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VHP event honors Vietnam veterans

Juanita Price writes the oral history of Harry Kantrovich as told to volunteer interviewer JoAnne Luciano.

In honor of Vietnam Veterans Day observed March 29, the oral histories of seven military members were written for the Veterans History Project (VHP), part of the NCRF Oral Histories Program. The final transcripts of the interviewed veterans will be submitted to the Library of Congress for preservation in its VHP collection.

Volunteering their time to participate in the event were NCRA members Margary Rogers, RPR, CRI, an official court reporter and captioner from Washington, D.C.; and Juanita Price, RPR, an official court reporter and captioner from Gainesville, Va., who attended the event in person at the Freedom Museum in Manassas, Va. Transcribing by Zoom were NCRA Immediate Past President Debbie Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC, a freelance court reporter and captioner from Salt Lake City, Utah; and NCRA member April Crites, RMR, CRR, a freelance court reporter and captioner from Amelia, Ohio.

The event was highlighted by two local media outlets: NBC Channel 4 and ABC Channel 7.

The Vietnam War veterans interviewed included:

  • Col. Douglas E. Moore, U.S. Army (Ret.), who conducted more than 200 rescues as a helicopter pilot, and author of A Bullet Through the Helmet: A Vietnam Dustoff Pilot’s Memoir: True stories of Huey helicopter medevac rescue missions flown during the Vietnam War.
  • Debbie Moore, wife of Col. Moore, who served as a Red Cross Donut Dolly during the Vietnam War providing hot coffee and donuts to troops on the ground despite having to brave incoming mortars, sniper and ground-to-air fire, and other wartime hardships and danger.
  • Col. Carlos M. Collat, U.S. Army (Ret.), who flew Huey helicopter missions in the Vietnam War and went on to serve as an assistant to a secretary of state and other Army and intelligence agencies. He is also the recipient of a number of awards and medals including the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
  • Henry “Rocky” Colavita, U.S. Army (Ret.), whose service included multiple tours in Vietnam during his 20 years of wartime service before spending 17 years in law enforcement. He is also the author of Company Grade: Memoir of an Angry Skipper.
  • U.S. Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Henry Kantrovich (Ret.), who is a long-time actor who entertained his shipmates while at sea and, after 23 years of service, returned to the theater with his most recent undertaking of turning journalist Tom Brokaw’s book The Greatest Generation Speaks into a play.
  • Master Sergeant Joseph R. Bersack, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), who served in the Vietnam War as well as in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He is the recipient of numerous medals and awards and served in several roles, including in the Secretary of the Air Force Field Activity Office, the Air Force Satellite Control Command, and the Air Force Systems Command Space Division.
  • Captain Jim Porter, U.S. Navy (Ret.), who flew as a naval pilot during the Vietnam War and now serves as Director of the Freedom Museum where the event was held.

“It was a great honor to interview Col. Douglas E. Moore, Col. Carlos M. Collat, and Lt. Col. Henry ’Rocky’ Colavita.  Their stories were amazing and very vivid. These are our heroes,” said Rogers, who shared that participating in the event was an eye-opening experience that she was honored to be a part of.

“Being in the presence of such great leadership, bravery, and service gave me an entire new perspective on life and put my personal life complaints and situations on hold in an effort to embrace and visualize the strength and perseverance of our heroic Vietnam Veterans. I learned a lot of life lessons. All of them were 80 years old and older, so you can only imagine the wisdom,” she added.

“It was so awesome to be a part of transcribing stories from some of our military men and women, including Lt. Col. Michael Lovitt. I wish I could have met him in person,” said Crites.

“It means the world to me to be involved with a group of kind and giving souls,” Dibble said about participating in the VHP event with NCRA colleagues. “Thank you for the sacrifices you made in your day to make this happen for our veterans.”