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“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.

 

 

 

 

Veterans Appreciation Day presented by Bong Veterans Center, Douglas County Veteran Service Office and WDSE.WRPT

Veterans Appreciation Day presented by Bong Veterans Center, Douglas County Veteran Service Office and WDSE.WRPT

SUPERIOR, WISC. – . In honor of “The Wall that Heals” coming to Barkers Island, July 20-23, The Richard I Bong Veterans Historical Center in partnership with WDSE.WRPT public television is working to honor and remember the service of our Vietnam veterans. We invite Vietnam veterans to come share your memories on Saturday July 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Bong Veterans Historical Center. WDSE.WRPT crews will be available to record your memories for a local documentary project being produced by WDSE.WRPT, please bring photos and mementos. In addition, the oral histories will be cataloged at the Center and a copy given to the family. At 3 p.m. WDSE will preview the upcoming PBS Ken Burns Documentary “The Vietnam War” in addition, two Vietnam veterans will tell stories from their time in the service.

In addition to the program, in partnership with the Douglas County Veterans Service Office, the Center will be hosting a free cookout from 11-2. “We wanted a way to give back” said Brian Erickson, Veterans Service Officer. “With the “Wall that Heals” coming in, we wanted to give people an opportunity to gather and relax after taking in the Wall” said Hayes Scriven, Executive Director for the Bong Veterans Center. The lunch is free but donations are welcome and will go to support the Center and the Service Office.
Finally, from July 20-23 the Center is offering free admission to all veterans.

THE WALL THAT HEALS is a 250-foot replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial coming to Barker’s Island Festival Park in Superior Wisconsin from July 20 to 23 hosted by Halvor Lines trucking company. “The Wall that Heals” honors the more than 3 million Americans who served in the armed forces during the Vietnam War. It bears the names of the more than 58 thousand men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice.

The memorial will be open 24 hours a day and is free to the public.

About VVMF’s “The Wall That Heals”
On Veterans Day 1996, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) unveiled a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., designed to travel to communities throughout the United States. Since its dedication, “The Wall That Heals” has visited more than 400 cities and towns throughout the nation, spreading the Memorial’s healing legacy to millions.

For more information, about the Richard I Bong Veterans Historical Center visit bvhcenter.org for WDSE.WRPT at (218)788-2831 or the Douglas County Veterans Service Office at (715) 395-1331.

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.

Bee Keeping after WWI

Bee Keeping after WWI

For almost two years, the American World War 1 soldier battled a bitter war in Europe.  He saw traumatic injuries and death on a scale seldom seen before.  Many veterans came home with limbs missing and physical scars.  Others suffered from a new psychological phenomenon referred to as “shell shock” and had a very difficult time adjusting to life in mainstream America.

The government did not ignore these damaged men, but looked to find a gratifying occupation for them.  Beekeeping was one answer.  It was considered a good option because the beekeeper typically works alone, at a slower pace, and has a major contribution to society through the products from the hive.  To this end, the Government developed vocational training for veterans in beekeeping to help them integrate back into society and earn a living.

Today, similar programs are still at work to partner veterans with beekeeping ventures.  One of these programs through the University of Minnesota offers free workshops to veterans to promote the benefits of beekeeping.

Conversation with Edith Schultz:  POW & Refugee in WWII Poland

Conversation with Edith Schultz: POW & Refugee in WWII Poland

Edith Schultz

On Thursday, June 22nd the Richard I Bong Veterans Historical Center will host Edith Schultz, 94, who will speak about her childhood in Poland and how her life was impacted by World War II.

Bong Center volunteer and oral history interviewer Clint Mattson will facilitate a conversation with Edith that will explore her life both before and after the outbreak of WWII. Her father went into hiding before eventually being drafted into the German Army. Edith and her mother moved throughout Europe in an effort to flee the chaos around them.

“It was a terrible time that January of 1945. My hometown was bombed by the Russians and trains going west were packed with people trying to flee. We were all escaping with our bare lives and had only what was on our backs”, said Schultz.

From Poland to Germany to Czechoslovakia, Edith finally wound up in a Russian POW camp at the end of the war.

Join us to hear more about her story as well as her life after the war when she married a U.S. soldier and moved to Wisconsin. She worked as a lab and x-ray technician for 30 years at Giesen Clinic in Superior. Later in life she became a competitive swimmer in the Senior Olympics and in April 2017 was inducted into the Wisconsin Senior Olympics Hall of Fame.

Join us on June 22nd at 6:30 p.m. to hear Edith’s fascinating life story.

Refreshments will be provided.

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 for Frank Benak on June 9th

Flag of Remembrance for Frank Benak on June 9th

On June 9th the American Legion Post 435 will fly a flag of remembrance for Frank Benak.

Frank Vincent Benak was born in May 23, 1917 to Vincent and Barbara Benak in Berwyn Illinois. Vincent and Barbara had three sons, Frank, who was the oldest as well as James and
Joseph. He grew up helping his parents run their vegetable store in Chicago “Benak’s Fruit and Vegetable Store”. His parents withdrew him from school in the 9th grade because he
was such an asset. When Frank was a young adult, his Folks sold the store on a land contract and moved to Scottville Michigan to farm. They returned to Chicago twice to resume ownership and operation of the store. When Frank was 20 (1937) he and his family moved to Scottville For the final time. Frank continued to help his parents run the farm.

Frank pursued his education through a correspondence course and attained his GED. He loved the violin and was quite talented. He took lessons and occasionally played with the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra. He also worked at a local cheese Factory and then went to Auto-body school in Detroit
Michigan. He was working at a local auto-body shop when he received news of his draft.

Frank was inducted into the Army on May 8th, 1942 in Kalamazoo, Ml and was assigned to 128th Infantry Division. After training in Camp Livingston, Louisiana, he was shipped out For overseas duty in the Southwest Pacific. He was a member of the Cannon Company, 32nd Red Arrow Division. He was killed during patrol on the “Urbana Front”, volunteering For a dangerous mission that many of his group refused. He was listed as “Missing in Action”, his remains never recovered.

His family had strong hopes of finding him and searched Red Cross hospitals for years after his loss.

The government has just shared the details of his final days in 2016.

He is survived by his brother Joseph (Antoinette) Benak, South Range, Nephews Frank (Mary) Benak, George (Mary Jo) Benak, nieces Rose Benak Robinson, Boca Raton, FL and
Barbara (Patrick) Bergstrom, South Range, Mary (Richard) Becker, Jacksonville, FL as well as many great nieces and nephews. Other family members that have passed since his death include His parents, Vincent and Barbara, his brother James and sister-in-law Mildred, nephews Joseph Frank Benak (Viet Nam) and Edward Vincent Benak.