Veteran Records WWII Memories on Videotape - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

05/30/05

Veteran Records WWII Memories on Videotape

Sam watches her father's video. Sam watches her father's video.

How well do you know your parents? A Savannah woman says she learned a whole new side to her father after discovering a videotape he made three years before he died. He talks about his service in World War II, and it's a great reminder of how our veterans can keep their place in history alive for future generations.

Sam Johnston remembers her father's dying words. "He said the best thing he ever did was to be a soldier, and 'Did you know I was a good one?'" she recalled.

She had no idea. "I didn't. I knew nothing of his time in World War II. He would never talk about the war."

Until she found the videotape. He was Bernard Roberts, proud member of the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion out of Fort Benning. In 1997, he put his memories down on tape, but rarely mentioned them to his daughter.

Since she found it a few years ago, Sam has watched her father's life story more than 20 times, each time finding out something new.

"In the 509th, he was the first person to jump into north Africa," said Sam.

And the stories were endless. "He loved to dance and he danced in Casablanca. I didn't know that. It made me cry."

About all 11-year-old Samara remembers about her grandpa is, "he was sweet to me and he was nice."

After watching his tape with her mom, she's telling everybody about what she learned. "My grandpa was in the war. He was a hero and got a Purple Heart."

Samara may be young, but like her mom would like to see other veterans record their stories and cement their place in American history. "We want to know what happened," Sam said. "They will be gone in a couple years and we need to know what happened."

She can realize the sacrifices their generation made for our generation, but the more she watches, the more questions Sam has. "If i could have 30 minutes with my father, it would mean a lot to me."

Sam also found out her father was mentioned in a few World War II books. She started her research process by getting his enlistment and separation papers, and suggests others do the same thing.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com

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