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.

Free Community Screening Vietnam-Remembering

Free Community Screening Vietnam-Remembering

They were young, half a world away from home, and at war…
Northland Vietnam Veterans Share Their Personal Stories

The Richard I Bong Veterans Historical Center and WDSE•WRPT Public Television are hosting a community screening of the station’s local 2-part documentary Vietnam-Remembering. Following the screening will be an opportunity for sharing and discussion facilitated by producer Juli Kellner and others involved in the project.

The Vietnam War was the most divisive conflict in American history since the Civil War. Even 50 years later, there are still open wounds that require healing. By hearing stories born in the Vietnam War we gain a deeper understanding about its impact on an entire generation and its lessons for today. WDSE•WRPT worked in collaboration with area veteran’s organizations, community partners and the statewide Minnesota Public Television Association to find untold powerful local stories of those impacted by Vietnam War. “It was an honor to sit down with our Vietnam veterans and hear their memories of war. Their interviews are candid and profound, and something we can all learn from.” stated producer Juli Kellner.

Both episodes feature Vietnam veterans from the area including Superior, Duluth, Hibbing and Cloquet. Also included are highlights from the emotional event “The Wall That Heals” visit to Superior’s Barkers Island Festival Park this past summer. Hosted by Halvor Lines, the wall is a 250-foot replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, along with a mobile education center

For more information visit wdse.org or bvhcenter.org. The Free Community Screening of Vietnam-Remembering will be
Thursday, November 9 at 6pm, Richard I Bong Veterans Historical Center. The event is free and open to the public.

Flag of Remembrance, Sgt Arnold A. Houk

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                  

“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.