Step down the hallway of the Young Group building and step into the lives of WWII veterans. Robert Senter’s Silver Star hangs on the wall while a 1943 foot locker sits on the floor filled with gear from the greatest generation’s journey across the pond.
There’s memorabilia from every branch of the service, including scrapbook pages of T/Sgt. William E. Andrews, the grandfather of Military Missions In Action Founder Mike Dorman.
The scrapbook pages document each of Andrews’ raids on a B24 crew until he was shot down and captured as a prisoner of war in April 1944.
“I didn’t even know about (the scrapbook pages) until after he passed away,” Dorman said. “A lot of people didn’t keep these things.”
Dorman found the molded and mildewed scrapbook pages and spent a month cleaning them to preserve his family’s history.
The most common weapons of the war hang in Dorman’s office, including the U.S. Army Rifle M1.
“That’s the one that won the war,” Senter said.
Senter, who was involved in five major battles during the war, has contributed a number of pieces to the collection, including a Purple Heart, sand from overseas and part of his uniform.
“That overcoat still has blood on it from the Battle of the Bulge,” he said.
Hanging on another wall are the Western Union telegrams from radio operators and messages from prison camps about Andrews and Harry Jolly, another local POW in the war. It could take more than a month for families to be informed of their loved one’s whereabouts.
Even the Army-censored Vmail messages that hang on display could take 45 days to get home. Those have since been replaced by email and families can receive letters immediately from their loved ones in harm’s way.
“People just don’t understand that it wasn’t instantaneous,” Dorman said.
He said it’s important to share history with the community and allow people to see the differences between then and now.
“I’m excited to do this,” Dorman said. “We don’t have many WWII veterans left and I’d like for them to see this.”
The display will be up through Feb. 1 for self-guided tours. MMIA is located in the Young Group office at 411-B North Judd Parkway, NE. The display is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, call MMIA at 919-552-1603.
Contact Kelly Griffith at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-552-5675.