War tales,
Web sites

Man gives home
to vets' stories

By Christine L Bordelon
Kenner bureau



Staff Photo by Donald Stout

Joe Richard, a Kenner resident, works on his World War II Web site. After researching the genealogy of his family back to the Civil War, he began interviewing war veterans. Later, he created three Web sites to share stories compiled from several years of interviews.

    A love of history and interest in his family tree prompted Joe Richard of Kenner to research his family's genealogy and create his first Web site in 1997.

   The original site delved into the life of his maternal great- grandfather Paul Hebert, who fought during the Civil War with the 28th Louisiana Infantry Regiment.

    A year later, Richard created a second Civil War Web site, this time focusing on his great-great-grandfather on his paternal side, Placide Richard, who fought with the 18th Louisiana Infantry Regiment.

    After four years and countless hours of researching Civil War history, Richard's energies began shifting to World War II.

    "I knew eventually it would lead to World War II, and it did," Richard, 59, said. His interest in the second world war is built on stories his uncles and father told him over the years, as well as his own stint in the Air Force from 1962 to 1966, with a year spent on Iwo Jima.

    How World War II could be worked into a Web site wasn't really clear to Richard until he began working with a friend, Joe Gilinsky of Metairie, to transcribe his war experiences. Gilinsky's story would be the first major element of a World War II Web site Richard began creating in 2001.

    From Gilinsky's story about being a B-17 navigator for the Army Air Corps during World War II, Richard proceeded to one of Gilinsky's B-17 co-pilot who lives in Florida.

Stories pour in from vets

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    After that story was posted on the Web site, the other co-pilot found Richard's site and reconnected with his two war buddies.

    "They thought each other was dead," Richard said about the two pilots. Managing to connect people has been one result of Richard's work on the site. He calls it a sounding board.

    As work on the site progressed, Richard recalled compiling his father-in-law Jacques Fuselier's story years before and decided to add it and dedicate the Web site in honor of Fuselier's experiences at Pearl Harbor.

   The site has grown to include stories of close to 100 male and female veterans from all branches of the military during World War II.

    "It's becoming more than what I envisioned," Richard said. "I keep getting some wonderful inquiries from people ... I turn on the computer every morning and wonder what type of message will be on it."

    One such message came from veteran Ed Souder of Minnesota. A historian for the 405th Infantry Fox Company that was part of the 102nd Infantry, Souder sent Richard countless stories from infantry members.

    To thank Souder for his efforts, Richard self-published a book on the 405th Infantry Fox company called "Those Damn Doggies in F" with all the stories of Souder's unit.

    "It was a memento for Ed for what he did," Richard said.

    Richard credits his wife, Sue, a recovery-room nurse for more than 30 years at East Jefferson General Hospital, as a major influence for creating the Web site.

    He said she often would arrive home and retell the many war experiences of fellow hospital volunteers: one jumped into Normandy and was captured by Germans; another was at Pearl Harbor on a ship in dry dock; another had her father and brother arrested by the Japanese in the Philippines and never saw them again.

    "I found it most unusual that in this small group of people these remarkable stories existed," Richard said. "I figured I'm going to try it (a Web site). What the heck ... The fact that I had been working on stories from the Civil War, it was natural thing."

    Richard said working on the World War II Web site has taught him more about the war first-hand from veterans than any history book he has ever read. He said the veterans really appreciate that someone is showing an interest in what they did for their country

    "I've gained a better understanding of what they did, and in some cases why they did what they did."



To peruse the world war II Web site World War II Stories - In Their Own Words, visit; for the Thomas' 28th Louisiana Infantry Regiment in the Civil War, visit Pentagon/Quarters/5361; for the 18th Louisiana Infantry Regiment, visit members.

Send e-mail to Christine Lacoste Bordelon at cbordelon® or call 461-0437.


The above article ran:

The Times Picayune, (Kenner Picayune)
Thursday, SEPTEMBER 4, 2003, Section D1, 2D1





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