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Primary Sources: Oral History Project

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Esio "Joe" Bertoncini illustrated every letter he wrote to his wife and infant daughter during his years overseas in WWII.

Welcome to our oral history archives, a project dedicated to preserving the rich history of Springhill's residents. We decided to start our archives by recording World War II histories, primarily, but plan to add to these with records of other historical events and periods. Click on each story to read the full interview.

Please feel free to add your comments to our interviews, and if you have any questions, please contact:

Ria Gonzalez: Lived in Occupied Holland During WWII

Ria Gonzalez was born while her town – located on the Frisian island of Texel in Holland –  was occupied by Germany during WWII. Bombing by the Allies and occupiers was a constant, especially during the last two years of the war. The trauma she experienced stayed with her for decades. Her home was...

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Joe Bertoncini: Awarded Three Purple Hearts

Esio “Big Joe” Bertoncini fought in the European front and was wounded three times in action – the last time with a near fatal wound that shattered his jaw. What follows are excerpts from a chronological account of Joe’s wartime service that he dictated in the 1980s. Read a sampling of his many...

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Dick Koeck: Pioneering 10th Mountain Division, WWII

An 18-year-old from Erie, Pa., Richard “Dick” Koeck was an unlikely candidate to fill out the U.S. Army’s pioneering 10th Mountain Division, which fought the decisive “Fire in the Mountain” battle of Mt. Belvedere and Riva Ridge, taking key German strongholds in the Apennines. Not a skier or much...

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John Kriz: Korean War Typhoon Chaser

John Kriz served in the Air Force prior to and during the Korean War, volunteering for a duty most people would flatly refuse: typhoon tracker. John and his crewmates chased typhoons around the Pacific, actually flying into the center of storms to collect their data. “[O]nce you got into the center...

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Velma Gunselman: WWII Naval Nurse

Velma Gunselman entered the Navy as a nurse and was stationed in Philadelphia’s massive naval hospital before being sent to a “little fishing village” in Solomons, Md. There, Velma treated sailors who became ill or were injured while working on the Navy’s “top secret” mine testing. She remembers...

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