More than 200 Syracuse-area Army National Guard soldiers have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001; across the state, that number exceeds 6,000.
In an effort to document their experiences, the New York Army National Guard this month launched the "Remember My History" project to collect and organize the personal stories of National Guard soldiers during their roles in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, and Operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn in Iraq.
The project is designed to gather detailed historic information for official Army National Guard records. Army National Guard members are being asked to contribute personal stories and photographs from their time overseas to the project, which when completed will provide all mobilized and deployed Guard Soldiers with a digital history of his unit's service.
Marine Ray Wentworth, Jr., a Corcoran High School graduate, served in different locations in the Middle East over a period of six years.
Projects like this, that highlight the individual's role and experience, can be valuable both in the healing process and the camaraderie between service men and women, Wentworth said.
He is studying political science at Le Moyne College, and said he often shares photos and stories of his time serving overseas.
"It's always a good thing to be able to have something there for veterans, whether they utilize it or they don't," Wentworth said of the project. He added that if a similar program were launched that he could contribute to, he definitely would participate.
Current and former National Guard soldiers called to active duty beginning in the winter of 2003 were e-mailed earlier this month and urged to contribute to the project. Photos and stories can be submitted online and in-person during project meetings planned throughout New York.
The project begins nearly seven years after the first NY Army National Guard units were called for Operation Iraqi Freedom during the winter of 2003.