Our mission is to capture, preserve, and share the voices, images, and experiences
of veterans with a Western Pennsylvania connection.
Bill Silver: There’s Always Hope
Bill Silver of Beaver County, Pennsylvania served with the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. As part of the newly formed Combined Action Force, Bill lived among the Vietnamese people, protecting them from Viet Cong forces. Like many in combat, the stress of war eventually caught up with Bill—and changed him. At his lowest point, his anger and rage toward the Vietnamese led him to nearly kill a young boy for stealing food rations. Shortly afterwards, while cooling off his emotions, Bill miraculously renewed his faith and purpose in life after visiting a Christian orphanage.
The original interview was recorded October 30, 2015 at Seven Oaks Country Club, Beaver, Pennsylvania by the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Oral History Initiative. This audio short was engineered and produced by Kevin Farkas.
Episode #21 | Fiona Amundsen | Photographs & History
In our November 2015 episode of Veteran Voices: The Podcast, we have a conversation with artist and photographer Fiona Amundsen to talk about photography, history, WWII and Pittsburgh’s industrial past.
USS Pittsburgh: George Jock & Robert McKnight
During WWII, George Jock and Robert McKnight of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania served aboard the Baltimore-class heavy cruiser, USS Pittsburgh (CA-72). The ship saw intense action in the South Pacific and participated in the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. The Pittsburgh is most known for towing the USS Franklin (CV-13) after the carrier was severely disabled by a Japanese strike. During a typhoon in June 1945, the Pittsburgh suffered a catastrophic structural failure when her bow was torn from the ship’s hull. This short video presentation was featured by the Office of the Mayor of Pittsburgh for a special proclamation ceremony and exhibit.
Wendell Freeland: Interview
Wendell Freeland was a member of the famed group of African American WWII flyers we now call the Tuskegee Airmen. He joined the Army Air Corps in 1943 as a student at Howard University. A bright and ambitious student who grew up in a poor, segregated neighborhood in Baltimore, Wendell entered military service not so much to fight for his country but to advance himself and stop the fascist takeover of Europe.
Contemplative and intellectual, Wendell didn’t take to Army life, especially the racism that pervaded it. Wendell was a lieutenant, a bombardier on a B-25 with the 477th Bomb Group. But, despite his rank, he remained a second-class citizen in Army. “I never spoke with a white officer. They never spoke to us, unless to bark an order.” He was arrested twice for defying the Army’s strict segregation policies.
The second arrest occurred at Freeman Field, Indiana, when Wendell and other black officers entered the all-white officers’ club and waited to be served. When Wendell refused to sign, read, or even acknowledge the regulation strictly separating white and black officers, he was charged with mutiny, a crime punishable by execution. Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall eventually ordered the charges to be dropped for most of the men, including Wendell. The Freeman Field Mutiny was an early blow against official segregation in the armed forces, an important step in the Civil Rights Movement.
Wendell Freeland passed away January 23, 2014.
Wendell Freeland shared his story in 2012 with the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Oral History Initiative. Transcription provided by the Heinz History Center.