Fred Schwartz, of Clinton Township, showed off his Vietnam War-era Catholic Mass kit that was carried into combat by military chaplains.

Fred Schwartz, of Clinton Township, showed off his Vietnam War-era Catholic Mass kit that was carried into combat by military chaplains.

Photo by Brendan Losinski


Eastpointe museum reenactors host history walk

Due to popularity, another walk to take place Oct. 10

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published October 2, 2020

 Representing the United States Marine Corps that served on the USS Constitution, historical reenactor Kenneth Roberts talks about the ship and what it would have been like to serve during the War of 1812.

Representing the United States Marine Corps that served on the USS Constitution, historical reenactor Kenneth Roberts talks about the ship and what it would have been like to serve during the War of 1812.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 Tommy Dilger is among the historical reenactors at the Michigan Military Technical and Historical Society Museum’s “Walk Through History” Sept. 19. He represented a Vietnam War-era ABC News correspondent. Though journalists were civilians, they were issued military uniforms. Instead of using the ammo belt for bullets, it was used to carry film.

Tommy Dilger is among the historical reenactors at the Michigan Military Technical and Historical Society Museum’s “Walk Through History” Sept. 19. He represented a Vietnam War-era ABC News correspondent. Though journalists were civilians, they were issued military uniforms. Instead of using the ammo belt for bullets, it was used to carry film.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 Historical reenactor and Holocaust historian Grant Lindeman represents a U.S. Army 1st Infantry soldier on May 7, 1945, at Falkenau, Czechoslovakia. He was among several reenactors taking part in the history walk Sept. 19 at the Michigan Military Technical and Historical Society Museum.

Historical reenactor and Holocaust historian Grant Lindeman represents a U.S. Army 1st Infantry soldier on May 7, 1945, at Falkenau, Czechoslovakia. He was among several reenactors taking part in the history walk Sept. 19 at the Michigan Military Technical and Historical Society Museum.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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EASTPOINTE — Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Michigan Military Technical and Historical Society Museum in Eastpointe is still working hard to make history come alive.

It hosted an outdoor history walk Sept. 19 in which several members of the museum’s historical society dressed in historical military gear and brought out some of their favorite artifacts for the public.

“This is like a miniature reenactment,” said museum board member Franklin Newman. “Pre-COVID, we would have big reenactment activities that we would have over at the Chesterfield (Historical Park) at the one-room schoolhouse by the (Chesterfield Township) office. We have done World War II reenactments, Korean War reenactments, and we even reenact some battles that people can come and see. We couldn’t have those this year, so we did one of these last month and it went pretty well, so we’re doing it again.”

A variety of time periods from American history were shown with each reenactor explaining facts about the figures they were portraying.

“We have some of our people set up different displays from different eras outside the museum,” explained Newman. “We have some World War II era reenactors, some old Revolutionary War reenactors, and even some displaying things all the way up to the Vietnam War. They display things they’ve collected through the years and show off the uniforms people would have worn in the service in that period.”

“What I like about what we’re doing here today is that we don’t just have the infantrymen and the soldiers represented, we also have the Civilian Conservation Corps, Fred down here with the chaplain display and a display on war correspondents,” added President of the Michigan Military Technical and Historical Society Museum Chris Causley. “I love getting to cover some of the things you might not usually get to see.”

Antoinette Jablonski, of the Women Ordnance Workers, a group dedicated to the “Rosies” who served in factories and other production facilities during World War II, was among those participating. The daughter of a Rosie the Riveter herself, she wanted to share how crucial they were to the war effort.

“The Rosies did basically anything and everything during World War II,” said Jablonski. “They made everything on the airplanes, for instance. The wiring, the metalwork, the seats; it was all built by Rosies. They built tanks, they built trucks, they test-drove the vehicles. … Our chapter is the Women’s Ordnance Workers, so they were the ones who built all the bombs, shells and bullets. It was a dangerous job.”

Reenactor Richard Reaume showed off some gear used by soldiers in the mid-1800s.

“I’m representing the Second Seminole War in the 1830s, and a lot of what I have here today shows off what they would have used in the 1840s in the Mexican-American War,” he said. “I have the two caps that changed from one to the other between those two wars. I have a large cartridge box that was common in the 1830s, a baldric to hold the bayonet, and I show how the soldiers wore it all so they could march with their equipment. I’m carrying an 1816 U.S. Springfield flintlock rifle. … I’m wearing the standard blue uniform of the U.S. military, called the winter fatigue uniform, which was similar but different than the dress uniform.”

Fred Schwartz, of Clinton Township, showed a different side of military history as he presented the equipment used by chaplains who performed religious services for troops during wartime.

“What we have here is a 1962 chaplain’s kit. It would have been used early in Vietnam to provide services to troops in the field,” said Schwartz. “They usually had a chaplain at the battalion level or they would bring down a chaplain from a higher unit. The kit (I am showing today) is set up for a Roman Catholic Mass. It has everything needed to conduct Mass; the book with the Mass service in it, the chalice, the ciborium, and even the hosts he could consecrate for the service. Later in the war they decided to reduce the size of the kit, because this comes in a suitcase which folds out into the altar, but it was a little bulky to be carried onboard helicopters, so they reduced it to a suitcase-sized bag that he could carry with him.”

The museum staff said the event was a great success and they are planning another history walk outside the museum on Saturday, Oct. 10, with Saturday, Oct. 24, as a rainout date. It will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is by donation. The museum is located at 16600 Stephens Road.   

Causley said such events provide unique opportunities to better understand history.

“With an event like this, with the living historians, you can actually talk to people,” he said. “They research their area and get a hands-on feel for what you’re seeing. You can hold a lot of the stuff and feel the weight yourself. It gives you a lot better understanding than just looking at pictures or reading a book.”

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