Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Benicia museum to open WWII-end exhibit

August 3, 2005

Benicia museum to open WWII-end exhibit

By GREG MOBERLY, Times-Herald staff writer

It'll take a day to set up, be on display for nearly two months and provide lasting understanding and respect for World War II veterans, organizers hope.

"The War's End: 60th Anniversary of the End of World War II" is scheduled to open Saturday at the Benicia Historical Museum.

The display features memorabilia from local veterans and photos of the Benicia Arsenal during the 1940s. World War II mementos will be featured through Sept. 30, but Saturday's display kickoff accentuates the anniversary with World War II weapon displays, 1940s era military vehicles and tours of the Powder Magazine building.

The Powder Magazine housed all Benicia Arsenal's explosives and weapons when the military used the site. There are Civil War and Korean War displays inside.

The building is rarely open to the public because it isn't handicapped accessible.

Benicia resident and World War II veteran Louis Vecchi hopes his two teenage grandchildren gain a new appreciation for the war.

"I know World War II doesn't mean much to them," Vecchi said of his grandchildren.

Vecchi said he sees Saturday's activities as an opportunity for people "to really see what we went through."

Vecchi, a member of the 101st Airborne Division during the war, gave the museum a shadow box displaying his medals, which include a Bronze Star, a good conduct ribbon and an expert combat ribbon.

Senan Kennedy of Benicia is one of about 35 World War II re-enactors who hope to give younger generations something they'll remember.

Kennedy said both his father and father-in-law served in World War II, which cemented his war history interests.

Weapons demonstrations of 50- and 30-caliber machine guns and M1 rifles, all of which played prominently in the war, are planned for Saturday, Kennedy said.

Kennedy said World War II field equipment, half a dozen military jeeps and a 1941 World War II Dodge ambulance, will be displayed.

Local historians and veterans will tell war stories..

Museum Executive Director Sue Fisher said the displays will be in place Friday, the day before the event. But she said she isn't worried, saying volunteers can easily assemble the display cases in a day.

- E-mail Greg Moberly at or call 553-6833.

If you go ...

What: Kickoff of "The War's End: 60th Anniversary of the End of WWII" display

When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

Where: Benicia Historical Museum, 2060 Camel Road

Admission: $2 adult, $1 senior and student, free children 5 and under

Contact: 745-5435

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