In 2001, I talked with fellow Idahoan Captain Lynn B. Richmond about his experiences serving in artillery for the U.S. Army in World War II.  Captain Richmond earned the Bronze Star for his meritorious service in direct support of combat operations from December 1943 to May 1945 in Italy, France and Germany. 

Captain Richmond candidly shared memories, photos and other keepsakes.  We looked at his Bronze Star and read his citation that conveyed a sense of his heroism:  “As Battery Commander, Captain Richmond was responsible for the outstanding accomplishments of his Battery during long periods of continuous combat.  His energy and enthusiasm, along with his excellent leadership accounted for the superior record of his unit.”

Captain Richmond, who was born in 1919, shared his experiences reflecting on the loss of one of his best friends in combat, the service of his wife as an Army nurse, how the couple stayed in contact with each other during the war despite being stationed in different countries and much more.  Our conversation was recorded and submitted to the Veterans History Project (VHP), and it can be viewed through the following link: http://memory.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/story/loc.natlib.afc2001001.00080/.  Captain Richmond’s oral history of his service can be viewed among the 1,315 collections of Idaho veterans and 104,830 collections from veterans nationwide submitted to the VHP. 

To recognize and honor the remarkable service of Idaho veterans, I am trying to help spread the word about the Veterans History Project as a resource and opportunity to collect more of Idaho veterans’ stories.  This column is the second in a recent series of columns highlighting the service of Idaho veterans whose histories are part of the VHP and ways to submit more Idaho veterans’ histories to the VHP.  Since Congress established the VHP seventeen years ago, the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center has been working with the public to collect veterans’ oral histories to preserve and make them available to the public “so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war.” 

If you have the opportunity to help collect the stories of veterans you know, the Veterans History Project website, at www.loc.gov/vets/, contains guidelines for conducting interviews and submitting stories to the project.  Veterans’ unedited audio or video recorded interviews, photographs, letters, diaries, journals, military documents, two-dimensional artwork, maps and unpublished memoirs are among the materials accepted to the VHP.  Accepted materials must fall within VHP’s 30-20-10 Rule:  30 minutes is the minimum length required for recorded interviews; 20 pages is the minimum number of pages required for memoirs, diaries or journals; and 10 is the minimum number of original photographs, letters, maps or pieces of artwork required and the minimum number of pages required for military documents.

Time with Captain Richmond, like time spent with other Idaho veterans I get the privilege of meeting, is deeply enriching.  Idaho veterans give so much of themselves in service to our nation and fellow Americans and often continue to serve in other capacities in our communities after their military service.  Their life stories are illustrative of the patriotism and service-focused principles they embody.  Through the interviews, we may learn something new and extraordinary about loved ones and friends.  Collecting the stories of our nation’s heroes ensures that they are maintained as a resource for all of us to learn from and honors their service.