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A Lebanon County Institution that salutes its history - abc27 WHTM

A Lebanon County Institution that salutes its history

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The setting is humble, but proud at the Pa. National Guard Military Museum at Fort Indiantown Gap. It's two floors of military memorabilia, housed in World War Two wooden barracks. It's a close up look at how soldiers lived, what they wore and the weapons they used, dating from the Civil War to the Gulf War.

Museum director and curator, Charlie Oellig, was there when the museum opened twenty seven years ago. He delights in sharing the Guard's long and honored story with visitors.

"We date back to 1747," he explained. "The Guard was founded by Ben Franklin as a 'Battalion of Associators.' The 28th Division, our Guard Division, is the oldest continuous serving Guard Division in the whole U.S. Army."

Visitors to the museum are able to trace the evolution of the Guard's guns and uniforms throughout the years, and those of the enemy. Living quarters in the barracks are maintained just as they were in the early 1940s. In addition, the equipment and uniforms used in medical care are displayed in a separate room. There is also a special tribute to Guardsmen who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, including an actual Medal of Honor. And the first female enlisted member of the Pa. National Guard is honored. Perhaps, the Guard's most famous alumnus, Anthony Biddle Jr., is honored for his many years as an American diplomat, a World War One soldier, General Eisenhower's right hand man and Adjutant General of the Pa National Guard.

Many of museum items are from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, while others were collected from aging buildings at the Gap, that were slated to be demolished. But, a surprising amount of material comes from private donations.

"People pass away and their grown children don't know what to do with dad's uniform," explained Oellig. " Sometimes they'll give us everything. They won't even keep dad's medals."

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