Upton wants veterans’ war stories preserved

Published 10:39 am Thursday, April 8, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Congressman Fred Upton paid a visit to Niles' veterans on Wednesday in an effort to preserve their war stories forever.
The stories are being collected for the Library of Congress's Veterans History Project, which aims to honor our nation's war veterans by recording their stories for generations to come.
Upton and his staff made a stop at Niles American Legion Post No. 26, 1707 Miller Dr., where he gathered stories from two Niles World War II veterans and videotaped them as a part of the project.
The Veterans History Project is actively pursuing stories from all who participated in World War 1, World War II, and the Korean, Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars.
The collection is being created through sound and video recordings of interviews with war veterans, and by gathering written memoirs, wartime letters, diaries and photographs.
Upton's efforts took him to American Legion posts and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) halls across Southwestern Michigan. While in Niles, he sat down with two of the members of the Niles American Legion to record their stories.
Bill Wenger, who was a part of the U.S. Navy for 15 years, brought in a large memoir of his experiences that he recorded while he was in the military.
Wenger, who left home for the Navy when he was just 16, was at Pearl Harbor on the day the base was attacked by the Japanese.
Ival Jorgensen also sat down with Upton to talk about his time in the Navy during World War II.
Jorgensen spent three years and five months in the Navy, where his duty took him all over the Atlantic Ocean from the equator to Iceland and everywhere in between.
Upton's involvement with the project began two years ago when he started by interviewing his father.
This was the first time Upton's father had opened up to him about his experiences in World War II.
Upton pointed out there are more than 19 million war veterans living in our country today and that we lose more than 1,700 of those veterans each day.