A national project to collect the stories of war veterans has several groups working in Iowa. Deb Olson, executive secretary of the Des Moines County Historical Society, says there’s lots of advice and help at the National Veterans History Project, which encourages local people and groups to gather records, memorabilia and oral histories of veterans. There are administrative things you have to do, get the veteran’s permission to record his or her story and have it archived for other people to look at. Olson says there’s a lot more than just sitting down asking questions, though that would be a good first step to talk with a veteran you know. Some are likely to be reluctant to discuss it, but she thinks sometimes it’s good for them to tell their stories and leave a record for future generations of what they did, how they felt and what happened to them during their service in the military. One veteran whose story has been recorded, and is up on the national Veterans History Project website, is Mary Louise Rasmuson. She was recorded at her home in Fairbanks Alaska, but recalled when she graduated in 1942 with the first class of WACs from the officer training school in Fort Des Moines. She remembers a woman telling her she was glad her daughter had entered the service because she was a tall girl who always stooped over at home, but she stood up tall in the military. Rasmuson. went on to direct the school, and eventually became director of the entire Womens Army Corps. She says some civilians made her irate by being more concerned with what the women’s uniforms looked like than their accomplishments. Rasmuson. told of a close call when she accompanied a class of WACS to their assignments in England, and reluctantly accepted an invitation to have dinner with a soldier at the compound there. She tells of suddenly being thrown to the ground and hearing a crash — the soldiers told her it was a “buzz bomb,” which hit one of the buildings not far from where they’d been. Rasmuson was recorded as part of the Veterans History Project. Iowa affiliates who’ve signed on to help collect stories from veterans include the Newton campus of Des Moines Area Community College, the Des Moines County Historical Society, and “Traces,” a regional educational group that collects stories of Midwesterners who encountered people from Germany and Austria during World War 2. The national site is at http://www.loc.gov/folklife/vets/about.html