Veterans’ Hall names new program manager
St. Louis County Historical Society announced the appointment of a new Veterans’ Memorial Hall program manager. Harry Cottrell began his employment with the society May 2.
“It’s a privilege to be working with an organization that recognizes the contribution that veterans have made,” Cottrell said.
Cottrell is an Air Force veteran who attended college on the G.I. Bill and then began a professional career in management and administration of public, private and not-for-profit sectors, with over 20 years of experience in community and technical colleges including Lake Superior College.
He served in Vietnam, as well as Korea for four weeks during the Pueblo Incident in 1968, when the USS Pueblo, a Navy intelligence vessel, was captured while surveilling the coast of North Korea. The 83-man crew was held captive for 11 months. Cottrell said he was sent to Korea because of the incident, though he wasn’t directly involved.
Cottrell said of his new job, “I think the enjoyable thing is meeting people in the community and those involved with the organizations who have been collecting and preserving the stories of the veterans.”
The hall’s main mission is to collect stories from veterans from all the wars. For example, Albert Woolson, the last living veteran of the Civil War, gave an oral interview before he died in 1956. Cottrell was 10 years old and living in California at the time and remembers it because his grandfather passed away in the same month.
“It was a pretty big deal. I thought my grandpa was old at 83 or 84, but Woolson was 109,” Cottrell said.
Cottrell said he has listened to the interview Woolson gave two years before he died.
“It’s really great. The guy was as sharp as a tack at 107,” Cottrell said.
The hall also accepts artifacts like photos, scrapbooks, discharge papers and, of course, stories from local veterans in St. Louis County.
“Our whole emphasis with the veteran’s memorial hall is local veterans. It’s not the national or even statewide initiative, it’s really just this area and to honor the vets here,” Cottrell said.