I want to share the incredible experience I had volunteering with the Veteran’s Memorial Museum.
On that day, I got to put together my own display about a veteran formally considered MIA (mission in action). I got to paint the shelves, screw in the hardware, gather all of the documents about his service and his recovery, write his bio and completely design the layout for his case.
This particular serviceman, Gerald “Mike” Kight, was part of the 82nd Airborne and was part of Operation Market Garden in 1944. Unfortunately the operation was not as successful as hoped and they were overrun by German forces. There was only one survivor…and the last time he saw Mike, he was badly injured but still manning his machine gun.
Mike was lost for 67 years until three amateur artifact hunters found his remains in a cornfield in the Netherlands in 2011. After finding three empty cases of ammo it was determined that he had fired to the very last shot. He came home in 2012 and was laid to rest next to his mother, who never gave up hope that he would be brought home.
All of the artifacts I put on display were still in evidence bags. I got to cut them open and hold fragments of his uniform. I hung up a parachute that was found at the scene. I touched what was left of his jump boots. It was hands down one of the most moving experiences I’ve ever been a part of.
On POW/MIA Remembrance Day at the museum in September, Mike’s family spoke and saw his display for the very first time.
You have no idea how much it means to me to work somewhere that supports it employees and communities by providing volunteer hours. I am so thankful that I got to be a part of things like this because of WSECU. And the director of the museum has told me how much he appreciates it as well!
Kylie McKune-Dahl, Member Solutions