Tips on Conducting Interviews with WWII Veterans – iHistory WW2 Student Video Contest

By: Heather Van Allen & Jeffrey Worthington

Claude Hobbs - Veteran of Omaha Beach landing
Claude Hobbs – WWII Veteran of Omaha Beach landing, 1944.

It’s time for your interview with a WWII veteran, and you’re just about ready to film. Following a few tips may help you create a video that looks professional without appearing stiff or overly rehearsed.

Take a deep breath, relax. Rather than approaching your interview like a scripted list of questions you just have to get through, talk to the person like you would anyone else. Try not to focus so much on being recorded, that you get nervous and forget that you’re just having a dialogue with another human being.

Practice your interview introduction enough so that it feels natural. Get to know the veteran, finding out all the pertinent details, before your interview time. Introduce him or her like you would a good friend you highly admire. Consider beginning with something like, “This is _________. It’s October ____, 2013, and today I’m in Anytown, USA, talking to __________ …” and go from there.

When opening your interview, be sure to include all of the following information for the veteran: full name, birth date, war and branch of service and highest rank achieved. Also state the date and location (city, state) of the interview; your full name and relationship to the veteran (if applicable); the name of anyone present who is assisting with the interview; and that the interview is being conducted for the iHistory WW2 Contest and Veterans History Project for the Library of Congress.

Before asking your first question, thank your interviewee for agreeing to be there and talk to you (Example: “Thank you, ________, for taking time to talk to me today.”)

Ask open-ended questions. Encourage the subject to open up about their past.

Keep your comments to a minimum. Be willing to listen and let the veteran tell his or her story.  For example, here is an interview filmed for the Library on Congress a few years ago.

Keep the interview going. Gently prod to keep the story going by asking, “Then what happened?”

Interview Requirements

Before conducting your interview, be sure you have completed the following steps:

Ensure that your recording media complies with the Library of Congress’ Acceptable Media and Formats.

Use an external microphone for conducting the video interview.

Properly fill out the release and biography forms with the WWII veteran. Submitting an incomplete form may lead to the disqualification of your entry.

Submissions due November 20th, 2013.  To learn how to enter the contest and view the Official Rules, please visit: http://www.heroes-ww2.org

Visit the iHistory WW2 website for additional tips and resources for your mini-documentary. To stay up to date be sure to LIKE us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

The Hero Next Door- By Jeffery Worthington- iHistory WW2 Video Contest

By Rachel MartinJeff Worthington, and iHistory WW2

You have probably talked to a hero this week and didn’t even realize it.

Heroes aren’t just the guys in red capes, or the super stars with multi-million dollar incomes. Rather, heroes take all forms – like the elderly man slumped in his chair at the nursing home, the Wal-Mart greeter who proudly wears his veterans hat, or Great-Uncle Carl, who always plays checkers with you when you visit Grandma at Christmas. World War II veterans are among our nation’s finest heroes. Risking everything, they sacrificed much to fight for freedom.

Courage

This week, we celebrate one of the most prominent displays of heroism in WW2. On June 6, 1944, more than 9,000 Allied soldiers were killed when troops landed in Normandy, France. The plan was to surprise the German armies and gain a foothold in the area. Even though thousands lost their lives, the maneuver was ultimately successful. Over 100,000 troops began the march through Europe – a march which led to the ultimate defeat of Hitler.

Sacrifice

These courageous heroes risked and sacrificed their lives without the spotlight of fame or the glory of reveling in victory, and no guarantee of return.

There’s a chance you have a hero next door. Don’t miss the opportunity to meet a WWII veteran and tell others his or her story. Join the iHistory WW2 video competition and share his or her story with the world.

Join us on Facebook to follow the latest news and join the conversation as we salute veterans.
For more information, visit iHistory WW2 or contact me directly at jeff@ihistoryproject.org.

Yes Sir, General Patton, Sir! by Jeffrey Worthington, iHistory Project-WW2

What would a brash, determined old horse soldier do when he was told he couldn’t accomplish a seemingly impossible mission??  If that trooper was General George S. Patton, Jr., he’d call on his best units to get the job done. When his impossible task was to relieve the 101st Airborne at Bastogne, Patton called on the 4th Armored Division, Bob Eamello’s division, to help get the job done.

Bob Eamello grew up in the Great Depression.  He, like so many in his generation, already knew deprivation and personal sacrifice.  As a boy, he recalled, he would climb cherry trees and apple trees to find food and a meal of rabbit, squirrel and even an occasional blackbird was welcomed fare.  Maybe the hardships of youth prepared him for what was ahead.

Preparations ended for Bob Eamello shortly after the D-Day landings on the Normandy beaches.  The following month he and his comrades blazed a mechanized trail across Europe that ultimately brought him face to face with George Patton, himself.  Along the way Bob ran headlong into fighting against some of the fiercest fighters of the war, the famed and feared Panzer Armies.  When he recalled his meetings with Patton, Bob recalled that the only words any soldier needed, when addressing the general, was “Yes Sir!”  Bob and his brothers in arms marched with Patton to Bastogne, relieving the beleaguered 101st Airborne and helping to secure the Allied victory in the Battle of The Bulge.

The March to victory for Bob Eamello and the 4th Armored Division was never easy.  They helped liberate the Buchenwald death camp; looking into the faces of those who suffered at the hands of absolute evil.  They endured the bitter winter of 1944-1945 and they felt the loss of all who perished in freedom’s name.  Recalling the last day of the war, Bob said it was the day the men of the 4th Armored Division met their Russian and Czech allies.  “The captain yelled “quit fighting.”  It was over.  Speaking with a voice that still reverberates with profound relief, Bob said: “It was the best day of the war.”

Bob Eamello’s story is his own.  Each serviceman and every servicewoman has a story that is shared with others but is still personal and unique.  In their own personal stories, they all said “Yes Sir” just as Bob did when he stood toe to toe with General George S. Patton, Jr.

I hope you will support me (and hundreds of World War 2 enthusiasts and volunteers around the world) in challenging American teens across America, who are interested in military history, to participate in the iHistory Project-WW2.  We are committed to preserving these great World War 2 stories and memories and to bringing them to life so future generations will understand and appreciate the events of this conflict and how they shaped our world.

For more information, visit the I-History Project-WW2 or contact me directly at jeff@ihistoryproject.org