Department Chair

Andrew D. Nicholls, Ph.D., Professor of History

Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access

Degree Name

History, M.A.


History and Social Studies Education Department


Jean E. Richardson, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History

Department Home page

First Reader

Gary Marotta, Ph.D., Professor of History

Second Reader

York Norman, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of History


Buffalo, New York’s Citizen Soldiers: Personal Histories of Combat, Trauma, and Returning Home after the Second World War

This thesis focuses on interviews from nine World War Two veterans who are from Buffalo, New York and the immediate surrounding areas. Included are three infantry men from the European theatre, including one paratrooper. Three who served in the Pacific theatre, including one medical officer, a medic, and one man served in the occupation of Japan. The remaining three served in the Air Corps in Europe, one pilot, one bombardier, and one fighter pilot.

Through extensive interviews, both written and filmed, this work captures the experience of veterans that fought in World War Two. Servicemen from that era are dying at a steady rate everyday. Their experiences must be shared to better understand the psyche of the warrior, and what turns ordinary civilians into soldiers.

Furthermore, this work explores what attitudes, upbringings, or experiences, set the World War Two era veteran apart and why they are mythologized as the “Greatest Generation.” Details will be given about circumstances of enlistment, basic training, and through first hand accounts the reader will experience combat through the eyes of someone who survived. This study will further show how men formed bonds during combat. The attitude expressed by the men interviewed was that they fought for each other. The overarching objectives of the war were foreign; most did not even know Hitler’s Concentration Camps existed until after the war. They did not fight to preserve democracy; they fought for the man on either side of them. Elaboration will also be given on how each veteran reentered civilian life after the war.

Drew Lewandowski