The Villages were an untapped interviewing grounds for our Veteran’s History Project, but since its start, SPOHP volunteer team, the Villages Squad, has collected many invaluable interviews. For the past several months, the team has been tirelessly collecting the stories of World War II veterans living in the Central Florida region. Members Mike Parker, Bruce Hansen, and Ed Webb started when VHP coordinator Ann Smith received an email of inquiry from Mike Parker. Parker had been working with his wife to organize Honor Flights out of Orlando, Florida. Mike approached SPOHP to collect the stories of honor flight veterans.
Mike Parker soon was trained to do oral histories, and he started doing interviews from the list of Honor Flight veterans. Soon after, he brought other volunteers to the Veteran’s History Project. He conducted a two and a half hour oral history workshop at a local library and brought a lot of interest, but after a few months, only two volunteers remained: Bruce Hansen and Ed Webb. Bruce Hansen is a retired law enforcement agent. He is a quiet, soft spoken man who is comfortable with listening to the harrowing stories that sometimes come along with World War II interviews. Hansen conducts many of the interviews. He excels at contacting and interviewing veterans. Ed Webb works behind the scenes and attends interviews. He is very good at asking backup questions and organizing interviews. Hansen and Webb are a team. They work to prioritize and collect interviews. They even visited the largest post in the American Legion, and they worked with them to collect the experiences of veterans in their local branch.
We thank the Villages Squad for their time volunteering to collect interviews! Their interviews help tell nuanced stories that complicate our national memory of war.