Thiel Veterans Project

Photo Credit: Samantha Walker
By: Samantha Walker

“To do real history, I think you need to get into the real government documents and dig in.” Dr. Buck said as he begun the November 14 Common Hour about his sabbatical.

Dr. Buck’s sabbatical was titled “Thiel Veterans Project,” which he began within his methods classes.

In the beginning, Buck focused on researching the buildings on Thiel campus, but quickly moved on.

When determining what to do next he tried to find “what will benefit Thiel.”

While there are plenty of military memorials around campus, there are not many names.

Dr. Buck was trying to find “how can history be useful and tie in what we’re learning in the classroom.”

Students looked through Thiel archived with old papers, programs, and other documents to find veterans that had come from Thiel College. Though this process, they were able to identify 120 veterans.

The Bell wrote an article about the project which helped find more former students.

As a result of The Bell article, letters were sent in by Janis Blimling, who graduated from Thiel in 1977, whose father was also from Thiel and served in the Army Air Cor following Pearl Harbor.

Besides just the war, Blimling’s father’s letters also talked of what Thiel was like while he was a student.

Dr. Buck mainly focused on veterans from World War II and was able to find another 500 veterans including faculty and staff.

The project continued to Spring 2019 which looked at letters written by Dean H. G. Gebert who wrote to alumni serving during World War II.

Through 689 letters, Dr. Buck and his students were able to find 182 more veterans.

Lookinng at time stamps and locations, such as the European Front, Pacific Front, and United States Bases, and what years they were written.

Dr. Buck was able to trace veterans from Thiel all the way back to the Spanish American war including someone from 1899.

There were Thielensian articles writer by student’s following their time in the service.

For more information, there are posters on display in the library.

So far, Dr. Buck and his students have been able to identify over 725 Thiel Community members who served in the military.

As of now, Dr. Buck is reapplying for a grant to expand the project to include Camp Reynolds, and create a database, with the end goal of creating a permanent display.

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