Ogden Honors Students Capture Voices of Louisiana’s Veterans

November 09, 2022

Recording Veterans’ Stories

Students in the LSU Ogden Honors College are capturing powerful first-person narratives of Louisianans who served in the military. In addition to being added to the T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History, part of the LSU Libraries, the oral histories they collect will be housed in the Library of Congress’ national database in partnership with the Library of Congress Veterans History Project.

“The more localized your history becomes, the harder it is to track,” said Ajalynn Crum, an LSU mechanical engineering freshman and Ogden Honors College student from Lake Charles, Louisiana. “It’s easy to find the history of America. It’s a little bit more difficult to find primary sources on Louisiana. So, the more things that become available, the better we can understand our culture and our own history.”

While World War II has been thoroughly documented, the goal of the LSU oral history project is to collect the lesser-known stories of veterans who served in the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War and the Persian Gulf Wars. Furthermore, the students strive to document stories of those who are notably missing from most war narratives, such as people of color and women.

Crum interviewed Tara Jones (center, with Crum on her left), a Black woman who was a staff sergeant in the Louisiana Air National Guard from 1988 to 1997. During the Persian Gulf conflict, Jones served in a ground support capacity in the 159th Fighter Wing Maintenance Squadron. Today, she works at the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs.

Tara Jones with LSU students

Tara Jones (center) is the Incarcerated Veterans Liaison and Louisiana National Guard Disability Benefits Administrator for the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs. She was a staff sergeant in the Louisiana Air National Guard (1988-1997) and more recently the subject of an LSU student-led oral history interview about her military experience. Ajalynn Crum from Lake Charles, La., (right) served as the interviewer while Amara Bordelon from Baton Rouge, La., (left) served as the audio engineer. Both students are Ogden Honors College freshmen studying mechanical engineering.

– Brandee Patrick, Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs

“Louisiana veterans are near and dear to my heart. What they have done for their country and their state has made a lasting difference to the citizens of Louisiana. So, when I heard about these LSU students who were preserving their stories for future generations, I recognized the significance of what that meant.”

Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser