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“War Stories” Project to Capture the Experiences of National Guard Soldiers’ Service in Global War on Terror

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 14:25pm | By: David Tisdale

War Stories - Preserving National Guard VoicesA new initiative of the Dale Center for the Study of War and Society at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) will capture and preserve the oral and written story of Mississippi’s National Guard and its service in America’s 21st century military exploits, including the Global War on Terror and managing recovery operations following Hurricane Katrina. 

USM History program faculty members and Dale Center fellows Dr. Andrew Wiest, founding director of the Dale Center, and Dr. Kevin Greene, director of USM’s Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage (COHCH), will direct the project, known as “War Stories: Preserving National Guard Voices.”

“War Stories” will chronicle the story of the National Guard as it shifted from its more traditional role into one that included action as a kinetic warfighting force in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, to domestic recovery operations following national disasters.

“Preserving these important stories, through Oral History and archival collections, is key to understanding how America now fights its wars,” Dr. Wiest said, “and preservation of these stories will honor the tens of thousands of Guardsmen and women who have fought valiantly for their country.

“These stories need first to be gathered, and then told. We waited almost too long to get the stories of World War II and Vietnam. It’s high time to get to this new one.”

Gathering the oral histories of both serving Mississippi National Guardsmen and veterans will be the primary focus of “War Stories,” along with 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 and transcribed. All project materials will be made available to the public, and housed in the COHCH on the USM Hattiesburg campus, or in its McCain Library and Archive in the case of printed material. 

“War Stories” will disseminate through 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. 

The collection will also be used by Southern Miss scholars and graduate students to produce more long-term projects, including books and articles, and serve as a research hub for scholars, both nationally and internationally, on the National Guard and our present wars.

“I'm excited to combine my experiences in and passion for oral history with the Dale Center's mission and programs,” Dr. Greene said. “The War Stories: National Guard project is the perfect project for cross-collaborative work between the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage and the Dale Center, along with our partners across the state. If we do this right, our endeavors may very well yield substantial results for decades to come. It's an exciting time."

For more information about War Stories, contact Dr. Wiest at andrew.wiestFREEMississippi or Dr. Greene at keving.greeneFREEMississippi. For information about the Dale Center, visit https://www.usm.edu/dale-center-war-society/index.php