Oral History

Roger Shortt Interview

Interviewee: Roger Shortt
Interviewer: Kayla Orr
Floyd County, Virginia

Various oral history recording media and period resources

  • 22-page transcript
  • 64-min. audio
  • candid photos
  • interview video
  • catalog record
  • transcript logs
  • student short film, “V-ShorttRoger-2011-Bridges”
  • published WWII DVD set, “From the Front Porch to the Front Lines”

Roger Shortt describes his WWII service in detail as well as life at home. He and four brothers worked the family farm with their father on Thomas Farm Road until all five were drafted into the Army. Classified as a rigger, learning the use of ropes, pulleys, and block and tackle, instead, he was put to work in France and Germany on road and bridge repair. First assigned to the 239th Anti-Aircraft Artillery, Shortt was reassigned to the 1280th Engineer Combat Battalion.  Among other duties, his unit built a temporary pontoon bridge across the Rhine so that heavy equipment could be moved back to France.  They were trucked to France and to await transport ships to take them to the Pacific Theater when the Japanese surrendered.  Shortt describes the jubilant scene when learning that the war was over.  He discusses the rigors of training, ocean travel during the war, early years on the family farm, and how being in service “will make you respect life a whole lot more.”

farm, train, ship, rigger, cots, bridges, pontoon, radio. training camps, rifle, machine gun, flat-bottomed boats, treadway, anchor, letters, homesick, censored, Purple Heart, ribbons, map, D-Day, ropes, pulleys, engineers, search light operator, wheat, corn, buckwheat, pinto beans, huckster, mill, A-Model Ford, parades, sawmill, powder, C-rations, potatoes, canned, Army, kitchen patrol, KP, boot camp, block and tackle
Bio Sketch

Roger Shortt (1925-2019) was one of five brothers from the County Line community drafted into the Army during World War II.  Roger was born in Floyd County, Virginia, on January 7, 1925, to Amos Benjamin and Callie Barton Shortt. Roger was a 1943 graduate of Floyd High School and served in the United States Army Combat Engineers Division from 1943 to 1946 in England, Germany, and France. He was employed by General Electric for 30 years and was a member of Little River Baptist Church where he served as Deacon and Superintendent of Sunday School. Roger shared 70 years of marriage with his wife and partner, Margie Sweeney Shortt.


The WWII-era interview series was directed by the Floyd Story Center at the Old Church Gallery, where the complete archives are held. The project was guided by a collaborative community-university-public school partnership with Radford University Anthropology professor Dr. Melinda Bollar Wagner. Roger Shortt’s WWII-era interview was conducted by members of the Roots with Wings project at Floyd County High School. The nine-year WWII series, 2007-2015, was compiled into a DVD set and biographical booklet with thirty-eight student films. Roger and Margie Shortt were also interviewed in 2002 for our Little River, placed-based oral history series. Generations will be enriched by the recordings of all who shared their memories. Thank you all.