Thursday, March 15, 2012

One Less Mouth to Feed

Like many young Americans at the time, Albert Crawford of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania wanted to repay Japan for its attack on Pearl Harbor. In this video short produced by Chris Rolinson of Start Point Media, Albert tells us about why and how he joined the US Navy. 

Thirty-six years later, Al Crawford retired from the Navy as a Master Chief Petty Officer.   


Filmed by Chris Rolinson as part of the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh transmedia oral history initiative. Recorded at the Father Ryan Arts Center, McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, January 27, 2012. Interviewer: Todd DePastino.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Pittsburgh Tuskegee Airman Wendell Freeland

On march 5, 2011, the Veteran Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh transmedia oral history project captured the stories of WWII veteran Wendell Freeland.

Read the blog post by VVoP associate photographer, Andy Marchese...
VVoP historian Todd Depastino listens to Wendell Freeland's
veteran story.
Yesterday was the first day of my new personal project to photograph our nation’s veterans. Two other members of the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh project and I spent a few hours with Wendell Freeland, a member of the Tuskegee Airmen who served as a bombardier aboard a North American B-25 Mitchell bomber in the 477th Bombardment Group in Selfridge Field, Michigan during World War II.

He also participated in what is today called the Freeman Field Mutiny, which is said to be one of the first civil rights movements in the country. Today Mr. Freeland is an attorney in Pittsburgh, PA.

Mr Freeland spent over three hours sharing his stories for us and I could not be more grateful for the opportunity to listen to them. Hearing him retell his experiences from 65 years ago like they happened only yesterday was nothing short of amazing. I don’t want to give too much of the interview away just yet (that’s what the video and audio portions are for!) but there were several points throughout where I couldn’t imagine going through what he did.

To read the rest of Mr. Marchese's blog and to view his photo gallery, visit Andy Marchese Photography. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Howard Pfeifer: Where the Action Was

Howard Pfeifer, US Merchant Marines
Howard Pfeifer wanted to be on deck, where the action was. At age 19 during WW II, Howard left Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to serve as a Quartermaster with the United States Merchant Marine Service. 

Sailing around the world in vulnerable convoys, he brought vital supplies, ammunition, and troops to the war fronts--including a trip to Iraq that resupplied the Soviet Red Army.  

Often overlooked by veteran memorials, the United States Merchant Marine Service has been involved in every major war since the Revolution. During WW II, the Merchant Marines suffered the highest rate of casualties of any service; 1 out of every 24 mariners never made it home.

Recorded on January 27, 2012 by the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh initiative at the Father Ryan Arts Center in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania. Music: "The View Outside My Window," by Brandyn Anderson (

This audio is preserved at the Internet Archive.  © Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh. Creative Commons. Non-commercial. No derivative works.

Friday, February 24, 2012

New Veteran Story from StoryCorps

“I've never seen you turn anybody away.”
Paul Crowley and Anthony Bravo Esparza

interview photoMany veterans seek out the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Hospital in hopes of feeling better. Thanks to Anthony Bravo Esparza (R) — known to his friends as “Dreamer” — those veterans often end up looking better, too.

Since the 1970s, Dreamer, a veteran himself, has been giving free haircuts to vets.  He can be found in a red, white, and blue painted trailer parked at the VA, where he averages about 200 haircuts a month.  At StoryCorps, the pair sat down to speak about their friendship.

To read more and to listen to Paul and Anthony talk about their friendship, click here.

Please support StoryCorps!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Photographer Andy Marchese Joins VVoP Team



PITTSBURGH, PA – February 23, 2012 Professional photographer Andy Marchese of Pittsburgh has become that latest creative artist to join forces with the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh® transmedia oral history project.  VVoP is a nonprofit educational initiative jointly created by The Social Voice Project, The Veterans Breakfast Club, and StartPoint Media, Inc.—three local organizations focusing on veterans.  Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh is dedicated to capturing, preserving, and sharing the experiences of Pittsburgh area veterans of all branches of service and eras, including peace and war-time service.   
“We’re pleased to have Andy Marchese on board with us as an associate photographer,” said Todd DePastino, historian and founding partner of VVoP. “Andy’s visual artistry and expertise in portraiture will greatly enhance our goal of creatively showcasing veterans’ stories using various media, including still photography.”  
A native of Pittsburgh’s North Hills area, Mr. Marchese is a marketing professional, photo editor, and owner of Andy Marchese Photography, which specializes in editorial and commercial photography with a focus in sports photography.  Some of his clients include Gateway Newspapers, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Johnstown Tribune Democrat, Duke University, University of Nebraska, and North Dakota State University. 
“Along with using high definition photography as an important archival tool to document our interviews and the historic memorabilia veterans want to share with us, I’m always looking for a story to tell with my camera,” said Mr. Marchese.  “The right gesture, glance of an eye, or fold of the hands can reveal a lot about what someone is feeling and thinking. A well crafted portrait can be a story within a story. That’s part of our innovative transmedia approach.”   
The Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh project uses high definition technology, formatting, and techniques to enhance oral histories. “We want to enrich the oral history experience, inspire the imagination, and warm the heart. High quality design, direction, and multimedia are essential for us,” says Chris Rolinson, co-partner of VVoP, award winning photographer, videographer, and owner of StartPoint Media. “Unlike most oral history projects, our interviews are presented in dedicated audiographic, videographic, photographic, and written media.  Each genre yields a different experience, and the different media make the interviews accessible through a variety of platforms, including websites, social media, mobile devices, and print.  We want these veterans’ stories to be widely accessible, not hidden away in an obscure archive.” 
The Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh initiative is a lasting way to thank all veterans for their service.  To donate or become a corporate/individual sponsor, please contact Kevin Farkas.  Your generous support is tax deductible as allowed by law.  Volunteers are also needed to help preserve and share these stories as part of our American heritage.  
CONTACT: Kevin Farkas, media representative
Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh®
412.423.8034 |

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