World War II veteran Kenneth Feer brought jacket patches of all sorts to be photographed and recorded as part of the Kern Veterans Oral History project. Feer, now 88 years old, was a corporal in the Army Air Force.
"A corporal, as a matter of fact, is as far as I got, mainly because I was selected to be a private photographer for an officer," Feer says. “I was fortunate that he wanted someone to be his photographer because it kept me from being in the invasion landings in France.”
Feer, along with dozens of other veterans from the “Greatest Generation”, sat down with high school students at American Sound Recording Studios and told some of their best war stories.
"I’m getting older. It’s harder to remember things, and I just feel sad that all this fellowship that I’ve had all of these years is coming to an end," says 91-year-old Keith Bratton, a veteran Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Corps.
Bratton and all of the vets at the first recording session will be on the second Kern County Honor Flight to Washington D.C. next month.
"Anticipating the feeling that I will have when I see all the names of all of these old friends on those memorials,” Bratton says. “I've missed them all of these years. It'll bring back a lot more memories I’m sure."
Students from Bakersfield High School conducted the interviews while East High students scanned the veterans' memorabilia.
"I wanted to be able to experience what all of them have to say,” says Alyiah Torres, an East High senior. “Some of them were like 'it was no big deal,' but it would be a big deal to me if I was in a war."
American Sound Recording Studios donated free studio time for the veterans to share their memories of World War II in 90-minute sessions.
"Students are going into the studio and hearing stories that, in some cases, have never been told before,” says Ken Hooper, the project manager. “Now, we're capturing it on video, so we're going to keep it here in the county and also send the stories to D.C. We hope this goes on forever. We hope that we're able to interview veterans in a formal setting like this for generations."
Another 15 World War II veterans will have their stories recorded Thursday for the Kern Veterans Oral History Project. The recordings will eventually be placed in the Kern County Library and later in the Library of Congress.
If you want to learn more about the project or how you can get involved, call Ken Hooper at 699-3046.