern Petersen, Willis Bishop, Bobby Hess, Dale Iverson Elliott, Manuel Soodhalter, Raldo Fonteyne, Harold Labonte, Robert Rubley, Michael Cervantes, Iris Hetzler, Glen Albert Davis, Dale Claus Heuer, Don Southwood, Lorena Seline, Ed Meyer, Donald Hebbel, R.W. “Dick” Tucker, Pershing Johnson, Francis X. “Frank” Walter, Charles C. Milnes, Alvin V. Holst, Merle J. Farley, William Hansen, Jennings L. Massery, Jeanne Sullivan Stopulos, Wayne Newport, Robert G. Ott, Florence Bates, and Jean E. (Lay) Sauls. There are also several interviews that give insight into life on the Home Front here in the Quad-Cities.
In 2005, WVIK radio produced a program titled “The Pacific in World War II” that featured selections from the project’s interviews with Dick Tucker, Willis Bishop, and Wayne Newport.
For the Korean War, there are interviews with Arnold Marolf, Ken Criger, Laurie Miller, Dwight E. Mohlenbruck, Kenneth Plumb, Bob Fitts, William Thomas Haussmann, Virgil McCollum, Fred Snyder, Don Smart, Don Simpson, and Richard Weeks. Joseph Gomez, Robert H. Lay, and members of the “Gung-ho Gang” described their service in both conflicts on tape.
Interviewees also contributed copies of photographs, military documents, letters, memoirs, manuscripts, interview notes, newspaper and magazine clippings, books, etc. as a way to futher document their experiences. These “collateral materials” are also available to view in Special Collections.
We are grateful to the veterans of these two military conflicts who entrusted the Davenport Public Library to preserve their memories. Hear their stories!
(posted by Katie)