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.

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About Patrick Russell

Director and oral historian for the Making History Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving Veteran stories for future generations. Resides in Miami, Florida, where he is a full-time mediator and has been a practicing lawyer since 1994. Proudly serves as a staff member for the University of Florida Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, in addition to being a member of the Oral History Association, American Historical Association; Friends and Family of the 508 P.I.R.; and the Battle of the Bulge Association. Graduated from Marquette University with a B.A. in Political Science, and a law degree from the University of Miami School of Law. Additional courses and workshops for oral history and museum studies have been taken at Baylor University and Harvard University, Harvard Extension School. Contact info: (305) 608-2977 or patrick@making-history-project.com

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