Marquette-area veterans attend history project, recount stories

Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 6:16 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Efforts are underway to preserve the stories of Marquette-area veterans. A special event on Wednesday captured their first-hand accounts.

Michael Rutledge is the Student Veteran Services coordinator at NMU. He served in the army’s field artillery from 1982-2004. Rutledge was excited about the opportunity to share some of his stories.

“Memories get old and when men and women get older and they are asked about these things and experiences, particularly in war. Memories fade and they can’t relay them as accurately. It’s good to get them now,” Rutledge said.

Rutledge continued to say that one of his most memorable experiences was taking part in the 1983 Exercise Reforger. It was a military campaign conducted by NATO during the Cold War.

“We crossed an entire field artillery battalion across the Rhine [River] on pontoon bridges. Something that hadn’t happened in many years, a very dangerous operation. Just the scale of that actual exercise that I know about now but back then I was just a young soldier,” Rutledge said.

He was also in Germany when the Berlin Wall came down.

“Going downtown to Frankfurt when we discovered the wall had come down, it was just a huge party,” Rutledge said.

After Wednesday’s event, hosted by U.S. Senator Gary Peters’ office, Rutledge’s stories and many more will be archived and submitted to the Library of Congress. This will allow people to hear directly from veterans to learn about their stories of service.

“A lot of our future generations don’t hear these stories and sitting down one on one and sitting down putting it on record is something that we’re all very passionate about and excited to do,” Marquette County Veterans Affairs Director Rachel Wood said.

Archived stories will take approximately three months to process.