Shelves of resource books on war and foreign lands served as a backdrop as Jan Hicks prodded William Boynton to recall his naval service during World War II.
Boynton served as a fire controlman on the USS Wisconsin near the end of the war. Though he never fought in battle, Boynton relived some of his experiences on the battleship as Hicks videotaped him as part of the Veteran's History Project.
The Tuesday session in the library at Augusta Preparatory Day School was Hicks' 100th.
For Hicks, the former commanding general at Fort Gordon who now is head of the upper school at Augusta Prep, the interviews are personal.
"Every time I look across the table I can see the man my dad would have become," she said. "It reconnects me to a vicarious conversation with my dad. It reconnects me to ... the greatest generation, one that made an enormous contribution to America and the world."
Hicks' father, Bruce Atkin, was an Army sergeant who also served in the signal corps during the post-war occupation of Japan. He died in 1987.
Discussing his service was not something Hicks and her father often did.
Atkin, like many others Hicks interviewed, downplayed his role in the war. She said the attitude of her father and others she has interviewed keeps her humble.
"These individuals gave so much and they are so dear because to the man or to the woman, they said, 'I didn't do anything special,' or 'Other people did a whole lot more than I did,' or 'I didn't do anything everyone else didn't do,' " said Hicks. "They're just so modest about what they've done."
Hicks conducted her first interview in February 2008. Since then, she had conducted more interviews than any other volunteer associated with the project, which is sponsored by the Augusta-Richmond County Historical Society.
Once complete, copies of each DVD are sent to the subject veteran, the Library of Congress and the Historical Society's office at Augusta State University.
With pre-interviews, research, the taped interview, travel time and indexing, Hicks said, she spends six to eight hours on each DVD she makes.
"I have interviewed men and women of every service, including individuals who were not American citizens," Hicks said.
"I interviewed men who were not in the American armed forces, like Henry Schlifka. He was a French Jew and ... fought in the resistance and later fought alongside British forces. He helped liberate Paris."
Despite the hours she devotes to the project, Hicks referred to it as a "labor of love."
"It chronicles the contribution of that generation," she said. "It's like Tom Brokaw said, and I agree, they are the greatest generation."
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