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Oral History Program

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PCAM Preserving the Original Stories of our Veterans

The Oral History Program of the Pacific Coast Air Museum exists to create permanent records of Veterans’ stories. The program got its start with support from then-Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey’s office. With their help, the PCAM Oral History Program was born, and we worked cooperatively with Woolsey’s office to help with transcribing and sending the interviews to the Library of Congress.

Since its inception in 2010 the Oral History Program has recorded on digital video approximately 350 interviews with Veterans from World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, and the Gulf War. We have also interviewed civilians who have had significant experiences with the U.S. military, wars, and general aviation.

We have also held two two-day interview marathons, capturing approximately 100 interviews each weekend.

Because our World War II Veterans are becoming quite elderly and many are passing away, we are focusing on capturing their stories first. We have interviewed and recorded fighter pilots, bomber pilots, airborne infantry soldiers, ground crew, radar operators, and many others.

What Subjects Has PCAM Recorded?

Here are just a few of the many interviews we have conducted:

  • WWII: A P-47 pilot who got shot down over Germany on Valentine’s Day 1945
  • WWII: An 82nd Airborne paratrooper who jumped into Normandy the night before our forces hit the beaches
  • Vietnam: An F-4 Phantom pilot who flew 3,000 hours and dozens of missions
  • WWII: A woman who, as a little girl, was interned by the Japanese in the Philippines along with hundreds of other Americans.
  • Vietnam: A ground-control radar specialist who helped guide our planes to and from their targets

Share Your Story

Our Oral History Program focuses on stories relating to aviation, but any Veteran is welcome to share his or her story, whether or not it has anything to do with flying. Interviews typically last about an hour. They can be arranged at the Veteran’s convenience. During the interview, we have the Veteran introduce him- or herself, state their branch of service, tell us what outfit they served with, and provide any other details they are interested in sharing. We ask general questions to set the stage for the story, and then let the Veteran tell it in their own words. Video files of the interview are archived, and sent to the Library of Congress to become part of their permanent collection. If you, a friend, or relative has a first-hand story that ought to be shared, from any era within the 20th or 21st Centuries, let us know. We’d love to schedule an interview to be sure your important piece of history is not lost.

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