Local veterans share experiences for Storyline tribute video

By Cheryl Allen
Posted 5/24/23

“My name is Paul Christen.   I was in the U.S. Air Force January 1962 to January of 1966,” he begins.   “I grew up in northeast Iowa, and I loved airplanes.   I had …

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Local veterans share experiences for Storyline tribute video


“My name is Paul Christen.  I was in the U.S. Air Force January 1962 to January of 1966,” he begins.  “I grew up in northeast Iowa, and I loved airplanes.  I had my pilot’s license three days after I graduated from high school.  I wanted to be an aircraft mechanic, so Air Force was the natural choice there.”

Christen was in the hotseat Friday morning, surrounded by cameras, lighting, and microphones at the LOFT inside the Kalona YMCA building, where Storyline Multimedia began capturing area military veterans sharing their service experiences.  The result will be a tribute video that will be shown before the firework shows on July 3 in Richmond and July 4 in Wellman.

John Choate, owner of Kalona-based Storyline Mulitmedia with wife Emily, came up with the idea for the tribute video, which he is producing in partnership with the cities of Kalona and Wellman at no cost to the municipalities.  

“My grandpa served in the Korean War, and he was really proud and talked about all of those stories,” Choate says between filming segments.  “I never was able to capture those because he passed away unexpectedly.”  

“I thought, there’s got to be other stories out there that we could capture that families would want to have,” he continues.  “So, we met with Ryan Schlabaugh and talked to him about this idea of capturing stories of people who served and giving the whole interview to the families, free of charge.”

Kalona’s City Administrator was enthusiastic when presented with the idea. 

“We’ve partnered [with Storyline Multimedia] before, and they just do a really good job,” Schlabaugh said.  “It was a no-brainer when he said they want to do it.”

The city helped Choate line up veterans willing to share their stories in front of the cameras.  Men and women of all ages agreed to take part, including a father and son, and a young woman currently on active duty.

For Christen, the experience of sharing his stories was a good one.

“[I felt] a little uptight in front of cameras,” he confessed, “But it was good.  I was able to give out a lot of what I have inside of me.”

He also admitted to procrastinating when it came to reviewing the questions he would be asked until the night before.

“I’m usually the guy that has to be prepared,” he chuckled.  “You know, [I did] aircraft maintenance for 50 years.  You don’t do anything without planning.”

For James Roth, a creative media specialist at Storyline Multimedia, listening to the veterans tell their stories was also a valuable experience.

“You always learn new things as long as you’re listening,” he said.  “The takeaway from this morning really is, there are a lot of jobs you don’t think about in the military.  And there’s a lot of things where people don’t get recognition or credit.”

“There are chefs, there are mechanics, there are the people who fuel the missiles, there are different things that people do,” he continued.  “When we think of the military, we always think of people on the front lines.  It’s fun to bring people in and be able to share a different side of the story.”

Look forward to viewing the finished video on July 3 in Richmond and July 4 in Wellman before the fireworks displays.