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Historic site offers WWII display

Thompson submachine guns, combat helmets and canteens blanketed the hood of the 1942 Willys MB Jeep.

Across the room, a general in the Army Air Corps stood next to a 1941 Plymouth Staff Car, explaining his role and responsibility in the days and months following Dec. 7, 1941.

"I would be traveling to various factories, making sure they were ready to build the airplanes we would need to fight in the war," said volunteer Mark Horn, who played the role of the general.

On Saturday, the 72nd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, volunteers and park officials manned a World War II exhibit at the Steamtown National Historic Site. Throughout the day, about 25 people wandered through exhibit, eyeing the weapons and equipment and asking questions about the role American railroads played during the war.

Detailing the reliance on railroads, park ranger Kenny Ganz said 97 percent of all war materials produced moved by rail and the 14 million Americans in uniform represented about 50 million trips.

"It was the only way to move that many people and that amount of material," he said.

Flatcars carried tanks and other military vehicles, such as the Willys Jeep on display, he said. And the thousands of soldiers heading to different training camps would ride in passenger cars, with weapons and ammunition stored in box cars, he explained.

"In some cases, civilians to avoid traveling by train unless they had to because trains were so packed with soldiers," he said.

Taking pictures of his two daughters and granddaughter just outside the exhibit, John Nadolny emphasized the importance of teaching children about American history. The Nanticoke man brought the girls to the park Saturday so they could learn about the area's history, as well as World War II.

"What you get here goes beyond what you get from a textbook," he said.

miorfino@timesshamrock.com

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