By Art Holliday
St. Louis (KSDK) - The Missouri Veterans History Project has captured the histories of more than 300 former military service members, including 86-year-old Basil Armstrong.
Armstrong enlisted when he was 17. When asked how much a teenager knew about world politics and Adolf Hitler, Armstrong admitted it wasn't much.
"We didn't have television then. We did have radios and the newspapers. Well, I probably wasn't interested in newspapers. So I really didn't know much about it. I knew that war was shooting at people," he said.
The Army paratrooper was among the first American soldiers to set foot in "The Eagles Nest," Adolf Hitler's mountain retreat. Armstrong said he sat down with history project volunteers because of his family.
"I really don't know too much about my parents and my grandparents," said Armstrong. "And I think I would like to have my kids know what I did and how I started out."
Armstrong's story and many others will be preserved by the U.S. Library of Congress and the State Historical Society of Missouri.
State Representative Jill Schupp (D-Creve Coeur) formed the all-volunteer Missouri Veterans History Project after funding was cut from the state budget a couple of years ago. Schupp hopes to attract corporate funding to hire an executive director and grow the program statewide.
"We're looking for people to help fund the program," said Schupp. "We'd like to be able to hire one executive director. So, I'm asking businesses, corporations who care about our veterans and our state's history and this nation's history to step up and say we'll help you."
Veterans interested in sharing their stories, volunteers, and corporate supporters can call 314-616-5009 or 573-522-4220. They can email info@MHVP.net, or go to the project website www.MVHP.net.
The project is open to all Missouri Veterans of any age who served at any time, in any capacity.