Making History Project
"Preserving Veterans' Stories"
501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization

Oral History Archive

WWII Veteran Gerald Haviland Interviewed

MHP Completes Another Veteran Oral History Interview

WWII Veteran Gerald HavilandThis past weekend, I had the honor to complete an oral history interview of World War II Veteran, Gerald Haviland, in his home in Caryville, Florida. Caryville is a small rural town in northwest Florida approximately ninety miles west of Tallahassee.  Mr. Haviland who is 99 years old, was a Master Sergeant in the Ninth Infantry Division and worked as a radio operator for Headquarters Company, 60th Infantry.

Master Sergeant Haviland began the liberation of Europe by first invading its underbelly in Africa beginning with French Morocco.  Gerald’s military service took him to Tunisia, Sicily and eventually the D-Day landings in Normandy, France.  Gerald watched the D-Day invasion on June 6th from a ship and he stormed ashore a few days later on Utah Beach.  After breaking through the hedgerows in Normandy, Mr. Haviland made his way through France and witnessed the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge.  While on the front lines, Master Sergeant Haviland observed a massive buildup of German tanks and called in his warnings to upper command.  While Mr. Haviland’s warnings did not prevent the eventual German onslaught, it did however result in the removal of his unit from the area which prevented its destruction or capture.  Until the end of the war, Gerald spent the last of his military service in the Rhineland and Central Europe on brief occupation duty.

Gerald Haviland was the recipient of two Bronze Stars, the Rifle Badge, Good Conduct Medal, Distinguished Unit Badge, and the Campaign Medal with 8 Stars and 2 Arrowheads.  Throughout the interview, I learned that Gerald was a bit of a free-thinker and rebel while in the Army which lead to some interesting exchanges with his commanding officers.  Additional highlights include the capture of a German spy in his unit, holding out in town while totally surrounded, and seeing the Russians at war’s end.

Stay tuned for a video excerpt of the interview.

Oral History Technology Updates

Technology and Preservation

oral history technologyWhile there have not been many updates lately, rest assured that I have not been idle.  After having a brief and some would say inevitable computer and hard drive mishap, I have been diligently working behind the scenes upgrading equipment and taking pro active steps to ensure that all project information and digital assets are properly organized, stored, backed up, and preserved.  Thankfully no project data was lost due to my redundant backup schemes.  However, since preservation is the chief responsibility and obligation of an oral historian, technology failure can be unnerving regardless.

My equipment upgrade and data reorganization was a massive undertaking to say the least as it involved the full transition from a Windows platform to Apple.  Given that I work with my video and audio files in Apple, the transition was an easy call to make.  Executing that transition was an entirely different story.  Moving all the data and taking the time to reorganize it as efficiently as possible took a lot of patience.

All of my hard drives had to be formatted to an Apple format which meant that the contents had to be copied over to another hard drive before formatting.  Once the formatting was complete, all the data had to be copied back to the newly formatted hard drive and from there backups could be made.  Since I changed the entire directory structure for all of my data during the reorganization so everything can be found in three clicks or less, I had to upload everything all over again to the cloud.  When you are uploading terabytes of information, that takes a very long time.

Now that I am done, this project is being run on a Mac Book Pro computer that is accessing an external 8 terabyte thunderbolt RAID hard drive with matching external 4 terabyte USB hard drives as backups together with a cloud backup configuration that utilizes both Dropbox and Google Drive.  I can finally breathe again and it is time to have some fun.  Let’s get that camera and audio recorder rolling…

Weekly Review for Veterans and Oral History for Friday, November 6, 2015

Here are some recent articles of interest that I found this week for U.S. Veterans. Enjoy!


Preserving History: The Veterans History Project via the US Library of Congress

The Veterans History Project honors the lives and service of all American veterans –not only the warriors but all who have served their country, “From the motor pool to the mess hall,” as director Robert Patrick puts it. VHP collects, preserves and makes available the stories and memorabilia of American veterans so that future generations may better understand the realities of military life and of war. To date, VHP has collected items from over 98,000 veterans, about 15% of which is available online.

Read more here


History Tools: Exactly, a new tool to transfer digital oral history files

In Celebration of World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, I want to offer you a sneak peek at a new tool we have developed and are readying for release.   This tool will enable a user friendly way for non-archivists or non-digital preservation specialists to safely transfer born digital data to the archive utilizing stringent digital preservation standards…for free.  First, a little context. 

Read more here


History Maker: Female Russian Fighter Ace

Lidiya Vladimirovna Litvyak, also known as Lydia Litviak or Lilya Litviak, was a fighter pilot in the Soviet Air Force during World War II. With at least 12 solo victories and at least four shared kills over a total of 66 combat missions, over about two years of missions, she was the first female fighter pilot to shoot down an enemy plane, the first female fighter pilot to earn the title fighter ace, and the holder of the record for the greatest number of kills by a female fighter pilot. She was shot down near Orel during the Battle of Kursk as she attacked a package of German planes.

Read more here


History Maker: 103 Year Old US WW2 Veteran has birthday and still works full-time

102883238-tdy_jones_oldest_150726.530x298A 103 year old World War Two US veteran, who served in the US Air Force, is still working a full time job in Winfieldtown, Kansas.

Read more here


Thank you for reading (and sharing).  Stay tuned for next week’s weekly review for U.S. Veterans.