Wisconsin Veterans Museum

Wisconsin Veterans Museum The Wisconsin Veterans Museum invites you to learn the stories of our veterans. Feel free to post comments, links, pictures, video, etc.
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01/05/2024

It's and who else to you think would be our favorite feathered friend at WVM? Of course it's none other than OLD ABE. He's been flying high in the galleries spotting his likeness from the Civil War exhibit through to the patches in the 20th century gallery. Stop in and take a selfie with Old Abe.

Celebrate National Trivia Day by saving the date for our virtual Trivia Night on January 16 from 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm. Chal...
01/05/2024

Celebrate National Trivia Day by saving the date for our virtual Trivia Night on January 16 from 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm. Challenge your knowledge in a thrilling evening of historical questions and camaraderie.

Sign up here: https://wisvetsmuseum.com/event/trivia-night-january/

Join us in wishing Jack Hall a Happy  100th Birthday!
01/03/2024

Join us in wishing Jack Hall a Happy 100th Birthday!

This c. 1920 display case was made by Oshkosh resident Gustave C. Schwandt, a 24-year veteran of the Wisconsin National ...
01/03/2024

This c. 1920 display case was made by Oshkosh resident Gustave C. Schwandt, a 24-year veteran of the Wisconsin National Guard who served during the Spanish American War, Mexican Border War and World War I. Schwandt spent many years employed at a monument works and translated his marble carving skills to wood to make this hinged, satin and velvet lined case. It displays 27 various badges and insignia, predominantly marksmanship awards, dating from the late 1890s through 1917, as well as a 1932 United Spanish War Veterans Encampment badge he later added to the cover. Schwandt was honorably discharged in March 1918 after being injured in France during the accidental discharge of a hand gr***de.

80 years ago today, the Wisconsin-Michigan 32d Infantry Division landed at Sio on New Guinea’s north coast. This landing...
01/02/2024

80 years ago today, the Wisconsin-Michigan 32d Infantry Division landed at Sio on New Guinea’s north coast. This landing occurred exactly one year after the fall of Buna, and was the division’s first battle after a long refit. The 32d established a beachhead and blocked the westward retreat of the Japanese 18th Army, forcing them to move inland over rough mountains and through thick jungle. A few weeks after the landing, Australian forces joined up from the east, completing the Allied victory.

For a long time, part of the victory remained classified. During the advance, Allied troops found a full set of Japanese codebooks that had been buried in a stream as burning was deemed impracticable. These books were flown to Australia, dried, copied, and distributed to codebreakers in the Pacific and the United States. Their contents enabled many more messages to be read, and overnight gave a clear picture of Japanese deployments in the Pacific – information that influenced future campaigns until the end of the war.

(Map and photo by U.S. Army.)

Today is the first day of 2024. That makes about 100 years since this January 1924 postcard taken in Fort Lewis, Washing...
01/01/2024

Today is the first day of 2024. That makes about 100 years since this January 1924 postcard taken in Fort Lewis, Washington, labeled “Junior’s Smile” from the collection of Orville W. Martin Sr. and Orville W. Martin Jr., a father and son from the Oshkosh area who each gave over thirty years as career officers in the United States Army. We hope your new year starts off similarly, with loved ones or with smiles and hope for the year to come. Happy New Year!

Happy New Year's Eve! As we look back on 2023, what are you looking forward to in 2024?
12/31/2023

Happy New Year's Eve! As we look back on 2023, what are you looking forward to in 2024?

Card Playing has been a timeless pastime full of camaraderie and amusement, bringing people together for the thrill of t...
12/28/2023

Card Playing has been a timeless pastime full of camaraderie and amusement, bringing people together for the thrill of the game. This National Card Playing Day, we share a photo from the collection. This photo is from the collection of Henry Masiak and shows soldiers on transport ships between France and England passing the time playing cards on the ship deck while others talk and wait to dock.

Masiak was born on July 12, 1911, in Chicago, Illinois, and soon afterward was adopted by relatives who lived in Northeim, Wisconsin, where he grew up. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on March 9, 1942. After training stateside, he was deployed to the European Theater in May 1944 and served as a Surgical Technician with the Medical Detachment of the 137th Infantry Regiment, 35th Infantry Division. He took part in the Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes, and Central Europe campaigns and is a recipient of a Bronze Star and a French Croix de Guerre. He returned to the States in August 1945 and was discharged on October 16, 1945.

This Old Abe souvenir is from the collection of Franklin R. Stoneburner, a 31-year veteran of the Wisconsin National Gua...
12/27/2023

This Old Abe souvenir is from the collection of Franklin R. Stoneburner, a 31-year veteran of the Wisconsin National Guard who collected antiques related to the bald eagle mascot "Old Abe" kept by the 8th Wisconsin Infantry during the Civil War. This souvenir, dated February 16th, 1888, is believed to originate from the 22nd Annual Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Encampment for the Department of Wisconsin that was held in Milwaukee on February 15th and 16th that year. Old Abe died almost seven years earlier on March 16, 1881, with his taxidermized remains on display at the GAR Memorial Hall within the Capitol in Madison at the time.

Today, we share some v-mail to share our season’s greetings with you. We wish everyone a joyful holiday season that brin...
12/25/2023

Today, we share some v-mail to share our season’s greetings with you. We wish everyone a joyful holiday season that brings you countless moments of happiness, love, and cheer. Happy Holidays!

Urban A. Sippel served in the 1st Special Service Force (1SSF) during World War II in Italy, a unit that did not train l...
12/25/2023

Urban A. Sippel served in the 1st Special Service Force (1SSF) during World War II in Italy, a unit that did not train like other units in the United States military. From Glenbeulah, Wisconsin, Sippel served from November 1943 to June 1944. During his training he was drilled in drilled in unconventional tactics and warfare and was the forerunner of the United States Army Special Forces. In the latest blog post, Sippel retells his story of service and gives a detailed account of the 1SSF at the Anzio beachhead and later breakout as part of the Fifth Army.
Hear his story, in his own words, here: https://wisvetsmuseum.com/urban-a-sippel-with-the-first-special-service-force-at-anzio/

Who were your great-great-grandparents? On National Roots Day (December 23rd), embark on a quest to unearth your family'...
12/23/2023

Who were your great-great-grandparents? On National Roots Day (December 23rd), embark on a quest to unearth your family's history. Share your findings, spark conversations, and celebrate the roots that connect you to them. WVM offers a ton of resources available to help you learn more about the Wisconsin veteran in your family tree. Unearth their tales of service with our online searchable databases, service records, published memoirs and reminiscences, regimental histories, original letters, photographs, and oral history interviews that can help you to fill in details. Be sure to reach out to see how we can help you with your research!

Over 7,600 miles from home in Kunming, China during the fall of 1944, Milwaukee resident James F. Pitterle purchased thi...
12/20/2023

Over 7,600 miles from home in Kunming, China during the fall of 1944, Milwaukee resident James F. Pitterle purchased this Christmas themed handkerchief as a souvenir shortly before returning stateside that November. It’s a reminder of the seven months First Lieutenant Pitterle spent in the China-Burma-India Theater while serving as a navigator with the 308th Bombardment Group, 374th Bombardment Squadron, Fourteenth Air Force “Flying Tigers” toward the end of World War II. Pitterle successfully completed 50 missions as part of the crew of the B-24 Ubangi Bag III during his time there, earning him a Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for his service.

Today we share a bit about Purple Heart, Army Good Conduct Medal, and Silver Star recipient, Oliver J. Plath. A Madison,...
12/19/2023

Today we share a bit about Purple Heart, Army Good Conduct Medal, and Silver Star recipient, Oliver J. Plath. A Madison, Wisconsin native, Plath enlisted in the US Army in July 1944 and went on to serve with the 87th Infantry Division in the European Theater toward the end of World War II. Plath was awarded the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy during an attempted river crossing in Germany on March 25, 1945. Despite being seriously wounded by machine gun fire, Plath remained with his boat in an attempt to save the ammunition that was aboard. When the ammunition burst into flame, he left the boat and reached a barge, where he remained for two days without food or medical attention. Plath found out he received the medal in June 1945 while recovering back home.

Jose Menendez III, a native of Tampa, Florida, grew up in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. He entered the U.S. Army in 1966 and dep...
12/17/2023

Jose Menendez III, a native of Tampa, Florida, grew up in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. He entered the U.S. Army in 1966 and deployed to Vietnam in 1967. He served as a forward observer for the 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade and spent most of his time in and around B**g Son. His duties included training local Montagnard men to use mortars. Menendez served a total of 26 months in Vietnam and earned 2 Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart during that time. While he was in Vietnam, his parents started an organization called MAPS (Moms and Pops of Soldiers) that sent care packages to servicemembers overseas. WVM proudly preserves the story of his service through objects, papers, and photographs donated by his family.

It’s National Monkey Day! We share this picture of a certain banana-loving primate who seems to have found his way into ...
12/15/2023

It’s National Monkey Day! We share this picture of a certain banana-loving primate who seems to have found his way into the shoulder sleeve insignia and uniform for the 2nd Infantry Division. Someone was certainly monkeying around! This photo is a part of Roy G. Zehren’s collection. Zehren, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was drafted in the U.S. Army during the Koreans war and served as an infantryman and photographer from 1951 to 1953 with B Company of the 23rd Regiment of the 2nd Infantry Division. His photographs are featured in our Souvenirs of Service Exhibit. Come visit the exhibit for more photos like this!

Today in 1862, Major General Ambrose E. Burnside’s Army of the Potomac crossed the Rappahannock River into the area of F...
12/11/2023

Today in 1862, Major General Ambrose E. Burnside’s Army of the Potomac crossed the Rappahannock River into the area of Fredericksburg, Virginia, to attack General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia on the heights behind the city. Confederate sharpshooters delayed the crossing for most of the 11th before withdrawing. Burnside’s men crossed the next day and looted Fredericksburg. On the morning of December 13, Burnside’s army attacked Marye’s Heights west of Fredericksburg, and Prospect Hill south of town. The Prospect Hill attack achieved some temporary success, while repeated assaults on Marye’s Heights failed to get closer than 25 paces than the stone wall in front of the heights. Burnside called off the battle, and retreated the night of December 15-16. The United States lost 12,500 casualties, against Confederate losses of 5,000.

Wisconsin’s Iron Brigade participated as part of Abner Doubleday’s division, which protected the Union southern flank opposite Prospect Hill. Rufus King Jr.’s Battery A, 4th U.S. Artillery supported the Marye’s Heights assaults, including one by a brigade commanded by John R. Brooke, who later commanded the invasion of Puerto Rico in 1898, which force included Wisconsin National Guard units.

The battlefield is today preserved as part of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.

(Maps from U.S. Army, and image of Marye’s Heights fighting from Library of Congress.)

125 years ago today, the United States and Spain signed the Treaty of Paris, which effectively ended the Spanish-America...
12/11/2023

125 years ago today, the United States and Spain signed the Treaty of Paris, which effectively ended the Spanish-American War. More than 5000 Wisconsinites served in the war, including some well-known names like Charles King, Arthur MacArthur, and Billy Mitchell. Only 2 Wisconsin soldiers were killed in action, but 132 others died of disease.

Arthur Frank, a Milwaukee native, served in the 1st Wisconsin Infantry Regiment. He and his unit deployed to Camp Cuba Libre in Jacksonville, Florida, where they remained throughout the war. Frank spent 2 weeks battling illness in an Army hospital. He survived, but 50 other members of his regiment succumbed to sicknesses like typhoid fever while serving in Florida. The story of Arthur Frank’s Spanish-American War service is preserved through papers, photographs, and objects.

Today is National Christmas card day! The history of Christmas cards stretches as far back as the 1600’s, making for a l...
12/09/2023

Today is National Christmas card day! The history of Christmas cards stretches as far back as the 1600’s, making for a long history of spreading the ‘Season’s Greetings’. Today, we share some Christmas Cards V-Mail style. V-Mail was a way for the military to provide a faster mail service for military personnel. Instead of sending whole letters, they would send microfilmed copies instead which saved space. V-mail was very popular during World War II and in other eras, here are some examples of soldiers spreading holiday cheer.

12/08/2023

Are you Go Army, Beat Navy?
Or Go Navy, Beat Army?
Watch our prediction for the winning team.

Today in 1941, Japanese planes attacked U.S. bases at Pearl Harbor and Oahu, Hawaii. The surprise attack did significant...
12/07/2023

Today in 1941, Japanese planes attacked U.S. bases at Pearl Harbor and Oahu, Hawaii. The surprise attack did significant damage to the U.S. Pacific Fleet and nearby air bases. President Franklin Roosevelt called it a “dastardly attack” and that December 7, 1941, would be “a date which will live in infamy.”

Over 200 Wisconsinites were present for the attack, with over 55 killed in action. Two of the 16 Medals of Honor awarded that day went to Milwaukeeans Cassin Young and Franklin Van Valkenburgh.

The Fall 2021 Bugle explored Wisconsin stories from Pearl Harbor, and can be found at the link below.

(Image from US Navy.)

https://wisvetsmuseum.com/about-wisconsin-veterans-museum/pressroom/the-bugle-magazine/

In April 1945, Merrill, Wisconsin resident Elmer P. Rohde deployed to Umnak, one of the Fox Islands that makes up the Al...
12/06/2023

In April 1945, Merrill, Wisconsin resident Elmer P. Rohde deployed to Umnak, one of the Fox Islands that makes up the Aleutian archipelago southwest of mainland Alaska. As a medical officer in the U.S. Army, he was needed to help staff the remote island’s evacuation hospital. But when World War II ended in Japan his role switched to one of search and rescue. One mission found him north of the Arctic Circle providing medical treatment during a diphtheria outbreak among the indigenous people living in the village of Point Hope, Alaska. At Rohde’s request, some of the local residents carved this walrus ivory chess set for him, each of its pieces representing an animal native to the region, including polar bears, bald eagles, and Dall sheep. Rohde brought back this unique souvenir when he returned home in April 1946.

Today we share a bit about Orville W. “Sonny” Martin, Jr, a recipient of numerous awards. These awards include the Legio...
12/05/2023

Today we share a bit about Orville W. “Sonny” Martin, Jr, a recipient of numerous awards. These awards include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star (twice), Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal (three times), French Croix de Guerre, and the Combat Infantry Badge. He was born in Oshkosh and his father, a Neenah, Wisconsin native and World War I veteran, met his mother while serving in the Philippines. Martin was raised as an “Army brat” and was included in base maneuvers since he was 12. He went on to be a career military man, retiring with the rank of Colonel. He attended the University of Wisconsin in the ROTC for three years before serving in World War II. He served in the European Theater, seeing action during the Rhineland and Central Europe campaigns with the 59th Armored Battalion, 13th Armored Division. After World War II, Martin went on to serve in Korea and Taiwan, and worked at the Pentagon before becoming the Editor in Chief of Armor Magazine. Martin remained in the service for a total of 31 years, retiring as a Colonel in 1974. Learn more about Martin’s story in his own words, in his oral history interview here:https://www.wisvetsmuseum.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Martin-Orville-_OH624.pdf

ICYMI  there are unique gifts made locally awaiting you at our museum store.
12/04/2023

ICYMI there are unique gifts made locally awaiting you at our museum store.

If you’re still on the hunt for the perfect gift, you may want to check the Wisconsin Veterans Museum.

Carl Puls, the son of German immigrants, grew up in Madison and was working for a truck farm when he was drafted into th...
12/04/2023

Carl Puls, the son of German immigrants, grew up in Madison and was working for a truck farm when he was drafted into the US Army at the age of 36. He deployed to Europe in July 1943 and served as a medical technician with the 23rd General Hospital. He provided medical care to American soldiers fighting in Italy, France, and Germany and remained in Europe as part of the occupation forces. He lived most of his post-war life in Madison, but spent the final few years at the Wisconsin Veterans Home at King.

We're proud to carry Sam's coffee in our store. Stop in and buy some to support his mission and ours.
12/01/2023

We're proud to carry Sam's coffee in our store. Stop in and buy some to support his mission and ours.

My name is Sam and I struggle with alcohol.
BUT By the Grace of God I am sober 2 and a half years.
This post is intended to reach those who struggle with this addiction. It is hard and it sucks but you can do it.
I promise.
With the holiday season coming it will get harder but if you stick with it is so rewarding.
Reach out to someone if it gets difficult.
Call me. I will listen.
I am already proud of you.

Join us this holiday season as we collect donations for food banks. No donation is too small and we also welcome non-per...
11/30/2023

Join us this holiday season as we collect donations for food banks. No donation is too small and we also welcome non-perishable donations for our bin. Every bit helps! Some popular food drive items include shelf stable items like canned goods, dried foods, and preserved foods. Donate anytime from now until Saturday, December 16 during our regular store hours (10AM-5PM).

Save the date! WVM's own Curator of History, Kevin Hampton, will lead a pre-performance discussion full of historical co...
11/30/2023

Save the date! WVM's own Curator of History, Kevin Hampton, will lead a pre-performance discussion full of historical context for the WWI Christmas Truce, at next week's Thursday, December 7, 6:30 pm performance of “All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914” at the Overture Center. He will present the historical context for the WWI Christmas Truce. With shared stories and images from the museum collection complemented by news articles from the period, attendees will gain context to appreciate the performance more deeply.

Can't make it? He'll also be presenting at the Sunday, December 10th,1 pm performance and the Thursday December 14th, 6:30 pm performance. Learn more here: https://wisvetsmuseum.com/event/all-is-calm-the-christmas-truce-of-1914-pre-performance-discussion/

This dress blue jumper belonged to Donald E. Collins, a radioman 3rd class aboard the submarine USS Finback (SS-230) dur...
11/29/2023

This dress blue jumper belonged to Donald E. Collins, a radioman 3rd class aboard the submarine USS Finback (SS-230) during World War II. Collins was assigned to the USS Finback at Midway Island and served on a total of twelve patrols in the Pacific, many on lifeguard duty performing air-sea rescue procedures for downed pilots. While on her tenth patrol in the Bonin Islands during September 1944, the Finback rescued five naval aviators near Chichijima, including pilot George H.W. Bush, later the 41st President of the United States.

The time around Christmas is filled with many traditions and activities and one favorite is caroling. Merrill, WI, nativ...
11/26/2023

The time around Christmas is filled with many traditions and activities and one favorite is caroling. Merrill, WI, native Betty Mae Whitney Prieve had a unique experience with caroling at Pearl Harbor. Prieve joined the U.S. Navy in 1942 and trained as an airplane mechanic. In 1944, she volunteered for duty at Pearl Harbor. In a 2004 interview with John Driscoll for the Wisconsin Veterans Museum Oral History Program, she speaks about joining the Navy, details her training, and shares about her time stationed at Ford Island in Pearl Harbor.
Read the latest blog to hear about her special memory caroling one evening with other servicemembers here: https://wisvetsmuseum.com/betty-m-prieve-a-song-for-the-holiday/

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