Throughout Miami County are monuments and exhibits that highlight the history of World War II in Miami County.
Each of the following locations is open to the public. (Photos by Matt Bayman)
Exploring the History of World War II in Miami County
By Judy Deeter
The history of World War II is preserved at museums, libraries and monuments throughout Miami County. Individuals wishing to learn more about Miami County’s role in the war - and its veterans - can find World War II information, historical markers and memorabilia at the following public locations:
A.B. GRAHAM MEMORIAL CENTER AND MUSEUM
– State Route 36, Conover
An area of the first floor hallway is dedicated to the United States Military. There are military uniforms on display, a wall of honor lists names of those who have served, it has a mural of military scenes painted by Piqua artist Max Cummings, and military artifacts. The exhibit was created for Miami County’s Bicentennial in 2007.
ELIZABETH TOWNSHIP COMMUNITY CENTER
– 5760 Walnut Grove Road
The community center has a museum room on the second floor. (Visitors to the center must check in with the center’s receptionist to see the room.) World War II materials in the room include: a notebook with Elizabeth Township resident’s enlistment records, casualty lists, discharge papers, newspaper articles, letters, photographs, uniforms and equipment. (Open until 9:30 p.m. M-Th; 7 p.m. Friday; and 2 p.m. on Saturdays)
DON GENTILE STATUE
– downtown Piqua
Major Don Gentile (Dominick Salvatore Gentile) was a Piqua World War II Air Ace. A statue honoring him is located in Piqua on High Street - a little east of the intersection with Main Street. It was placed there on July 6, 1986. Listed on the base of the statue are the planes he flew and the medals he received.
PIQUA PUBLIC LIBRARY LOCAL HISTORY DEPARTMENT
– 116 W. High St.
The library’s Local History Department has World War II editions of the Piqua Daily Call newspaper on microfilm, a veterans’ notebook titled “Miami County, Ohio Veterans, KIA, Missing and Wounded,” and wartime photographs. Of particular interest are photographs, paintings, books and newspaper records of Piqua World War II Air Ace Major Don Gentile and a notebook titled “Miami Co. Veterans in Memory of Kenny Vore.”
PIQUA VETERANS MONUMENT
– Broadway at Washington Streets
The monument is dedicated to soldiers of all wars. Engraved on it sides are the names of Piqua veterans, including a list of those who served in World War II.
PLEASANT HILL HISTORY CENTER
– 8 E. Monument St., Pleasant Hill
Several years ago, Mr. Warren Jackson sent letters to veterans who had ties to Newberry Township requesting information about their experiences during World War II. Many veterans responded with not only stories, but photographs too. Their responses and pictures have been placed in three notebooks at the history center. An index to the names of veterans whose information is in the notebooks is online at the Pleasant Hill History Center website www.pleasanthillhistorycenter.com. Once at the site, click on “Resources” and then on “Military” to see the listing of names in the notebooks. (Open 3-7 p.m. on Mondays)
TIPPECANOE HISTORICAL SOCIETY MUSEUM
– 20 N. Third St., Tipp City
The museum has a variety of World War II items: a carved artillery shell carved that was decorated by a wounded soldier, a photo of the Tipp City World War II roll of honor sign which listed names of those who served in World War II, Japanese money, tax stamps, military toys, flare pistols made in Tipp City by International Flare (Kilgore Mfg. Co.) and a wartime book “Biography of S/Sgt. Edmund F. Jackson, Feb. 23-1943-Sept. 9, 1945”. A Tipp City military notebook has photographs, newspaper articles, veterans’ documents and military records. (Open 2-4 p.m. Wednesdays and 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays)
VETERANS MEMORIAL PARK
– 450 W. Main St., Tipp City
The park was built in 2007 and has a monument dedicated to all United States military veterans. Brick paver stones surrounding the monument have names of local veterans etched into the brick. Some brick pavers have names of those who served in World War II.
– West Street
This park has two historical markers honoring Troy Junior Girls Canteen 1943-1946, teenage girls, their mothers and friends who operated a free canteen for soldiers passing through Troy on trains of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. One marker is an Ohio Historical Society (Ohio History Connection) marker (placed also by The Troy Historical Society and with information by local historian Scott Trostel) and second marker was placed by American Legion Post 43, VFW Post 5436 and AMVETS Post 88. The Ohio Historical Society marker tells the story of the canteen; the marker placed by the local military organizations names the participants in the World War II canteen.
MIAMI VALLEY VETERANS MUSEUM
–2nd Floor of the Troy Masonic Building at 107 W. Main St., Troy
Many of the World War II items are in the museum’s Herb Schlatter Gallery. Uniforms of the era are displayed on mannequins. Display cases have photographs and other graphics such as a captured enemy flag. It has donations exhibited from all of the World War II armed services including field gear, rations, and letters to and from home. The museum also pays tribute to the home-front and those who supported troops such as the USO.
It recently created a children’s area with military coloring pages, scrapbooks and other items used to teach children American military history. (Open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays)
MUSEUM OF TROY HISTORY
– 124 East Water St., Troy
The museum has several items related to World War II: a scrapbook album that tells the story of Troy’s industrial war effort, an ammunition belt made by Troy Sunshade, an artillery sight made by the Hobart Manufacturing Company, a photograph of armed security guards at the Hobart Manufacturing Company, a ration coupon book and a war bonds book. (Open 1-5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays April through October)
– 101 Riverside Dr., Troy
The cemetery has a veterans’ monument near the front entrance. Brick pavers on walkways around the monument have names of several World War II veterans. The monument was dedicated May 30, 1992.
THE TROY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
– 100 W. Main St., Troy
It does have a World War II casualty listing at its website www.thetroyhistoricalsociety.org. Once at the site, click on “Miami County Ohio Genealogy and History Records”, then on “Military Records of Miami County, Ohio” and finally on the casualty list.
TROY-MIAMI COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY LOCAL HISTORY LIBRARY
– 100 W. Main St.
The library has copies of THE TROY DAILY NEWS on microfilm from the World War II era, discharge papers, obituaries, biographies, oral histories and family records and photographs about World War II soldiers from Miami County. A history book written by Vernon R. Vaughn has a list of African-American soldiers who served in the war.
WACO AIR MUSEUM AND LEARNING CENTER
– 1865 S. County Rd. 25-A, Troy
This museum contains the history and artifacts of the WACO Aircraft Company, which manufactured airplanes in Troy from 1923 until after World War II. During the war, the company made CG4-A glider was used during the war, including at the battle of Normandy. Recently, a small theater was built inside the museum where visitors can watch a film about the glider. The museum also has World War II uniforms, photographs and artwork. On exhibit case honors the World War II Civil Air Patrol. It has a headset, medal, patch, and patrol officer’s “crusher hat”. A jacket worn by Jean Terrill McCreery, daughter of former Troy Mayor Ivan Terrill is displayed. She worked at the WACO Aircraft Company during 1942-1943 and left Troy to fly with the WASPs (Women’s Army Service Pilots). She received her wings from General “Hap” Arnold in 1944 as part of WASP class WW-44-10. She was one of 68 graduates on December 7, 1944. Thirteen days have her graduation, the WASP organization was disbanded. Between the museum’s two hangar buildings is a patio made of brick pavers. Names of World War II WACO employees, veterans, and references to the war are engraved on the pavers.
HOMETOWN HERO BANNERS
– Along Miami Street (State Route 48)
A series of banners honoring local veterans are along Miami Street (State Route 48) through West Milton. The banners have the photographs of residents who served in the United States military, their names, branch of service, and time of service. Some banners honor World War II veterans.
Note: There are other cemeteries, museums and private military organizations in Miami County that have monuments, collections, and markers or plaques honoring America’s veterans. The listing above only names those that are available for public viewing/research and have specific references to World War II.