DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Duty, honor and integrity — words that make up the fabric of the military.
The Miami Valley Military History Museum has plenty of fabric — over 5,000 uniforms and over 100,000 artifacts telling the history of our military’s men and women dating all the way back to the Revolutionary War.
“We like to brag that we don’t have a building full of stuff. We have a building full of people,” said Mark Conrad, curator of the Miami Valley Military History Museum.
It’s also a building full of stories. The thread that weaves each sleeve is far more than just stitching that binds a uniform from years ago. It’s a personal story.
“I can reach out and touch that person who wore that uniform. I can see their face. I can know what they did,” said Catherine Beers-Conrad, public affairs officer at the Miami Valley Military History Museum.
Like Greenville-native Glen Pittman, whose story would otherwise be lost.
“That medal, there’s just something that draws me to it. Life was just not kind to him,” said Conrad.
Pittman lost his entire family in a fiery explosion when he was two. He later enlisted in the navy during World War 2 and was an armed guard on a cargo ship about 300 miles south of the tip of South Africa.
“A German submarine, U-81, which was commanded by one of Germany’s top U-boat aces, put two torpedoes in it and it sank within a matter of minutes,” said Conrad.
Most of the people on board died, including Pittman, and his story would have died in those waters as well if it were not for this museum.
“Glen Pittman’s family, there’s nobody left to tell his story. If we don’t do it, who will?” said Conrad.
It’s a museum but also a sanctuary of trust for veterans and their families.
“To be able to touch them, we are like their last bit of life,” said Beers-Conrad.