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Raysociety Class to Explore Role of Iowans in WWII

April 19, 2006

CONTACT: Lisa Lacher, (515) 271-3119, lisa.lacher@drake.edu


World War II veterans are invited to attend the RaySociety's class on World War II this spring, free of charge, at Drake University.


Each veteran may bring a spouse or guest to any or all sessions of the class, which meets from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. Wednesdays from May 3-31 in Bulldog Theater in Olmsted Center, 29th Street and University Avenue. Reservations are requested due to limited seating. For reservations, please call (515) 271-1847 by May 2.


The class, World War II: Iowans in the Greatest Generation Speak, will feature presentations by several current or former Drake faculty members and many local veterans. The first session will begin with a video message from Tom Brokaw, retired NBC news anchor and author of "The Greatest Generation."


Don Moon, developer of the WWII class says, “These sessions will highlight some of the major components of WWII and allow the opportunity to hear from members of the Greatest Generation about their experiences as they lived through these historic moments.  Our World War II guests will also be encouraged to share their stories and experiences. 
Part II of this class is slated for spring 2007 and will cover other aspects of WWII.


The schedule of subjects and presenters for the five upcoming sessions is listed below:


May 3 – The Storm Clouds Gather – Pearl Harbor
Fred Adams, Drake professor of history, will discuss "The World Situation Leading up to Pearl Harbor." Pearl Harbor survivors Clarence Pfundheller and Robert Reiber will share their experiences at Pearl Harbor and Hickam Field.


May 10 – The European and North African Theater of Operations
John Phillips will discuss "Life in the Infantry and as a Prisoner of War in Germany." Bill Jaques will talk about "Life as a Seabee." Ray Hueholt, a retired architect who served with the 826 Aviation Engineers, will present "Building Airfields in North Africa and Italy."


May 17 – The Air War
Norman Rudi, author of a book on the air war and numerous biographies of WWII veterans, will discuss "WWII Pilots' Stories." Walt Shotwell, a retired Des Moines Register columnist, will talk about his days as a WWII pilot. James Bowman, a retired Drake faculty member and associate superintendent of Des Moines Public Schools, will tell of his experiences with the Tuskegee Airmen.


May 24 – The Home Front
Lisa Ossian, Ph.D., who did her dissertation on the Home Front in Iowa, will discuss her research findings. Ray Pugh, Drake professor emeritus of education, and James Wise, a retired Des Moines Public Schools administrator, will describe Home Front activities in the Drake area.


May 31 – Music of the WWII Era
Bob Weast, Drake professor emeritus of wind instruments and brass, will discuss "Big Bands of WWII." Verne Hintze of the 107th Cavalary Band, will talk about "The Role of Military Bands in WWII." Professional musician Bill Henderson and big band singer Audrey Devine will present "The Inspirational Songs of WWII."


The Billie and Robert D. Ray Lifelong Learning Society at Drake University offers programs and courses on a variety of topics targeted at retirement-age people interested in learning in a college atmosphere. The society takes its name from a pair of distinguished Drake alumni, former Iowa Governor Robert D. Ray, who also served as the University's president, and Billie Ray, former first lady of Iowa and a former schoolteacher.


Plans for the RaySociety 2006-07 membership year are now under way. The list of prospective courses and events will be available soon. The annual membership fee is $50 (June 1, 2006 - May 31, 2007). Classes, which are held during the spring and fall semesters, cost $25 per class. For more information about the RaySociety, call (515) 271-1847 or visit www.drake.edu/raysociety.