WSIU's production and outreach staff have captured the stories of area veterans across the region, which are collected in Honor & Sacrifice: WSIU Remembers World War II. The program will run adjacent to Ken Burns' The War on select nights.
Streaming video of the stories below is available by clicking on the image below the title.
The Illinois Ordnance Plant or "Ordill" as it became known, employed upwards of 10,000 workers at the height of the war. Today, many of the buildings stand empty and fight overgrowth. Our cameras toured the facility as it stands today and captured interviews with former workers Helena Kelton of Goreville and Charles "Dutch" Stevens of Herrin.
The Destroyer-Minelayer USS Aaron Ward suffered six hits by Japanese Kamikaze planes while serving as a radar outpost during the invasion of Okinawa. Forty-two sailors were killed and scores were wounded. Fireman Second Class Einar Dyhrkopp of Shawneetown describes the ordeal of his shipmates as they fought to keep their severely damaged ship afloat.
U.S.A.F. Senior Master Sargent (ret.) and Herrin native Walter Ramsey describes being shot down on one of his first missions - a bombing mission to Munich.
Ramsey's wife of over 60 years, Juanita, shares how she supported the war effort by building B-24 bombers in Detroit.
U.S.A.F Lt. Col. (ret.) Tom Engram recalls his experiences as a B-24 heavy bomber pilot in in the Pacific Theater of WWII. Engram describes how his crew narrowly escaped disaster when their plane was struck by an aerial mine dropped by another member of his squadron.
Anti-tank gunner Lawrence Breeze survived bitter fighting in the Hurtgen Forest during the Battle of the Bulge and the invasion of Nazi Germany.
After losing much of his military fleet at Dunkirk, Churchill needed a way to get troops and equipment on to or off of a ship - wherever it may be - even a beach. The United States developed what came to be known as an LST (Landing Ship Tank). Learn the history of the LST, its ties to this region, and the vital role it played in WWII.
Albert Ketchum served for two years aboard the USS Yorktown during two of World War II's biggest naval battles - Leyte Gulf and the island-hopping campaign that brought the war to the Japanese homeland.
Robert Duncan learned to fly the Hellcat fighter plane and made naval history as the first Hellcat fighter pilot to shoot down a Japanese Zero. He went on to become an "ace" racking up 7 downed Zeros.
Evertt Atkinson trained to fly the B-29 toward the end of World War II. Atkinson was reunited with his plane when "FiFi" visited the southern Illinois region in the summer of 2012.