In honor of Veterans Day 2015, we are compiling a list of photos, videos, stories and resources to explore the experience of "the ex G.I.s who has gone to war as boys and came home as men," and made Vanport their home.

Portland State University started as Vanport Extension Center in 1946. Check out the wonderful online exhibit : "In 1946, the Oregon State System of Higher Education launched an extension program in Vanport.  It was intended to run for a limited time, primarily to serve returning WWII veterans and their families.  Its operations were cut short by flooding in 1948, but the Vanport Extension Center, immediately known as Vanport College to its faculty and students, later relocated to downtown Portland and grew into Portland State, now Oregon's largest university." 

In a letter to the Oregonian in 2013, Joan Eyer remembers her father, John H. Eyer, former army engineer staff sergeant, attending Vanport Center College by day and working a graveyard shift by night. The Eyer family was featured in the June 27, 1946 Oregonian.

 

 

A veteran and his wife look at plans and dream about their future together in their new home financed by a GI Bill loan. (Oregon State Archive image, Folder 14, Box 37, Defense Council Records)
This 1947 promotional video for  the Vanport Extension Center talks about the "ex G.I.s who has gone to war as boys and came home as men." Many returning veterans married after the war and started families. Recognizing the special needs of the targeted student body, the availability of family unit housing as well as other family-related resources were a strong focus on Vanport's outreach.
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In this great article from 2006 in occasion of Portland State University 60th anniversary, Lisa Loving interviewed, among others, Capt. John Hakanson. He attended Vanport College thanks to the G.I. Bill, after serving in New Guinea, the Philippine Islands, and Japan.

 

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