Includes video from the event
The Veterans of All Wars Museum held its grand opening at the former Peerless Woolen Mill in Rossville on Saturday, July 12.
The opening was held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and barbecue was served to all attending.
Robert H. Honeycutt, a World War II veteran from the Chattanooga area and museum director, and Marilyn Johnson of LaFayette finally realized their vision of a museum that honors U.S. veterans from all wars.
Honeycutt said, We have been working on this museum for six months, since December actually, and we think we have come to the final end of it today, and from this point on, it will be a historic thing for people to come and see. A lot of history here all the wars, not just one war, but all the wars and we invite you to come and see it.
The opening brought many veterans and their family members and friends out to see the museum and enjoy the recognition that these brave veterans deserved.
Emotions were high at times, especially during Honeycutts tour of the museum and his description of his time as a prisoner of war.
Those young and old were given historic examples and artifacts of what these brave men and women achieved for their country.
The walls held photographs of war veterans, both living and deceased.
Many military uniforms, maps, ammunition, flags, weapons and model replicas of various battles graced the museum, along with numerous names of soldiers who gave their lives for their county.
Honeycutt and Johnson had been searching for a location for the museum for the past several months.
After watching Sen. Bob Dole and actor Tom Hanks on television raising money for the National World War II Memorial that opened in Washington, D.C., in 2004, Johnson set out to organize a local museum for veterans.
VIDEO: Veterans of All Wars Museum
To launch external video player, click here About Marilyn Johnson
Johnson is the widow of Army 1st Class Sgt. Eugene Talmedge Cochran, who died at age 42 on active duty due to injuries sustained in Vietnam. Her father, Thomas W. Demsey of Rome, Ga., and her son, Reggie, 38, of Las Vegas, both served in the Army.
Since 2000, Johnson has been writing letters to World War II veterans she has never met. The veterans have responded to her with letters of gratitude and memorabilia from their experiences in war. In the letters she received from the veterans, she learned that many felt touched for someone finally thanking them for their service.
Johnson took the initiative to notify living veterans of the passing of other fellow veterans. Johnsons collection of veterans letters grew to include more than 18 albums, pictures, never-before-seen paintings and medals, among many other items.
About Robert Honeycutt
Honeycutt reached the rank of staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force. He worked as a cameraman for the military and served from Jan. 5, 1942, to Oct. 5, 1945. He served in the battles of Egypt-Libya, Tunisia, Sicily, Naples-Foggia, Rome-Arno, Rhineland, Central Europe and the Balkans.
Honeycutt and Jane Littlejohn Berz authored The Eleventh Man: Memories of the German Death March, Winter 1945. According to the book, as a prisoner of war, Honeycutt was forced to endure the little-known death march" from Stalag Luft IV.
The book recounts the experiences Honeycutt endured during the war. It reflects back to his childhood, enlistment and how he persevered through a destructive battle on a mission to Austria. The B-24 consisted of a 10-man crew, with Honeycutt being the 11th man. The B-24 was surviving on a single engine and lost brave men aboard the charter plane. Honeycutt grabbed the right wing gun and took to battle against German fighters.
As the B-24 was shot down, Honeycutt escaped and literally had to pull his parachute open. A German fighter had the opportunity to shoot him but waved his wings to allow him to keep his life.
The highly decorated war veteran was inspired to write his book by the late Desmond Doss of Walker County, a conscientious objector from World War II. Honeycutt is proud of his service to his country and wants the generations that follow to be aware of the service of what is called the Greatest Generation.
Honeycutts nephew Bob Honeycutt said at the museum opening, We would like for everyone to know that this is not just a museum for today, but it is one that is always in progress.
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