War militia adds visual impact to WWI program
HUGHESVILLE – World War I was the main topic for the East Lycoming Historical Society’s program held Monday night, November 19 at the social hall of Trinity Lutheran Church in Hughesville.
Guest speaker, Jack Craft from the Endless Mountains War Memorial Museum brought some historic war weaponry and military collections from that era.
The museum which was started by Craft in Sonestown has a collection from many wars. It was started by Craft who has a keen interest in war history since he was a child. With an extensive collection from the past 40 he has dedicated a museum after purchasing a small building in 1997 in order to display a devoted history to veterans. Added donations from others who share a similar interest resulted in an addition to the original structure. “We keep outgrowing ourselves,” said Craft who is now 64..
He started the program by reading some descriptions of war, when soldiers were just young boys who endured a service “fighting in the trenches” overseas. Some were prisoners of war, others were sick, and most endured little rations during 1917. “It was a pretty hefty warfare,” Craft described as he held up some hand crafted combat knives with a reference to one known as “the devil’s paintbrush, a nasty weapon.”
Other items included a bible as many were carried throughout war, a Springfield rifle, a machine gun, old photo albums, a complete war uniform with studded combat boots, stereo-optic cards, a bayonet, barbed wire and gas mask.
Showing the items revealed a more accurate picture of these patriots of the time. Spending long hours in muddy trenches, carrying heavy equipment, fighting through barbed wire and many perishing from gassing as they fought back from trench to trench.
Brent Stauffer who was from out of town visiting his father, Jerry Stauffer from Muncy, said he wanted to come to the program after he read the announcement in the newspaper. Both were especially interested in WWI and were quite inquisitive about the “dough boy” uniform with the hard hat.
Craft encouraged everyone to attend the Endless Mountains War Museum. He is hoping to acquire some military aircraft and expand to a larger building on higher ground. Special tributes are planned at the musuem for Memorial weekend and Labor Day weekend as well as a Vietnam tribute in July and a Pearl Harbor tribute in December.
The museum is located at 103 Main Street, Sonestown and more information can be found at www.emwmm.com.