Tales from the front linesPublished 6:43pm Friday, November 4, 2011
It was more than half a century ago, but Betty Volturno still remembers well what life was like in England during the World War II. The sight of the planes flying overhead night after night. The sound of the bomb sirens. The feeling of not knowing if you’d survive another day.
“We went through a pretty stressful time back then. You were never quite sure what would happen next,” she said.
Now 90 years old, Volturno wants to make sure her story lives on. She joined about a dozen area veterans and servicemen who told their stories to world history students Friday at Niles Community High School.
Volturno’s husband served in World War II. Her daughter, Lisetta Zahm, is an art teacher at the high school.
Zahm has played a large role in bringing veterans to Niles High School to talk to students about their experiences. The school has been doing this for the past four years.
“Our freedoms are based on what men fought for and although war is not a popular thing I think it has to be in order to preserve what you have,” Zahm said. “There are people of all ages out there fighting right now. We aren’t out there fighting. They are doing it for us and people have to remember that all the time, not just one day a year.”
The veterans and servicemen split into four groups and talked to students in various classrooms throughout the morning.
Topics ranged from what it was like to serve during wartime, to why drill sergeants yell at recruits.
“It is just fun to get in and talk to kids about military service and tell them my experience,” said Navy veteran Phil Mills, of Niles. “The image of the military is a lot better now than it was in Vietnam and I think these programs have something to do with it.”
The veterans gave Niles High School a signed copy of the book, “Wartime Memoirs by Southwestern Michigan Veterans Volume 2.” It contains stories from several of the veterans who attended Friday’s event.