Military Museum Celebrates First Anniversary, Guest Speakers Scheduled For November


By Lynne Beauchamp,

The Michigan Military Heritage Museum in Grass Lake celebrates its one year anniversary this November and will have guest speakers on Saturdays throughout the month.

November 4 showcased speakers Ron Springer, “A year in the life of a Vietnam Infantryman,” and author, John Cohassey presenting “Hemingway Goes to War.”

Springer discussed his time serving in the US Army during the Vietnam War in 1970-71 serving as an infantryman. An East Lansing native, he, along with some high school friends enlisted in the Army in 1969. Having some college education at the time, he explained the friends thought they may be lucky and get clerk jobs in the Army. Within a year, Springer found himself deep in the jungle of Vietnam. He shared his story of war life in the Vietnam jungle-leeches falling from trees, foot long centipedes, red ants in his ruck sack, sounds of artillery and “the thick black smoke.”

“I can tell you, the solid waste disposal unit is working full force,” Springer joked as he displayed a photo of a building emitting heavy black smoke atop a hill deep in the Vietnam jungle. “You haven’t lived until you have smelled thick black smoke like that thick black smoke up close.”

He explained that to dispose of waste from outhouses, soldiers burned it in steel drums with diesel fuel and other accelerants.

Springer said that while some of his platoon was injured, none were killed and had returned home. He has since reconnected with some of the soldiers in his platoon.

The second speaker of the day, author John Cohassey presented information on Ernest Hemingway and Hemingway’s life as a journalist, author and his time during WWI working with the American Red Cross Ambulance Service in Italy. Cohassey said that Hemingway fabricated much of his WWI service stories. He added that there was also a history of mental illness throughout the Hemingway family which may have contributed to Ernest Hemingway’s suicide.

The Michigan Military Heritage Museum is located at 153 North Union Street in Grass Lake.  The museum mission is to tell the stories of Michigan’s service members through interpretive displays of artifacts, pictures and written and oral histories. Grass Lake was chosen to display this information as it housed more than 1,000 German prisoners in WWII at Camp Waterloo. The remnants of the camp no longer exist and the land was acquired by the DNR, according to museum information.

For information on The Michigan Military Heritage Museum, contact the museum at 517-926-6696. There will be various guest speakers on November 11 and 18, contact the museum for further details.

Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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