Ohio volunteer collects memories from dwindling WWII vets

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — A northeastern Ohio woman from a big military family is taking videos of recollections from the dwindling population of surviving World War II veterans as part of a national project to capture veterans’ memories of war.

“I think it’s very important for people to see, not the historical truth, the big picture, the stuff you see in books, but the small stories, the stories of how war affected the people who lived it,” Suzanne Nichols told the Akron Beacon Journal (http://bit.ly/2hqn0s4).

Two years ago, the Akron woman started recording stories and gathering documents and photos for the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project after looking for a volunteer opportunity with a health care organization whose hospice program is well-positioned to identify potential subjects.

Nichols has had seven so far, the most recent being 93-year-old former Navy man Clyde Dye, of Akron, whose crisp memory and gift of gab made him a good fit for the project. He talked about stealing a left-behind steak in the officers’ quarters of the destroyer USS McConnell to eat with a friend, and about ignoring a misguided “hard right rudder” order from a captain while in a line of ships awaiting refueling.

“There’s no way I could turn to hard right rudder without possibly sinking two or three ships,” Dye said. “I froze, and the second I froze I saw in my mind all the things that could happen.”

Instead of yelling about Dye’s disobedience, the captain ended up thanking him, he said.

Dye said he was discharged from the Navy seven decades ago, and until Nichols, no one had asked him to dig into the past for the record.

“It’s a good thing. I’m glad somebody cares,” he told the newspaper. “If she’s satisfied, then I’m satisfied.”


Information from: Akron Beacon Journal, http://www.ohio.com