A Pennsylvania teenager is documenting the stories of U.S. veterans, honoring those who have served from World War II through the Iraq War, as part of his Eagle Scout project.
Derek Copeland, 17, of University City, enlisted 16 veterans to tell their stories, which will be archived at the Library of Congress as part of its Veterans History Project, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
"I wish I could have some First World War vets, but they're a little past their prime today."
- Derek Copeland
One of the most fascinating aspects of the project “to see how our nation’s views have changed over time,” Copeland said Sunday during an appearance on “Fox and Friends.”
"I wish I could have some First World War vets, but they're a little past their prime today," Copeland, a junior at Delaware Valley Friends School, told the Inquirer.
Copeland said his project idea grew out of his love for history.
Vietnam War veterans Gordon Bocher, 72, and Rich Feldman, 64, as well as World War II veteran Len Feldman, 92, were among the veterans who agreed to be interviewed for the project. Each agreed to a question-and-answer session that lasted at least one hour, according to the report.
Paluch’s interview will soon become part of the Library of Congress archives. His story includes growing up working at his family’s candy shop, being drafted into the Army at 20, and training in Oklahoma.
In his sitdown for the project, Paluch recalled surviving the Malmedy massacre of 1944, when German troops lined up and killed 84 U.S. soldiers captured during the Battle of the Bulge.
Paluch was shot in the hand, and credits his survival with lying motionless.
"Didn't move," he said. "Just played dead a couple hours," he said, according to the paper.
He later escaped into a row of bushes, found a few other survivors from his battalion, and then joined other American troops.
Paluch also said that when he was discharged on Jan. 1, 1946, he didn’t think anyone would ever want to hear his story. All he wanted was to return home to Philadelphia, where he worked for several years in a trucking business.
"I wasn't a soldier," he said, laughing. "I figured the war was over, and that was enough for me."