Veterans History Project

Veterans History Project

There is perhaps no better way to learn about history than through firsthand accounts. You get a better understanding of what really happened when you hear directly from those who lived through the events. That’s what the Veterans History Project (VHP)—an initiative that aims to preserve and make accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans—seeks to do. 

Since the VHP was approved by Congress in 2000, over 100,000 veterans have described their service in audio and video recordings that are now part of the collection. Submissions have been archived from veterans of World War I through Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. These men and women participated and witnessed some pivotal events in our nation’s history. 

Arkansans have a long and proud history of supporting our nation’s military. More than 200,000 veterans call Arkansas home, however only 1,200 Arkansas veterans’ stories are part of the VHP collection. I want to make sure this collection includes examples of courage, bravery and service of as many Arkansans who have worn our nation’s uniform as possible. 

Many of us have family members and friends who have served in the Armed Forces. Capturing and preserving their memories is a great way to honor their service and commitment to our country.

For more information on how you can participate in the Veterans History Project, visit

Recent 'Salute to Veterans' Highlights

Ed Watson grew up in Craighead County. He attended Arkansas State University and spent many hours in the radio and TV department on a work scholarship. He also participated in ROTC. This experience made him better prepared than most others for basic training as evidenced by a citation he earned as the best trainee of the cycle in his unit. He deployed to Vietnam and served as a combat demolitionist. Watson spent 50 weeks in Vietnam and rotated out two weeks early because he was saving money to be married and had unused vacation days. With encouragement from Army officials, Watson decided to apply for an early separation so he could return to school in Arkansas. He says military service changed his attitude, but he would do it again. Click here to learn more.
Harold Beaver grew up in Searcy, Arkansas. He attended the University of Arkansas where he pursued a degree in engineering. After completing a mandatory two years of ROTC, Beaver chose to pursue advanced ROTC. He graduated in May 1969 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. He was selected for pilot training. After he completed his class he elected to be a pilot training instructor. He taught student pilots to fly the T-37. Beaver and other instructors trained a lot of foreign pilots. One of his best students was from Norway. He found it most challenging to train Iranian students, because they weren’t proficient in English. Beaver said the hardest part of learning to fly was the motion sickness, but he found ways to overcome the challenge. Click here to hear more about his time in the Air Force. 
Mark Linkous joined the Air Force two years after it became an independent military branch. For Linkous, the most difficult part of service was adjusting to different people and their varying opinions. The easiest was the physical aspect because he grew up on a farm, hunted and had worked on an oil rig. He believes that military service is good for high school graduates who are unsure of what they want to do in the future. Service allowed him to fulfill the “patriotic responsibility” he felt growing up with multiple family members in the military.  Click here to read more about his time in the Air Force.
Bob Beaty grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. After graduating high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, following in the footsteps of three of his brothers who were also serving in the military. Beaty said he chose the Navy so he could travel. Although he had never been so far from home, Beaty said the ocean and Navy life suited him well. He really enjoyed visiting different countries, finding unique souvenirs and eating the local foods. Beaty maintains traveling was the best part of his service. He was discharged on October 30, 1945, and went home to Kansas City. He was married the following July to his wife Rosie, who had been his pen pal during the war. Click here to read more about his time in uniform.