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Volunteers work to find, interview WWII veterans

Frederick P. Gehle never served in the military, but you would never know it by the work he now does trying to find and lineup interviews with World War II veterans.

An Augusta resident, Mr. Gehle serves as coordinator of the Veterans' History Project through the Augusta-Richmond County Historical Society.

"This is a very special project to me, personally," said Mr. Gehle. "We want to find just as many of these men and women and interview them about their role in history as we can."

Already, Mr. Gehle's group of volunteers has discovered more than 400 men and women throughout East Central Georgia, who served their country in some capacity during WW II.

"We're learning about more of them everyday living in this area," he added.

Members of the Veterans' History Project are interested in finding many more World War II veterans.

"A lot of these men and women are dying every day in our country," said Mr. Gehle. "That's why we want to find as many as we can that live around the Augusta-Aiken and surrounding areas. We've had volunteers conduct interviews with veterans living in and around Thomson and Warrenton."

In recent days, a WW II veteran living in Washington, also talked with a volunteer about his experiences during that time in American history.

"Their stories are so compelling and interesting," said Mr. Gehle. "I'd like for us to get a hold of every WW II veteran we possibly can living in the CSRA. They all have a story to tell and we'd like share it."

The men and women of WW II must agree to be interviewed and videoed by members of the Veterans' History Project, once a volunteer of the group has made initial contact with them, explained Mr. Gehle.

"It's a real good feeling when you can go out and interview these men and women and they share their story of the war with you," said Mr. Gehle. "Many of them have said some really interesting things to us."

The Veterans' History Project was the brainchild of members of the Augusta-Richmond County Historical Society who expressed a desire to take on this mission as a means of capturing some of the untold stories of WW II.

"I really enjoy being a part of this history project," said Mr. Gehle. "It's great to be part of such a worthwhile project."

Presently, Mr. Gehle is looking for many more WW II veterans willing to be interviewed and videotaped. Veterans submitting to those two requirements will be furnished a free video tape of their interview. Another copy will be sent to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Yet another video copy will be retained by the Augusta-Richmond County Historical Society at Augusta State University on behalf of the Veterans' History Project.

Anyone desiring additional information about the project may call Mr. Gehle at his home in Augusta at 706-738-8242 or at:

Web posted on Thursday, April 29, 2010

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