Loyola students volunteer at National WWII Museum
Published: Friday, January 18, 2013
Updated: Friday, January 18, 2013 21:01
Four Loyola students volunteered with a Loyola professor at the dedication ceremony of the National WWII Museum’s newest additional building on its campus.
On Jan. 12, the National WWII Museum held a dedication ceremony to honor the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center as its newest addition.
With the help of mass communication Professor Andrew Nelson, mass communication senior Danielle Latimer, mass communication senior Jacqueline Padilla, mass communication and Spanish junior Alden Woodhull and mass communication junior Paul Keeshan volunteered at the dedication ceremony.
Woodhull said this opportunity was special to her because she has an interest in working at a museum in the future.
“We’re not doing this for class or for school, but just to learn, to maybe help us in the future,” Woodhull said.
Guests and speakers such as Tom Brokaw, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Senator Mary Landrieu and Senator David Vitter were present at the ceremony as well as a number of veterans of WWII.
Alan Raphael, marketing manager at the National WWII Museum, said there were 1,500 invited guests and 80 WWII veterans registered to attend, though he said he’s sure there were more veterans in attendance than those who registered.
One of these WWII veterans in attendance was Lieutenant Colonel Leo Gray, who served as a fighter pilot in Italy in 1945 with his fellow Tuskegee Airmen.
Gray said he was a wingman of Roscoe Brown, who was also in attendance, in the 332 fighter group. Gray said it’s a rarity to have him and Brown in the same place together, as a pilot and a “wingman,” given the decreasing amount of Tuskegee Airmen left.
Gray said he joined the Army as a volunteer for a specific reason.
“Everybody went in back in those days. If you volunteered, you got a choice of what you got to do. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t doing something menial,” Gray said.
Gray said he considers his greatest achievement when he got his wings. “When I got my wings, it was such an achievement because so many people didn’t make it. The people who did weren’t necessarily the best or the brightest, but they persevered,” Gray said.
In addition to making sure they got back home safely, Gray said the Tuskegee Airmen had another pressing task.
“What we had to do was identical to what white pilots had to do but when we left the base, we had to face racism,” Gray said.
Inside the US Freedom Pavilion, there are seven aircrafts flown during WWII, an interactive “experience” of the final mission of a submarine used in WWII called USS Tang, four tanks used in the war and the cockpit of one of Boeing’s aircrafts used during the war.
Tom Czekanski, director of collections and exhibits at the museum, said each of the aircrafts hanging from the ceiling of the Pavilion has a different story of how they came to hang from the ceiling of the Pavilion.
“One of the aircrafts was recovered from Lake Michigan, one is on loan from the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola, Fla. and one was recovered from an icecap in Greenland,” Czekanski said.
The Boeing Company provided many aircrafts during WWII, including some of the planes hanging in the Boeing Center. The company also donated $15 million to make the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center possible.
Donald Bollinger, past chairman of the National WWII Museum board of trustees, spoke about the mission of the $350 million expansion of the US Freedom Pavilion.
“It’s about the veterans. They’ve done so much and get thanked so little. We had to do it right for them,” Bollinger said.
Bollinger said the museum will have three more additions. He said two more buildings will be added to the property along with a Peace Canopy
Jade Rouzan, A ’12, attended the event as an intern for FOX 8 WVUE. As well as being an opportunity for professional development, Rouzan said the event was something sentimental for her.
“This has been such an educational experience for me, hearing Tom Brokaw speak and how much he cares about the city and its progression. I am more proud to be an American today than I have ever been in my life,” Rouzan said.
Aaren Gordon can be reached at email@example.com