“THE CONCRETE BATTLESHIP” Fort Drum: Our Forgotten Pacific Alamo in the Philippine Islands

“THE CONCRETE BATTLESHIP” Fort Drum: Our Forgotten Pacific Alamo in the Philippine Islands

On September 7th, we will host amateur historian Jim Hencinski, who will present on the little known story of “The Concrete Battleship.”

One hundred years ago while the United States was fighting the First World War in Europe, on the other side of the globe the U.S. Army Coastal Artillery Corps was completing construction work on a unique military installation that would play a vital, but now largely forgotten part in the Second World War some twenty years later.

Fort Drum, the “Concrete Battleship”, was one of the fortifications built to protect Manila Bay from attack by enemy warships. During the Japanese invasion of the Philippine Islands in 1941-42, the American soldiers manning it endured five months of almost constant bombardment from both artillery and aircraft in a gallant, but doomed effort to turn back the invading forces.

This presentation will tell the story of Fort Drum from its construction in the early 20th century through its glory years in the 1920s and 1930s and its ordeal in World War II. The presentation will use many rarely seen period photographs as well as contemporary ones by taken by recent visitors to document this forgotten monument to the courage of those Americans who defended it to the bitter end in May 1942 and those who retook it from the enemy in February 1945.

Speaker Jim Hencinski is a retired U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer who served as an intelligence analyst for twenty years (1975-1995). He is an avid amateur historian with a special interest in World War II who has given many public talks on overlooked or misunderstood aspects of that era.

The program beings at 6:30 p.m. on September 7th. Refreshments will be served.

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.

Military/Civilian Vehicle Show to be the biggest one ever!

Military/Civilian Vehicle Show to be the biggest one ever!

We are proud to announce that on August 12, we will be hosting the Military/Civilian Vehicle Show presented by Kern and Kompany. “This year’s show promises to be the biggest one since the event’s first year.” said Hayes Scriven, Executive Director of the Center. This year’s event will feature the newly acquired M60 tank along with an operational M4A3 Sherman Tank that you can crawl into and start up. In addition, the Wisconsin National Guard and Coast Guard are providing numerous vehicles and a boat for the show. The Twin Ports Mustang & Ford Car Club will be hosting a Show ‘N’ Shine for civilian cars and Benna Ford will showcase many of its new 2017 models. In addition, there will be a live broadcast from KQ95 from 11-2. Finally, the Center is hosting a military book sale and the Bong Book Club is hosting a bake sale.

Kids Events
This year’s show will also feature music by Deepwater Music. They will have a wide range of bands that will be playing music all day. In addition, there will be World War II re-enactors from Fox Company, 2nd Battalion 502nd 101st Airborne. They will host a WW II weapons demonstration along with a paratrooper jump demonstration for kids. Kids/adults will have the opportunity to view the M4 Sherman tank up close and get inside it.

Admission is $5.00 and that includes admission into the Center for the entire day. Gates open at 10:00 a.m. and close at 5:00 p.m. The show is located in the Bong

Center Parking lot at 305 Harbor View Parkway (next to Perkins). Visitors are asked to park in the greenspace across from Marina Drive. We will have golf carts on hand to assist the elderly or handicapped to the Center.

For more information visit bvhcenter.org or check out our Facebook page.


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.





Don’t Call Me ‘Sammy’

Don’t Call Me ‘Sammy’

by Clyde Annala

The origin of Uncle Sam is uncertain, but the persona has been around since the War of 1812.  The “Uncle Sam” of today was created by magazine illustrator James Montgomery Flagg, first appearing in public July 6, 1916.  Over 4,000,000 copies of his iconic “I Want You” poster with a bearded, finger pointing, Uncle Sam were produced during World War One.

This image was extremely popular with the public and Americans started calling their soldiers ‘sammies’, or ‘Sammy’, a nephew of Uncle Sam.  The name caught on.  In July of 1917 General Pershing, commander of the American forces, reported French civilians calling his soldiers ‘sammies’.

In the Twin Ports, a daily paper, the Duluth News Tribune, started a campaign called Sammie Backers, urging older men to “adopt” a soldier to support with mail and small gifts.  It seemed America’s troops were destined to be known as ‘sammies’ until word got out through letters and chinwag that the troops hated it.

“Don’t call me ‘sammy’”, they wrote.  Nor did they want to be called yanks, especially the southern soldiers, despite public popularity of the name as celebrated in the song Over There with its patriotic proclamation that the yanks are coming.  What the soldiers fancied was “doughboy.”  That moniker seems to have been started by a populace movement among their ranks.

Doughboy is another obscure name, probably originating during the Mexican War when American infantry ended a day’s march covered in white road dust.  There is a lot of speculation on the origin of doughboy and its connection with the American military, but no one knows for sure.  Perhaps British and French troops got the last word, claiming the Americans are called doughboys because they were needed in 1914 but didn’t rise until 1917.

Well, rise they did.  Some 4,800,000 of them.  They won the war, and Americans welcomed their doughboys home, sammy all but forgotten.  The doughboy of World War One left a legacy that proudly stands alongside the “GI” of World War Two and Korea, “grunts” of Vietnam, and modern day “joe” fighting the war on terrorism.

We are hiring!

We are hiring!

We are looking for a part-time gift shop associate. This is a 20 hour a week position. Some weekends/evenings may be needed. We are seeking someone who has an energetic personality and a passion for customer service. The ideal candidate should be able to engage with visitors and enhance their museum experience and be familiar with retail operations.

Gift Shop Job Description

If interested please send resume and cover letter to Hayes Scriven, Executive Director at gro.retnechvb@nevircs. Or applications can be mailed to:
Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center
Attn: Hayes Scriven
305 Harbor View Parkway
Superior, WI 54880

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.

Flag of Remembrance, Bill Duffy

Flag of Remembrance, Bill Duffy

Bill DuffySuperior, Wisconsin man’s service to his country to be honored during flag raising ceremony.

A Flag of Remembrance will fly Friday, June 30th, for William E. “Bill” Duffy who served his country as a member of the United States Navy during the “Cold War”.

The American Flag will be raised at 9:00 a.m. in front of the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center for William E. “Bill” Duffy.

William E. “Bill” Duffy was born on July 10, 1929 (Navy records say 1928) in Menomonie, Wisconsin. He was the son of William and Pearl Duffy.

Bill joined the Navy at the age of 17 and completed Basic Training at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Illinois. During his time in the Navy, Bill served on several Navy Vessels including the USS Ascelia, USS Natchaug, and the USS Gypsy. Bill loved the Navy. He always had fond stories to share about his time in the military service. Bill particularly enjoyed his tour of duty at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

After Bill was discharged from the Navy, he returned to Menomonie and soon after began sailing on ore boats throughout the Great Lakes from 1948 until 1960. Bill then sailed for relief work for M.A. Hanna for 10 years. After his sailing career, Bill became a licensed boiler engineer. Bill retired as Chief Boiler Engineer for Bayer & Company.

Bill married Letty Trainor on February 15, 1950 in Menomonie. On their 25th Wedding Anniversary Bill took Letty to Hawaii. Bill assumed the island would be the same tropical paradise he remembered while in the Navy. Unfortunately, to Bill’s great disappointment, it was not! Now, there were many hotels, malls, endless expressways with so much traffic! However, Letty had nothing to compare Hawaii with and she simply loved the island!

Bill was a loyal member of the Richard I. Bong American Legion Post #435 for many years. He actively participated in the Post’s Honor Guard and Color Guard. Bill passed away on August 5, 2016. The entire Duffy family are proud of Bill’s service to his country and are happy to have a Flag of Remembrance flown in his memory.

This event is free and open to the public.

For more information about the “Flag of Remembrance Program”, you may contact any of the following individuals: John Vaski – (715) 394-7693; Scott Markle – (218) 269-4675. You may also leave a message at the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center (715) 392-7151. Email may also be utilized at: gro.retnechvb@ofni.

Big Band Dance

Big Band Dance

Saturday, February 25, 2017



Swing to the sounds of the big bands.  Music is provided by the Esko High School Jazz Band.  Dancing instructions compliments of Samantha Weller, UMD/Duluth Swing Dancing Club

Admission is $5.00 per person with a family cap of $25.00

Tickets sold at the door

Snacks and soda are available for purchase