Congressman Gibbs’ office encourages veterans to share stories

| January 25, 2018

The office of Congressman Bob Gibbs was at the Coshocton County Courthouse on Jan. 24 to hold recording sessions with veterans for the Library of Congress Veterans History Project. Congressman Gibbs, pictured at far right, stopped by the recording sessions for a while and visited with local veterans Dave McCormick and Johnny Dotson who shared their stories for the project. Josie Sellers | Beacon

COSHOCTON – Representatives from Congressman Bob Gibbs’ office were in Coshocton on Jan. 24 collecting stories from local veterans for the Library of Congress Veterans History Project.

“He (Congressman Gibbs) has a staff member in the district office that is pretty passionate about veterans,” said Dallas Gerber, Gibbs’ communications director. “He does a lot of our veteran casework and helps with VA issues. He thought the veterans’ history project would be an awesome program to get involved with.”

The United States Congress created the Veterans History Project in 2000 at the Library of Congress to, collect, preserve and make accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war.

“The first time we held a day to collect stories was last August in Stark County,” Gerber said. “I was fortunate enough to get to be there for that recording day and interviewed a 95 or 96 year old lady veteran who was a jeep driver in England and Italy during World War II. It was incredible. She even showed up in uniform.”

Gibbs’ office is trying to hold recording sessions for the veterans’ history project in all 10 of the Ohio counties in its district. In addition to Stark and Coshocton counties, they also have visited Ashland County.

“My dad and father-in-law were both in World War II, but didn’t say much about their service,” Congressman Gibbs said. “Veterans stories need to be told so their kids, grandkids and others have a better understanding of their service and why they are so important to our history.”

He believes they have collected 30-50 veterans’ stories so far and one of them in Coshocton County came from Johnny Dotson.

“I’m proud to be a veteran and think veterans’ stories should be preserved and they should tell about what they did,” said Dotson, who was drafted and served in the U.S. Army.

“I was 18 when I went in right after high school so that was my senior trip,” he said. “Being in the military is something that stays with you for the rest of your life.”

While Dotson served during the Vietnam Era, he did not serve in country. His brother, however, was not as lucky.

“My brother was in Vietnam when I was drafted,” Dotson said. “He still fights the war every day.”

Another U.S. Army Veteran who shared his story was Dave McCormick. He also was drafted, but during his time in the service he got sent to Vietnam. McCormick shared stories about driving different vehicles in Vietnam and how the local veterans service office has helped him seek medical assistance for his Parkinson’s which is connected to Agent Orange exposure. He was reluctant to attend the interview day, but agreed when told it would someday give his grandchildren and great-grandchildren the chance to hear his stories.

Materials accepted for the veterans’ history project include 30 minute or longer video interviews, 10 or more photographs, letters, artwork or official military documents, and 20 pages or more of original, unpublished memoirs or journal entries.

“We make sure the sound and audio is good from our interview days and after a little bit of paperwork on our end send what we collect to the Library of Congress,” Gerber said.

For more on the veterans’ history project or to research the collection of stories, visit

Category: People & Places

About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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