Iowa Alumni Magazine | August 2001 | People

Remembering the Resistance

By Brian McGuire
Photo of Brian McGuire Brian McGuire, 67BA, served for 25 years as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Air Force. Now he's working to honor European civilians whose war effort helped Allied forces during the Second World War.

Growing up in the 1950s, Brian McGuire, 67BA, was fascinated with aviation and the Second World War. Now retired from the United States Air Force, he's combined those early interests with ongoing involvement with veterans' groups in an effort to preserve a part of the war's history.

At a June 2000 event honoring World War II veterans of the 8th Air Force, McGuire and other American personnel at England's Molesworth Royal Air Force base also recognized members of the Resistance forces of Holland, Belgium, and France.

Known to the Allied forces as helpers, these civilians risked their lives to hide, smuggle out of the country, and otherwise aid thousands of US airmen shot down over Europe between 1942 and 1945.

McGuire fears that the contributions of those Resistance members to the war effort will be forgotten if left unrecorded. With help from American reservist, journalist, and author Melissa Milich, McGuire hopes to interview as many surviving Resistance members as possible and transcribe their stories to the printed page in books and magazines. While McGuire searches for financial sponsorship for his undertaking, Milich has agreed to work as long as possible from her own funds. At this point, McGuire says, timing is critical.

"Each day, 1,100 to 1,200 World War II veterans die, and all have exceeded their life expectancy," he says.

"The same is true for the Resistance forces whose stories have gone untold. In three to five years it will probably be impossible to complete this project."

Facing a funding crunch, McGuire remains undaunted. "We have only a small window of opportunity," he says, "but we intend to capture the stories that will otherwise be lost."