A veteran in Huntington Beach contributed to The Library of Congress' Veterans History Project, reported the Huntington Beach Independent. Harold Tor, 88, served in the 11th Airborne Division of the U.S. Army during World War II and earned a Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts and other commendations for his service. Tor deployed to the Philippines and, on Feb. 23, 1945, participated in the Raid at Los Banos, an allied military offensive that resulted in the liberation of over 2,000 civilians and military prisoners from a Japanese prison camp. He was wounded twice during the war and was discharged after losing his arm, from the elbow down, during an ambush.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Tor enlisted when he was only 16. Even today, he remains thankful that the recruitment officer looked past his falsified enlistment application.
"They only had two requirements to get into the military back then," he told the newspaper. "The first was you had to be able to walk through the recruiting office door, and the second was you had to be breathing."
Tor took part in a narrative collection drive organized by his local American Legion Post 133 in Huntington Beach. Jim Seiler, a Vietnam War veteran and employee at the post, brought the Veterans History Project to the attention of his superiors who then encouraged members to donate their stories.
"It's a means of preserving their story," Seiler said in an interview. "When they're gone, their story will be available for their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It'll also be available for future historians, students and anybody that is writing a book about anything and wants some background. In some sense, it's a form of immortality for the veteran."
Congress, in 2000, passed legislation that established the Veterans History Project, reported The New York Times. The Library of Congress' American Folklife Center runs the initiative which, as of last month, has collected more than 100,000 stories from former military personnel.