715-392-7151
Stuffie Boot Camp

Stuffie Boot Camp

We are excited to host our first ever Stuffie Boot Camp on March 30th.

This boot camp is designed specifically to be a fun and educational event for children Pre-K through third grade or for anyone who has a stuffed animal! On March 30th for $10 kids will have the opportunity to enlist their favorite stuffie into the Stuffy Bong Center Boot Camp. On the afternoon of March 30th kids will enlist their stuffie into the Stuffie Bong Military to train in boot camp. After drop off, the stuffie will be put through an experience like no other. Special activities include the popsicle stick wall climb, twizzler crawl, donut tire flip, and the grueling fruit by the foot rope climb.

The following day, March 31st, stuffie owners will return to the museum to pick up your precious friend. You will also receive a customized dog tag for you and your lovie, free museum admission to see the activities your animal experienced along discharge papers full with photos and a report of their activities.

Cost of the event is $10.00 per stuffie.
Enlistment: March 30, 3:00 -7:00 p.m.
PIck-up: March 31 9:00 a.m. – Noon

Register your stuffie here or call 715-392-7151.

About the Center
The Mission of the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center is to preserve and honor the memory of Major Bong and all veterans of World War II as well as subsequent conflicts and to provide educational resources for the Twin Ports area community and beyond.

Hugging This Rock-Program

Hugging This Rock-Program

The Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center is pleased to host former F-16 fighter pilot Eric Chandler who will present readings from his newest book, Hugging this Rock.

In a new collection of poetry about life and war as a pilot, parent, and outdoor sports enthusiast, Northeastern Minnesota author Eric “Shmo” Chandler delivers plenty in laughs and love—of family, of country, and of navigating one’s place in the world. Whether soaring at 40,000 feet, or carefully considering the flowers he encounters by the trail, his words are rich with insight and humor.

Chandler is a two-time winner of the Col. Darron L. Wright Memorial Writing Award administered by the on-line literary journal Line of Advance. He is a member of the Lake Superior Writers organization, the Outdoor Writers Association of America, and the Military Writers Guild.

A 1989 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Chandler retired after a 24-year military flying career with the U.S. Air Force and the Minnesota Air National Guard. He is a veteran with three deployments to Saudi Arabia for Operation Southern Watch; three deployments to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom; and one to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom. He flew over 3,000 hours and 145 combat sorties in the F-16.

Copies of Hugging This Rock are on sale now at the Centers gift shop.

The program will take place on March 1st at 6:30 p.m. at the Richard I Bong Veterans Historical Center in Superior, Wisconsin. Refreshments will be served.

About the Center:
The Mission of the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center is to preserve and honor the memory of Major Bong and all veterans of World War II as well as subsequent conflicts and to provide educational resources for the Twin Ports area community and beyond.

 

Remembering Tuscania

Remembering Tuscania

By Clyde Annala

When troops of Wisconsin’s 32nd Infantry Division boarded the Anchor Line’s steamer Tuscania they may have felt fortunate to draw passage on such a new vessel.  Tuscania was only a few years old, built in 1914 at the Alexander Stephen and Sons Ltd shipyard in Glasgow, Scotland.  It was a 567-foot, twin screw, transatlantic passenger ship that accommodated 271 first class, 246 second class, and 1,900 third class passengers.

Refitted as a troop carrier, Tuscania left Hoboken, New Jersey on January 24, 1918 headed for Le Havre, France.  On board were the ship’s crew and 2,013 soldiers of the American Expeditionary Force.

The Tuscania joined other merchant vessels and a destroyer escort at Halifax, Nova Scotia.  The group sailed for Europe as convoy HX20. The soldiers Tuscania carried were from the 100th Aero Squadron, 158th Aero Squadron, 263rd Aero Squadron, 20th Engineers, 357th Infantry, 165th Depot, 107th M.P., 107th Engineer Train, 107th Supply Train, and the 32nd Infantry Division composed of National Guard units from Wisconsin and Michigan.  The troops quickly learned Tuscania was no pleasure cruise.  The ship was crowded, the food terrible, and the days monotonous.  Most were overjoyed to see the coast of Ireland and Scotland on the horizon.

On February 5, 1918 the convoy was spotted by German submarine UB-77.  At 5:40 P.M., under the cover of darkness, the submarine’s captain Lt. Commander Wilhelm Meyer fired two torpedoes at Tuscania.  The second is a miss, but the first torpedo scores a direct hit.  Tuscania begins sinking and abandon ship is ordered.  By 7:00 P.M. all available lifeboats had been launched with 1,350 men still on board.  There was no panic, and the soldiers maintained good order as destroyer escorts continued to rescue those left on the stricken ship.  Rescue was difficult, the effort hampered by darkness, heavy seas, and the UB-77 still lingering in the area.  At 10:00 P.M. Tuscania sank, bow first, into the Irish sea seven miles north of Rathlin Island lighthouse (Northern Ireland).  Two-hundred-thirty men died with her.

Tuscania is the first American troop ship in World War One to be sunk by a German submarine, and the only one to be lost while under destroyer escort.  Most of the 32nd Infantry Division soldiers survived the sinking.  They were from cities and towns across Wisconsin including men from the Twin Ports; Edward James Paulus, A.F. Schmidt, C.P. Revell, Joseph Devine, Herschel Bird, and Steven Hugh Thorson.

Twenty-one of the survivors were from Baraboo, Wisconsin.  Known as “Baraboo’s 21,” that city plans to memorialize the survivors with a bronze relief sculpture to be placed in Baraboo’s Mary Rountree Evans Park on November 10, 2018.  This is the same day the United States will dedicate a National World War One memorial in Washington, D.C.

On Islay Island Scotland, where many of the Tuscania dead washed ashore, there has been an American cemetery and memorial for many years.  The memorial includes these words:

“On Fame’s Eternal camping ground

Their silent tents are spread

While Glory keeps with solemn round

The bivouac of the dead”

Center Awarded Two Grants!

Center Awarded Two Grants!

The Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center in Superior, Wisconsin is pleased to announce that it has been awarded two grants totaling $30,000.

The first is a $20,000 grant to upgrade the audio/visual equipment at the Center. The Center was built 15 years ago and at the time, installed state of the art video kiosks and a movie theater. “With the changes in technology in the last 15 years, we need to make an upgrade.” said Hayes Scriven, Executive Director for the Center. He continues, “We are using the same equipment that we were using when we opened and a lot of it is past its useful life. It is costing us too much in maintenance to continue using them.” To complete the project the Center is going to use a cash match that was obtained at its annual fundraising auction in November. Those funds will be used to contract with local videographers to update the current videos and create new ones. “The new videos will better tell veterans stories and give people a more immersive experience when they visit us.” said Scriven.

The second grant, which was awarded by multiple funds from the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation for $10,000, will expand the Center’s youth programs. This grant will create multiple new “traveling trunks” that can be utilized by area schools and create a “Jr. Curator Program.” John Gidley, the Center’s Education and Outreach Coordinator stated, “The new trunks will be an extension of our field trip program here at the Center. We will create new trunks on a wide variety of subjects that classes can utilize in their classroom to tell veterans stories.” With this grant, the Center will also be creating a Jr. Curator program. This program will engage 20 students that are entering 8th grade. The students will work in pairs at the Center for a week at a time. During the week, students will learn how a museum operates by working with primary resources and researching in a library. The main project will be to conduct an oral history with a veteran and create a display that will be up for the summer in the museum gallery. Scriven said, “This is a very similar program that I had at my previous job. It really engaged the students and got them excited about history. I am excited about developing the program here and connecting students with area veterans in helping document our community history.” Currently the Center is targeting to partner with the Superior School District, but if all goes well, the program will expand in to the Duluth School District.

About the Center
The Mission of the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center is to preserve and honor the memory of Major Bong and all veterans of World War II as well as subsequent conflicts and to provide educational resources for the Twin Ports area community and beyond.

Remember Pearl Harbor

Remember Pearl Harbor

Today we remember and honor all those who served and gave their lives in the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. One of those who served was Leo Kempton of Superior, Wisconsin, a Radioman 1st Class with the U.S. Navy. He was on duty the morning the Japanese attacked. In a handwritten letter he said,

“I was a 20 year old RM3c, USN. I was stationed at the U.S. Navy Radio Station, Wailupe, Oahu. My duty hours on that date were from 8am to 4pm. My assignment was to man the sending circuit to Navy Radio Washington. Therefore, it fell upon me to relay [this] message,
“Air Raid on Pearl Harbor. This is no drill”
that came over the landline from Admiral Kimmel’s headquarters. The actual sending of the message and obtaining a proper receipt should have taken but a minute or two, but because of the incredulity of the crew in Washington it actually took 20 to 30 minutes. They repeatedly asked me to slow down …and repeat the message.”

After the attack, the words “Remember Pearl Harbor” served as a rallying cry across the country. Today we use it to remember the bravery and sacrifice of everyone involved on that infamous day.

Bong Center Collects Gifts for Veterans

Bong Center Collects Gifts for Veterans

In the spirit of the Holiday Season, The Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center, the Bong Book Club, Richard I. Bong American Legion Auxiliary, and the Richard I. Bong American Legion Post #435 are once again looking for donations for the Silver Bay (MN) Veterans Home.

The program started 12 years ago to bring some holiday cheer to area veterans. Hope Swenson, Bong Center Volunteer said “The donation program started as an outreach program from the Bong Book Club and has grown from there.” She continues “It has continued to be well received by the community.”

Ward Wallin, Silver Bay Veterans Home Volunteer Program Administrator states, “Each year the residents of the Silver Bay Veterans Home are very grateful for the donations provided by the many volunteers and staff at the Bong Center. We have enjoyed a great working relationship over the years and your dedication to our nation’s heroes has been outstanding.”

Bring donations to the Center by December 18th and place them in the box located in the lobby. The gifts should be unwrapped, and you may include your name on the gift or donate anonymously. Suggested gift items include; shaving and other personal care supplies, blankets, socks, t-shirts, sweatpants, stationery items, stamps, books, magazines, and DVDs.

The Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center
The Mission of the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center is to preserve and honor the memory of Major Bong and all veterans of World War II as well as subsequent conflicts and to provide educational resources for the Twin Ports area community and beyond.