Retired National Guard Sergeant-Major Ted Guenther says the exhibit marks many decades of service and notes the unit’s extraordinary sacrifices during World War II.
“Company C sustained an over 60% casualty rate, one of the highest per capita in the nation,” Guenther says. “For their bravery, that unit received the Presidential Unit Citation and five battle stars. The fact that most left from this very train station nearly 75 years ago made this the perfect exhibit location.”
In addition to World War II, Company C members have served in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Iraq. The unit’s members also served Nebraskans during tornadoes and flooding.
Nebraska Army National Guard Commander and Adjutant General Daryl Bohac said it’s important that we remain a community-based force to protect Nebraska citizens in time of need, but also when the nation calls on soldiers to do the hard things to protect the interests of the nation.
Bohac said it’s also important to preserve history and the stories of those who fought for their nation, along with the sacrifices of their families.
“If we are not connected to our communities, we don’t bring the will of the American people with us to the fight,” Bohac says. “That is incredibly important to who we are as a nation and how we believe in the democracy that we live in and the freedoms that we enjoy.”
Darin Krueger, president of the Nebraska National Guard Historical Society, said it was not difficult to choose Beatrice as the beginning site for the Guard’s historical exhibits, because of the Gage County Museum and the history of community support.
He encouraged all Nebraskans to help preserve the guard’s history, noting, the Nebraska National Guard Museum in Seward doesn’t necessarily have to take possession of family treasures.
“We can take photographs, we have scanning technology at the museum for documents and pictures,” Krueger says. “Once we get these items, and we’re seeing this more and more as the museum is more known across Nebraska, people come in with these fantastic artifacts and it enables us to fully tell that story.”
The display occupies a room in the south part of the Gage County Museum, a former Burlington Train Station from which many soldiers left their community to go off to war.
The $35,000 exhibit was designed by Doug Hartman of Hartman Historical Services, who served in the National Guard for 20 years.
The display, dedicated Saturday, is entitled “All Hell Can’t Stop Them: Gage County’s Citizen Soldiers,” and depicts the long history of the area’s role in wartime and peacetime service.
By Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice