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16 hours ago

Collings Foundation

Flgiht coordinator Demi just sent this great shot of the folks visiting the tour in Plymouth, MA. ...

19 hours ago

Collings Foundation

Today, September 18th, 2019, the American Heritage Museum honors our dear friend Clarence Smoyer, WWII Veteran and Tank Ace, as he is awarded the Bronze Star for his heroic actions in March 1945 in Cologne, Germany. The surprise ceremony came as Smoyer visited the World War II Memorial as part of a number of visits planned around the new book "Spearhead: An American Tank Gunner, His Enemy, and a Collision of Lives in World War II” by Adam Makos

Smoyer was hailed as “the hero of Cologne.” His tank commander told him that he and the rest of his crew would receive Bronze Star medals for their heroism in combat.

However, a few days after the battle, U.S. military police saw Smoyer standing near German kids who wanted chewing gum, Makos said. The MPs cited him for breaking an Army rule that forbade U.S. soldiers from talking with Germans.

“They pulled up, and they busted him. They said, ‘We caught you talking to these German kids, fraternizing,’ and he lost the medal over a stick of gum.”

His award of the Bronze Star today, after 74 years, was witnessed by hundreds of visitors and friends, including American Heritage Museum Executive Director Rob Collings who took these photos. Smoyer was wearing the tanker jacket given to him by AHM volunteers from the US Army Brotherhood of Tankers.

Congratulations sir! We thank you!

Read more at: www.witf.org/2019/09/18/96-year-old-army-veteran-from-allentown-awarded-bronze-star-in-surprise-c...
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This is Hellen Kaplan at 102 years young. Hellen was escorted today by her daughter Judy Stohn-White, and granddaughter Emily White to the Wings of Freedom Tour, at Beverly Massachusetts. Hellen’s Husband was Sergeant Isidore Stohn, who served as was mechanic on the B17 Flying Fortress, from 1941-1945. Sergeant Stohn enlisted after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Ms. Helen brought with her a news article reporting that he husband was part of a crew that swapped out an engine on a B17 in the record time of 4hrs 56min. The average time for swapping an engine was between 8-9 hours. Ms. Hellen’s contribution to the war effort was working for the McKlosky Company that built self propelled ferroconcrete ships, used during the Landing at Normandy. Pictured bellow is Ms. Helen holding an inert 50 caliber bullet. Ms. Helen said she remembered coming into work and finding a 50 caliber shell on her desk, that had been fashioned into a letter opener. ...

Say hi to 95 year young, WWII Veteran, Sergeant, Frank Clocher, of the 85 Airdrome Squadron. Between 1942-1946, Frank served as a B24 Liberator and B17 Flying Fortress mechanic, mostly in the South Pacific and the Philippines. Frank spent a lot of time doing engine swaps. Frank stated; “they would throw the damaged engines in a ditch an cover them with bulldozers.” When asked what the general consensus of the B24, Frank stated; “the B24 was the greatest plane ever made.” Frank relayed a particularly disturbing moment was while waiting in line for a haircut, the mail guy asked if he could cut in line. Frank replied sure, he was in no hurry! While that guy was sitting in the chair a bullet struck him in the head, killing him instantly! Frank said; they never found the source of that shot. While returning from overseas Frank claims the best thing he ever saw, was the Statue of Liberty all lit up at night, from the air. A special thank to Dick Jirard who escorted Frank to the Wings of Freedom Tour in Beverly, Massachusetts. Dick plays in a band where Frank can still be seen dancing with his wife. ...

KT Budde-Jones spotted 2nd Lieutenant (Lt) Robert “Bob” Garabedian, along with his adorable “First Wife,”😂 of 68 years, Ms Marilyn, who came to the 2019 “Wings of Freedom Tour” at the Groton- New London stop, with two of their 12 children, #1 Steven and #9 Thomas, in order experience a P40, similar to the one Lt. Garabedian flew in the Army Air Corps.
Lt. Garabedian is currently 95 years of age, enlisting at 18 years of age in March, 1943. During enlistment training, Lt. Garabedian tested results qualified him to be a pilot, bombardier, and navigator! Lt. Garabedian chose be a pilot, citing his inspiration was the flyers in the Battle of Britain. Jokingly, Lt. Garabedian indicated that the highest scores were chosen for navigator, the lowest score were for pilots. Lt. Garabedian recalls he lost 14 friends during training; four, in the AT6, one, in the P40, and the remaining in the P47. Lt. Garabedian was part of a group that was chosen to train for a top secret invasion of Japan, however; the war ended and Lt. Garabedian discharged in September 1945! During the conclusion of my time talking with Lt. Garabedian, he simply grinned and stated; due to an intelligence leak, Japan got word he was coming and surrendered. We laughed and Ms Marilyn stated “yeah, none of us bought it either.”

Bob and Marilyn met at a church dance October 28, 1949. Bob said she was a looker as Marilyn told him to hush. They were married and have; 12 children, 25 grandchildren and 26 great grandchildren. The Members of the Wings of Freedom Tour were privileged and honored to have experienced your visit and wish both of you well. Thank you for your service sir.
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The purpose of the Collings Foundation is to organize and support “living history” events and the presentation of historical artifacts and content that enable Americans to learn more about their heritage through direct participation.
Foundation

The Collings Foundation is a non-profit, Educational Foundation (501(c)3), founded in 1979. The purpose of the Foundation is to organize and support “living history” events and the preservation, exhibition and interaction of historical artifacts that enable Americans to learn more about their heritage through direct participation. The original focus of the Foundation was transportation-related events such as antique car rallies, hill climbs, carriage and sleigh rides, and a winter ice-cutting festival in the Stow, MA area. During the mid-eighties, these activities were broadened to include aviation-related events such as air shows, barnstorming, historical reunions, and joint museum displays on a nationwide level.

2 plane w 51Since 1989, a major focus of the Foundation has been the “Wings of Freedom Tour” of WWII aircraft. This tour showcases two fully restored bomber aircraft: a B-24 Liberator and B-17 Flying Fortress. The newest addition to the Wings of Freedom Tour is a WWII P-51C Mustang dual-control fighter aircraft.

The Foundation’s 1944 vintage Consolidated B-24J Liberator is painted as “Witchcraft”, an 8th AF bomber that flew a record 130 missions over Europe as part of the 467th BG. The Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress flies as “Nine-O-Nine”, an 8th Air Force, 91st BG heavy bomber. The B-17 was the companion of the B-24 in thousands of wartime, bombing, and reconnaissance missions. Together they were the backbone of the daylight strategic bombing campaign of WWII. Joining the bombers is a P-51C Mustang escort fighter “Betty Jane”. The P-51 was affectionately nicknamed by the bomber crews as their “Little Friends”. The P-51 Mustang and the pilots who flew them saved countless lives in the skies and on the ground, and helped turn the tide of WWII. The P-51 is arguably the finest fighter aircraft in the history of aviation.

The “Wings of Freedom Tour” has two goals: to honor the sacrifices made by our veterans that allow us to enjoy our freedom; and to educate the visitors, especially younger Americans, about our national history and heritage. The Foundation encourages people to tour the planes, talk to the veterans who come to visit the aircraft, and participate in a “flight experience”. Celebrating 26 years, the tour has made more than 3,000 visits to airports across the United States and Alaska. While the exact number of visitors is difficult to gauge, it is estimated that over 3.5 million people see these fully restored historic aircraft annually.

In honor of America’s Vietnam Veterans, the Collings Foundation has developed the “Vietnam Memorial Flight” of the McDonnell F-4D Phantom II, Douglas TA-4J Skyhawk, Bell UH-1E Huey and F-100F Super Sabre. The F-4D Phantom II is the only civilian operated example of the type and has appeared at major US air shows since 1999 in the markings of the aircraft flown by Gen. Robin Olds in Vietnam. In 2005 the F-4 was joined by the Douglas form2TA-4J Skyhawk that has been painted to represent the markings of H&MS-11 “The Playboys”, a distinguished all-volunteer fast forward air control group operated out of DaNang by USMC MAG-11. The UH-1E Huey, one of the most recognizable symbols of the Vietnam War, operates in the markings it carried while flown in combat by Captain Steven Pless, CMDH, with USMC VMO-6. This combat distinction is rare as many Hueys never returned from the war, much less surviving in the years since. The F-100F Super Sabre is the newest addition to the Vietnam Memorial Flight. This F-100F is painted in the markings of Medal of Honor recipient Bud Day’s favorite MISTY jet. In April 2012, a Douglas A-1E Skyraider has joined the foundation’s collection and will be flying in honor of our Vietnam Veterans. In addition to attending air shows and living history events, we offer unique “flight experience and training” programs in the jets and helicopter.

The Foundation also operates additional historic aircraft that have made joint appearances with the Wings of Freedom Tour and Vietnam Memorial Flight, in addition to corsairsolo appearances. These include a 1909 Bleriot XI, Boeing PT-17 Stearman, North American AT-6 Texan, Grumman TBM Avenger, Chance-Vought F4U-5NL Corsair, Fiesler FI-156 Storch, UC-78 Bobcat, Grumman FM-2 Wildcat, Douglas A-1E Skyraider, North American A-36, Grumman G-21A “Goose” and a Me-262 Jet Fighter. The Foundation continually seeks projects to expand its collection of fully restored and flying aircraft. The Foundation’s newest acquisition is a P-40B Tomahawk. This particular Tomahawk is the last fully restored and flying fighter that survived Pearl Harbor. Currently, the Collings Foundation is restoring to flying condition a F6F Hellcat and Fw 190 F-8 and Fw 190 D-9.

KimFrom our headquarters in Stow, MA, the Foundation coordinates the “Wings of Freedom” and “Vietnam Memorial” flights and acts as a clearinghouse of information on issues of both aviation and history, along with overseeing the operation of our other aircraft and “living history” projects. The Stow facilities include a historic aviation, military artifact and a vintage automobile and race car museum. The museum is open by appointment for group tours from May through October. On average, twenty-five educational events are hosted annually.  We also host fund raising events for non-profit groups. The Foundation operates three public museum open house / “living history” events annually at the Stow headquarters.

222As of 2013, the Foundation has taken in Jacques Littlefield’s Military Vehicle Collection. This was the largest privately held collection of historic tanks and military artifacts in the world. An expansion of the existing museum will be built to showcase these tanks and other Collings artifacts on the Stow grounds. This new expansion will be called The American Heritage Museum. This will be a world-class immersive, interactive and educational museum of America’s military and civilian history from the Revolutionary War up to the the Gulf War.

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The vintage car collection includes over sixty-six American-built automobiles and vehicles from the first half of the century. Included in the collection are midget, sprint and “Indy” racecars and Fred Duesenberg’s personal Duesenberg SJ Dual-Cowl Phaeton, along with a 1940 Cadillac V-16 owned by Al Capone. The aviation museum is home to a number of the Foundation’s smaller aircraft, including a 1902 Wright Glider (replica), an original Bleriot XI (1909), 1911 Wright “Vin Fiz” (replica), Fokker DR-1 Triplane (replica), PT-17 Stearman (1942), AT-6 Texan (1945), TBM Avenger (1945), Fiesler FI-156 Storch (1943), and a static T-33 Shooting Star (1948). Military vehicles and artifacts include a Vim “Camp Devens Express” (1918), Model T Ambulance (1918), Ford Jeep (1942), early 1900’s fire trucks and a German 88mm anti-aircraft cannon.

The Foundation also sponsors on and off-site educational/restoration workshops. In Houston, TX, with the CF West group of volunteers based at Ellington Field, the S2F Tracker and T-33 Shooting Star are undergoing both restoration and on-going maintenance. The F-4D Phantom, TA-4J Skyhawk, F-100 Super Sabre and UH-IE Huey are also maintained there. The New Smyrna Beach, Florida location is responsible for the award-winning restoration of the F4U-5NL Corsair, as well as the annual and continued maintenance of the B-17, B-24, and B-25. Automobiles, tanks and other equipment are maintained at the Foundation headquarters. These workshops provide the Foundation with valuable services and expertise, and the volunteers and veterans provide countless hours of labor – and enthusiasm.

Over the past thirty years the Foundation has undertaken and completed more restoration projects than many of the major aviation museums in the United States such as the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum (NASM) or the United States Air Force Museum. The importance of volunteers who support the Foundation’s efforts by hosting the aircraft in their towns, maintaining and restoring the planes, educating the American public about the heritage the planes represent, and financially supporting the Foundation’s efforts is invaluable. The Foundation’s efforts have caught the attention of people of all ages and backgrounds (the youngest volunteer started at age 12). The Foundation also relies upon the volunteer services from professional pilots, mechanics, experts, education experts and people of all walks of life. We encourage you to become a Participating Member. For more information click here

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