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Volunteer Spotlight - Andrew Layton (August 2005)

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"I have chosen to tell the stories of a few of these men, all natives of Michigan, who distinguished themselves in the air during a time of war. I have gotten to know many of them while working on this project, and I have greatly enjoyed hearing their stories firsthand. It is my goal to record these accounts of history so that others may have the opportunity to be as inspired by them as I was."

-- Andrew Layton

Andrew (Andy) Layton is an extraordinary 16-year-old student who has dedicated much of his young life to record the first-hand recollections of U.S. war veterans for the Library of Congress Veterans History Project (VHP), thus ensuring that the personal stories of these national heroes are preserved for current and future generations. "Andy has always had a love of history, military, and WWII era pilots. Being home schooled, volunteering to record interviews for the Library of Congress Veterans History Project is an opportunity for him to get out of the house and be involved in his community," said Amy Layton, Andy's mother.

Andy also works behind the scenes to show others how to conduct interviews and to provide technical support to youth video producers. The interview and documentary videos he helps create are used as oral history training tools at museums, Veterans' and Memorial Day programs, and state and national veteran conventions. Additionally, he recently published his first book, Wolverines in the Sky, which is an historical account of the work of Michigan fighter aces during WWI, WWII, and Korea. Barnes & Noble Booksellers invited Andy to sign his book at a Battle Creek location in May 2005.

Andy conducts most of his interviews at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) in Battle Creek. Nancy Babcock, a voluntary specialist intern for the VAMC said, "Andy is a role model for all young people. We're all so very proud of him, not only for his personal achievements, but for his dedication to others. His mission is clear - to honor our nation's war veterans, and he works tirelessly to reach out to these American heroes."

Disabled American Veterans (DAV) will award Andy with the 2005 Jesse Brown Memorial Youth Scholarship during the DAV Annual Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada in August 2005.

Andy lives by example. He encourages other young Americans to support their local communities through volunteer work, and he invites others to record veterans' stories for VHP.

Image: Andrew Layton

Image: Wolverines in the Sky by Andrew Layton
Excerpt from Layton's book Wolverines in the Sky:
"In order to be called a fighter ace, one is required to shoot down five enemy aircraft in aerial combat. As simple as it sounds, this is probably the most difficult title for a member of the armed forces to earn. So difficult in fact, that the number of American four-star generals and admirals outnumbers that of fighter aces. Only 1,432 men have ever achieved this feat, and even fewer have actually survived combat to tell about it. Of this handful of aviators, a remarkable 56 of them hail from within the borders of the state of Michigan."

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  August 10, 2010
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