Hartley’s contribution to the war effort was exemplary, but it wasn’t glorious. Not all soldiers were Hollywood heroes, braving enemy fire, undergoing dangerous missions, rescuing the innocent and helpless. Most soldiers—simply by doing their jobs with diligence and commitment—contributed to the heroic effort to win the war, even if that meant changing a flat tire, overhauling a jeep engine, gassing up the next truck convoy, or typing out a parts request. It all added up to victory.
Yet, despite its urban location for a hundred years, many residents still don’t know much about the museum. As if hidden in plain sight, Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum is the nation’s only military museum dedicated to honoring the men and women of all branches of service.
That mission complements our own commitment to preserve the stories of local veterans from all branches of service and eras—including the often forgotten Cold War. Of course, because time is running out we prioritize working with the WW II generation, as was the case during this recording session; seven of the eight veterans we interviewed served during WW II.
Over two days (November 21st and 22nd) we welcomed our participating veterans to the museum’s grand Gettysburg Room, where we set up our mobile recording studio. It’s a popular recording space, often seen in local documentaries; the History Channel likes to record here as well.
Again this year the recording project was joined by the 354th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, a communications unit in the Army Reserve located in Coraopolis, Pa. The mission of the 354th is to publicize the Army and its history.
“In addition to our own interviews,” said director Todd DePastino of the Veterans Breakfast Club, “each year we arrange for the 354th MPAD to interview Army veterans. It’s a wonderful experience for our WW II vets to talk with today’s uniformed soldiers, and I think the Reservists feel the same way.”
We were also joined by Nick Wells of Mt. Lebanon, an active member of our volunteer creative team. Nick was instrumental in helping us greet veterans and prepare them for their interviews
The program features the voices and stories of Joe Lynch, Mike Vernillo, Jim Ross, Hartley Baird, Pat Tylka, Don Vitous, Charlotte Lang, Warren Goss, Walter Patton, Guy Prestia, Jim Scheder, Ed Glenz, Dick Hayes, Bill & Phyllis Monk, Pete Longstreth, John Kuzio, and many more.
The Social Voice Project is dedicated to understanding the voices and stories of our lives–those first-hand, authentic accounts of lived experiences we call oral histories. Sharing these experiences reveals our social, economic, and political lives, and they help forge important understandings of public histories.
The Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Oral History Initiative is a veteran-run, award-winning 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Our mission is to capture, preserve, and share the voices, images, and experiences of veterans of all eras and branches of service with a Western Pennsylvania connection.
The mission of the Veterans Breakfast Club is to create communities of listening around veterans and their stories to ensure that this living history will never be forgotten. We believe that through our work, people will be educated, healed, and inspired. The Veterans Breakfast Club is a non-religious, non-political 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.