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First Edition | The Comm | Summer 2012

 The Dream Begins

As a boy I would listen to my Dad, Uncles and Dad’s friends talk about their service in WWII.  My Dad was in the Navy from 1939 until 1945.  He was at Guadalcanal during some rough action.  These stories formed an interest that has grown ever since.  Over twenty five years ago I began to collect militaria, attend air shows and visit historical venues.  In June 2000 I was fortunate enough to join a group of dedicated Living Historians.  The name of that group is the 101st Airborne 502nd PIR (Parachute Infantry Regiment).  I was able to learn soldiering, participate in parades and veterans events.  I have had the pleasure of meeting hundreds of veterans from all eras and enjoyed their stories.

I grew up on the east side of Columbus, Ohio.  I attended Ohio Dominican College (now University) and graduated in 1978.  During college I worked for the Kroger Company.  I held many positions prior to going into management in 1980.   I was a store manager in London, Ohio when I retired after 37 years with company.  I enjoy meeting the public and customer satisfaction is still in my blood.  I am married to my wife Rita and I have a son Robby who has turned out to be a fine young man.

I have been working establishing a museum in the central Ohio area. I will continue to work on locating a site suitable to house a large collection.  This collection includes personal items from veterans such as; uniforms, helmets, books, letters, photos, painting, maps, documents, insignia and many other military items.  I am looking for a permanent location that can house and support growth.  I have made preserving and honoring our Armed Force Veterans a large part of my life.  Now that I am retired I am expanding my commitment.

 

Articles of Incorporation

 

I applied for my Articles of Incorporation from the state of Ohio on November 11, 2011.   One hundred years after the end of WWI.  I received my reply ten days later and I was officially The Central Ohio Military Museum (COMM).

501 (C) 3 Granted

I applied for 501 (C) 3 status and on June 25th it was granted

Dayton V.A. Patriot Freedom Festival

On Saturday 26 May 2012 the 101st AB 502nd Living History and the Central Ohio Military Museum (COMM) set up at the Dayton, Ohio Veterans Administration.  Captain Sullivan brought AC patches, airborne patches, D-Day items, Handie Talkie and knives.  Lt. Traphagan brought four uniforms of WWII veterans and several weapons.  1st Sgt. Busse brought his T-5, posters, 30 cal, bazooka with rocket, 60mm mortar, ammo crates, grenades and sand table.  Sgt. Fowler brought a WWII Marine display, Medics display and a uniformed shirt form complete with web gear.  The VA was opened from 1100 hours to 1700 hours.

We were located adjacent to the museum.  The Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts put flags on the graves to honor the veterans.  When they were done with posting the flags, we had a large number come through our display area.  We were able to do an Honor Guard and be present for the medal presentation ceremony for a WWII veteran who had not received his Bronze Star.  All the men present and the people watching shook his hand afterward.  By 1700 hours the crowd thinned and we broke down the displays and packed up the trailer.  By 1900 hours the trailer was packed and we all began the trip to our homes.

Poultry Festival – Versailles, Ohio 

This was the first time the 101st AB 502nd Living History and the COMM were asked to set up a display for the Festival in Versailles, Ohio on Friday June 9th.  The theme for their event was a Salute to the Veterans.  On Saturday we set up the sand table, a marker panel, the mortar, the camo netting and a 1942 GPW (jeep).  In the tent we had a weapons area, a display of infantry equipment, airborne equipment, uniforms on shirt forms (Army, Navy, Marines and Armor), a display case (with a map and edge weapons) and much more.  We rolled the sides of the tent up for air circulation.

The weather was great.  The organizers allowed us to set in the shade.  We were feet away from the school entrance where showers and rest rooms were available for our use.  We were able to wear our uniform jackets the entire two days.   Captain Sullivan, S/Sgt Drieling (who was a sailor), Pvt. Crumb, Pvt. Schneider and Pvt. Ben Parker were able to participate in the parade.  Kenny Adams brought over all his vehicles including the LCVP.   Lt. Bob Traphagan, 1st Sgt Harry Busse and Sgt Fowler stayed with the displays.  S/Sgt Drieling’s sister Diana Spitler was in her Red Cross dress manning her home front display adjacent to our tent.  Bernadette Crumb (in a 1940’s impression) set up with Diana.

 

On Sunday Captain Dennis Sullivan, Lt. Bob Traphagan, 1st Sgt Harry Busse, S/Sgt Doug Drieling, Sgt Fowler (son Ian) and Pvt. Joe Schneider made up the days roster. We were done by 0930 hours.  The weather was sunny but more humid.  We enjoyed a free cup coffee provided by the boosters and spent time talking about future events.

Today we would meet a WWII 502nd mortar man, S/Sgt Richard I. Wendelyn.  He was from Dayton, Ohio and his two daughters brought him.  We also met a 13th Air force vet, James Youngker.  He was from the Versailles area.  We spent most of the day talking to the public and enjoying the day.

Pictured (L to R) are Joe Schneider, Harry Busse, Richard Wendelyn, Bob Traphagan, Dennis Sullivan and kneeling is John Fowler.

 

At 1600 hours we left the area to help shoot part of a documentary for the Drieling family.  S/Sgt Drieling was the camera man and his sister Diana was the director.  We shot the scene at a downtown restaurant.  Sgt Fowler gave a French boy (Ian) a candy bar and received a kiss by a French woman (Bernadette).  He also checked the dog tags of a GI who escaped from the Germans.  Capt. Sullivan, Lt. Traphagan and 1st Sgt Busse were in the deuce and a half waiting to give the GI who escaped a ride back to the Allied HQ.  Pvt. Schneiderwas Sgt. Fowler’s jeep driver.

When we returned to the area it was time to break down.   At 1700 hours we broke down the displays, took down the tent and packed up our gear.   By 1830 hours we were on the road.

 Military Appreciation Day

On July 21st the men of the 101st AB 502nd Living History Team and the COMM set up their WWII displays at the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus, Ohio.  A full display of weapons, demolition items, bazookas, mortar, uniforms, patches, medics items were display for the time line event.  Inside the museum they had uniforms for all eras for the fighting men and women of OHIO!  We set up our GP Medium tent and a small canopy tent with an officer’s field display.

There were Civil War historians doing drill and bayonet practice.  The Civil War fife and drum corps played for the spectators and President Lincoln spoke to the crowd.  We all were able to visit the museum and the historical village.  Those who attend were Captain Dennis Sullivan, Lt. Bob Traphagan, 1st Sgt Harry Busse, Sgt John Fowler and son Ian.  Dick Kanoski helped set up on Friday evening.

Above (L to R) are the uniforms of brothers Cpl Luther Crabtree and Cpl Harold Crabtree.  They were both in the same company 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division, Dog Company.  They were both part of the invasion of Iwo Jima.  Luther made it through the entire campaign unhurt, but Harold was killed just 15 feet from Luther on 26 February 1945.