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Mich. veterans museum opens for 2013 with new artifacts

Apr. 26, 2013 - 06:36AM   |  
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MUSKEGON, MICH. — Visitors should expect new artifacts and structural updates when the USS LST 393 Veterans Museum opens on Saturday, said John Stephenson, the LST 393 board president.

Updates to the museum, which is housed on a landing ship tank that is moored at Mart Dock on Muskegon Lake, include the ship’s recently repainted 14-foot bow doors.

“Seventy years of rust and old paint are gone,” Stephenson told The Muskegon Chronicle. “The distinctive doors — which saw America’s heroes pass through at Omaha Beach on D-Day — are shipshape and painted Navy ‘deck gray’ the way they were in 1944.”

In addition, several artifacts have been added to the museum’s collection and will be put on display throughout the season, he said.

Highlights include additions to the museum’s “Hall of Uniforms,” which contains more than 5,000 pieces of U.S. and foreign military uniforms; the expansion of the “Muskegon Sons” photo gallery, which honors World War II veterans from the county; and a flight helmet from Ike Kepford, a Muskegon native who was the Navy’s eighth-highest scoring ace of World War II.

The museum will also feature a new display of U.S. combat medical equipment, Stephenson said.

“We have equipment. We have uniforms,” he said. “We have a lot of stuff a lot of combat medics would use.”

The museum will also install 32-inch high-definition monitors for a few of their displays, said the museum’s curator Dan Weikel.

The monitors will be added to exhibits dedicated to the Tuskegee Airmen, D-Day, World War I, the home front, American women in the military and the operation of ships like the LST during World War II, and will continuously play DVDs related to those topics, he said.

The museum will also hold its annual Veterans Job Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 17, which will be open to the public this year, Weikel said.

It will also celebrate Armed Forces Day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 18. The event will highlight the service of World War II veterans and include patriotic music, guest speakers and a military tribute fly-over and 21-gun salute and taps. The museum will also hold a free drawing for four Detroit Tigers box seats.

Weikel and Stephenson also said that the popular “Movies on Deck” film series will return this year, complete with a new screen. The screen is bigger, stronger and steadier, Weikel said, and will hold up better against the wind.

“They are so popular,” he said about the free movie screenings. “We just wanted to keep them nice.”

This year’s films include “Ghostbusters” and “Jurassic Park.” A complete schedule will be released in the upcoming weeks, he said.

The LST is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week, with the last tour admitted at 4 p.m. Admission and self-guided tours are $6 for adults and $4 for students. Volunteers will be on hand to answer questions visitors may have.

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