Today I want to share information on our military history preservation efforts. But before I begin, I’d like to make sure you are all familiar with Cobb Memorial Archives.
Cobb Memorial Archives was built as a memorial to George S. and Edna L. Cobb, the parents of George S. Cobb, Jr., who was chairman of Coca Cola Bottling Company of West Point-LaGrange. He was also the chairman of the George S. and Edna L. Cobb Foundation. The Cobb Foundation provided funding for the building of the Archives which adjoins the H. Grady Bradshaw Chambers County Library. The Archives was dedicated on June 13, 1976 and houses a collection of local history and genealogical materials. All materials are carefully inventoried and stored in acid-free folders and boxes. The nucleus of the collection is the twenty-four year accumulation of historical materials donated by the Chattahoochee Valley Historical Society. The Archives also serves as the headquarters of the Chattahoochee Valley Historical Society. The Archives collection policy focuses primarily on materials from Chambers County and West Point. The main function of the Archives is to serve as a repository for area historical and genealogical documents, photographs, newspapers, maps, oral histories, videos and reference books. Rotating exhibits feature local history and folk-life. In July 1998, space was renovated and the Archives moved into its current home.
The Archives has an abundance of genealogical resources for anyone doing ancestral research and for historians. Family histories, books, maps, newspapers, church transcriptions, cemetery surveys, estates and wills. Some resources trace English ancestors back to 1020. We have the most resources for Chambers County and Alabama, as well as Troup County and Georgia. In addition we have historical reference books for Kentucky, Tennessee, Maryland, the Carolina’s, and Virginia. Some researchers come from out-of-town, spending several days with us; and some pop in and out several times a week.
We house nearly 500 Collections in the Archives. They range from ledgers to scrapbooks, from family bibles to military records, photographs and property deeds. Some items date back to the 1800’s. An unexpected “find” last year is a collection of original Margaret Bourke-White photographs taken at West Point Manufacturing in 1936, as well as some of the correspondence that took place between Ms Bourke-White and West Point Manufacturing. She is best known as the first foreign photographer permitted to take pictures of Soviet Industry, the first female war correspondent (and the first female permitted to work in combat zones) and the first female photographer for Henry Luce's Life magazine, where her photograph appeared on the first cover. So we are extremely pleased to have this Collection on site.
Now to the Military History Preservation Project… The mission of this project is to collect, manage, preserve and make accessible historical military documents, photographs, and oral histories. The local area has served our country well through generations of military service and volunteerism. This project enables Cobb Archives to play a valuable role in capturing these efforts for posterity.
This project consists of two parts: The first being the digitization of the War Service Center records. War Service Centers were established in every Valley town during WWI and WWII. They were headed by a secretary who corresponded regularly with every serviceperson from the Valley. The War Service Centers also housed the Red Cross Work Rooms. Records from the Centers document many of the activities that took place such as bandage rolling, gift box shipments, fund drives for tin and paper. Scrapbooks were created by some and photographs taken of various events and activities. We are fortunate to have in our possession the War Service Center records for Shawmut and Lanett.These files document our area’sgreat history of local military participation. We are working to digitize soldier and War Service Center files so they can be viewed easily on our website.
The second part of this project is participation in a larger national initiative called the Veterans History Project. The United States Congress created the Veterans History Project in 2000 as part of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.The mission of this project is to collect, preserve, and make accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so future generations may hear directly from those serving on behalf of our country and better understand the realities of war.We held our first veteran interview in November of last year. To date, we have interviewed morethan 30 veterans, and we have many more yet to do.
The interviews are conducted by myself, with all videotaping done by Mr. Crew Pitts. Mr. Crew is a real champion of this project, volunteering his time and equipment to ensure that the technology requirements of this project are met.By far the most important participants in this project are the soldiers themselves.
These veterans represent all wars or conflicts from WWII to Afghanistan. They may have served on foreign soil or at home. Some enlisted, some were drafted. They represent every branch of the military. From Northern Africa to France to Laos, some saw parts of the world they never would have otherwise. Some fought in the Battle of the Bulge, and one was a Prisoner of War.Many of theses veterans you all know. Some you may not. Each has an interesting story to tell. Some never saw combat, some were fired upon nearly every day for months at a time. Regardless of the roles they played or the duties they performed, they accepted their orders and carried them through. Each and every veteran did what was necessary to help our country ensure our freedom and democracy. I want to give you a glimpse into a few of the stories that local veterans have shared with me over the past few months.
First up is Mr. James Nix. who served as a radio operator during WWII. When Mr. Nix was drafted in 1944, he began his military career in the U.S. Navy Reserve. After basic training, he went on to study radio communications. On February 19, 1945, he was aboard the USS Lubbock, an Amphibious Personnel Carrier, which transported troups to take part in the invasion of Iwo Jima. Mount Suribachi, a dormant volcanic cone on the southern tip of the island, dominated Iwo Jima. With his ship anchored offshore, he was able to periodically look out and see troups landing and scrambling up toward Mount Suribachi. In the early morning hours of February 23, four days after the battle began, from aboard the USS Lubbock,James Nix witnessed a U.S. flag being raised atop Mount Surbachi – a signal to others that it had fallen. Then, around noon that same day, he witnessed a second, much larger flag, being raised. What he didn’t know was why. Apparently, the first flag was too small to be seen easily from the nearby landing beaches and a larger one was ordered to be raised. But what he absolutely knew was that the flag raising signified the FIRST Japanese island captured by US troups. In WWII.Photographer Joe Rosenthal took the photo of the second flag raising and it became an iconic image that most of us recognize immediately. It has been regarded as one of the most significant images of World War II and possibly the most reproduced photograph of all time. As Americans we admire the photographic splendor of both flag raisings and honor and respect what had to take place to make this capture possible, but Radio Operator 3rd Class James Nix was there. He saw this with his own eyes on that day in February 1945 – the FIRST Japanese island taken by U.S. forces in WWII. VJ day would take place 6 months later.
Now, imagine it’s 1950. A political action is underway in Korea. A 21-year old Mack Lett is drafted into the U.S. Army. After much training, he becomes atelephone and radio communications specialist, assigned to 58th Armed Artillery Battalion and Headquarters Battery. He keeps communications between Headquarters and the Battilion operational during the month-long Battle at Heartbreak Ridge where 3700 American and French troups and an estimated 25,000 North Korean and Chinese are killed. He also supported communications in the Iron Triangle the summer of 1951. But what he remembers most fondly is a young boy who was found by his platoon ondering the countryside. He had lost his entire family to the war. All he had were the clothes on his back. He was an intelligent 14- year old, speaking English quite well. Lett and his fellow soldiers befriended this young boy, naming his Schocie, which means “Everlasting Friend”. Schochie soon became a constant companion to the soldiers. He was bright and always learning something new. In fact, he even learned to translate various languages that were being used by warring factions. When Lett’s commander learned of Schochie’s translation abilities, he became one of his platoon’s most valuable translators . Schocie left a lasting impression which Mac Lett will never forget. His fondest memory of his time in Korea is of young Schochieand hopes one day to return to Korea with dreams of seeing how this child has grown into a man.
Our last profile is of William Yancy Sanders who was a Nose Gunner in WWII. He flew aboard a B-24, and with each mission hoped that his position underneath the front body of the plane would not be taken out by enemy fire. On March 22, 1945, his plane went on what was to become its last mission – Mission No. 163. Their mission that day was to bomb a train yard in Vienna, Austria. While the bombing mission itself was a success, the plane was badly damaged by enemy fire. The Commander had given orders for the crew to bail out, but then spotted a field that they thought was behind the Russian lines so thepilot attempted a crash landing. Although they suffered some minor injuries, they landed safely BUT they landed BETWEEN the Russians and the Germans in the vicinity of Budapest, Hungary. As he and the rest of the crew d deplaned, they were almost immediately surrounded by Germans. Now Prisoners of War, Yancy Sanders and his fellow crew members were forced to march for days from Budapest, Hungary to Nuremberg, Germany. They slept in fields, ate whatever food they could find along the way, but finally they reached Nuremberg exhausted and hungry. Merely a week later, Americans were advancing toward Nuremberg, so the POW’s were forced to march again, this time to Moosburg, Germany. No POW’s were allowed to bathe, there were no changes of clothes, therewas little food, and the food they had gave him food poisoning. On April 29, 1945, the sound of Patton’s third Army was heard coming into Moosburg. Nearly 80,000 POW’s cheered and were moved to tears as the German flag was lowered and “Old Glory” was raised. Recalling this event brings tears to Mr. Sanders today. After 40 days in captivity, he was more than excited to get a bath, some good cooking and a 30-day furlough when he returned home.I hope you enjoyed these profiles, and there are so many more wonderful stories – real events that happened in the lives of local veterans.
We are fortunate to have received consistent publicity of this project through various venues. We started off with a presentation to the local American Legion Post, which was followed up with letters to the veterans who attended that meeting. Lanny Bledsoe, Commander of the local American Legion, was included in an article which was picked up by both the Valley Times-News and The LaFayette Sun. An article appeared in the October issue of the Chattahoochee Valley Historical Society’s newsletter. In November, we featured an exhibit called The Valley at War which promoted this project. Then in January another article appeared in The Valley Times-News that profiled an interview done with Sergeant First Class DarylEaslick. We also have on-site promotion which includes signs and posters in the Archives, on the Library bulletin board, and outside the interview room when we are videotaping interviews. All of thispublicity has been helpful in generating interest among veterans to participate in this project, and positive word-of-mouth from participating veterans has resulted in additional interviews.If you know any veterans whomyou would like me to contact, please let me know. I want to capture as many of these oral military histories as possible while the veterans are still able to participate.
Thank you for allowing me to present this project to you today. Do you have any questions?
Military history preservation for seniors 021012
Military History Preservation Paula Maddox Archives Administrator Cobb Memorial Archives February 10, 2012
Military History Preservation• Cobb Memorial Archives Mission• Military History Preservation Project Mission• Part I: War Service Center Records• Part 2: Veterans History Project• Project Participation• Project Promotion• Q&A
Cobb Memorial Archives George S. Cobb Jr. Edna L. Cobb Renovation in 1998
Military History Preservation Mission: To collect, manage, preserve and make accessible historical military documents, photographs, and oral histories
Military History Preservation Part 1: War Service Center RecordsSoldier files include photos, cards, and Lanny Bledsoe, local American Legion Postletters to and from the soldiers. Commander, reviews some War Service Center documents.
Military History Preservation Part 2: Veterans History Project
Project ParticipationWWII Northern Africa Enlisted Korean On the Front Lines War Battle of the Bulge NavyPrisoners of War Germany Gulf War Air Force DraftedOperation Army Iraqi FranceFreedom Vietnam Marine Corp Laos Reserves Belgium Afghanistan Italy On the Home Front
James Nix Most Memorable Experience Amphibious Personell Carrier , USS Lubbock Mount Suribachi First flag raising Second flag raisingU.S. Navy Reserve, WWII 1944-1946 Radio Operator, 3rd Class
PFC Mack Lett Most Memorable Experience Heartbreak Ridge The Iron Triangle 14-year old Korean translator U.S. Army, Korean War 1950-1952Telephone & Radio Communications
Sergeant Yancy Sanders Most Memorable ExperienceU.S. Army Air Force, WWII 1943-1945 Nose Gunner Guard Tower Prisoner Barracks Old Glory Flies Over Stalag VIIA