- Associated Press - Sunday, June 21, 2015

GREENFIELD, Ind. (AP) - Nearly 1,000 photographs of World War II veterans are the focus of a project designed to preserve the memory of Hancock County’s soldiers.

Greenfield employees are donating their time to scan the images that had long been stored in the basement of the Hancock County Memorial Building. They’ll be used on a website that will launch later this month.

The photographs were part of 14 shadow boxes, which were removed from the memorial building in 2013 and placed in a vault at city hall for safe keeping.

Dave Goodrich, the city’s webmaster and a volunteer for the project, said the photos and the stories behind them need to be preserved before the memories are lost.

“We have a unique opportunity with this we haven’t had with other veterans before,” he told the Daily Reporter (http://bit.ly/1Gjv5QM ).

Most of the pictures have a name and a date. Some - such as a photo of Ewing Shields, a Purple Heart recipient who died overseas in battle in 1943 - have a black name tag. That probably means they were killed in the war, Goodrich said.

Goodrich said he researched Shields and learned he was a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Forces and was killed Nov. 13, 1943. He is buried in Cambridge, England, according to the American Battle Monuments Commission.

The volunteers wear gloves and use a polished archivist spatula to avoid scratches. They take each photo out, label it with acid-free archival paper, scan its front and back, and store it in an envelope.

Jim Barnhart, a Greenfield resident who remembers what it was like to see his two older brothers go off to war, said he appreciates the efforts.

Barnhart recalled watching newsreels and thinking of his brothers, Bob and Bill.

“It’s not fun, I’ll tell ya,” Jim Barnhart said. “You worry about them. I’m grateful both of ours came back. Some of them didn’t.”

Volunteers say they don’t know who assembled the collection of photographs, but they’re already working on more ways to preserve them.

The first 140 photos will be launched online soon while volunteers continue to archive the remaining photos. Goodrich and volunteer Jim McWhinney say they hope to put the original 3-by-5 photos back in their original order and hang the display at city hall.

Goodrich said there also is talk about having the photographs professionally restored, but that could cost at least $20,000.

“If people can get a honeymoon paid for on (crowdfunding website) gofundme.com, I would think we could get this paid for,” he said. “But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

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Information from: (Greenfield) Daily Reporter, http://www.greenfieldreporter.com

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