Coronado students hear from veteran:
‘World War II was fought with people like you’
Dale Case grinned wryly at the four Coronado High School students facing him across a table. He's 83 years old now, but they were interviewing him about a time
when he was their age - a 16-year-old Kansas farm boy volunteering to fight Nazis.
“World War II was fought with people like you,” he told Dylan Witte, Dusty Solis, Ryan Woolridge and Chris Gill. “Ninety percent of them was kids of high school age who lied about their age and went in.”
Case himself padded his age by two years, an act that caused him problems later in life, he revealed during the 1 ½-hour interview, which the students filmed as a class project for the national Veterans History Project (VHP). “People talk about patriotism,” he said of his enlistment in 1940. “I couldn't even spell 'patriotism.' ”
Prompted by questions from the students, the once-fuzzy cheeked tank commander (who eventually attained the rank of sergeant major) de-scribed jumping into the rough surf at Omaha Beach on D-Day, engaging in a deadly “cat and mouse” fight with a more powerful German tank, joining in a total of five major battles and, near the end of the war, helping liberate the concentration camp at Buchenwald in Germany's Weimar district.
He was a part of the 6th Armored Division, under the famous General George Patton, whom Case referred to as “the greatest general we ever had.”
A surprising revelation was that Case's unit kept a dog and a goose through much of the war, in part because they could sense incoming artillery sooner than people could. “You went day by day, figuring out things to stay alive,” he recalled.
Case, who lives on the Westside, served in the military for 45 years in all, split between the Army and the Air Force Civil Service. He also served two full tours in Korea, he said.
The interview at the View-Pointe Retire-ment Com-munity was one of 11 involving WWII veterans that have been conducted by students in Coronado teacher Jill Haffley's honors United States history class. The VHP seeks volunteers to record the memories of war veterans. The class' final video products will be sent to the Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
“The VHP archives its collections at the Library of Congress and makes them available to researchers and to the public,” a District 11 press release states. “In addition, the VHP hopes to inspire future generations with these stories of service to our country.”
Haffley said she got the idea from Elke Maestas of Right At Home In Home Care for Seniors. ”Her company had been given the information and she called me to see if my students might be interested in doing it. I talked to the kids and they jumped at it. Then Elke came to class several times to talk to the kids about it and here we are now… It was a great intergenerational activity!”
After the interview with Case, the four students said they had enjoyed the experience. “It was interesting to see how much the war changed him,” Witte said.
Woolridge was impressed with the age parallel. “It would be strange to be in the Army right now, going to Iraq,” he said.
“It was a bigger war then,” Witte added. “They needed people more.”
Maestas, whose business helps seniors with safety and independence, said it was not easy finding some of the veterans or places to conduct the interviews, but she enjoyed seeing the project come together. “It was fun working with the high school,” she said.
Westside Pioneer article