BY STACI WILSON
Fourteen-year-old Tommy Gibson was looking for an Eagle Scout project when he was called on to help create a War Museum at VFW Post 6223 in Great Bend.
“People in the area know I’m a military nut,” Gibson said, admitting his post-high school goal is to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Gibson, a member of Troop 83 in Conklin, N.Y., reached out to area businesses and began fundraising for the project last December, and the physical work on the third floor room began in mid-January.
Leading teams of other scouts, veterans and volunteers, Gibson and his crew set about first repairing the walls and ceilings and then painting. He chose an olive green color for the walls.
In addition to historical artifacts already housed at the VFW, Gibson brought some of his private collection to the display – including a World War 1 helmet for the open house.
The collection includes mannequins in various military uniforms, including a Gulf War chemical weapons uniform, as well as those of a World War 1 Combat Marine, a 1917-18 US Marine Corps dress uniform; and a 1940-60 US Navy Seabee uniform.
Display cases surround the periphery of the room, and are dedicated to wars from World War 1 through the present.
The World War II case holds propaganda and artifacts from the Allied Powers – a case Gibson refers to as “the good guy case.” There are artifacts and memorabilia from the United States, Britain and Russia in the case.
Gibson also included a case of World War II items from Nazi Germany. He chose to display those artifacts in a coffin case. “You can feel the evil just looking at the case,” he said, noting why he chose to keep the items separate from the rest of the displays.
The museum opened to the public for viewing on Memorial Day.