The GWOT Oral History Project seeks to combine recorded interviews along with photographs and other archival materials to document the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts as well as the events leading up to them from the perspective of those who participated. This includes those who were directly involved in the events and those, both in the United States and abroad, who have been affected by the wars. Our goal is to create a historical document that spans a range of experience during this period.
Each interview was conducted with the goal of allowing interviewees to share their unique experiences in their own words. According to Donald A. Ritchie in his classic book Doing Oral History, "memory is the core of oral history, from which meaning can be extracted and preserved. Simply put, oral history collects memories and personal commentaries of historical significance through recorded interviews." We seek to preserve these memories and place them within the larger historical context of the wars.
Just like any other form of historical evidence, oral history should be weighed against other sources. It is merely one form of documentation among many. However, what is unique about oral history is that it relies on the input of people who were actually there. Its value emerges from the fact that these memories and experiences come from servicemembers and others who were directly involved with the fighting. Their perspective belongs to them and them alone but through their own unique viewpoints a larger story of the conflicts can emerge.
Each interview was recorded on an audio recorder and then transcribed for this website. Interviews were lightly edited for clarity. In some cases, specific names have been omitted to protect the identities of those mentioned. The omitted names exist within the original audio recording.
Interviewees were notified in advance that the goal of the interviews was eventual publication online and in print as well as permanent preservation in an archive. Each interviewee on this site has granted permission for use of their interviews and image. Unless otherwise noted, all interviews were conducted by Richard Hayden.
Read an interview with the GWOT Oral History Project founder Richard Hayden here.
Unless otherwise noted, all photographs are by Richard Hayden. Contact him here.
Copyright 2016 Richard Hayden