Iowa military museum opens new WWII exhibit Nov. 10

JOHNSTON ? The Iowa Gold Star Military Museum at Camp Dodge in Johnston, will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony dedicating its new World War II Pacific Theater exhibit at 3 p.m. Nov. 10.

The public is invited to attend.

Visitors to the new World War II Pacific Theater exhibit will encounter sights, sounds, and artifacts interpreting the service of Iowans in the Pacific Theater during World War II. The American Volunteer Group ?Flying Tiger? display contains artifacts, photographs, newsreel footage, and documents telling the story of Iowa pilots and ground crew members serving in China before the U.S. entry into World War II. Suspended overhead is a full-scale replica of a Curtiss P-40B Warhawk painted in the markings of an aircraft flown by AVG Flight Leader Bill Reed of Marion, one of Iowa?s most decorated World War II pilots, who was killed in action Dec. 19, 1944, near Hankow, China.

Museum visitors will learn about the selfless actions of Navy Chaplain Aloysius H. Schmitt from Dubuque during the Pearl Harbor attack, the role of Iowans in Lt. Col. James Doolittle?s daring first air raid on Japan early in the war, and the tragic loss of the five Sullivan brothers from Waterloo in the sinking of the USS Juneau Nov. 13, 1942, in the Solomon Sea.

A three-dimensional, full-scale diorama with 40-foot mural depicts the participation of Iowa soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines in the Pacific invasion campaign, with invasion troops departing landing craft onto the beach. The exhibit also contains numerous U.S. and Japanese weapons, accouterments, and artifacts acquired by Iowa veterans during the World War II Pacific campaign.

More than 262,000 Iowans served in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II, including 8,398 Iowans who died during the war from battle wounds, injuries, and illness.

This exhibit was made possible by donations from Bill Knapp and Henry Tippie, both Iowa natives and World War II veterans, and the family of Lt. Col. William N. Reed, who provided their extensive collection of American Volunteer Group artifacts.

Knapp, originally from Allerton, enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1944 at age 17 and served in the Pacific Theater during World War II. As a coxswain on the USS Catron, Knapp piloted a landing craft for the Okinawa invasion in 1945. After serving in the Navy for two years, Knapp returned to Iowa after the war, where he graduated from the American Institute of Business in Des Moines and founded Iowa Realty and Knapp Properties. Knapp has been active in the revitalization of Des Moines and the development of central Iowa projects as an entrepreneur and real estate developer.

Tippie, originally from Belle Plaine, enlisted in the Army Air Force in 1944 and served in the South Pacific with the 20th Air Force. After returning from the war, Tippie attended the University of Iowa on the G.I. Bill ? where the Tippie College of Business now bears his name ? and graduated with a degree in accounting. He passed the Certified Public Accountant exam in 1951 and joined John W. Rollins and Associates, where his innovative business ideas have contributed to significant success in numerous initiatives over the past 65 years.

Established in 1985, the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum is the only federally recognized repository for military artifacts in the state of Iowa. The mission of the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum is twofold: to preserve Iowa?s military history and honor the military service of all Iowans.

The Iowa Gold Star Military Museum?s permanent exhibits tell the stories of Iowans who have served in defense of their state and nation, beginning in the early settlement of the state in the 1840s, through the Global War on Terror. The museum also contains one of the finest military small arms collections in the Midwest. Additionally, an exhibit detailing the history of the Iowa State Patrol is also on display.

The Iowa Gold Star Military Museum is on Camp Dodge, 7105 NW 70th Ave., Johnston. Use the North West 70th Avenue entrance, which is open 24 hours a day. Photo identification is required for adults age 16 and older to gain admittance to Camp Dodge ? a driver?s license is acceptable.

For all motorcyclists entering Camp Dodge, drivers and passengers must wear a helmet with full face shield or eye protection/goggles, gloves, long-sleeve shirt or jacket, long pants, boots and a reflective vest or belt.

Admission is free. Museum hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Group tours are welcome and guided tours are available by appointment. For additional information or questions, contact the museum at 515-252-4531 or visit the museum website at or on Facebook at