William Wesley of Pratt was interviewed by Rileigh Qualls.
A unique connection of generations took place when eighth grade students at Liberty Middle School were assigned to interview veterans in conjunction with Veteran's Day.
Some students selected a relative while others contacted veterans that were in the community. For LMS eighth grader Rileigh Qualls, her choice was veteran 81-year-old William Wesley who was a resident at Hillside Terrace where Qualls mother was the manager. They had met several times and Qualls decided Wesley was her choice for the assignment.
Wesley's time in the military was not filled with combat and dangers missions. But his job was important to soldiers. Wesley spent his time in the Army cleaning and preparing ammunition for use.
Wesley was in and out of the Army before he was 21. He was in the Army from 1956 to 1959, reaching the rank of corporal. He served in a time period between the end of the Korean War and the United States involvement in Vietnam so combat was not happening.
Wesley lived in Plainview, Texas at the time. He figured he would eventually have to go into the military so he enlisted in the Army.
There was a history of military service in the family that had ended in tragedy. Wesley's older half brother, George Freemen, was in the Air Force and was killed in the Korean War in 1952.
Wesley had ammunition training in the Army and his chief job was cleaning ammunition to get it ready for the troops. He said it was a lot of hard work to get the ammunition in good working condition.
He also drove a jeep and transported workers back and forth 80 miles to their base.
Wesley spent two years overseas, serving at a base 50 miles from Paris where he prepared ammunition. Part of his duties included transporting the ammunition to Israel.
Wesley confessed, with a smile, he didn't like anything in the Army. But he did get to spend some time in Paris. He enjoyed drinking beer and he also dated some local girls. They would take walks or take in a movie, Wesley said.
Qualls had met Wesley several times and was familiar with some of his history. When she tried interviewing him, it turned out to be harder to get information than she had anticipated because some of his answers were vague.
Besides interviewing and researching a veteran, the students had to research their service branch, research any conflict they were associated with then create a trifold display featuring the information in a display in the LMS library on Veteran's Day.
Since Wesley did not serve during war time, Qualls decided to research the Vietnam War. One of the things that surprised her during her research was the number of women involved in the war. She found out that many had volunteered as nurses and some women had actually been involved in combat.
Qualls also found out the United States was there to prevent the spread of communism.
Her favorite part of the project was creating an acrostic poem out of new words she learned during her research.
Creating the trifold was harder than she had anticipated. The material was hard to cut and the printer she used produced pages that were sideways to what she needed.
On Veteran's Day, the students work was put on display in the LMS Library. Qualls display featured her research information, several photos of Wesley including one of him in his uniform when he was in the service.
The students were on hand along with many of the veterans they had researched. For her hard work, Wesley presented Qualls with a bouquet of flowers.