HomeWorld War II: An African-American Oral History

World War II: An African-American Oral History


On April 5, 2012, the University of Kansas Libraries and the Dole Institute of Politics hosted a panel featuring African American veterans from Kansas and Missouri who shared their personal experiences and discussed the effect World War II had on their lives. This event was one of three programs in the series Fighting for America:  Black Soldiers, the Unsung Heroes of WWII, made possible by the generosity of KU Professor Emerita Sandra Gautt.

The panel was moderated by Deborah Dandridge, the field archivist/curator for the African American Experience Collections within the Kenneth Spencer Research Library.

Panelists included: Mr. Robert Reed of Lawrence, KS; Mr. John Adams of Kansas City, KS; Major Harvey Bayless of Overland Park, KS; Mr. Charles S. Ellington of Kansas City, KS; Master Sergeant Harry L. Gumby of Grandview, MO; Mr. William Tarlton of Topeka, KS; and Mr. U.L. “Rip” Gooch of Wichita, KS.


  • Bill Lacy 0:00
  • Lorraine Haricombe 1:16
  • Deborah Dandridge  4:10
  • Leroy Rolfe 11:00
  • Merrill R. Ross 14:50
  • Frederick C. Temple 17:01
  • Harry Gumby 21:02
  • Harvey A. Bayless 25:19
  • John H. Adams 27:34
  • Charles Ellington 29:27
  • William Tarlton Jr. 31:28
  • Robert E. Reed 34:06
  • U.L. Gooch 36:26
  • Questions from the audience 40:31

Watch the three-part series Fighting for America:  Black Soldiers, the Unsung Heroes of WWII.

This World War II oral history project is sponsored in part by the Sandra Gautt KU Endowment Fund, which Professor Emerita Gautt established to honor her father, Sgt. Thaddeus A. Whayne, a member of the Tuskegee Airmen unit. It is part of the ongoing efforts of the African American Experience Collections to document life in the Kansas region.