Celebrating 15 years!

On October 5 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center invites the public to its 15th anniversary celebration, Beers and Cheers! This beer and wine tasting is free but a monetary donation is very appreciated!

15 years ago on September 24th the Richard I. Bong Historical Center opened its doors as the Richard I. Bong World War II Heritage Center. “Although our mission and name have changed slightly, we have always been dedicated to honoring, preserving and interpreting veteran’s stories. Not just from the Twin Ports area but the larger Northland area,” said Hayes Scriven, Center’s Executive Director.

The Center’s mission 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. This year, the Center has had a renewed interest. We have an will be hosting many, some of which even stretch the mission like the World War I trench display that opened earlier this Spring. “We are truly an inclusive veteran’s center,” said Terry Lundberg, Chair of the Center’s board of directors and one of its founding members. Lundberg continues, “It was important for us to get the Center open so we could not only have a place to memorialize one of our nation’s top heroes but all veteran’s stories.”

Since the Center opened it has conducted over 600 oral histories, accessioned over 10,000 items into the collection and 528 tiles memorialize over 2,100 veterans as part of the memorial wall. The Center has hosted many programs, events and exhibits over the years.

“We have big plans for the next few years,” Scriven said. “I want the public to know that they can come to our programs and feel welcome here, veterans have played an important role in the development of this area, people need to know that and be proud of it.”

The tasting will feature beers from Blacklist Artisan Ales, Bent Paddle Brewing Co. and Castle Danger Brewing. Wine will be provided by Murphy Goode, the event is in coordination with Keyport Liquor.

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Open September 4th, Labor Day

Bring the family down to the museum on Labor Day!  We will be open regular hours, 9am-5pm.

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Flag of Remembrance, Sgt Arnold A. Houk

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


A Flag of Remembrance will fly Friday, September 1st, for Sergeant Arnold A. “Clint” Houk who served his country as a member of the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War.         

 The American Flag will be raised at 9:00 a.m. in front of the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center for Sergeant Arnold A. Houk.

 Arnold Arron Houk was born September 1, 1946 in Port Angeles, Washinton.  Arnold graduated from the Port Angeles High School in 1964 and worked at the Crown Zellerbach Paper Mill in Port Angeles until he left for Basic Training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas on September 14, 1964.  He received his training in jet engine mechanics and then was stationed at the former Duluth Air Base, Duluth, Minnesota becoming a member of the 148th Fighter Unit.  

 Arnold met Mary Thompson of Superior, Wisconsin in 1965.  Arnold was deployed to Phan Rang Air Force Base, Vietnam in August 1966 returning home September 1967.  Arnold and Mary were married on September 23, 1967 at the Bethel Lutheran Church, Superior, Wisconsin and they traveled to Merced, California where Arnold was the Jet Engine Trim Team Chief, Engine Conditioning Section, 93rd Field Maintenance Squadron, Castle Air Force Base, California.  

Their son, Ronald, was born on the airbase on May 18, 1968.  Later, Arnold was Honorably Discharged with the rank of Sergeant from active duty.  Arnold and Mary moved back to Superior, Wisconsin.

 Arnold was the 1980 Tri-State (Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan) Arm Wrestling Champion for all weight classes.  Arnold would not be able to defend that title as he was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor in 1981.

 Arnold never faltered in his faith and said this faith blessed him with a daughter, Jamie Rae on February 22, 1984.  His son, Ronald, blessed him with grandson Timothy in 1991.  Arnold’s faith also gave him the strength and courage to face the challenges through his lengthy battle with cancer and the effects of radiation treatment.  Arnold’s legacy continues with the birth of granddaughter Liliana (2004) and grandson William (2011). 

 Arnold passed away on September 5, 2002 and was laid to rest at the Northern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Spooner, Wisconsin.  The entire Houk family and friends are proud of Arnold’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                  

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“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.

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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.





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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Flag of Remembrance-June 2

This Friday, June  2 The American Legion Post 435 will honor Sgt James Briggs with a Flag of Remembrance.

Sgt James D. Briggs

Jim received his draft papers in 1941 but was granted a one year exemption as he was providing
needed income for his mother and younger sibblings. He was inducted into the U.S. Army on
July 25, 1942 at Fort Sheridan, IL with basic training at Fort Bragg, NC. He recalled it being
very hot and crawling under live ammunition. He trained to be a paratrooper for 3 weeks before
being encouraged to join the Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment (ESBR) made up of 8
companies of 200 men and 2 officers in each. They went by train to Camp Edwards. MA. His
company shipped out while he was in hospital 23 days being treated for pneumonia with sulfa
drugs (no antibiotics back then).

Eight new companies were formed (A-H) and he was in F company. Sev~ companies shipped
out to Europe while Cadre Company F went by train to Camp Carabelle, FL.where they trained to
operate landing craft (ducks). Eight companies were made up and his went to Monterey, CA
where he trained officers to operate landing craft on land and water. He also had three weeks
training in demolition before leaving San Francisco, P.O.E. on USS America and sailing 17 days
across the Pacific toward Australia, where they were diverted to Port Moresby in Papua, New
Guinea. The ship couldn’t get in so men and gear were transported by landing craft to shore
where they chopped the jungle away before they could set up camp.

One officer, Jim and his buddy with all the demolition equipment and supplies headed out on
landing craft, just the three men, where they spent three weeks cleaning up unexploded bombs
and land mines to make beaches ready for Marine landings. He told of setting charges and then
paddling down the shore line in a rubber dinghy a good distance before detonation. He received 7
stars for 7 nights of clean-up at Dutch New Guinea, and 4 arrowheads for 4 nights of cleaning
beaches at British New Guinea.

Back at Port Moresby he learned his company had crossed over the Owen Stanley Mountains, a
trek of 100 miles to the north. He volunteered as a sharp shooter on John F. Kennedy’s PT-109
with no idea Kennedy would be a future president of U.S. He also sat on the beach napping with
a pack of dynamite on his back when General MacArthur nudged him and stopped to talk ..
He was promoted to Sergeant in the Philippines and received the Philippine Liberation medal,
then was headed toward Japan when the treaty was signed. He spent several months in Japan and
received a medal for Army of Occupation in Japan. They left Japan in November and he
remembered having Thanksgiving dinner, crossing the International Dateline and having
Thanksgiving dinner again the next day. Their ship, USS Queen Mary was badly damaged in a
typhoon and had to be repaired in Hawaii with all men on board before sailing home. He was
honorably discharged Jan. 7, 1946 at Camp McCoy, WI.

Jim and three brothers served in WWII:. Pvt Ralph, killed by a land mine explosion on Anzio
beach, Italy; Cpl Charles, stationed in Hawaii; and Pvt John completed basic training, later to
enlist in U.S.A.F. as a career man.

After the war Jim blasted tunnels for the railroad into Taconite Harbor, worked for Bridge
Builders, then Earth Movers hauling heavy equipment, and then Builders Supply in Superior. Jim
embarked on his final journey June 7, 2007, and was interred at Veterans Cemetery at Spooner.

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