In the oral history of Roy Boreen, a US Navy veteran who served on the USS Oklahoma, Boreen recalls the infamous attack at Pearl Harbor: “When I looked out I saw the Rising Sun on this Kate bomber that had just released its first torpedo for our ship. When I saw the Rising Sun I yelled out, ‘The Japs are here!’ A torpedo hit in the next compartment, hit a fuel tank, sprung the door and I was completely covered with oil. That morning the sun was out, it was a beautiful day, and then after the first attack and especially when the Arizona went up in the air, everything turned black. That day was really dark and everything after.”
World War II veterans are passing away every day. Before their personal accounts will be lost, historians at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans seek out veterans to interview and then archive and publish their stories. With financial support from Iron Mountain, the Museum will digitally publish veterans’ oral histories from the Pacific Theater of the war. Nearly 100 veteran stories will be added to the Museum’s online digital collection – a process that includes editing, annotating and safely storing recordings so that they’re easily attainable to the user.
On December 10, 2015, the Museum’s newest permanent exhibit hall, “The Road to Tokyo: Pacific Theater Galleries,” opened. It will help provide extensive public access to the institution’s diverse collections. Placing these oral histories on the Museum’s online collection will allow people across the nation and throughout the world to learn and benefit from them, providing audiences with a better understanding of the personal war experiences of everyone from servicemen and nurses to airmen and code-breakers.
In addition, Iron Mountain will store documents in its New Orleans facility and keep safe original tapes from author and founder Stephen Ambrose in its Underground facility in Boyers, Pennsylvania
“We are thrilled to partner with the National World War II Museum because they share our desire to preserve historical treasures – our veteran and their stories – and make them known to the world,” said Alisha Perdue, Manager of Community Engagement. “Our company’s Living Legacy Initiative is a commitment to lend our resources and expertise to nonprofit partners who want to protect historical and cultural assets of our collective heritage.”
The Museum launched its new and improved digital collections website in December 2013. The site currently contains segmented and annotated videos of oral histories from all military service branches, which are easily searchable by theater, branch of service or keywords. Website visitors can also create personal accounts where they can save photos and oral history clips – free of charge – allowing them to manage the resources to better aid their own research projects or personal interests.
“Every time we lose a veteran, it’s like losing a library – all of those memories and firsthand experiences are gone,” said Dr. Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, President and CEO of The National WWII Museum. “Digitization efforts preserve a significant piece of our nation’s cultural heritage for future generations, and Iron Mountain is helping us ensure that the stories of our World War II veterans are not lost with their passing.”
To watch a video about the collection of oral histories and hear some veteran accounts, please click here.