Skip to NavSkip to Content

 
The University of Texas at Austin

Projects

Military History Institute - Program Scope

Although the seminal idea for the Military History Institute evolved in 1998, the Institute will officially launch in October 2006, and Dr. Hatfield will transition from Continuing Education to his role as Senior Research Fellow at the Center for American History in February 2007.

Year One Projects | Year Two Projects | Year Three Projects

Year One Projects:

  • Conduct program planning, grant writing, and other fundraising initiatives.

  • Conduct teacher focus groups to assist in the planning and creation of a D-Day symposium and on-site educational study of Normandy for classroom teachers.

  • Produce a video tool kit for classroom teachers and researchers in which Hatfield offers educators the chance to give their students a virtual tour of the beaches and battlefields of Normandy on D-Day. (Entails filming Hatfield on-site in Normandy, scripting, and producing the video tool kit.)

  • Lead a "Mighty Eighth" on-site educational study of U.S. Eighth Air Force bases in England for the purpose of:

    1. Soliciting financial support from a select group of seminar participants.
    2. Providing under the aegis of the Institute the first of many substantive continuing education opportunities that will preserve and disseminate the history of the Allied defeat of Nazi tyranny.

Participants will walk the runways of the "Mighty Eighth" that carried the war to the skies over Nazi Germany. They will listen back through time to the roar of Fortress and Liberator engines and feel the tension of young men climbing into cockpits and gun turrets, perhaps never to return. They will stroll through preserved control towers, noting original G.I. artwork on the walls, pause at churchyard markers, and hear villagers reminisce about the way it was during the war.

This study tour will examine the European air war and the growth of the "Mighty Eighth" from the vantage point of wartime airfields in East Anglia. Missions launched from these airfields were the formative experience for the U.S. Air Force. The air war over Europe was more important for the Air Force than Normandy was for the Army. The conflict was the first major test of American aspirations with air power, just as Valley Forge and Gettysburg had been for the Army. The experience produced a generation of leaders, operational doctrines, staff concepts, and fighting style that shaped the modern U.S. Air Force.

In helping to win the war, the "Mighty Eighth" also profoundly touched the British people. In East Anglia, some 130 airfields were compressed into an area about the size of Vermont. Many buildings on these airfields have been converted to museums and monuments by villagers eager to keep the memories alive. Some look much as they did during the war, while others are filled with collections of old uniforms, photographs, maps, and aircraft components. Church pews and school libraries contain books given by individual airmen, and pubs still echo with G.I. slang. Even today, returning Americans are heroes, and older folks still refer to the American fliers as "our boys."

  • Complete for Texas A&M Press the biography of D-Day hero and Texas A&M president James Earl Rudder. (author: Tom Hatfield)

  • Initiate a project to write and publish the memoir of Frank Denius, a key alumnus and benefactor of The University of Texas at Austin and one of the most highly decorated veterans of the Second World War. (author: Tom Hatfield)

  • Host a WWII lecture series (open to the public).

  • Host a public screening of the PBS documentary film, "Last Best Hope: A True Story of Escape, Evasion, and Remembrance," (a project supported by the CAH and the Military History Institute) and a corresponding Cooper Union photo exhibit, "Memories of Resistance."

  • Utilize student interns to analyze the current holdings of the CAH in order to

    1. identify and catalog existing sources of American military history research and
    2. create a bibliography that will enable researchers to quickly identify and locate those sources of information.

Year Two Projects:

  • Conduct a D-Day symposium for classroom teachers with a corresponding on-site educational study of the great battlefields of Normandy. Teachers will walk along Omaha and Utah Beaches, where American soldiers landed on D-Day and peer down the perilous cliffs of Pointe du Hoc where Rangers climbed up ropes to come face to face with their enemies. They will see the now famous church tower at Ste. Mère Eglise where paratroopers drifted to earth, tramp through hamlets where soldiers skirmished, envision the breakthrough of St. Lô and the breakout at Avranches, and view the ground of the Falaise encirclement. Finally, the teachers will feel the excitement of liberation upon entering Paris.

    This dramatic duel involved more than three million men of six nationalities fighting side by side–in the gray waters offshore, on the sand and rocks along the coast, across countless hedgerowed fields, through villages and towns, and alongside historic cathedrals and abbeys.
    This seminar tour will trace the Allied penetrations inland, reviewing significant military events, and recalling the fear and elation of the invading troops. The tour will pause at the magnificent and heart-rending American cemetery on the plateau above Omaha Beach. Along the route to Paris, the tour will visit cultural sites including the Bayeux Tapestry, the Abbaye aux Hommes (Abbey for Men) built by William the Conqueror, the Museum of Peace in Caen, the church at Coutances, the Mont St. Michel (one of the seven wonders of the world), the walled city of the Corsairs at St. Malo, Chartres Cathedral, and the picturesque Loire Valley Chateau Chenonceaux.

  • Plan the Institute's "Eastern Front" educational component (seminars and study tours of Auschwitz, Theresienstadt, the Warsaw Ghetto, and other key sites in Eastern Europe).

  • Plan the mechanism to train the Institute's next generation of military history mentors, lecturers, and on-site study tour leaders.

  • Continue initiatives begun in year one, including:

    • Conduct program planning, grant writing, and other fundraising initiatives.
    • Lead additional on-site studies of Pacific and European battlefields.
    • Host WWII lecture series (open to the public).
    • Utilize student interns to analyze the current holdings of the CAH in order to
      1. identify and catalog existing sources of American military history research and
      2. create a bibliography that will enable researchers to quickly identify and locate those sources of information.

Year Three Projects:

  • Conduct the Institute's Eastern Front educational component (seminars, lectures, and study tours).

  • Begin training the Institute's next generation of military history mentors, lecturers, and study tour leaders.

  • Continue initiatives begun in year two, including:

    • Conduct program planning, grant writing, and other fundraising initiatives.
    • Lead additional on-site studies of Pacific and European battlefields.
    • Host WWII lecture series (open to the public).
    • Utilize student interns to analyze the current holdings of the CAH in order to
      1. identify and catalog existing sources of American military history research and
      2. create a bibliography that will enable researchers to quickly identify and locate those sources of information.