All Voices Need to Be Preserved

All Voices Need to Be Preserved

Last week a friend and colleague suddenly passed away. He had an amazing intellect, wonderful personality and a great sense of humor. When he graduated college, he could have had his pick of high dollar jobs. Instead, out of intense desire to serve his country, he chose the Intelligence Community arm of the U.S. government.

 

For nearly three decades, my friend traveled to multiple war zones. Over 100 countries as he crisscrossed the globe sharing his analysis and learning the on-ground data. He voluntarily put himself in danger in search of the truth. The truth that saved countless American lives.

 

He was also an author, publishing many articles, and most recently, an incisive book on military operations. So as friends, we have vignettes, anecdotes, and bits and pieces of his life preserved on paper and in our minds.

 

But we don’t have his story. In his words. What drove him to serve so much behind the scenes? What impact did he have on our national security? How do we know the hidden angles to a situation?

 

That would be different if we had his voice and image on a digital recording. So EVERY American who has helped our great nation in a time of crisis should come forward and support the Voices of Freedom project. We need to preserve your past. OUR past. For our future generations to know.

 

As we near our Nation’s Birthday on 4 July, take a moment and think about your family, your friends, and your neighbors. Get them to tell us their story before it is no longer possible. Here is a link:

 

Happy 4th of July

Michael

 

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WWII Veteran Beats the Coronavirus

In his 100 years, Lloyd Falk has seen and accomplished a lot.  To that list we can add beating the Coronavirus.

 

 

 

Read story here

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Angels Above Angels Below. Now with Thunderbirds too!!!

 

About a week ago, the U.S. Navy Thunderbirds and the U.S. Air Force Blue Angels flew over the Washington DC area in a salute to all Americans on the frontline of our war against the COVID-19 virus. My wife and I traveled to a high point of ground, selected a spot that was more than 6 feet from anybody else and settled in for the flyover. It was a great sunny April day here in DC.

 

We noticed people of all ages trickling onto this patch of ground. Soon three Fairfax County Police Officers were joining everybody too. We could hear the chatter amongst the spectators; all were just concentrating on showing their support to the T-Birds and Blues as a way of supporting all Americans fighting for our health and our nation.

 

I heard one father talking to his son and daughter about airplanes and how what they would soon see would be thrilling and to remember it forever. Heads were on a swivel trying to be the first to spot the T-Birds and the Blue Angels. Although the flyover was last minute and without much word on the news, more and more people set up cameras to capture the moment. I spotted numerous hats on men and women highlighting their branch of service, or which war they were a Veteran of. Soon, over 100 people were scattered in the grass.

 

Suddenly, on the horizon I spotted several flyspecks. Just as I thrust my arm out to point out the fighter aircraft, the Blue Angels popped smoke and a white trail streamed behind them. They got closer and closer, flying low and slow. Both the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds were nose on, but you could count 13 aircraft. A distinctive roar came from the northeast sky; the unmistakable whine of a military jet engine. And the crowd started clapping—none of them spoke of why, but deep in our hearts, we knew why.

 

Veterans saluted. Ball caps were doffed and placed over the heart. As expected, the formation turned hard left just before reaching us. We had a great side-on view of the Blue Angels in a wedge formation, with the Thunderbirds echeloned high and right. Above them all, flew Angel 7—a single F-16 in a solitary salute and photographing the event for America. The entire formation slowly flew to the southwest. Heads followed their entire flight as they disappeared over the horizon.

 

In that moment, Americans came together once again. As we have before, as we will again. By turning out to see the flyover, we all wanted to show support for those on the frontline of the COVID-19 fight. As we chatted about in our last blog post, this is a long slog with respect to COVID-19. A different kind of war. We are all tired of being under lockdown. And the restrictions on our local businesses. But we are all in this together and must continue to social distance, wash our hands, and take other precautions as recommended by local, state, federal, and international leaders. But just as our predecessors made sacrifices, so must we.

 

The Americans in Wartime Museum continues to plan for our Open House at the end of August. We also are working with the Voices of Freedom to record and preserve the stories of Americans in War. All Americans. Facing all threats. Anywhere on the Globe. We are being safe in our tank restoration and museum planning—we ask that you do the same because we want to see you all at the next Open House and when the Museum opens!

 

Michael

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Tough Times

American is at War                                      

 

The Americans in Wartime Museum will chronicle all aspects of how our people respond during a time of war. And right now, America is at war. With an unseen, microscopic enemy called COVID-19.

 

Our heroes not only wear OCP camouflage, but sometimes they wear green scrubs. Right now, the doctors, nurses, and clinicians are on the front line of our war on COVID-19. They risk their lives daily, exposing themselves to a virus that we know little about. But they kiss their family goodbye in the morning and commute to work, knowing they are putting themselves in danger. That is bravery and courage.

 

But that is what Americans do for each other. And what we all must do for each other. Americans put aside their differences, and do what is right—what is needed to be done. I am amazed as each day shows how the spirit of America will conquer this latest threat. From high school students turning out new forms of medical personal protective equipment on the 3-D printer, to children holding rallies to collect money for those temporarily out of a job. To my neighbors waving and cheering on the sanitation people as they keep our neighborhood clean and safe.

 

Not only are our medical professionals on the front lines, valor can be in police blue or firefighter’s red. The cap of a long-haul trucker delivering food or supplies symbolizes that America will not be deterred. Essential workers wearing coveralls to keep our water, electricity and sewage systems running—they too are worthy of mention.

 

The Tank Farm is doing its part. We are self-isolating all staff and volunteers at this time. Where possible, planning and meetings are occurring via telecommuting. We are looking for tank parts and planning for our next Open House.

 

We are following CDC guidelines and practicing social distancing. You should too. The Americans in Wartime Museum WANTS TO SEE YOU in 2020. So please self-isolate, check on the elderly, call friends, play games, order delivery from local restaurants, from wineries , from breweries and cook great food. And we all will conquer this enemy.

 

Be Safe

Michael

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National Museum of Americans in Wartime

 

The Americans in Wartime Museum is a not-for-profit cultural and educational institution dedicated to honoring those who have served in all branches of the United States military and on the home front, from World War I to the present. The Museum serves to educate the public, especially young people, by telling individual stories of personal experience, realities of war, and sacrifices made by Americans striving to preserve our freedoms. The Museum inspires visitors by enabling them to experience military vehicles, explore artifacts, and participate in reenactments and special programs in a dynamic, interactive environment.

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It Was My Great Adventure

Jim Sawicki at the Tank Farm Open House holding a captured Nazi flag.

Approximately 2 million Americans served their country, and the world, during World War II.  Europe is free today, in part, because of the selfless sacrifices of ordinary Americans asked to do extraordinary things.   Among them was Jim Sawicki who served in the United States Army and fought with the “Red Bulls” at Anzio during the Battle of the Bulge.  Speaking of his experience during the war, Jim stated, “It was my great adventure.”

It was Jim Sawicki, who lived less than a mile from the future home of the Americans in Wartime Museum in Dale City, VA, who inspired the Voices of Freedom Project.  Our mission is to capture and preserve the stories of Americans in Wartime, Americans like Jim Sawicki.

2020 marks the 10 year for the VOF.  In that time, we have met, and had the pleasure of capturing the stories of over 450 Americans who served their country during wartime, or who have been involved in, or witness to events related to war.  These Americans include veterans such as Air Force Col. Charles McGee (now General McGee) who fought during WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War amassing over 400 combat sorties.  Army Air Force veteran William Bonelli who survived the Pearl Harbor Attack and went on to pilot a B17 over Italy.  Angela White who served in the Army during Operation Desert Storm and again during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Tom McAllister.  Tom’s medic unit was first on scene at the Pentagon after Islamic terrorist flew a plane into it on September 11th, 2001.  He lived what most only witnessed on television.  His story, like so many others is one of courage and sacrifice, and of tragedy and triumph.

These stories and many more need to be told, and need to be heard; now, and decades into the future.  These Americans are witnesses to history, and their perspectives on the events for which countless books have been written, and movies and documentaries made, are unique and important to the overall understanding of America’s involvement in wars and conflicts around the world.  Wars and conflicts that have shaped the course of history.  The stories are also important because in many instances, wartime experiences are the defining moments in a persons life.  For better or worse, nobody is ever the same afterwards.

Your story is important to you, to us, and to your family.  We want to help you tell your story and preserve it for future generations.  Click on the link below to learn more, and help us continue to fulfill the museums mission to honor, educate and inspire.

 

Click here to find out how we can help you preserve your story.

 

 

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The Twelve Tanks of Christmas

The Twelve Tanks of Christmas

The Christmas Classic…..Americans in Wartime Style.  Taking a cue from the 1780 song, we have a short paragraph on several of our vehicles.

On the First Day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me—a Model 1917 tank.  This little US copy of the French M1917 tank is one of the Museum’s marquee restorations.  Just finding the correct engine took years.  Wrenching off the rusted bolts holding the suspension together resulted in many a skinned knuckle.  But the staff and volunteers persevered and she made her debut at the Open House several years ago.

On the Second Day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me—an M50 Super Sherman.  This tank was originally a Sherman in US service.  Then it made its way to Israel, who gave it to the South Lebanese Army.  It was returned to America and the Museum staff completed her top-to-bottom restoration in time for this year’s Open House.  She gleamed from her fresh coat of paint.

On the Third Day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me—an M4A1 Sherman.  Sister to the Super Sherman of day 2, the M4A1 is epitome of a cast-hull, 75mm armed Sherman from WW2.

On the Fourth Day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me—an M4A3 Sherman.  Another cousin in the Sherman family, our M4A3 has a 75mm movie star reputation.  She starred in Clint Eastwood’s “Flags of our Fathers.”

On the Fifth Day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me—an LVT4 Amtrak.  Just like our M4A3, our LVT4 is a movie star, helping Clint visualize the beach assault scenes in “Flags of our Fathers” by taking him out to sea and giving him a unique cinematic viewpoint.  She can be seen below.

On the Fifth Day of Christmas, my True love gave to me—an East German T-72.  This diesel-powered beast is low-slung, lean and feast.  Sporting the biggest cannon in our collection, a 125mm rifle—the T-72 represents the other side of the Cold War.

On the Sixth Day of Christmas, my True love gave to me—a Swedish Stridsvagin 103 aka S-103C.  This uniquely shaped vehicle turns heads every time the Museum displays her as Mar can make her dance and bow to the audience due to its unique suspension system.

One the Seventh Day of Christmas, my True love gave to me—a Czech OT-810 half-track.  After WW2, the Czechs made copies of the German  Sdkfz 251 half track for use in their Armed Forces.  Our OT-810 is regularly on display during Open House, typically hiding in the tree line as a backdrop for some of our living historians.

On the Eighth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me—a Swiss Centurion MK 7.  Probably the heaviest tank in the museum’s collection, the Centurion makes the ground rumble when she rolls by during Open House.  She handles like a sweetheart, but does have a voracious thirst for fuel, so we always have to keep her filled before she makes a run.

On the Ninth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me—a Valentine MK III.  Made in 1943, the MKIII still ported the 2-pounder as its main armament.  Designed as an infantry tank, she is slow, but heavily armored for its time.  Listen next time she putters along during a display, her engine is based on a London diesel bus engine.

On the Tenth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me—a Soviet PT-76 light tank.  Sometimes mistakenly called an APC, the PT-76 is actually a light tank.  She is amphibious and very mobile.  The PT-76 was used by Vietnamese forces in 1968 to assault the U.S. Special Forces camp at Lang Vei—marking their first use of armor in that war.

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me—a U.S. High Mobility Multi-purpose wheeled vehicle, more commonly known as the HUMMER.  The Museum has several variants, both hard and soft top.  Typically you might see them during Open House being used as a general utility vehicle, or to transport our elderly guests around in comfort.

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, my True love gave to me—a British FV432.  This boxy APC may be mistaken for the U.S. M113 APC, but she runs on diesel, not gasoline.  She can be seen during Open House, giving rides to the winners of the Museum new member’s lottery.  Come join up and maybe you too can feel the speed and power of an armored vehicle.

If the above inspires you to adopt one as YOUR favorite vehicle, drop us a line and tell us why.  We appreciate it.  Perhaps a donation to “Keep ‘Em Rolling”, not only during Christmas, but throughout the year.

Happy Holidays

Michael

 

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First Snow

First Snow

Last week, the fine folks of northern Virginia were treated to their first snowflakes of the season.  As the weather forecasters say, it was a conversational snow.  And it occurred mid-day, so it didn’t screw up traffic….always important around here.

Folks gathered up at the windows and pointed to the flakes.  There were a few gasps as the wind whipped it sideways at times.  But in general, everybody took it as a marker of the Holiday season to come.

Holiday season, a time to come out of the cold and enjoy good food, good wine, and warmth of company.  People gather at family and friends, and at the work place.  Suddenly, those ugly sweaters that are only worn during the Holidays are dug out.  Bright red ties make their appearance.  Some may even have a blinking red light or two!

Voices rise and fall as toasts are made.  Stories about past gatherings are swapped.  Folks catch up on the latest news.  A fire generally crackles in the fireplace as the smell of turkey, ham, and fresh bread blooms out of the kitchen and throughout the house.

But there are moments in our past where the first snow was not the  happy memory for some.  It wasn’t the first snow, it was one of many.  And instead of being inside a warm house, they were frozen.  They didn’t argue over the merits of cranberry sauce or cranberry jelly….because they didn’t have any food.

These were the men and women serving in the front lines, defending America against her enemies.  From the iconic General Washington at Valley Forge, to Willie and Joe at the Battle of the Bulge and the Devil Dogs of the U.S. Marine Corps at the Chosin Reservoir.

Today, there are men and women serving in snowy and frozen spots around the globe.  Without family by their sides or a crackling fireplace to keep them warm, they are already tired of snow and dreading the next months.

So as you raise a glass, or try and catch a snowflake on your tongue, think about why you are able to enjoy these simple pleasures.  Remember our service members.  We at the Americans in Wartime Museum do.

That is why we are out in the cold turning wrenches.  Our breathe hanging heavy in the air.  We know what the first snow can mean.  We want to preserve that history and honor it.  Continue the dream by visiting the website and joining our wonderful supporters so we can “Keep ‘em Rolling” in the snow.

 

Michael

 

Click here to make a donation and support our work.

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The Big Reveal

On Saturday of the 2019 version of the Open House, the Americans in Wartime Museum demonstrated once again why it is an international leader in the restoration and display of armored vehicles.  It did something that literally no other museum across the globe could do…….  Intrigued?  Good, read on.

That day was the culmination of years of planning, and thousands of hours of hard work, sweat, and tears by the staff and volunteers.

Saturday was glorious in terms of weather, and, visitors for the Open House.  The field was crammed with vehicles, living historians, and our wonderful fans.  But as 11:00 am approached, there was a buzz across the display area.

Our incredible announcer, Richard, spoke into the microphone and asked the crowd if they wanted a surprise.  A chorus of “YES” boomed from the audience.  Behind the scenes, the tank mechanics were scurrying around, making everything ready for the Big Reveal.

The driver settled down into his cocoon.  He fiddled with his switches, running his fingers over their familiar shape.  Switches, buttons, and levers that his and other hands had stripped down, restored, repainted, and re-installed over the past year.

The excited crowd gathered near the shop doors.  Inside the driver waited as Richard counted down till 11:00.  Other museum volunteers stood by the shop doors and made a corridor through the crowd.  At 11:00, Richard made the announcement.  The shop doors were flung upward, and the driver flipped his switches.  The air reverberated with the roar of a tank engine coming to life.

As the old shop door traveled upward, a familiar hull shape started to be revealed in the sunshine.  The shape of that hull could only be a SHERMAN!  The crowd murmured in anticipation.  The door kept on its journey upward.  Meanwhile, the driver revved the engine.  And suddenly a very different shape came into focus….that turret and gun was unlike any the crowd had seen before.  It was not a U.S. 75mm or U.S. 76mm….what was it?

Then the tactical markings completed the story; Hebrew.  It could only be an M50 Super Sherman.  Yes, the Americans in Wartime Museum had restored its M50 to full running condition.  The paint gleamed.  Every accessory was in its place.  The fenders were so clean you could eat of them.

The driver threw the transmission into first gear and the massive tracks crunched forward on the gravel.  Museum ground guides moved the M50 from the shop out to the battle area.

Suddenly, the tank sped up and plumes of dust streamed behind!  Was this the deserts of the Middle East, or Northern Virginia?  After two proud laps around the battle area with thousands of photos now stored on visitor cameras, the M50 was parked.

But that was not the end of it.  Later in the day, the Museum ran an M4A1 and an M4A3 Sherman.  Not only had the Americans in Wartime museum restored the M50 to running condition, they ran two additional Shermans for the crowd.

There are less than five running M50s in the world as far as we know at this time.  But no other collection, private or government, has running examples of an M4A1, M4A3, and M50, according to our research.

This is but one more example of why the Americans in Wartime Museum is setting new standards for what a museum should be.  Continue the dream by making a donation and joining our wonderful supporters so we can “Keep ‘em Rolling”.

Michael

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Five Simple Words

Five Words…….

“Thank You For Your Service.” Five simple words that have become part of the American lexicon. We hear it routinely now, but it wasn’t until last night that I realized the incredible power of those five simple words.

Once again, it was at dinner. And with a fine Belgian Ale and a great piece of steak (never underestimate the cognitive benefits of both!) I was with two gentlemen who had served in the army of a European country during the Cold War.

These two gents were incredible. They had a Doctorate’s level of knowledge about the Battle of the Bulge, and a passion for preserving history. I found them to be kindred spirits.

As the conversation become more animated, yet more intimate, I just listened as these guys rattled off the latest historical events in Europe they would be attending this Fall. What was remarkable, yet in hindsight, wasn’t….was that each of the events was dedicated to honoring the legacy of Americans who had served in WWII and liberated their country.

Time and time again, there it was….another story about an American who was now getting a memorial in some form. The people of their small villages knew the personal details of the American units and soldiers that had come across the Atlantic, landed, and then fought on foreign soil to liberate its citizens.

As the dinner plates were cleared away, and dessert was served, I asked about their activities of the last couple of days. As they spoke of Arlington National Cemetery and other historical sites they had visited, one of them stopped and proclaimed the next story was his proudest moment.

These gentlemen were visiting a memorial in southern Virginia and the doscent asked if there were any veterans. Several Americans raised their hands. Then these gentlemen raised their hands and noted they had served in the army of their country.

At this point, the doscent thanked the American veterans for their service to our country. He then turned to my friends and said “Thank you for your service”. This stunned my friends as they had never been thanked by anybody before for their service to their country and their sacrifice.

In fact, one of my friends rummaged in his backpack and dug out a small sticker. On the bottom it proudly proclaimed “Veteran”. Those five words and that sticker are going back to Europe with my friend and will remain with him forever.

So as we begin preparations for the Open House, remember the above. And when we ask you to turn and thank a Veteran for their service…..Remember the impact those five simple words might have.

Michael

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