Recording the past

Craig man works to preserve veterans' history

As the country's World War II veterans steadily pass away, a Craig man is working to record local veterans' stories before it's too late.

During the past year, Larry Pletcher has recorded interviews with 25 local veterans, most of whom fought in World War II. Two of the interviews have been transcribed and are stored in the Moffat County Library.

"There's not a one here that's not interesting," Pletcher said. Copies of the transcribed interviews will eventually be sent to the Library of Congress, which is collecting the war stories of veterans from across the country.

"Nobody claims to be a hero and yet everyone was," Pletcher said. "They were doing what they were trained to do, but they all had to possess unusual courage to do what they had to do."

The interviews are about 45 minutes long and include where the veteran was stationed, the dates he was overseas, the medals he won and in what operations he was involved. From there, the interviews just follow whatever the former soldier did.

Moffat County's veterans were involved in a wide variety of operations during World War II, Pletcher said. He talked to one veteran whose job was to grow tomato plants and another who worked on torpedoes. Ralph Razzano was a member of the 10th Mountain Division, which became famous for fighting on skis in Italy.

Interviews with Joe Balleck and Lee Tucker have been transcribed and can be read at the Moffat County Library. Balleck landed on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, and Tucker piloted a B-24 that went down in Romania. Pletcher has recorded interviews with two Korean War veterans, and he said he hopes to record more such interviews. The Library of Congress is collecting historic submissions of any medium, including oral and written histories, correspondences, and photographs.

Pletcher isn't sure yet if the transcribed interviews will be bound in one volume or in several. He said the recorded interviews would be turned over to the library as well.

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