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Dale Center for the Study of War and Society

War Stories: National Guard

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Mississippi National Guard in the Field

The goal of War Stories: Preserving National Guard Voices is to capture and preserve the oral and written story of Mississippi’s National Guard during the transformational 21st Century.  In the wake of the Vietnam War, the role of the National Guard underwent a sea change.  This Dale Center for the Study of War & Society project will chronicle that process as the National Guard shifted from its more traditional role into one that included action as a kinetic warfighting force in the Global War on Terror, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom, resulting in an exhausting series of multiple deployments to the battlefront.

The story of the National Guard’s transformation is multifaceted and ties into many of the most important cultural and military trends of the 21st Century.  Through capturing oral histories and collecting written documents, War Stories: Preserving National Guard Voices will accumulate and preserve invaluable primary sources concerning a host of important topics including: the National Guard's kinetic ability on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, the developing relationship between the National Guard and the active military, the response to Hurricane Katrina, the stories of Mississippi guardsmen and their families during the stress of multiple deployments, the increasing diversity of the National Guard, and the transforming relationships between the Guard and its home communities.

► To help us preserve these vital stories by making a donation: CLICK HERE.

Mississippi National Guard on the Home Front

Methods: War Stories: Preserving National Guard Voices will center around gathering the oral histories of both serving Mississippi National Guardsmen and veterans.  There will also be an effort to obtain personal papers, including diaries and letters, as well as official documents such as operations orders and after action reports.  Interviews will be recorded (hopefully on video as well as audio, depending on funding), and the resulting recordings will be transcribed.  All materials resulting from the study will be made available to the public and housed in the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage on the Southern Miss campus, or the Special Collections Division of the McCain Library and Archive in the case of printed material. 

Dissemination: War Stories: Preserving National Guard Voices will disseminate the collection in many ways, including podcasts and blogs, an interactive website, lesson plans distributed to public school teachers, radio broadcasts of interviews, video stories for local and regional news outlets, and through displays and interactive kiosks at the Mississippi Armed Forces Museum at Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg.  We will also work with our partners at the Mississippi Humanities Council and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to disseminate the information widely.  The collection will also be used by Southern Miss scholars and graduate students to produce more long-term projects including books and articles.  Once it becomes known, the collection will also become a research resource for scholars both nationally and internationally on the National Guard and our present wars.

Why now?  As historians have learned from World War II and Vietnam, waiting to gather the veteran story means that it can disappear.  It is a rare opportunity to identify a historically important moment while such a rich source base still exists.  From senior leadership to the enlisted men on the front lines, Mississippi’s National Guardsmen are all around, many are still serving, and their memories of deployment are still intact.  Waiting means that some stories will be lost, while others fade with time.  It is imperative to seize this moment before it passes.  It is also critical to gather these stories while they retain a deep relevance to both a military that remains involved in such conflicts and a society that deals with the fallout of those conflicts. 

To read Dr. Andrew Wiest's blog post about how War Stories: Preserving National Guard Voices got started, please CLICK HERE

For more information, please email the Dale%20Center.

National Guard Logo

Photo Information:

Top: Soldiers with Troop C, 1st Squadron, 98th Cavalry Regiment, Mississippi Army National Guard, perform an area reconnaissance at the Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center as part of an Exportable Combat Training Capability exercise on July 28, 2015. The event exposes Guard Soldiers to combat training experiences needed to support Army commitments worldwide.

Bottom: Sergeant Dustin R. Cooley (right), of Company B, 1st Battalion, 155th Combined Arms Regiment, Mississippi Army National Guard, and Staff Sgt. Pearl R. Allen, of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1-155th CAB, assist evacuating a Bay St. Louis, Miss., resident in need of medical care. Cooley, of Gulfport, Miss., and Allen, of McComb, Miss., are serving on state active duty as part of Operation Secure Magnolia - Hurricane Ike, on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.