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Pafford Students Interview World War 2 Veteran

Pafford 6-8th grade Social Studies students were able to Zoom with Corporal Don Graves, a survivor of the Allied assault on the island of Iwo Jima during WWII. Students were able to submit questions for Graves to answer as he recounted his experiences hearing about the bombing of Pearl Harbor, joining the marines, and serving in the Pacific Theatre during the war. The event was organized and moderated by Pafford social studies teacher Julie Donahew-Hegre.
“This was the first time for any of us to do this type of thing virtually,” Donahew-Hegre said. “Students submitted their questions to their Social Studies teachers in 6-8 grade and I chose the most appropriate ones and some at the end were live, follow up questions.”
Graves started out on Iwo Jima as a private first class in the 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines, 5th Marine Division. He moved up to Corporal when all the officers in his unit were killed. It is a story he frequelty is asked to retell as one of the few remaining survivors from that event.
“I met Mr. Graves at a veteran’s organization called Roll Call,” Donahew-Hegre said. “I have done this type of event in the past, where a veteran comes to talk to the class. However, Mr. Graves has seen the most combat of the veterans that have come to speak to my class.”


The lesson allowed students to interact live with a member of “The Greatest Generation,” a label and concept Graves discussed with student’s during the event.
“I hope students appreciate the sacrifices people have made for us to live in such a great country,” Donahew-Hegre said. “If Mr. Graves could survive Iwo Jima and World War II and walk away with such humility, they may see that they can handle whatever life throws at them someday.”