ShareThis Page

Heinz History Center to house archive of veterans' oral histories

| Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014, 9:30 p.m.
Bill Vidonic | Trib Total Media
Army-Air Force veteran Joe Lynch, 92, of North Versailles relates his memories of World War II to Todd DePastino, executive director of the Veterans Breakfast Club, an organization that gathers oral histories of veters, during a presentation Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014, in the Senator John Heinz History Center.

Hearing on Dec. 7, 1941, that Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor, Joe Lynch, a soldier in the Army Air Force stationed in Florida, said he didn't realize the scope of the world-altering event,“I said, ‘Where's Pearl Harbor?' I'd never heard of it,” said Lynch, 92, of North Versailles. “I was too young.”

About 40 World War II veterans Saturday marked the 73rd anniversary of the attack that propelled the United States into World War II by relating their war stories at a gathering at the Senator John Heinz History Center in the Strip District.

Todd DePastino, executive director of the Veterans Breakfast Club, which is archiving oral histories of veterans, said he knows of only two Pearl Harbor survivors in Western Pennsylvania. Neither attended the history center event.

Heinz History Center President and CEO Andy Masich announced that the center will permanently house oral histories collected by Veterans Voices of Pittsburgh, which is partnered with the breakfast club.

The Veterans Breakfast Club is scheduled to celebrate the opening of the veterans archive at the history center on April 30. The center will open a World War II memorabilia exhibit on April 25.

Many veterans said Saturday that they had enlisted in the military before the war, expecting only to serve for a year or so, not suspecting that they'd soon be on the front lines of the world conflict.

“It was either go into the coal mines or go into the service,” Lynch said.

Army veteran John Kuzio, 94, of New Cumberland, W.Va., wanted to hear other veterans tell their stories. He had given an oral history at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum in Oakland in 1992 that became part of a documentary.

“It was personal satisfaction that I'd been in the service, and I served my country,” Kuzio said.

Patricia Tylka of Mt. Lebanon read recollections of her father, Army Tech Sgt. Joseph F. Kralik Sr., who was stationed at Fort Shafter on Oahu Island near Pearl Harbor.

“He prayed for his mother and his sister, back in Pennsylvania, that they were safe, since there was no way of knowing what was going on in the rest of the country,” she said.

Kralik died in 2007.

For details about the oral history project, visit www.veteransbreakfastclub.com or www.veteranvoicesofpittsburgh.com.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.