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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

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The Ohio Departments of Aging and Veterans Services have released the first contributions to the departments’ joint War Era Story Project.

From late May through August 2012, the departments asked Ohioans to submit their memories from the start of World War II through the 1940s. Forty-six stories are included in the first release, with more stories planned to be released once per month until all submissions have been shared with the public.

Read, download and print individual stories at www.aging.ohio.gov/news/storyprojects.

“World War II was, without a doubt, one of the most challenging and influential periods in our nation’s history,” said Bonnie Kantor-Burman, director of the Department of Aging. “Our elders not only lived through this time, they learned how to live, how to survive and, ultimately, how to thrive. We owe them a debt of gratitude, and this project is but a small token to say ‘thank you’ for all you did to make our state and nation safe and strong.”

“Everyone who lived through the Second World War, whether on the battlefront or the homefront, certainly has very vivid memories of those days,” said Tom Moe, director of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services. “It’s important to capture these before this generation passes. There’s much that we can learn from them today about persevering through tough times and often tragedy, yet still maintaining their resiliency and going on to live important and productive lives.”

The War Era Story Project was a follow-up to the Department of Aging’s award-winning 2009 Great Depression Story Project. The project garnered submissions from 283 individuals, including 21 who currently reside out of state or who did not provide location information. Ohio residents represent 50 different counties. Of the authors who provided an age, the oldest was 100 and the youngest was 25. The average age of authors was 83.

The first stories to be released were primarily written by or about Ohioans directly involved in the war effort as a member of our nation’s armed forces. Some of the stories include:

Ellen Alexander, age 89, no location given - Alexander joined the Marines to escape a restrictive father. She was an M.P. and arrived in Pearl Harbor the day after the attack.

Leonard J. Dentinger, age 86, Bloomville - Dentinger was drafted in 1944 and assigned to a tank in the Battle of the Bulge. He describes in detail the battle and his near-death experiences.

Billie Hall Komen Engel, age 90, Cincinnati - Engle left her teaching job to be a mechanic instructor for the Air Corps. She describes how she met her first husband and moved to Ohio while he served overseas.

Martin Kahl, age 94, Miamisburg - Kahl joined the National Guard in Dayton then was drafted. He chronicles how one missed assignment to K.P. led to a career as a Mess Sgt.

Oida Mae Peacock, age 88, Greenville - Peacock was homeless from the Great Depression when a call to become a Navy nurse changed her life.

Millie Poff, age 86, Lebanon - Poff lied about her age to join the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), where she was a teletype operator until she was found out.

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