By Rick Palsgrove
Nestled among the thousands of items in the new wing at Motts Military Museum is a Bible with a bullet hole in it.
“That Bible stopped a bullet in Vietnam in 1971,” said Warren Motts, director of Motts Military Museum. “The Bible was in a pocket over the soldier’s heart. It saved his life.”
That is just one of many stories to be shared in the museum’s new 5,200 square foot wing that will be dedicated at the museum, located at 5075 S. Hamilton Road in Groveport, on May 23 at 10 a.m.
“The new wing, which was funded by donations, doubles the size of the existing museum,” said Motts. “Each artifact in the museum tells a story, no matter how big or how small the item is. But the whole idea of the museum is that it is a museum about people and their experiences, it’s not about things. It’s about the individuals who served and the sacrifices they made for our freedom.”
The dedication ceremony for the new museum wing will feature a landing by a Vietnam War era Huey helicopter, recognition of the 1st and 9th U.S. Cavalry units, music, speakers, a 21 gun salute, and more. Medal of Honor recipient Ron Rosser along with Don Jakeway, who jumped into Normandy on D-Day in 1944 as a member of the 82nd Airborne, will cut the ribbon opening the new wing.
Motts said the museum’s existing wing features primarily World War II and the Civil War while the new wing includes exhibits covering the Korean War, Vietnam War, Iraqi Freedom, the Cold War, NASA and the space age, women in the military, POWs, the 82nd Airborne, the 101st Airborne, Korean War era MASH units, Medal of Honor winners, chaplains, war photography, the evolution of the rifle and pistol, and much more.
“The biggest display in the new wing is dedicated to the Vietnam War era,” said Motts. “I wanted to give Vietnam War veterans their due.”
Of particular note in the new wing is the large, 10 panel Ohio Vietnam Memorial Wall that includes the names of all the Ohioans killed in the Vietnam War. The wall previously traveled around the state, but now has a permanent home at the museum.
“The names on the wall are listed by county and were hand-lettered by Barbara Wright,” said Motts. “An amazing thing about the wall is that almost everyone who sees it sees a familiar name on the wall.”
Accompanying the wall in the museum are personal items that people left at the wall’s base when it traveled around the state – items like stuffed animals, a bottle of Champagne, a baseball, notes, and more.
“The personal items left at the wall are very unique and I felt it was important they be kept with the wall,” said Motts. “We don’t know who left them or who the items were intended for – that’s between God and the world. ”
Motts said the museum seeks to preserve as much history as possible and that each item on display is a link to the past.
“Many veterans aren’t seeking kudos,” said Motts. “But they did some unbelievable things and it’s important we remember their stories.”
For information call (614) 836-5110 or visit mottsmilitarymuseum.org.