Major League Baseball WWII Veteran – iHistory WW2 Contest for Teens & Educators

By: Heather Van AllenJeffrey Worthington

Jerry_Coleman_of_San_Diego_Padres
Photo from Wikipedia

If you are a baseball fan, you’re probably taking every chance you can to root for your favorite team as the MLB playoffs quickly approach. Most Likely, your excitement builds as you watch those you might consider the heroes of the game known as America’s pastime battle it out for spots in The World Series.

But, did you know? The world of major league baseball boasts a lineup of a different sort of hero—those who have served the U.S. in various wars.

Former New York Yankee, and current San Diego Padres broadcaster, Jerry Coleman, is also Lieutenant Colonel Gerald F. Coleman, USMCR (Ret.), a WWII veteran (also of the Korean War).

Coleman once said, “To me the height of my life, the best thing I ever knew, was the Yankees, wasn’t baseball or broadcasting. It was the Marine Corps.”

Here are some of the highlights of Coleman’s WWII service:

  • Fall 1942: Coleman joined the navy’s V-5 program, the training and testing program developing young flying officers for the U.S. Navy and the Marine Corps.  Coleman chose to fly for the Marine Corps.
  • April 1, 1944: Commissioned as second lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserve and received his gold wings at the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station.  He flew 57 total WWII missions.
  • Flew Douglas Dauntless (SBD) dive bombers.
  • Joined a squadron designated VMSB-314 and nicknamed “The Torrid Turtles.”
  • Received several honors, including two Distinguished Flying Crosses, several Air Medals and a WWII Victory Medal.
  • January 1946: Released from active duty in the Marines and returned to baseball with the New York Yankees, first for their minor league teams, before moving up to the majors in 1949.

In a recent video interview—an oral history recorded at the San Diego Air and Space Museum–Coleman said, “There are only two things important in my life: the people you love and who love you, and your country.”

And now you have a chance to bring other WWII veteran’s stories come to life by putting together your own WWII mini-documentary. Go to the iHistory WW2 contest web site to find out how!   www.heroes-ww2.org

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Honor & Respect (Normandy American Cemetery) – D-Day June 6 1944 – by Jeffrey Worthington & iHistory WW2 Video Contest

By: Jeffrey Worthington & iHistory WW2

Normandy

Three years ago today I was privileged to be on the beaches of Normandy for the ceremonies commemorating the 66th anniversary of the landing of the American and Allied forces on D-Day.  It was humbling to stand among the men who fought to give freedom to others.  Men who risked everything to free an entire continent that was under the oppression and persecution of Nazi Germany.

One thing I will never forget at Normandy was seeing how respectful the French were by adopting the headstones of fallen American soldiers.  It was a tradition started  almost immediately after the D-Day invasion in June 1944 – local families made sure that each soldier’s grave near their village was tended to.  That tradition has been handed down through the generations, and is continued to today.

Normandy
These photos are candid pictures of a French family paying their respects to a fall soldier, and teaching the next generation to do the same.
Normandy
Traditionally French families tend the grave sites of soldiers who died fighting near their home or village.

The family brought small bags of sand from Omaha beach and had each boy rub the sand on the headstones they visited in order to view the solder’s names more clearly.  Then they placed flowers in front of the headstones and took a picture of the boys, before moving on to honor another fallen hero.

Normandy
Young boys posing briefly for a picture by the headstone of an American soldier.

I candidly observed this ritual being repeated throughout the afternoon.  Many other grateful French families were also there paying their respects to the men who paid the ultimate price for their freedom.

PFC Richard Kunkel, New York. Killed in action June 6, 1944.
Richard Kunkel (PFC, 501st Parachute Infantry Regt, 101st Airborne Division) of New York was killed in action June 6, 1944, in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. He was posthumous awarded a Purple Heart.

Since the French haven’t forgotten the price of their freedom, I pray that we as Americans  never will either.  Yet today, a growing percentage of youth lack basic knowledge about WWII or Hitler’s atrocities.  Help us change this by passing along the legacy of the Greatest Generation by spreading the word about the iHistory WW2 video contest for today’s junior high and high school students!

SONY DSC

And remember to thank a veteran… they’re often disguised as retired businessmen,  volunteers, Wal-Mart greeters, and great-grandparents.  For more information, visit the iHistory WW2 website or contact me directly at jeff@ihistoryproject.org

How a Secrecy Veiled Tragedy Taught the Importance of War Stories- By Jeffery Worthington- iHistoryProject WW2

By Rachel Martin, Jeff Worthington, and iHistory Project WW2

War history. Veteran Stories. Why are they important?

I didn’t know. My dad didn’t know. I’m not entirely sure my grandmother knew. A small group of us sat in awed silence as my grandad recounted living through the catastrophic sinking of the HMT Rohna.We were awed to learn my grandad, a World War II veteran, was the survivor of a ship sunk by a Luftwaffe attack off the Mediterranean coast. Over 1,000 men were lost in the attack. Veiled in secrecy for years, the sinking of the HMT Rohna was the largest loss of US troops at sea.

HMT Rohna

My granddad was one of the 606 survivors of the November 26th, 1943 attack, and he clung to life in the ocean for days before his rescue. As one of the few survivors, he was one of the lucky ones.

The event was catastrophic. So much so, that the US Government veiled the incident in secrecy until 1996, almost 50 years after the incident.

How do you tell a story that was classified and veiled in secrecy for over 50 years?

How do you gather facts on a tragedy filled with “strong silent” types? It’s impossible to learn and tell a story unless you’re first ready to listen.

While he lived through a historic event, my granddad rarely spoke of his experiences.  

Granddad is gone now, and I’m so thankful for the opportunities I had to hear about his WWII experiences. Had I not talked to him about his experience in World War II, his story would be lost forever with his passing.

History is important and there are stories to be told.

That’s why we’re launching iHistory WWII. We’re working in cooperation with the Library of Congress to bring stories of veterans to life. iHistoryWWII is providing students with the opportunity to hear stories first hand, and the chance to win free equipment for their classroom!

Visit our website, and stay tuned for more details!

For more information, visit the iHistory Project-WW2 or contact me directly atjeff@ihistoryproject.org.

Silence…isn’t Always Golden.

Little girl whispering
little girl whispering

It has been said that “silence is golden”. While this maxum rings true in many circumstances, when it comes to blogging, silence is just… well, quiet.

Unfortunately the iHistory WW2 blog has been silent for a while now. But, there is good news!

We are up and running once again. Soon, we’ll begin posting updates for iHistory WW2, stories from World War Two, and ways you can become involved!

Keep an eye out on the blog for new posts, and join us on Facebook and Twitter to follow our conversation there, too!

Ps. We just joined Pinterest– so be sure to follow us there, too!

Roosevelt’s Infamy Speech – Pearl Harbor – December 8, 1941 – By Jeffrey Worthington & iHistory Project

By: Jeffrey Worthington & iHistory Project

One day after the Empire of Japan’s attack on Hawaii and Pearl Harbor, the United States President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, delivered this speech to a Joint Session of Congress.  The speech is best known for the line “December 7, 1941… a date which will live in infamy.” Unfortunately many students today do not know what happened at Pearl Harbor that day.

But there is something you can do to help educate today’s teens by getting them to learn out nations history from the people who were there… before it is too late. Roughly a 1,000 World War II veterans die everyday. The New York Times said that by 2020 there won’t be any left at all.

Please visit http://www.ihistoryprojectww2.org to see how you can help in your community!

If you have any questions or need more information please visitor our website iHistory Project: WW2 or contact me directly at jeff@ihistoryproject.org

Veterans Day – By Jeffrey Worthington & iHistory Project

By: Jeffrey Worthington & iHistory Project

“We celebrate this Veterans Day for a very few minutes, a few seconds of silence and then this country’s life goes on.  But I think it most appropriate that we recall on this occasion, and on every other moment when we are faced with great responsibilities, the contribution and the sacrifice which so many men and their families have made in order to permit this country to now occupy its present position of responsibility and freedom, and in order to permit us to gather here together.” -John F. Kennedy (November 11, 1961)

The iHistory Project and the Worthington Foundation wish to thank all of our military service men and women, as well as those who are supporting them as they maintain the frontiers of freedom!

UPDATE: iHistory Project is now officially a non-profit! – By Jeffrey Worthington & iHistory Project

By: Jeffrey Worthington & iHistory Project

Hey Everyone!

I’m very happy to announce that we recently received our 501c3 non-profit status!  We, at the Worthington Foundation are very excited for what this means in the coming months!  Thank you for your support over the years.   We started the iHistory Project back in 2009 and it has been quite a journey.

When we started the iHistory Project, in the Fall of 2009, we looked to partner with other non-profit organizations in order to save the time of having to file to become 501(c)(3) ourselves, but because of the economic down turn, most organizations were not taking on new projects.  So in June 2010, we hired a paralegal, who came highly recommended and whom we had worked with previously, to file our own 501(c)(3) application.  Unfortunately, he led us on a wild goose chase for 18 months.  He took our money and, to the best of our knowledge, he’s residing in Europe.  It was mid-2011 before we realized that he was not doing the work he had claimed.  This was confirmed a few months later when the IRS said that he had never contacted them on our behalf.  Needless to say, that was devastating news.

It took a few months for us to untangle the mess he left behind.  So, in January 2012, we again began the process of applying to become non-profit organization.  However, this time was with a reputable company, thus, we are glad to report that in October, 2012, we (the Worthington Foundation) finally received our 501(c)(3) non-profit status!

Preserve our World War II veterans’ history while bridging the generational gap with today’s youth.  Spread the word about the iHistory Project with your family, friends, and teachers, via Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Remember to download our flyer (Click Here)!

For more details on how to get your teens involved with our iHistory Project, go to our website: www.Heroes-WW2.org

Talk again soon.

Jeffrey Worthington

Worthington Foundation

Project Director (iHistory Project)