PROVO, Utah — Robert Freeman has heard or read the accounts of numerous veterans who served in World War II.
There is one he won't soon forget.
He was sitting in his BYU office one day when he received a call from someone who identified himself as Elder L. Tom Perry, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
"Brother Freeman, would you like to hear a story or two of mine from the war?" Elder Perry said.
Freeman was almost speechless for a moment, then recovered and replied that would be great. The BYU professor was disappointed about one thing.
"Of course I didn't have a recorder," he told the hundred or so gathered at BYU Education Week. "Elder Perry was wonderful to share those stories."
The phone call was one of many stories Freeman shared during his BYU Education Week presentation, titled "Latter-day Saints in Wartime: World War II," on Wednesday.
Freeman, a professor of church history and doctrine, is the director of a project called "Saints at War." The project is dedicated to preserving the legacy of Latter-day Saint service in various military conflicts from 1830 to the present day.
Countless accounts have been collected and published since the project was initiated in 1999. Another WWII veteran submitted his personal account after Wednesday's class.
"He considered it an honor to provide his sacred writings, and we were honored to get it," Freeman said.
During the presentation, Freeman recapped the war by telling stories of LDS servicemen using journals, photos and other visual aids. He displayed a sacrament water cup and bread tray used by LDS servicemen during the war.
A picture showing Elder Boyd K. Packer's serviceman copy of the Book of Mormon open to Alma 5 where the words "Are you ready to die?" were written in large red and black letters at the top of the page.
"It was obviously a time when Elder Packer came to know his Savior," Freeman said.
In addition to Elder Packer and Elder Perry, the late Elder David B. Haight also served in World War II.
During the war, LDS soldiers often painted LDS terminology or symbls on the sides of jeeps or aircraft.
There were also two ships named after LDS prophets, namely the U.S.S. Jospeh Smith and the U.S.S. Brigham Young.
"They were notable Americans," Freeman said. "The U.S.S. Joseph Smith did not survive the war, the Brigham Young did."
Freeman concluded his remarks by calling for more accounts to be recorded and submitted. For more information visit www.saintsatwar.org or call Freeman at 801-422-2484. He said its important to remember and preserve these histories. He welcomes information from Civil War through present-day conflicts.
"About 1,100 World War II veterans die each day," Freeman said. "It's sort of a 'speak now or forever hold your testimony' moment."
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