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Paul Loofburrow

Arts & Culture

OREGON EXPERIENCE: Oregon at War

OPB | Aug. 29, 2007 10:35 p.m. | Updated: Dec. 5, 2013 11:13 a.m.

World War II changed the face of Oregon.

The war’s onset found Oregonians still reeling from the Great Depression. But four years later, the state emerged from the conflict with a thriving economy and a fast-growing urban sector. Oregon had evolved very quickly, and there’d be no turning back.

Tens of thousands of young Oregon men — many of whom had never before strayed far from hometowns — had now traveled the globe. They had seen a wider world and, in many cases, sights too horrific to describe.

Countless Oregon women had worked throughout the war at jobs once off-limits to their gender. The state now had thousands of new African-American residents. And for the first time, Hispanic workers dominated the agricultural labor force.

This special OREGON EXPERIENCE: “Oregon At War” airing Thursday, September 27 at 9pm on the stations of Oregon Public Broadcasting, explores what happened during those war years through the stories of 17 Oregonians who remember them. Some of these people served in the military: an Air Force pilot from Baker City who was shot down over China; a logger from Scotts Mills who served as a medic in the bloody battles for New Guinea; a crop-science major from OSU who manned a landing craft in the invasion of Normandy; and twin brothers from Portland who both fought in the Battle of the Bulge and were both captured by the Germans.

On the home front, we meet: two Portland-born Oregonians whose families were forced to leave their homes, sell their belongings and live confined behind barbed wire; a Forest Service ranger who responded to the Japanese balloon-bomb killings; a buckaroo who broke wild horses for the US Army Cavalry; a woman who came to Oregon for the wartime work — and for the right to sit wherever she wanted on the bus; and another woman who, as a teenage girl in a town of young military men, jitterbugged her way through the war.

At opb.org/oregonexperience/oratwar, other video stories are posted and people can share their World War II experiences and explore submission from Oregon and around the country.

About OREGON EXPERIENCE
OREGON EXPERIENCE is an exciting new history series on OPB-TV that brings to life fascinating stories that help us understand who we are and that reinforce our shared identity as Oregonians. The series, co-produced by the Oregon Historical Society and Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB), takes advantage of the extensive film, video and stills from the archives of OHS and OPB, and draws upon the expertise of OHS researchers and historians. Each half-hour show features captivating characters — both familiar and forgotten — who have played key roles in building our state into the unique place we call home. Funding for OREGON EXPERIENCE is provided in part by Ann & Bill Swindells Charitable Trust, James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation and Oregon Cultural Trust.

About OPB
OPB is the state’s most far-reaching and accessible media resource, providing free access to programming for children and adults designed to give voice to community, connect Oregon and its neighbors and illuminate a wider world. Every week, over 1.5 million people tune in to or log on to OPB’s Television, Radio and Internet delivered services. As the hub of operations for the state’s Emergency Broadcast and Amber Alert services, OPB serves as the backbone for the distribution of critical information to broadcasters and homes throughout Oregon. Oregon Public Broadcasting is a statewide network that includes OPB Television, an affiliate of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), and OPB Radio, presenting local news coverage and the programs of National Public Radio (NPR), Public Radio International (PRI) and American Public Media (APM). The OPB Web site is opb.org

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