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RaySociety Class to Explore Roles of Iowans in WWII

April 20, 2007

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

World War II veterans are invited to attend the RaySociety’s course on World War II this spring, free of charge, at Drake University. Course topics include naval warfare, prisoners of war, women in battle and the aftermath of war. A big band concert, which is free and open to the public, concludes the class.

Each veteran may bring a spouse or guest to any or all sessions of the class, which meets from 2 to 4 p.m. May 3, 10, 17, 24 in room 206 of Cline Hall, 2802 Forest Ave., and May 31 in Sheslow Auditorium at Drake’s Old Main, 2507 University Ave. Reservations are required due to limited seating. For reservations, contact RaySociety at 515-271-1847 or by e-mail at teresa.bartschat@drake.edu.

World War II: Iowans in the Greatest Generation Speak (Part II) is a continuation of last spring’s Part I class, but does not require prior participation. The class is designed to remember and honor the role that Iowans and other Americans played in World War II and as members of “The Greatest Generation.” There will be presentations by several local veterans, and class participants will have a chance to share their memories.

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

May 3 – The Pacific Theater of Operations.

Norman Rudie, author of numerous books on the war, leads this investigation into the role of submarines in naval warfare in WWII. Dr. Laverne Wintermeyer, M.D., who spent several years on submarines during WWII, will share his experiences. Lewis Rich of Glidden, Iowa, will discuss his 36 days on Iwo Jima. Stanley Wierson, a veteran of battles in New Guinea and Leyte, will share his experiences in the South Pacific.

May 10 – German POW Camps in Iowa and the Upper Midwest, and the Experiences of Two American Prisoners of War

This session examines POW camps in Iowa and the experiences of American POWs. Jerry Yocum, a retired history teacher, adjunct history professor at Iowa Lakes Community College and member of the Camp Algona Museum Board of Directors, will tell the story of the POW Camps for Germany military personnel in Algona, Iowa, and the upper Midwest. Claude Gruen, a soldier who was a guard at the Algona POW camp, will also talk about the Algona camp. American POWs Glenn McDole and John Phillips will answer questions about their experiences as POWs in the Philippines and Germany, respectively.

May 17 – The Role of Women in WWII

This class examines the roles women played in WWII as WAACs, WAVES, SPARS, Women Marines, nurses, pilots and as “Rosie the Riveter.”

May 24 – The Aftermath of WWII

This session explores what Americans went through in adapting to a peacetime environment. Participants are invited to share their experiences immediately following the end of WWII. Lisa Ossian, a history professor at Des Moines Area Community College and a student of WWII, will moderate the discussion.

May 31 – Big Band Playing WWII-Era Music and a Sing-A-Long

A Big Band made up of WWII veterans and others will present music of the era on the Jordan Stage of Drake’s Sheslow Auditorium in Old Main. Verne Hintze, developer of the Iowa Veterans Military Band, will direct the band. Audrey Devine and Bill Henderson will lead the sing-a-long. All community members are invited.

This is the last RaySociety course of the academic 2006-07 academic year. The 2007-08 course calendar will be posted this summer at www.drake.edu/raysociety/courses.php.

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 Gov. Robert D. Ray, who also served as the University’s president, and Billie Ray, former first lady of Iowa and a former schoolteacher.

The yearly RaySociety membership fee is $50. For non-veteran members of RaySociety, course admission is $25. Veterans and guests of veterans are admitted free of charge. For more information about RaySociety classes and events, contact Teresa Bartschat at 515-271-1847 or teresa.bartschat@drake.edu.