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Davis Journal

Catalyst students help veterans tell their story

Nov 14, 2022 11:28AM ● By Becky Ginos

Anthony Combs with Congressman Blake Moore’s office, interviews veteran William Huber at the Davis Catalyst Center for the Veterans History Project. Students at the school do all of the audio/video production. Photo by Becky Ginos

KAYSVILLE—The sacrifice the men and women in the military have given to keep the nation free is sometimes forgotten. The Veterans History Project is a way to remember and the students at the Davis Catalyst Center are helping in the effort to preserve those stories.

Congressman Blake Moore is partnering with the Library of Congress to archive veterans’ experiences and protect their stories for generations to come. The Catalyst Center is providing the audio/visual equipment and students to create these interviews.

“Congressman Blake Moore came to visit us,” said Natalie Stromberg, Catalyst Business Development Coordinator. “He asked us to work as business partners. The kids learn technical skills but they’re hearing cool veterans’ stories as well. It’s tender to both hear and see the veterans.”

Moore’s office sets up the veterans who come but if students have a veteran they know they can do an interview too, she said. “Blake interviewed his dad here. It’s kind of overwhelming for the veterans but it’s empowering. It gives them a sense of reality and they feel important.”

The interviews can go up to four hours, said Stromberg. “But we let them talk as long as they want to.”

Professional interviewers sit down with the veteran and encourage them to talk about their life and service, she said. “They receive training at the Layton Library and some are from Weber State.”

The students also make straight videos of the interview and make them into a documentary for the family, Stromberg said. “The audio/visual team works on that and mixes it up to get good quality.”

“We have a pool of volunteers to help with the interviews,” said Anthony Coombs, veteran affairs for Congress Blake Moore. “They have an oral history training in early October. They do a pre-interview with the veteran and then the Catalyst Center records the actual interview.”

Coombs said the Catalyst is a great partner. “There is no funding so an organization like this is what makes it possible.”

Veteran William Huber took part in the project. Huber served during the U.S. Panamanian transfer in the signal core. His father and grandfather served in the military and set the example of service. “I have a Civil War rifle and other memorabilia,” said Huber during his interview. “My dad never talked about the war even though they were in the thick of things.”

Huber said one time his dad and uncle had gone into the den and he was in there just listening. “I was about 12 or 13 years old. My dad started opening up about things he’d never talked about. His unit had been put on R&R in France when they were called to active duty. There were no trucks available so they had to walk. It took over 100 miles in less than three days to get to the Front.”

When they got there they engaged with the enemy, he said. “They found a bunch of GIs that had been lined up against a wall and shot. They found that some of them had survived so they evacuated them to get medical support. The Germans were slaughtering people.”

Huber grew up during the Vietnam conflict and was living near where protests were taking place. “I was in high school and I didn’t have an appreciation for what was going on. That’s when they instituted the draft. We had to either take gym or join the ROTC. I was selected to receive one of their scholarships which meant I had to serve for four years in the military. I decided that it would be better to do that and have more control over my life and my family had stepped up to the plate to serve their country.”

Huber is one of 18 interviews that Catalyst students have done. “We started at the beginning of the semester and we’ll continue to interview throughout the year,” said Stromberg. “The students have learned so much. It’s been a cool opportunity for them.”

Syracuse High senior Cameron Kohler works on the video side of the project at the Catalyst. “Audio sets up the mics and we do the camera set up,” he said. “We get to edit them and then send them (Moore’s office) the edited footage.”

“We get to hear their stories,” said Jack Neese, a senior at Syracuse High. “One veteran told us about something that happened by chance that saved his life. He was supposed to get aboard a jeep but he had the feeling he should take the ferry. Later that night the jeep was destroyed. They all share different experiences and we hear the ways the vets have gone through what they have.”

Cooper Christensen works on the video recording during the interviews. “I get close up shots and work the main camera,” he said. “I really enjoy it. It’s super interesting to hear their stories.”

“It’s opened my eyes 100 percent,” said Kohler. “It’s good to hear their experiences and what they lived through in their everyday lives. I appreciate that.” λ