TERRE HAUTE —
A shrine to the history of local veterans has opened to an appreciative crowd.
The Veterans Memorial Museum of Terre Haute hosted its grand opening Sunday, and nearly 200 visitors passed through before 1:30 p.m. Museum founder Brian Mundell said he was happy to see a large number and diversity of veterans attend.
“It’s really been neat to have the veterans here. It’s really for them,” he said, adding it’s important to preserve this history for future generations.
Leighton Willhite echoed those comments outside, seated near a mural which covers the museum’s front at 1129 Wabash Ave. A World War II veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Willhite was 19 years old when he drove a Sherman tank as part of the 5th Tank Battalion, 5th Marine Division, which found itself on a small island named Iwo Jima. There in the South Pacific, he and fellow Marines and sailors fought the Japanese in one of that war’s most epic battles.
“It’s listed today as the most vicious battle in Marine Corps history,” Willhite recalled. “Never before, and never after, has one equaled it.”
Iwo Jima itself is only about 51⁄2 miles long and 21⁄2 miles wide, but some 22,000 Japanese soldiers were entrenched in a 17-mile network of tunnels there. In the 36 days it took the U.S. to secure the island, 7,000 American troops were killed and 19,000 wounded, he said.
“The freedoms of this country did not come cheap,” he added, recalling how everyone in the country participated in some way during World War II. More than 16 million citizens served in uniform, and those who stayed at home worked on behalf of the war effort, which included the rationing of food and supplies for civilian use. To let kids today know of the sacrifices made on their behalf is a good thing, he said.
In addition to Willhite, fellow Iwo Jima survivor George Graesch attended the opening, as did Ferdinand Stauch, who served with Merrill’s Marauders, a U.S. Army special operations unit that fought in the Southeast Asian Theater of World War II.
Mundell said it was particularly special to see the number of World War II veterans come to Sunday’s event, as their ranks are dwindling with the years.
“There’s just not that many of those left,” he said.
The museum, at 1,100 square feet, is packed from floor to ceiling with detailed exhibits. Donated items from area families line the walls, tables and display cases, along with newspaper clippings, pictures and historical explanations. Field medical equipment is displayed alongside radios, rifles and cartridges, as well as uniforms from each branch beginning with World War I. Mundell estimated he had more than 1,000 items on exhibit Sunday.
Jeff Marks served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1986 to 1991, participating in Operation Desert Storm. A friend of Mundell’s, he helped lay the carpet inside the museum along with other manual labor.
“I think it’s an awesome thing,” he said of the effort to recognize local warriors. “You don’t find that in society anymore.”
The outside wall just east of the museum’s front is covered with a large, lighted mural depicting images from World War I. World War II, the Korean and Vietnam conflicts as well as modern wars in the Middle East. The artist, Jim Shepard, visited the museum at its opening.
“I’m a veteran myself, so I was glad to be a part of this,” the Terre Haute native said.
A graduate of Wiley High School and Indiana State University, Shepard served in the U.S. Army from 1972 to 1974 before going on to establish a career as a professional artist, working for the Walt Disney Co. in California. Since then he’s returned to Terre Haute, and said the museum serves a great purpose.
Mundell said he’s always looking for more items to display and hopes the museum continues to grow.
Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Open to visitors
• New Veterans Memorial Museum: The Veterans Memorial Museum of Terre Haute will be open from 2 to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, or by appointment. For more information, call Brian Mundell at 812-208-1396.
Friends of military throng to exhibits on Wabash
TERRE HAUTE —
A shrine to the history of local veterans has opened to an appreciative crowd.
- Local & Bistate
Co-Op to Feed group delivering to needy
Three Terre Haute organizations are teaming up to deliver food boxes to “the neediest of needy” with specific health concerns on a monthly basis.
Field trips to take big hit next year
The Vigo County School Corp. plans to inform school staff of “deep cuts” in student field trips for the next school year, Superintendent Dan Tanoos said Friday.
Donation drive in Valley aims to send help to Oklahoma tornado victims
Terre Haute Ministries, along with WTWO, WAWV, Q102.7 and 100.7 Mix-FM are joining forces to help those impacted by tornadoes in Moore, Okla.
Invention makes houses safer from tornadoes
A Terre Haute man has developed a building construction system that increases the strength of a home, especially from a tornado.
ISU to stage public hearing on proposed tuition increase
Indiana State University will conduct a public hearing at 2 p.m. June 4 to receive input on a proposed 1.95 percent increase in student tuition and mandatory fees for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years.
Trial date set for man accused of attacking Vigo County deputy
A Terre Haute man accused of attacking a Vigo County Sheriff’s Deputy has an Aug. 12 trial date.
Technology speeds disaster alerts, response
Caitria O’Neill remembers her reaction to hearing tornado warnings on June 1, 2011. She went to the grocery store, she said, “because I live in Massachusetts, and we don’t get tornadoes.”
Health information to be provided for blood donors
People who give blood at Clinton Gardens’ blood drive Tuesday will leave knowing valuable information about their health. Donors will find out their cholesterol level, blood pressure, blood type and iron levels at no cost.
- ‘This is the best day of my life’
Sullivan man airlifted to Indy after crash
A Sullivan man was in critical condition at an Indianapolis hospital Friday after his pickup truck collided with a tanker truck in Sullivan County.
Veterans Memorial Park dedication set for Monday
Memorial Day ceremonies will include a special event this year.
Ill. House approves guns plan opposed by governor
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Gun owners in the only state still banning concealed weapons would win that right under a plan approved by the Illinois House on Friday, but the governor and other powerful Democrats oppose the plan because it would wipe out local gun ordinances — including Chicago's ban on assault weapons.
Vigo County Jail Log: May 24, 2013
The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Thursday and Friday, based on jail records.
Vigo County Jail Log: May 23, 2013
The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Wednesday and Thursday, based on jail records.
Relic from another age: Massive find
A mastodon that lived in the Wabash Valley thousands of years ago is making big news today.
Game Over: Financial tightening causes VCSC to drop St. Patrick’s from athletic schedule
St. Patrick’s School athletic teams will not have an opportunity to compete against their Vigo County School Corp. middle school counterparts next year.
Katelyn Newell finally at home
After nearly five months, 8-year-old Katelyn Newell finally returned home Thursday evening — with a new heart.
Indiana State U. Police officer honored with Artz Award
Thursday was a special day for Indiana State University Police Officer Christopher Heleine in multiple ways.
City Council considering three for consultant
Three different tax professionals vied Thursday for a chance to become a “financial consultant” to the Terre Haute City Council.
Clay County sheriff warns of bank card scam
The Clay County Sheriff’s Department has received information regarding a scam targeting residents, according to a news release from the sheriff’s department.
State Police seek help with Sullivan County homicide
Indiana State Police detectives from the Putnamville Post are seeking help from the public with the nearly six-month investigation into the death of 85-year-old Lowell R. Badger, a rural Sullivan County farmer.
Man who attacked Vigo deputy arrested
A Terre Haute man accused of attacking a Vigo County sheriff’s deputy earlier this week is facing felony charges in the Vigo County jail.
INDOT to bid final 641 phase
The final construction phase of the 641 bypass is scheduled to let for bids on Dec. 11, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation.
District office moves north
The Southwest District office of the Purdue Extension service has been moved north from Vincennes to Terre Haute.
Day is done…
The sun sets Thursday evening as seen from south of Terre Haute.
Morning update: I-5 bridge collapse caused by truck hitting span
The Washington State Patrol chief says the Interstate 5 bridge collapse into the Skagit (SKA'-jiht) River at Mount Vernon was caused by an oversize truck.
UPDATE: I-70 lanes in Putnam County now open
The west-bound lanes of Interstate 70 re-opened Thursday evening after being temporarily closed due to a crash near the Greencastle/Cloverdale exit.
22-hospital St. Vincent Health cutting jobs
Update: Cleanup from overturned truck in Greene County continues
Fuel spillage from the dump truck hauling gravel that overturned this morning in Greene County at Indiana 54 and County Road 725 East near Ridgeport continues to restrict traffic to one lane.
17-pound bone found during Vigo flood cleanup
TERRE HAUTE — Crews cleaning up from Wabash River flooding in Vigo County came across a 17-pound bone that they believe might have come from an ancient mastodon.
- More Local & Bistate Headlines
- Co-Op to Feed group delivering to needy