A story on Emmett resident Janie Dresser Schaut, who has interviewed more than 500 veterans and recorded their stories, appears in the May issue of The American Legion Magazine.
Schaut served as a nurse with the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. Her second cousin, Lawrence Dresser, was killed in World War I. American Legion Post 49 in Emmett is named after him.
Besides her personal interviews, Schaut has collected diaries, letters and photos from the families of 1,500 deceased military service members.
Her interest was sparked as a 16-year-old girl when she read an account of the capture of U.S. nurses during the Japanese invasion of the Philippines. Her memory of what those women went through, she told the magazine, gave her the courage to complete her nursing training at the Saint Alphonsus Hospital School of Nursing in Boise, where only 14 students in her class of 43 graduated.
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“Every time I thought about quitting, I thought of those nurses on Bataan,” she told the magazine. “I knew nothing could be as bad as what they went through.”
She began compiling information about veterans from Gem County in about 2004 after she was contacted by Jim Olson, then the Emmett post commander, seeking information on Dresser. That led her on a journey to discover information on every other county veteran that she could, from Civil War soldiers to those who served following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
So far, she has collected more than 14,000 pages of biographies compiled in 74 volumes held at the Gem County Historical Museum in Emmett.
“She has done a wonderful job of compiling these family histories,” said lifelong Emmett resident Art Gratton. Schaut has compiled information on 15 members of the Gratton family who have served in the military since World War I.
Statesman reporter Anna Webb wrote a profile on Schaut in May 2011. View her story here.