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Keith Johnson, Deseret News
Miss Utah Jill Stevens (Shepherd) wears an American Legion hat and jokes around with Utah National Guard Staff Sgt. Kelly Collett, left, and Cadet Casey Staheli as she poses for a few photographs Jan. 25, 2008, prior to attending a black tie dinner the night before the Miss America Pageant in Las Vegas. Shepherd shares her military experience in "Saints at War: Inspiring Stories of Courage and Valor."

The Saints at War project started in 2000 with the purpose of gathering stories of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints serving their country during wartime. Since then, hundreds of accounts have been submitted and published in a series of books or recounted in video documentaries.

These stories not only honor the veterans' memory and legacy of service, they have also been a source of inspiration and strength to many Latter-day Saints, said Robert Freeman, author and director of the Saints at War project.

With that same goal in mind, Freeman has written "Saints at War: Inspiring Stories of Courage and Valor" (Cedar Fort, $18.99), which hits bookstores this month. Despite the terrible nature of war, these stories demonstrate the need for greater reliance on the Lord during troubling times, Freeman said.

"I believe that learning from those who have experienced and survived war, with all of its horrors, gives us the courage necessary to confront evil in our day," Freeman, a religion professor at Brigham Young University, wrote in the book's preface. "This is a legacy we all can benefit from regardless of our longevity in the church or the record of patriotic service in our own families."

Freeman continues to oversee the Saints at War project, and submissions are still welcome at Saintsatwar.com. Freeman is especially interested in stories from World War I.

"I can’t get over the resiliency of the Latter-day Saint veterans. How it is that they went through the rigors and battles … how they come back and resumed what we might term “normal lives” and carried on," Freeman said. "They become our Scoutmasters, our barbers and bishopric members. They have families. They have strong faith. I think that's a remarkable thing."

Between today and Memorial Day, Mormon Times is sharing five accounts from the stories found in "Saints at War: Inspiring Stories of Courage and Valor":

Gale Hammond, World War II, Army

Dr. Eldredge Wayne Stratford, World War II, Pacific, Navy

H. Burke Peterson, World War II, Navy

Jill Stevens Shepherd, Afghanistan, Army

Keith R. Willison, World War II, Navy

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