Todd DePastino, acclaimed Pittsburgh area WW II historian and author, has joined efforts with The Tuskegee Airmen of Greater Pittsburgh Oral History Project—an innovative, multimedia educational initiative developed by The Tuskegee Airmen Memorial of Greater Pittsburgh, Inc. and The Social Voice Project®.

Dr. Pastino is the author of Bill Mauldin: A Life Up Front (W.W. Norton), which won the 2009 Anne M. Sperber Prize for the best biography of a major media figure and was a 2009 Eisner Award nominee.He is general editor of Fantagraphics Books’ complete Mauldin series, which so far includes the acclaimed Willie & Joe: The WWII Years (2008) and Willie& Joe: Back Home (2011). He is currently collaborating with Wind and Stars Production Group to write and co-produce a documentary film on Bill Mauldin to be aired on public television in 2014.

Previous books include Citizen Hobo: How a Century of Homelessness Shaped America (University of Chicago Press, 2003), which won a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, and The Road By Jack London(Rutgers University Press, 2006).

Dr. Depastino earned his Ph.D. in American History from Yale University and teaches at Waynesburg University where in 2008 he won the Lucas-Hathaway Award for Teaching Excellence. He lives in Pittsburgh with his wife and two daughters.

Todd DePastino is also the founder and executive director of the Veterans Breakfast Club, a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to sharing veterans’ stories with the public. Over 1,500 people have participated in the Veterans Breakfast Club’s programs and activities over the past two years.




PITTSBURGH, PA - November 1, 2011 - The Tuskegee Airmen Memorial of Greater Pittsburgh, Inc. and The Social Voice Project® have created a new oral history recording project aimed at capturing, preserving, sharing, and celebrating the stories of Pittsburgh’s own Tuskegee Airmen of World War II.

It is the mission of the Tuskegee Airmen Memorial organization to honor local citizens who served with the legendary Tuskegee Airmen.Until recently, it was unknown that the largest contingent of World War II enlistees in the Tuskegee Airmen program—more than 80 men and one woman—came from the Greater Pittsburgh region.

Overcoming racial discrimination of the worst kind, these Airmen ultimately served with distinction as flight instructors, pilots, bombardiers, navigators, and technically skilled flight line support personnel. After the war, many went on to have distinguished military and civilian careers.However, for decades their story went largely unheard and unrecognized.Sixty-one years after the war in 2007, Congress formally recognized The Red Tails’ service with the Congressional Gold Medal—our nation’s highest civilian award.Standing to salute the elderly Airmen in attendance, the President and Commander-in-Chief emotionally said that he hoped his gesture would atone for “all the unreturned salutes and unforgivable indignities” that they had to endure.

Thanks to research by award-winning journalism legend Regis D. Bobonis Sr., a small group of local Tuskegee Airmen has been located. Mr. Bobonis serves as a trustee for the Tuskegee Airmen Memorial of Greater Pittsburgh, which is currently erecting a permanent memorial to the Airmen in Sewickley, PA. Among other Pittsburgh notables, Steelers great and NFL Hall of Famer Franco Harris serves as Honorary Chair of the Memorial project.
Proposed Tuskegee Airmen Memorial in Sewickley, PA
The Tuskegee Airmen of Greater Pittsburgh Oral History Recording Project is a value added effort in support of the Memorial and future educational projects by The Tuskegee Airmen Memorial of Greater Pittsburgh, Inc. The primary objective of this new oral history recording project is to gather and preserve the Airmen’s stories. “As the official audiographer, we are extremely honored to be a part of this historic effort,” said Kevin Farkas, founder and director of The Social Voice Project. “Our mission is tributary, as well as educational. We owe a debt of gratitude and respect to these Airmen. It’s our privilege to record and preserve their voices as part of our local and national heritage. Their remarkable stories give us insight into their courage, patriotism, and sacrifices.All Americans, especially our younger generations, should know the Tuskegee Airmen’s story.”The recording project is also part of The Social Voice Project’s nonprofit Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Initiative, which invites all local veterans to share and preserve their life stories.

“The Social Voice Project is providing us with the technical expertise and highest quality resources to record and fully document these invaluable oral histories,” said Mr. Bobonis.“We want to archive these stories for historical and research purposes, but we also want to capture them with the highest quality recording standards—something most oral history projects overlook. This will enrich the listening experience, inspire the imagination, and warm the heart.”
For more information about The Tuskegee Airmen of Greater Pittsburgh Oral History Recording Project, contact Regis D. Bobonis, Sr. or Kevin Farkas. Educators and classroom teachers are encouraged to learn more about us.Please repost this news release.

Regis D. Bobonis, Sr.
The Tuskegee Airmen Memorial

Kevin Farkas
The Social Voice Project®


AUGUST 28, 2011


PITTSBURGH, PA – The Social Voice Project (TSVP) is an educational non-profit organization specializing in high-definition archival and creative audio recordings of people’s life stories.  TSVP wants to reach out to local humanities and social science teachers to promote and celebrate the art and science of personal narratives and oral historiography. 
Life stories are personal histories—unique accounts of lived experience.  Educators across disciplines have long understood the pedagogical usefulness of first-person narratives, and their instructional use has been effectively applied at all levels—from elementary to graduate school.  Teachers often use such stories as starting points toward creating and understanding what is sometimes referred to as authentic texts.  Such expressions can range from the typical “what I did on my summer vacation” writing assignment to a structured interview with a local WW II veteran.
“We often celebrate the larger, more heroic stories of our time,” said Kevin Farkas, TSVP’s founder and director.   “Exciting war stories and tales of heroic bravery on 9/11 grab our attention; we tend think that these are the only stories worth telling and listening to.  However, we should not ignore the teaching and learning potential hidden within everyday life experiences.  We learn from these stories, too—not only historical facts, but also about social memory, language, and the act of storytelling itself.” 
The Social Voice Project is seeking a wide range of public and private educational relationships to develop and promote opportunities for capturing, archiving, and celebrating oral histories in the Beaver County area.  We offer technical support, instructional assistance, and curricular advisement to educators who want to do something new and innovative with the oral history genre, while fulfilling necessary district and state educational standards.  
TSVP is committed to helping educators learn how to bring out the best in everyday storytelling and to enhance the listening experience—to make it interesting, enjoyable, and compelling by adding technical editing with creative audio enhancements such as scoring and sound effects.  We help teachers and students experiences oral histories in new ways.
The Social Voice project is interested in talking with teachers in elementary, secondary, and post-secondary settings.  Relevant disciplines include language arts, literacy/reading development, composition, language/rhetorical studies, social studies, history, historiography, communications studies, journalism, anthropology, sociology, psychology, and cultural studies.  

If you are interested in attending a local oral history workshop leading toward
TSVP’s Oral History Educator Certificate, please contact TSVP for details.

TSVP | 412-423-8034 | |

About: Kevin Farkas is TSVP’s founder, audiographer, and first Director. He is a former university educator who has taught in New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and the Navajo Reservation.  He has a background in language, rhetoric, composition, teacher education, and curriculum & instruction.

The Social Voice Project does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or religion.

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AUGUST 18, 2011


PITTSBURGH, PA – The Social Voice Project, a nonprofit education organization that specializes in creative audio recordings, wants to give veterans a chance to tell their stories.  Now those who have served in all branches of the military—in war and peacetime—can leave a legacy of their experiences for family, friends, fellow citizens, and future generations.  The project is part of TSVPs expanding Veteran Voices Initiative. 
“This is rare opportunity to give local veterans a chance to document, preserve, and share their experiences and opinions in their own words,” said Kevin Farkas, founder of The Social Voice Project and a US Navy veteran.  “If they’re not considered war heroes, too many vets believe that their stories of national service aren’t worth sharing.  Oftentimes, veterans think that no one wants to hear about their experience—about what was like to step up and take an oath to defend the people and the Constitution of the United States. Every military man and woman takes on that awesome responsibility, and that’s worth recognizing. Those stories can teach us a lot about who we are as Americans.”
 A story not listened to is a story not heard.  So, our commitment is to bring out the best in everyday storytelling and to enhance the listening experience--to make it interesting, enjoyable, and compelling.   Our approach is to artfully and respectfully combine technical editing with creative audio enhancements such as scoring and sound effects.  We approach each person’s story on its own terms; we let it take us where it needs to go—emotionally and psychologically.  We just open up that path for others to experience.

TSVP abides by ethical standards and best practices as set forth by the Oral History Association.  The Veteran Voices Initiative seeks to capture and preserve stories for the broader historical record, and unedited versions of all recordings are preserved for scholarly research.  “We always preserve complete interviews for archival purposes,” said Farkas.  “However, we also want to share these voices with wider audiences.  And that is what’s interesting about The Social Voice Project.  We have the ability to apply creative audio editing and techniques rarely associated with oral histories.  We turn what most people think of as ordinary stories into extraordinary listening experiences.”   
TSVP’s latest veterans’ related audio release will be available September 1, 2011: Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh: Lighthouse Point.  This is an audio collection of the experiences of several World War II era veterans from the Pittsburgh area.  Listen to samples on the Veteran Voices Page at

WHO: All war and peacetime Veterans are encouraged to participate.
WHEN:  Immediate availability. 
WHERE:  Conditions permitting, on-site recording is available throughout the tri-state and Pittsburgh area.        
We especially encourage sponsorship and cooperation with veterans organizations (VFW Posts, American Legion Posts, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapters), Veterans Administration and social service agencies, armed forces support organizations, historical societies, libraries, university departments, scouting organizations and Eagle Scout projects, high school history faculty and students, retirement communities, hospitals, media organizations (radio and web broadcasters, print, television) and others who have an interest in recognizing the experiences of veterans, especially those who served in World War II. No project is too small.

To discuss participating in the project:
Contact: Kevin Farkas
Phone: 412-423-8034



AUGUST 17, 2011


PITTSBURGH, PA – As part of its ongoing Veteran Voices Initiative, this audio project continues The Social Voice Project’s mission to capture, archive, and share the experiences of local veterans.  This is TSVP’s second recording of World War II veteran stories.
Eight World War II veterans (residents of Lighthouse Pointe independent living community in Pittsburgh, PA) tell their personal stories of military training, combat, and the home front during the war years.  They served on land, sea, and air in both the European and Pacific theaters. 
Tom Brokaw called theirs “the greatest generation,” but nearly one thousand of these elderly veterans die each day while never having the chance to tell their stories of sacrifice and bravery in defense of this country.    
Ø  We started out in the A20 [attack bomber] and I had the upper turret and the other gunner fired through a hole in the floor.  They were using the A26 (attack bomber) in the Pacific campaign and then they brought them over to Europe [for us] and it was like going from a Tin Lizzy to a Cadillac. —Chuck Kelley, Army Air Corps
Ø  I was older and they called me ‘Pap’ because I was twenty-three and we had kids as young as sixteen with us . . . Marine boot camp was tough!  They’d call you skin head and they’d make you feel like you knew nothing.  Those platoon sergeants, they were tough. I remember one boy, he’d wet the bed and they made him sleep with his rifle and they had the fire guards come in every hour and wake him up and take him to the head. —Francis X. Burket, USMC
Ø  I never thought about it at all, about getting shot.  You always figure in the back of your mind—or maybe you put it back there, I don’t know—but it didn’t seem to bother many guys.  We were shot at.  I think there were four airplanes we shot down.  There’d be Japs coming right toward the ship and we were able to hit them before they hit into us. —Herbert Goetz, US Navy
Ø  I’ll tell you, I’m not sorry I was gone[from home].  I’m not sorry about what I went through.  But I pray that this younger generation doesn’t have to do what we did.  War is Hell, and believe me it is.  Everything is a loss, nothing is gained.  We won the war, but does anyone think of visiting the VA [hospitals]?  There are men there who have been laying there for years and years.  Nobody visits them. Nobody cares about them anymore.  That’s what I mean, that’s loss. —Robert Riethmiller, US Army
This audio recording would be of interest to community radio broadcasters, web-editions of newspapers, history teachers & students, historical societies, librarians, veterans groups, World War II enthusiasts, and others interested in first-hand accounts of this era. 
The complete audio recording is available from TSVP as a CD or via digital mp3 upload.  Installments for syndication on broadcast radio, web radio, and for website podcasting are also available.  Contact TSVP now for details. 

TITLE: Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh: Lighthouse Pointe
RELEASE DATE: September 1, 2011
GENRE: oral history/creative audio
LENGTH: ~120:00
FORMATS: compact disk, digital mp3 files, online streaming
AVAILABILITY: Complete or installments via syndication
COST: Free ($10 donation suggested—proceeds support future projects)

CONTACT: Kevin Farkas, TSVP Director
PHONE: 412-423-8034