Jump past navigation to page content  The Library of Congress >> American Folklife Center Search Veterans History Project Pages
National World War II Reunion "Tribute to a Generation" (Veterans History Project)
Home About the Project Participate in the Project Veterans' Stories Registry Become a Partner News
  Webcasts and Photos >> Speaker Biographies

Cdr. Everett Alvarez, Jr., USN (Ret.)
Rockville, MD

Born in Salinas, CA, Alvarez joined the Navy in 1960 and was the first American aviator shot down over North Vietnam where he was held as a prisoner of war for eight-and-a-half years. Following his release in 1973, he served n program management at the Naval Air Systems command until his retirement in 1980. Subsequently, he served as deputy director of the Peace Corps, deputy administrator of the Veterans Administration, and vice president for government services with the Hospital Corporation of America. He is president and founder of Conwal, Inc, a government contracting firm, and he currently serves as chair of the VA CARES Commission. He is co-author of two books, Chained Eagle and Code of Conduct, and is a member of the Veterans History Project Five Star Council of advisors.

Lt. Col. Lee A. Archer, Jr., USAF (Ret.)
New Rochelle, NY

Archer, Chairman and CEO of Archer Associates and President, Organization Publishing Company, joined the Air Force and entered flight training at Tuskegee Army Air Field, graduating as a Fighter Pilot I, Class 43-G. He joined the 302nd Fighter Squadron of the 322nd Fighter Group and went on to become a fighter “ACE”. In 1944, he became one of four “triplers” who destroyed three Me-109s on one mission. After 29 years of military service, Archer joined General Foods Corp. in 1970, was named Vice President of General Foods for North Street Capitol Corporation in 1975, and in 1980 was elected GF Corporate Vice President. He is a member of the Veterans History Project Five Star Council of advisors.

Bob Babcock
Atlanta, GA

Babcock is president of Americans Remembered, Inc, an official partner of the Veterans History Project. An Infantry veteran of the Vietnam War, he is author of the book, War Stories - Utah Beach to Pleiku. He is past president
and historian of the National 4th Infantry Division Association and president of the 22nd Infantry Regiment Society. A retired IBM executive, Babcock is focused on preserving the history of veterans and home front workers from World War II through today's War on Terror.

Col. Margaret E. Bailey, USA (Ret.)
Washington, D.C.

While living in Staten Island, NY, Bailey joined the Army Nurse Corps in 1944 and received orders to report to Ft. Hauchuca, AZ as a 2nd Lieutenant. During the war, she cared for soldiers returning from service in Europe. Bailey remained in the service following the war and became the first African American nurse promoted to the rank of Colonel in the Army Nurse Corps. She retired after 27 years of dedicated service. Following her retirement in 1970, she served as a consultant to the Surgeon General of the United States. Currently, she is active in her church, nursing sororities, and the American Nursing Association.

Lt. Gen. Julius W. Becton, USA (Ret.)
Springfield, VA.

Becton’s career has been one of public service, including nearly 40 years in the U. S. Army. He entered active duty in the U.S. Army Air Corps in July 1944 and graduated from Infantry OCS in 1945. Becton served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, in countries ranging from Germany and France to the Southwest Pacific, the Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, and Japan. One of his key duty assignments included Commander of the 1st Cavalry Division, and he retired after nearly 40 years of military service. For nearly two years, he served as Director of the U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance AID before being nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate as the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In 1989 he became President of Prairie View A&M University. He has served in a variety of national, regional, state, and local positions. He is a member of the Veterans History Project Five Star Council of advisors.

Riki (Ruth) Belew
Laguna Woods, CA

Belew’s first assignments with the American Red Cross were in clubs for the troops in North Africa: near Algiers, in Oran, and at the Casablanca Officers’ Club. Crossing the Mediterranean in the nose of a B-17 bomber during a terrific storm, she began service at a series of Red Cross clubs in Italy. She remembers being stationed near a Staging Area on the outskirts of Naples and dancing with hundreds of men a night.

Enso V. Bighinatti
Washington, D.C.

Bighinatti served as a member of a B-24 Army Air Force crew when he was shot down over Germany. After nearly a year as a POW in Stalag Luft IV, he and a buddy managed to escape during a forced march. Ever grateful for the Red Cross life-saving POW parcels he received during his captivity, he came to work for the American Red Cross in 1951 and rose through the ranks to become National Director of Disasters Services and retired as Under Secretary of Disaster Relief for the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies in Geneva, Switzerland.

Hon. James H. Billington
Arlington, VA

Sworn in as Librarian of Congress on September 14, 1987, Billington is the 13th person to hold the position since the Library was established in 1800. He was born in Bryn Mawr, PA, in 1929, and following service in the U.S. Army during the Korean War and in the Office of National Estimates, he taught history at Harvard and Princeton universities. From 1973 to 1987, he was director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and founded the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies at the Center. A Russian scholar, Billington has accompanied 10 congressional delegations to Russia and the former Soviet Union, and in 1988 accompanied President and Mrs. Reagan to the Soviet Summit in Moscow. He is author of numerous books, articles, and papers and is the founder of the Open World Program and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Open World Leadership Center. He is on the Board of the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and is a member of the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Sam Billison
Window Rock, AZ

A native of Kinlichee, AZ, Billison enlisted in the Marines in 1943 and was sent to signal school at Camp Pendelton immediately after boot camp. He was taught not only combat techniques, but trained to become a Navajo Code Talker. He landed on Iwo Jima on the second day of the battle to take the island, and with other Code Talkers transmitted more than 800 error-free messages during 26 days of fighting. Following the war, Billison continued his education and served as a school principal for many years. He was elected to the Navajo Tribal Council, is the founder and president of the Navajo Code Talkers Association, and currently serves as an education consultant.

Robert Bloxsom
White Stone, VA

Bloxsom’s experience in the U.S. Merchant Marine began after he graduated from the Pennsylvania School Ship in 1941. During the war, his assignments took him to South Africa, England, and the Persian Gulf at the time when ships faced air raids and torpedo attacks. During these years, he advanced to the rank of Third Mate. At the age of 24, Bloxsom became Captain of the Liberty ship, Lillian Nordica, sailing his ship into Antwerp two weeks after it had been taken from the Germans. He left the Merchant Marine in 1948, and two years later joined the U. S. Coast Guard. He retired from the Coast Guard in 1974, following his last command on the Dallas. He has written an account of his life at sea during the war, The Sailor, and continues to tell great sea stories.

Joseph J. Brenner
Columbia, MD

Born and raised in New York, NY, Brenner married Norma, his wife of 54 years, in 1937. In 1943, he entered the U.S. Army, serving in Europe with the 740th Field Artillery Battalion, 12th Corps, 3rd Army, and was deeply involved in the Battle of the Bulge. He left the service at the end of 1945, returning home on Christmas Eve to be greeted by his, wife and two-year-old daughter who he had last seen when she was three months old. Brenner worked in freight transportation until 1974, and moved to Washington, D.C., and worked in the federal government until 1986. When he learned of the Veterans History Project, he donated the letters that he and his wife wrote to each other daily during the war, a total of 1,261 letters, 80 letters in the month of July 1944 alone. In recent years, Brenner has turned to acting and has appeared in several plays and television

Gail Buckley
New York, NY

Buckley is an historian and author of two national bestsellers, The Hornes: An American Family (1986) and American Patriots: The Story of Blacks in the Military from the Revolution to Desert Storm (2001), which received the 2002 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award and was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, New York Newsday, and Vogue, Playboy, Premiere, and America magazines. She has appeared on many television programs and speaks often at leading historical and cultural institutions throughout the United States. She is a member of the Veterans History Project Five Star Council of advisors.

Peggy A. Bulger
Washington, D.C.

A native of New York, Bulger is director of the Library of Congress American Folklife Center, the second person to hold that position since the U.S. Congress created the Center in 1976. She is a folklorist, consultant, and producer, and has been documenting folklife and developing and managing folklife programs for more than 25 years. Before joining the staff of the Library of Congress, she was Florida State Folk Arts Coordinator, Florida Folklife Programs Administrator, and Program Coordinator, Director, and Senior Officer for the Southern Arts Federation. The Veterans History Project is part of the American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress

Anna (Urda) Busby
Montgomery, AL

In 1939, Busby resigned from Hackensack Hospital to join the Army Nurse Corps by way of the American Red Cross. She reported to her first assignment at Fort Jay, Governor’s Island, N.Y., where she underwent basic training. In1940, Busby was assigned to transport duty in the Panama Canal Zone aboard the USS Chateau Thierry. She traveled a second time to the Panama Canal Zone as one of only two women aboard the USS Hunter Liggett. After serving at Fort Adams in Newport, RI, Busby headed for Tripler Hospital where she would witness first-hand the "day that will live in infamy."

Helen Thompson Colony
Cincinnati, OH

Colony served as American Red Cross Recreation Club Director in India and Burma. She ran clubs primarily for Army Air Force pilots, many of whom were flying the dangerous route “over the Hump” (the Himalayas) into and out of China. “We lost thousands of men flying the Hump,” she has said, “and Red Cross worked very hard to help keep their spirits up.” Later she became one of the Red Cross workers escorting War Brides to this country and training them on route about American customs and procedures.

Joseph De Luca, Jr.
Wooster, OH

In 1943, at the age of 18, De Luca entered Company C, the 411th Regiment, of the 103rd Infantry Division. During his two-year European assignment, he saw combat in Belgium, Germany, Austria, and Italy. With the army of occupation, he served as an MP in the Seventh Army in Heidelburg, Germany, and as part of the honor guard for General George S. Patton, Jr. of the Third Army. In 1992, he joined other veterans at combat sites and military cemeteries in the Trail of the 103rd. Now retired and a member of the American Legion, De Luca does military duty at the National Cemetery in Redmond, OH, and serves on the firing squad for military funerals. A first-generation American, De Luca says it was an honor to serve his country as a way of saying thanks for the good life his family found in this country when they emigrated from Italy.

Marian (Sebring) Elcano
Alexandria, VA

Elcano, known as "SeaBee" by her comrades, joined the Army Nurse Corps in 1943, trained in Pennsylvania, and received orders to report to Camp Gordon, GA as a member of the 45th Evacuation Hospital. In 1943, the unit deployed to the European Theater. They landed in Scotland, and settled in Wooton-under-Edge, England, where nurses were billeted in private homes. On D-Day(+10), Elcano moved into Normandy with the Second Evacuation Hospital. During the horrific Battle of the Bulge, Elcano's hospital unit sustained intensive bombing at Eupen, Belgium. The semi-mobile hospital unit moved more than 20 times across Northern France, the Rhineland, Ardennes, Germany and Central Europe. Elcano separated from the Army in 1946, married, had five
children and nine grandchildren. She currently serves a volunteer nurse in retirement facilities in her community.

Miguel Encinias
Albuquerque, NM

At age 16, Encinias joined the National Guard in 1939. When he finished high school, the Guard was called to active duty, and he served as a Combat Engineer in the 45th Division. After Pearl Harbor he trained to become a pilot and was sent to North Africa as the campaign there was ending. Later, he flew a British Spitfire in combat, and in 1944 he was shot down over northern Italy. As a prisoner of war he was moved to Frankfurt, Germany.
When the Korean War began, Encinias volunteered for service in North Korea and flew 111 missions there. After the war, he taught French at the U.S. Air Force Academy and, in 1962, went to Vietnam where he flew 60 missions. After retiring from teaching in 1985, he turned to writing history, particularly the history of New Mexico.

Cdr. Ruth L. (Rothberg) Erno, USN (Ret.)
Falls Church, VA

Ruth L. (Rothberg) Erno joined the Navy WAVES on November 16, 1942 from her hometown of Boston, MA. After basic training at Hunter College, Erno trained as an aviation metal smith in Norman, Oklahoma; she later served in Radio Communications in Boston, MA. In January of 1944, Erno was selected for Midshipman School of Women’s Reserve at Smith College where she received her commission in April of 1944. She subsequently served as Base Communications Officer at the Naval Base, Portsmouth, New Hampshire and as Communications Superintendent in Portsmouth Naval Yard. In 1951, Erno transferred to the Pentagon Office of Naval Operations where she remained on active duty until 1954. Erno remained with the Navy Reserves until her retirement in 1977.

Richard Francies
Cleveland Heights, OH

Joining the Army in 1937, Francies was transferred to the Philippines in 1939 and was in the Signal Corps as a radio operator and later in radio maintenance. In 1941 he was slated to go home after his tour of duty, but stayed when the war began. He installed radio stations in Bataan, and was there when the Japanese invaded. Francies was among those on the Bataan Death March. While a POW, he became part of a crew that repaired radio and telephones in Manila where crew members sabotaged as much equipment as they repaired. Later he and other prisoners of war were shipped to Japan, where they were sent to Hanawa in Honshu to work in the copper mines of northern Japan from 1944 to 1945. After the war, Francies worked for 35 years for Ohio Bell. He tells his wartime story often at schools, churches, and civic organizations.

Hon. Sam M. Gibbons
McLean, VA

A former U.S. Representative, Gibbons began his military service in June 1941 as an infantry officer. As part of the 101st Airborne Division of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, he led Parachute Infantry forces in the pre-dawn invasion of Normandy o0n D-Day in 1944. He took part in the invasion of Holland, the Battle of the Bulge, the defense of Bastogne, and actions in Central Europe. In 1945 he left the armed services with the rank of Major. Elected to the Florida State House of Representatives in 1953, Gibbons served there until 1958, and from 1959 to 1963 he served in the Florida State Senate. In 1962 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives where he served until 1997, becoming Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee in 1993. He is a member of the Veterans History Project Five Star Council of advisors.

Paul S. Green
Bethesda, MD

Evelio Grillo
Oakland, CA

Grillo was raised in Ybor City, a Cuban neighborhood inside Tampa, FL. He attended an all-black high school in Washington, D.C., and graduated from Xavier University, a historically black college in New Orleans, LA. As part of the 823rd Engineer Aviation Battalion (Colored), Grillo served in the China-Burma-India Theater, building the Ledo Road. He wrote about his experiences in a book, Black Cuban, Black American, published by Arte Publico Press.

Marion Reh Gurfein
Arlington, VA.

A native of New York, NY, Gurfein accompanied her husband, Joe, around the world during his 26 years of military service. When they could not be together during World War II and the Korean War, she created and sent him a mock newspaper of family and community news, The Goofein Journal, hand lettered and illustrated on card stock. When her husband retired from the military in the 1960’s, Gurfein settled in Arlington, VA, and began her career in copy writing. At the time of her retirement in 1991, she was Deputy Director of Marketing, NTIS, U.S. Department of Commerce. In retirement, she continued to paint and teach watercolor classes. She was interviewed for the Veterans History Project in 2002, and donated several issues of the Journal as well as her husband’s wartime memoirs.

Marty Higgins
Anna Maria, FL

After graduating from St. Peters College in 1939, Higgins joined the101st Cavalry Regiment, Squadron C, in Brooklyn, NY, and was sent to Ft. Devins, MA. He received his Cavalry commission at Ft Riley, KA in 1941, and was assigned to the 10th Cavalry Regiment in California in 1942. In 1944, he was sent to Africa, transferred to the 36th (Texas) Infantry Division, participated in the invasion of Southern France, and took command of A Company. He was captured at the end of that year, sent to Luckenwalde, Germany, and was liberated by the Russians in 1945. He returned to the United States following his release from service in August 1945, and worked in the playing card industry for 33 years. In his retirement, he has been a literacy advocate and teacher, and has been active in numerous community organizations.

Adm. J. L. Holloway III, USN (Ret.)
Alexandria, VA

Admiral Holloway graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in June 1942 as a member of the first three-year class accelerated by U.S. involvement in World War II. During the War, he served aboard destroyers on North Atlantic convoy duty, in North African waters and in the Pacific where he participated in the Saipan, Tinian, Palau, Peleliu campaigns and the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Following World War II, Holloway entered flight training and became a naval aviator, and served in Korean and Vietnam. He commanded the USS Enterprise from 1965-67, established the Navy’s Nuclear Powered Carrier Program at the Pentagon, commanded the Seventh Fleet in 1972, and served as Chief of Naval Operations from 1974 to 1978. Retired from the Navy since 1970, Holloway currently serves as the Chairman of the Naval Historical Foundation.

Maj. Gen. Jeanne Holm, USAF (Ret.)
Edgewater, MD

Holm, one of the first women to enlist in the military during World War II, joined the Army in 1942 and rose to the rank of Captain, commanding basic training units at the Women’s Army Corps Training Center. At the end of the war, she left active duty, but returned to active duty in 1948 in the newly created U.S. Air Force. She served several tours of duty at the Pentagon and with the Allied Forces Southern Europe in Italy. In 1971, she became the first woman promoted to Brigadier General in the Air Force, and two years later, she received a second star. She retired in 1975, the highest ranking woman in the U.S. Armed Forces. She has written Women in the Military: An Unfinished Revolution, and she has edited In Defense of a Nation: Servicewomen in World War II. She is a member of the Veterans History Project Five Star Council of advisors.

Representative Amo Houghton
Corning, NY

After serving as a Private First Class in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1945 to 1946, Houghton joined Corning Glass Works (now Corning, Inc.), which had been founded by the Houghton family in 1851. Recipient of the Electronic Industries Alliance Medal of Honor, he was cited as the “Father of Fiber Optics,” for his support of research at Corning that resulted in the breakthrough communications material. Since 1987, Houghton has served as the Representative of New York’s 31st Congressional District. He is the fifth-ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, chairs its Oversight Subcommittee, and is member of its Trade Subcommittee. He also serves on the International Relations Committee and is Vice Chairman of its Subcommittee on Africa, serves as Chairman of the U.S. delegation to the Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum, and was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as the Congressional Delegate to the 58th General Assembly of the United Nations. He was one of the sponsors of the House bill to create the Veterans History Project in 2000 and serves on its Five Star Council of advisors.

Francisco F. Ivarra
Seattle, WA

A highly decorated combat veteran, Ivarra volunteered for Vietnam where he served with the America Division 196th Light Infantry Brigade (1st/23rd Infantry). He has held numerous positions as instructor and administrator in community college and university systems, and he has been a consultant to educational agencies. In 1995 he joined the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Counselor and has conducted research and published on the effects of PTSD on Hispanic veterans. In 2001, he was appointed Chair of the National Vietnam Veterans of America Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans. Currently he is a member of national and regional veterans’ organizations and is a member of the Veterans History Project Five Star Council of advisors.

Jimmie Kanaya
Gig Harbor, WA

Born in Oregon, Kanaya enlisted at the age of 20 in the Army Medical Department in 1941, was assigned later to the 442nd Infantry Regimental Combat Team Medical Detachment as a SSG, and entered the Italian campaign attached to the 34th Infantry Division, receiving a battlefield commission. during this campaign. While attached to the 36th ID in Southern France, Kanaya was captured while attempting to evacuate casualties from the Vosges Mountains. He was taken to Oflag 64 POW Camp in Poland, marched 380 miles West Germany, escaped with the aid of Patton’s Third Army, and was re-captured and returned to Oflag 64. After WWII, Kanaya served as a Regular Army officer in Germany, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Hawaii and Alaska as a Company Commander, Intelligence Officer, Field Hospital Commander, Battalion S3, Executive Officer and Commander, and as Executive Officer of the Medical Training Center at Ft. Sam Houston, TX. He retired in 1974 with 33 years of military service.

Representative Ron Kind
La Crosse, WI

Kind was elected to represent the people of western Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District in 1996. He is currently serving his fourth term in Congress where he sits on the House Education and the Workforce Committee and the Resources Committee. Besides the full committees, he holds seats on Education’s Reform and the 21st Century Competitiveness Subcommittees and Agriculture’s General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittees. Kind is the Senior Democratic Member on the Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee for the Resources Committee. He became a county prosecutor in his hometown of La Crosse, WI, and he served as special prosecutor in numerous counties throughout western Wisconsin. He is the creator of the Veterans History Project and one of the sponsors of the legislation in the House that launched the Project in 2000. He is a member of the Project’s Five Star Council of advisors.

Diane Nester Kresh
Washington, D.C.

Director for Public Service Collections which oversees the American Folklife Center and the Veterans History Project, Kresh has been employed by the Library of Congress for 30 years. In 1998, she began presenting programs at the Library to local school children, now called Library Live, which presents primary source materials from the LC collections to students and teachers in interactive program that explores history and culture through music, dance, and theater. Kresh has also been a leader in offering library reference and information services on the Web. She was the founder of the Collaborative Digital Reference Service, (now QuestionPoint, a service co-developed by LC and OCLC), a project to build a global, Web based, reference service among libraries and research institutions. She is a frequent speaker at professional meetings and conferences and the author of several articles on internet reference services.

Martha Blackman Leierer
Dover, PA

Born and raised in Bridgeport, CT, Leierer served as a U.S. Navy ward nurse aboard the legendary USS Solace hospital ship from November 1943 to January 1945. She received orders to join the hospital staff while she was stationed in procurement at a naval medical facility in Jacksonville, FL. The staff on board the Solace treated patients from combat zones in the Pacific and evacuated the wounded to Pearl Harbor. Leierer and her husband, Elliot (a World War II U.S. Marine Corps officer), currently reside in Dover, PA.

Beverly Lindsey
Washington, D.C.

Lindsey is the Director of the Veterans History Project at the American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress. She was involved with the Project for three years as consultant on development, communications and outreach issues before assuming her current position. She has worked in the past with arts and humanities programs at the local, state and national level, as well as served on the Advisory Council of the National Endowment for Humanities.

Keith Little
Navajo, NM

Born in Tonalea, AZ, Little enlisted in the Marines in 1943 when he was 17. He was assigned to communications school at Camp Pendleton, CA, to be trained as a radio operator and to qualify as a Navajo Code Talker. Assigned to the 4th Marine Division in December 1943, Little was sent overseas to Roi-Namur the following month, and subsequently to Saipan, Tinian , and Iwo Jima, were he served for the duration of the battle to take the island. He was in a convalescent camp in Maui, HI, in August 1945 when he learned that the Japanese had surrender, ending the war. He returned to his home in the Southwest to continue his education and start a family. Little is a retired logging manager, and his active in numerous organizations in his community.

Timothy Lloyd
Columbus, OH

Lloyd is the Executive Director of the American Folklore Society, the leading society for scholarship and public education about folklore, folk art, and folk culture (see www.afsnet.org). The Society is working with the Veterans History Project to offer community-based workshops throughout the country about how to collect and document veterans' oral histories and stories of their military experience. Lloyd has worked at the
Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institution, and now teaches folklore at The Ohio State University, where the Society's office is located.

Ellen McCulloch-Lovell
Marlboro, VT

A leader in the arts, education and public policy, Lovell was named the first director of the Veterans History Project in 2001, and served concurrently as head of the Center for Arts and Culture. In January 2004, she left the Project to become President of Marlboro College in Vermont. Lovell directed the Vermont Council of the Arts from 1975-1983, before moving to Washington, DC, to become the chief of staff for Senator Patrick Leahy. Seven years in the Clinton administration followed, and Lovell served as the executive director of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, deputy chief of staff to the First Lady and ultimately deputy assistant to the President and advisor to the First Lady on the Millennium Project.

Thomas Lowery
Washington, D.C.

A native of San Antonio, TX, Lowery enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942 and was assigned to Kelly Field and happily joined the drum and bugle corps. A month later, he was transferred to the airplane mechanic school at Lincoln, NB and then onto an Army specialized training program in engineering at Howard University, Washington, DC. Lowery served next in Florida, and was then sent to Michigan and assigned to the 477th Medium Bombardment Group. The group was based at Godman Field, KY, with various short-term training assignments at other Army facilities around the country, and accrued the best safety record in the1st Air Force. Following the war, Lowery returned to Washington, D.C., became an electrician and continues to work in the field. He is active in an antique car club and owns four antique cars.

Col. Charles E. McGee, USAF (Ret.)
Bethesda, MD

A native of Cleveland, OH, McGee was a student at the University of Illinois when WWII interrupted his education. He was sworn into the enlisted reserve in October 1942 and entered Army Air Corps flight training a month later. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in June 1943, graduating in Class 43-F, Tuskegee Army Air Field. McGee became a command pilot with over 6,1000 total hours and flew fighter aircraft in Italy during WWII; in the Philippines and Korea, 1951-53; in Italy, 1961-63; and in Vietnam. Following his 30 years of military service, he held leadership positions in the Interstate Securities Company Financial Corporation and later served as manager of the Kansas City, MO, downtown airport. He retired from private industry in 1982 to pursue community interests, and has been active in numerous local and national organizations.

Barrett McGurn
Bethesda, MD

Francis X. (Frank) Medina
Kansas City, MO

As a 20-year old tail gunner in the 459th Bomb Group of the 756th Bomb Squadron, Medina was shot down over northern Italy in July 1944. Hit by antiaircraft fire, the crew of nine bailed out; all but Medina were captured, and he was believed to be missing in action. On his own in unknown territory, he was befriended by Italians who helped him link up with the partisans with whom he was active for eight months. In 1945, Medina was rescued by the British. His war story, Ciao, Francesco, was published in 1995. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the war, he returned to Italy and was reunited with the friends who helped to save his life.

J. Todd Moye
Atlanta, GA

Moye is the Director of the Tuskegee Airmen Oral History Project of the National Park Service, Southeast Regional Office in Atlanta. This project will form the basis of the museum interpretation at the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, where the interviews will be available to the public. A civil rights historian, Moye has served on this project for four years. His interest in civil rights is the basis of his engagement in the Tuskegee Airmen story, as their experience laid the groundwork for the modern Civil Rights Movement. The Tuskegee Airmen Oral History Project is an official Partner of the Veterans History Project of the Library of Congress. Moye’s book, Let the People Decide, exploring the Civil Rights Movement in Sunflower County in Mississippi, will be published in 2004.

Fayard Nicholas
Toluca Lake, CA

Nicholas grew up in Philadelphia, the son of musicians, and grew up watching the greatest Vaudeville acts as his family toured the country. He was completely fascinated by them and, together with his younger brother, Harold, imitated their acrobatics and clowning for the children in his neighborhood. The Nicholas Brothers fame grew steadily in Philadelphia, and they were discovered there by the manager of the New York Vaudeville Showcase, The Lafayette, and went from there onto the famous Cotton Club in New York in 1932. During this period, they made their first motion picture and their career skyrocketed. They debuted on Broadway in 1936, and in the 1940’s the nightclub and concert circuit took over their career and there were long tours of South America, Africa, and Europe. Nicholas served in the military during World War II in Mississippi and in Arizona, where he was assigned to a special services unit and performed for GIs. The Nicholas Brothers appeared with Bob Hope and his USO troupe in 1951 and were part of Hope’s Christmas Tour to Vietnam, Thailand and Guam in 1965. Nicholas continues to performs and make personal appearances.

Mary P. Sullivan O’Driscoll
Cincinnati, OH

O'Driscoll served as one of the famous American Red Cross Clubmobilers during World War II. Her first assignment was distributing coffee and doughnuts on the docks of Greenock, Scotland. Later, she joined a team running a Clubmobile that served the 8th Army Air Force in East Anglia, England. She has written about the coldest winter on record in England, December 1944, when “[w]e were working seventeen hours a day serving coffee and doughnuts to the ground crews of six airfields plus the pilots and their crews who could not fly missions to Germany due to the bad weather.” After D-Day, her unit moved to France to provide Clubmobile services to the troops on the European continent.

Elizabeth Olson
Falls Church, VA

Olson served during World War II in the Midwest as a Field Representative in the American Red Cross Home Service which provided lines of communication and other means of support and assistance to military personnel and their families at home.

Miriam (Lee) Ownby
Oakland Park, FL

Ownby joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps from Athens, OH, in October of 1942. After basic training, she remained at Fort Des Moines, IA, for Administrative School where she served as a personnel clerk until she was selected for Officer Candidate School. Upon graduation from O.C.S., Ownby served in military personnel at Headquarters Air Technical Service Command at Wright - Patterson Fields in Dayton, OH, from 1943 to 1945. In 1945, she transferred to Oakland Air Force Base where she served as a squadron commander until her separation from the Army in July of 1946.

Maj. Jennifer Petersen
Woodbridge, VA

A native of Ivanhoe, MN, Petersen was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps in 1988, and was assigned as a Clinical Staff Nurse in Ft. Hood, TX. She became the Head Nurse in the Ambulatory Surgery Unit there in 1992, and other assignments took her to Ft. Riley, KS, and Camp Walker; Taegu, Korea. She is a lecturer and has published numerous articles in Army Nurse Corps publications. In 2002, Petersen became the Army Nurse Corps Historian for the Office of Medical History, Office of the Surgeon General.

Bob Powell
Atlanta, GA

Powell entered the Army Air Corps in1 942, and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and Pilot Officer at Luke Field, AZ in 1943. With the 352nd Fighter Group, he flew 87 combat missions over Europe and flew for 16 hours on three combat missions on D-Day. Returning to the U.S. in December1944, he married his high school sweetheart and was assigned to the Flight Test Division at Wright-Patterson AFC. He separated from the service in 1945, finished college and became a newspaper reporter and feature writer. Today he is a military historian who, in the early 1980’s, began to locate 352nd veterans in order to write a history of his Group. Powell successfully located over 1,000 of his former comrades still living and found families of another 700. He is the co-author of the history of the 352nd, The Bluenosed Bastards of Bodney, and lectures on WWII to schools and civic and business organizations

John Pulwers
Fairfax, VA

Martha (Settle) Putney
Washington, D.C.

On February 1, 1943, Putney joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. She entered the 35th Officer Candidate School at Fort Des Moines, IA, where she was commissioned on July 7, 1943. After completing OCS, Putney was assigned as a Basic Training Company Officer at Fort Des Moines. She had two temporary duty assignments in Texas and was assigned company commander of the 55th WAC hospital company stationed at Gardiner General Hospital in Chicago, IL. Putney is the author of When the Nation Was In Need: Blacks in the Women’s Army Corps During World War II (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, Inc.) 1992.

Venus Ramey
Eubank, KY

Ramey was a member of a Kentucky family active in public service when she chose to work for the war effort in Washington, D.C. While there, she entered and won the competition for Miss Washington and went on to become Miss America 1944. While fulfilling her pageant duties, she sold war bonds across the country and during her tenure actively worked with Congress to obtain suffrage for Washington, D.C. Her picture adorned a B-17 fighter plane that made 68 sorties over Germany without losing a man. After the war Ramey returned to her Kentucky tobacco farm, married and raised a family. Active in civic affairs, she successfully worked for the preservation of a neighborhood district in Cincinnati called Over-the-Rhine, now listed on the U.S. Registry of Historic Places.

Gary Rhay
Eugene, OR

A recognized military historian, Rhay enlisted in the U.S. Army and fought in Vietnam in 1971-72. Following his tour, he returned to college and ROTC training, entered the Army’s Officer Training School and served as an officer for 12 years. He taught history at West Point, at the U. S. Army Command and General Staff College, and in1996 became in-house historian at Marathon Music and Video, a documentary film company in Eugene, OR, with a veterans’ oral history program that pre-dates the Library of Congress project. Rhay insures the accuracy of Marathon’s scripts and footage used in military documentaries, and conducts interviews with veterans. The archive holds approximately 700 to 750 videotaped interviews, and is an official partner of the Veterans History Project.

Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
Austin, TX

Rivas-Rodriguez is an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Journalism. In 1999, she launched the U.S. Latino & Latina World War II Oral History Project, a multifaceted effort that includes a conference, several books, a play, and a documentary film. At the center is an archive of over 450 videotaped interviews with Latinos and Latinas of the WWII generation. Before entering academia, Rivas-Rodriguez worked as a journalist for more than 17 years for the Boston Globe, WFAA-TV in Dallas, UPI, and the Dallas Morning News, and as Border Bureau Chief for the Dallas Morning News in El Paso.

Steven Sabat
Washington, D.C.

Sabat, professor of psychology, has been at Georgetown University since earning his doctorate at the City University of New York, where he specialized in neuropsychology. The main focus of his research has been the intact cognitive and social abilities (including aspects of selfhood) of Alzheimer's disease sufferers in the moderate to severe stages of the disease, the experience of having the disease from the sufferer's point of view, and the ways in which communication between the afflicted and their caregivers may be enhanced. He has explored all of these issues in numerous scientific journal articles and in his recent book, The Experience of Alzheimer's Disease: Life Through a Tangled Veil (Blackwell, 2001).

Brig. Gen. Donald L. Scott, USA (Ret.)
Dunn Loring, VA

Following 31 years of service in the U.S. Army that included tours of duty in Germany and Vietnam, Scott was appointed Deputy Librarian of Congress in 1996. Prior to coming to the Library, he served as the chief executive officer of Americorps National Civilian Community Corps and as chief operating officer and chief of staff for Mayor Maynard Jackson in Atlanta, GA.

Kathleen M. Scott
Alexandria, VA

Scott is the Director of the Oral History Program at the Women’s Memorial, the only major national memorial honoring all women who have defended the U.S. throughout history. The Memorial is located at the gateway to Arlington National Cemetery. Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit organization endorsed by the U.S. Departments of Defense, Transportation, Veterans Affairs, and Interior. The Foundation is a Partner of the Library of Congress Veterans History Project.

Samuel J. Smith
San Fidel, NM

Smith was too young to enlist in the Armed Forces when he learned of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor while living in Arizona, but began then to formulate a plan to become a Marine. When16 years of age the following year, he joined the Marines and was assigned to an artillery unit following basic training. When his commander determined that he was Navajo, he was transferred to the 4th Marine Division and sent to Camp Pendleton, CA, for general communications training and specialized training to become a Code Talker. He was sent to the Marshall Islands, Saipan, Tinian, and other Pacific islands, interrupted by training periods in Hawaii when he taught the code to others. He spent 31 days on Iwo Jima as the Marines fought to take the island from the Japanese. Since the war, he has held numerous positions of leadership in his community in New Mexico.

Francis Y. Sogi
New York, NY

Born in Hawaii, Sogi began his military career in 1944 when he joined the Military Intelligence Service. He went on to serve with the Counter Intelligence Corps in 1946, rising to the rank of Captain before retiring in 1953. Today, he is a Life Partner in the New York law firm of Kelley Drye & Warren. From 1983 to 1986, he acted as President of the Japanese American Association of New York, Inc. and has held leadership roles in the Japanese American National Museum Board of Trustees, the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation, the National Japanese American Veterans Council, and the U.S.-Japan Bridging Foundation. Sogi is a member of the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission, many Japanese American veterans’ organizations and the Veterans History Project Five Star Council of advisors.

CW04 Elizabeth (Betty) Splaine, USCG (Ret.)
Alexandria, VA

In March of 1943, Splaine joined the U.S. Coast Guard SPARS. After a 26-day boot camp, she received orders to report to Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C., where she served in administration and recruitment. Splaine was the first SPAR to re-enlist after a period of post-war demobilization and was assigned to the First Reserve unit. In 1953, she returned to full-time active duty in Washington in administration of the Reserve Program. In 1958, she became the first woman Warrant Officer in the Coast Guard and was transferred to the Admiral's office where she remained until she was forced to retire as a CW04 due to grade and term limits in December 1970.

Helen (Billie) Sudyk
Huntsburg, OH

Sudyk was engaged to husband, John, when he was shipped overseas. She wrote a letter to him every night, and sometimes more than one a day. She did defense work in the Case Brass plant from 1943 to 1945, where they made brass shell casings and, later in the war, steel mortar shells. She has vivid memories of D-Day, which, unknown to her, her husband was part of at Omaha Beach. When the war ended, Sudyk’s husband returned and they were married. She left her job in the defense plant to stay home and raise their family. She now does volunteer work and, with her husband, speaks to various local groups about their war experiences.

John Sudyk
Huntsburg, OH

Sudyk at age 20 was a gun mechanic in the U.S. First Army, 5th Corps, 187th Field Artillery. He landed at Omaha Beach in the D-Day offensive to support the 29th Infantry after a beachhead had been established. From there they fought in all major engagements, from Omaha Beach to Czechoslovakia and spearheaded with General George S. Patton, Jr.’s column. The unit took part in the liberation of Paris, but quickly moved on, chasing the German army into the Battle of the Bulge. He was in Czechoslovakia at the end of the war in 1945. He continued technical training and worked in manufacturing until his retirement. John and his wife, Helen (Billie), do volunteer work in their community and have spoken about their war experience at schools, churches, and civic gatherings.

Tracy Sugarman
Westport, CT.

Sugarman is a well-known painter and illustrator whose work has been exhibited widely and has appeared in major magazines and books and on television. As a young Navy ensign, he landed on Utah Beach on D-Day, not only as a sailor but as an illustrator. He chronicled every aspect of the war in watercolors and sketches and more than 400 letters to his wife, June. Fifty years later, she astonished him by showing him his long-lost pictures and words.

Col. Peter C. Sweers, Jr., USA (Ret.)
Alexandria, VA

Tom Swope
Mentor, OH

A freelance writer and radio disk jockey at WBKC in Painesville, OH, Swope has been a Veterans History Project volunteer for three years. Beginning in 1996, he ran periodic, on-air World War II specials to commemorate significant dates, and for the past three years has run a weekly radio show, Legacies: Stories from the Second World War, in which he interviews veterans and plays music of the era. In 2002 the show garnered for him the Cleveland Press Club Award and the March of Dimes A.I.R. (Achievement in Radio) Award as the best weekly show in northern Ohio.

Warren Tsuneishi
Bethesda, MD

Born on the Fourth of July in California, Tsuneishi was the son of Japanese immigrants. After Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States entered the war, his family was evacuated to Heart Mountain, an internment facility in Wyoming. Determined to serve his country, Tsuneishi volunteered for the Military Intelligence Service Language School and served in the Pacific with the 306th Headquarters Intelligence Detachment, 24th Corps, translating captured documents. Following his discharge from the service in 1946, he pursued a career in library science and retired as Chief of the Asian Division of the Library of Congress in 1993. Today he is active in a number of professional and academic organizations and has written numerous papers and articles for professional conference and journals. He is a member of the Japanese American Veterans Association, an official partner of the Veterans History Project.

Brig. Gen. Alvin D. Ungerleider, USA (Ret.)
Burke, VA

Born in West New York, NJ, Ungerleider was drafted in 1942, and later attended Officer Candidate School at Ft. Benning, GA. He was transferred to England in 1944 as a 2nd Lt. in the 29th Division and landed on Omaha Beach in an LCI on D-Day. Wounded two weeks later, was evacuated to England, re-joined the division six weeks later, was wounded again but remained in combat. Later, he commanded a tank unit in the Korean War and commanded a large unit in Vietnam. While Commander of the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Aberdeen, MD, he retired after 36 years of military service to pursue a career in publishing and served for 10 years as a senior editor of military almanacs.

Fredrick Wallace
Alpharetta, GA

Wallace served in the Air Force during the Korean War. In 1970, after 20 years in the military, he retired at the rank of Major. Moving to Los Angeles, he worked for the Veterans Administration and counseled veterans returning from the Vietnam War. During those years, the VA began the Veterans on Campus program, which Wallace believes was one of the most effective VA programs. In 1995, he retired to Georgia where he volunteers for AARP and through its Partners program, contributes his time and energy to the Veterans History Project.

Senator John W. Warner
Middleburg, VA

Warner, a five-term Republican from Virginia, was first elected to the United States Senate in1978. His public service began in January 1945, when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy at the age of 17. He served on active duty until the summer of 1946 and was honorably discharged as Petty Officer 3rd Class, electronic technician’s mate. At the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, he interrupted his law school studies and began a second tour of active military duty in the U.S. Marine Corps. In 1951 as a First Lieutenant in communications, he volunteered for duty in Korea and served as a ground officer with the First Marine Air Wing. In 1969, Warner was appointed Under Secretary of the Navy; he served in the U.S. Department of Defense for over five years, and completed his service as the Secretary of the Navy in 1974. Warner is the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and serves also on the Environment and Public Works Committee, the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and the Select Committee on Intelligence. He is a member of the Veterans History Project Five Star Council of advisors.

Brien R. Williams
Washington, D.C.

Williams is the Historian for the American Red Cross, and many of his articles appear in the history section of the Virtual Museum on the public Web site, redcross.org. He is also responsible for the development and implementation of the national Red Cross Oral History Program, a partner of the Veterans History Project and, to date, has conducted nearly 40 videotaped interviews with individuals who have had exceptional Red Cross experiences. These interviews become part of the corporation’s historical archives, available for research and incorporation in audio and visual presentations. Prior to joining the Red Cross in 1998, Williams was an independent video producer, writer, and director with specialties in video history and media in education.

Cdr. David Winkler, USN
Alexandria, VA

In his current position as Programs and Development Director at the Naval Historical Foundation, Winkler supervises an oral history program, the Foundation’s Naval Heritage Speakers Program and other Navy history-related projects to support the Naval Historical Center and the Navy Museum. He writes a monthly history column for the Navy League’s journal Sea Power. A Commander in the Naval Reserve, Winkler serves as Executive Officer of the Naval Historical Center 0615R unit, a cadre that conducts End-of-Tour interviews with senior Navy officials. He received his commission in 1980 through the NROTC unit at Pennsylvania State University. He is a volunteer interviewer for the Library of Congress Veterans History Project.

George Zavadil
Towson, MD

From his home in Smithtown, Long Island, NY, Zavadil enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard in 1942 and was assigned to the USCG Yard in Curtis Bay, MD, as Yeoman 2nd Class. Soon after, he entered the newly created Supply Officer School for training, graduating as Warrant Officer. He served on two pre-commissioning details on Liberty ships, the USS Eridanus (AK92), with supplies and replacement duties, and on the USS Orlando (PF99), convoy duty and anti-submarine warfare. He was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade during his 25 months at sea, serving in the Pacific on the Eridanus and the mid-Atlantic on the Orlando. Following the war, he was assigned to the Aleutian Islands on weather patrol, and left the service in 1946. He settled in Baltimore, MD, attended law school, and made his career in tax law and financial planning.

  Pavilion Home >> Participant Biographies

Return to Top of Page TOP OF PAGE
  The Library of Congress >> American Folklife Center
  June 23, 2004
Contact Us | FAQ | For Researchers