The end of 2016 marks the completion of the 6th year for the Voices of Freedom Project and the second full year of the deployment of the Mobile Recording Studio, affectionately referred to as “The RV.” The RV has allowed the VOFP to travel outside the Washington DC metro area to capture stories of services members and to spread the word about the museum.
The VOFP conducted 95 interviews; 40 percent were of World War II veterans, 33 percent were Vietnam veterans and the balance was divided among various other wars and conflicts.
Some of the notable interviews included that of U.S. Army Nurse, Elizabeth Lewis. Ms. Lewis served during WWII in both the Atlantic and Pacific Theatre. Thomas Bell was a Bell OH-58A chopper pilot in Vietnam and earned the Silver Star for his actions during an incident in which his bird was shot down. And perhaps one of the most difficult interviews of the year was of Gold Star Mother, Gina Barnhurt. Her son, Cpl. Eric Herzberg, a Marine, was killed in Iraq on October 21, 2006. In her interview, Gina recounts the day she was notified of her sons death as well as the response from the Marine Corps who never left her side during the unimaginably difficult process of burying her son.
Not only were interviews conducted in Virginia, staff also traveled to Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey to conduct interviews and fly the flag for the museum. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. In addition to interviews, The RV participated in parades in Dale City and Manassas as well as other veterans events in the area.
While the RV was the primary method for conducting interviews, several were conducted in Arizona and Nebraska utilizing portable studio equipment that was set up on location at veterans homes and VFW halls.
Staff continues to make upgrades to the interior of the RV which are designed to improve the look and functionality of the Mobile Recording Studio.
The VOFP’s webpage upgrade began in 2015 and continued into 2016. Each veteran interviewed now has their own page on the site which consists of a short bio, images they provide and a copy of their interview. At the end of 2016, there were 191 interviews on the site that are viewable by anyone with an internet connection.
A concerted effort to increase our presence on Facebook was undertaken throughout the year. As a result, our page likes increased by 35.6 percent.
Several trips are scheduled for 2017 to include the World War II Weekend in Reading, PA, Warbirds Over the Beach in Virginia Beach, VA and the WWII show at the Oatlands Historic House in Leesburg, VA. Continued improvements are planned for the VOFP in the coming year to included more interviews conducted outside of the RV at locations not conducive to bring it.
If you are, or you have a family member who is interested in being interviewed, please contact us to schedule a time. The Voices of Freedom Project staff looks forward to another exciting and successful year capturing the stories of service and sacrifice of or military veterans. Hope to see you out there.