“This will be a place to honor Wilson County Veterans and also an opportunity to educate people about the service and sacrifice made by these veterans and their families. We are asking veterans and families from Wilson County to help make this a fitting memorial and celebration of service,” said Bernie Ash, Wilson County Veterans Service director.
Ash said the group would like to receive memorabilia or artifacts from the veteran’s time in service that they would like to donate or loan for display at the museum. The group will also take family artifacts from members who served but have died.
“Donated or loaned items will be carefully displayed to preserve the integrity of the item and a plaque will describe the item, the soldier who used it and the person or family who donated the item,” Ash said.
Ash said the museum and office could also use volunteers. The group is looking for veterans with helicopter experience (painting, restorative, repair) to volunteer their services for the newly acquired Vietnam era UH-1 Huey helicopter that will be restored and displayed at the museum.
According to Wilson County commissioner and retired U.S. Army Col. and Jerry McFarland, the helicopter is on loan from the State of Tennessee. McFarland said the UH-1 Huey helicopter was used to fly U.S. soldiers to Vietnam from 1966-1968, and the Tennessee National Guard later used it from 1980–1985. The State of Tennessee acquired the helicopter and used it as a training aid most recently, McFarland said.
Ash said the group would like veterans who would volunteer as tour guides for museum visitors.
Ash said a grand opening for the museum is set for Oct. 29, although signs have shown construction of the museum and office could complete by late September.
The museum and office will complete the Wilson County Veterans Plaza, located next to the Wilson County Courthouse, which includes the already opened Wilson County Veterans Park. Officials dedicated the park in 2014.
The Wilson County Veterans Park will be dedicated in honor of the men and women who stepped forward and to serve when the country called, according to Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto.
For more information on donations and volunteer opportunities, contact Ash or Carol Dedman at the Wilson County Veteran’s Services Office at 615-444-2460.