By Heather Pilkington, Register Staff Writer
Gainesville Daily Register
Gainesville Middle School received a donation of a series of historical videos from a local World War II veteran and his wife.
Dr. Victor R. Durrance and his wife Dorothy (Dot) Durrance allotted their extensive collection of World War II documentaries to the middle school’s history department Monday.
Gainesville Middle School principal Terry Ashby and history teachers Lora Ridlehuber, Bridgie Summers, Brian Blasingame and Heather Holt welcomed the collection.
Ashby said that donations such as this are occasional, and very welcomed.
“The importance here is to highlight the Purple Heart recipient that took his time to come here and donate his collections of videos to our school,” Ashby said. “This is an honor for our campus.”
For the history department, the donation will be used as an educational tool.
“This is a pretty interesting donation,” Blasingame said. “Kids are visual more so than in the past. Anytime you can show them a video clip, it makes it real to them.”
During the spontaneous presentation,. Durrance and his wife spoke to a group of eighth grade students about the veteran’s time in the Air Force as a tail gunner.
“I joined the Air Force at 17 years old,” Durrance said.
He entered the Air Force as a private. While serving the United States as a member of the military, Durrance said, he spent time in the Pacific Theater bombing air strips in Japan —a service for which he received the Distinguished Flying Cross medal. Durrance and his bomber crew were shot down. After his plane landed in the ocean and Dr. Durrance made it into his raft, he was able to assist a fellow crew member who was critically injured. For this heroic action, he received a Soldier’s Medal. Prior to his exit from the armed forces, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant.
Durrance is the author of Boys at War: Recollections of Conflict, a book which he plans on also donating to the middle school after additional prints are made.
“Over time since my discharge, I have been collecting this series of videos so that my children could learn about World War II,” he said.
Durrance spent time as an educator at Texas Woman’s University teaching up-and-coming educators.
“I have always enjoyed history,” he said. “I donated the collection to the school so that they may teach this generation the history of our country (and) the sacrifices necessary to keep us free and protected, and why we serve a nation that has been prosperous and blessed in some ways.”