Woods, Gordon

'Veterans Tell Your Story'

When it comes to World War II veterans, Gordon Wood figures there are few peers.

"I truly believe if it were not for World War II veterans doing what they did, then we would not have the freedom we have today," says the Medford resident.

"There are something like 1,200 World War II veterans dying each day now," he adds. "We need to get their stories before they pass on."

That is why he created a project he has dubbed, "Veterans Tell Your Story." He interviews World War II veterans with a video camera, then gives them a copy of the interview. There is no charge.

"The reason I'm doing these videos is that when these gentlemen pass on, their children and grandchildren will know what they did," Wood says. "This will keep their stories alive."

Wood, 65, is no stranger to combat. The former Marine Corps sergeant was wounded on Aug. 24, 1967, in the jungles near Da Nang in what was then South Vietnam. A tank commander, he was hit by shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade.

He is now the commander of the Rogue Valley Chapter 147 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. A graduate of what is now Southern Oregon University, majoring in education, he has lived in the Rogue Valley for more than 40 years.

His interest in interviewing World War II veterans can be traced to last year's state meeting of Purple Heart recipients in Springfield.

It was there he met a former Marine from Salem who was on board the USS Tennessee battleship in Pearl Harbor on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941.

"When he told me about his amazing experience, of being in the crow's nest when those Japanese planes came in, I knew I had to capture his story," he says. "So I got a video camera and just started doing it."

But he is focusing on World War II veterans living in southwestern Oregon. Veterans he has interviewed from the last world war include Army and Navy veterans. It doesn't matter whether they served in combat or in supply, he says.

What is important is the history they experienced, he stresses.

"They all were an important part of our history," he says. "I've found that their memories are really great. They are in their late 80s into their 90s. Many of them are so sharp."

As an offshoot of the video project, he and fellow members of the local Military Order of the Purple Heart are also trying to raise money to take Pearl Harbor veterans from Oregon to the battle scene on Dec. 7, marking the 70th anniversary of that attack.

Celebrating the contributions and collecting the memories of World War II veterans is more than a hobby, he says.

"This is part of my life now," he says. "I love to talk to World War II vets. They are amazing. I had to find a way to keep their stories alive."

World War II veterans or their families can contact Wood at 541-778-0651 to set up an interview.

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 541-776-4496 or email him at

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