News>Retired Guardsmen preserve war history, camaraderie
Chapman Holbrook prepares the nose of a B-26 Marauder to be used as a monitor to display photos in the Jackson Barracks Museum Oct. 27, 2010, in New Orleans. The 122nd Bomb Squadron Restoration Unit is a group of volunteer retired Guardsmen who meet every Wednesday to help restore old military aircraft and cannons for the Jackson Barracks Museum. Mr. Holbrook is a member of the 122nd Bomb Squadron Restoration Unit. (U.S. Army photo/Spc. Jessica M. Lopez)
Retired Army Capt. Charles Monsted removes the rust from an 1860 Parrot Cannon Oct. 27, 2010, to be displayed in the Jackson Barracks Museum in New Orleans. The 122nd Bomb Squadron Restoration Unit is a group of volunteer retired Guardsmen who meet every Wednesday to help restore old military aircraft and cannons for the Jackson Barracks Museum. Captain Monsted is a member of the 122nd Bomb Squadron Restoration Unit. (U.S. Army photo/Spc. Jessica M. Lopez)
11/5/2010 - NEW ORLEANS (AFNS) -- At the Jackson Barracks Military Museum here, Wednesdays are a time for reminiscing and restoration for the members of the 122nd Bomb Restoration Squadron Unit.
The unit is a group of volunteer retired Guardsmen who help to restore old military aircraft and cannons for the museum, and the members have stories of their own to share while they work.
Not long ago, retired Brig. Gen. John Cordero was recalling Thanksgiving Day 1946, when a B-29 Superfortress crashed at an airbase in Tokyo.
"Horrendous crash," General Cordero recalled. "I was scared. It was the first time I had to talk to J.C."
His comrades listened more closely.
"We have the same initials," General Cordero said. "I figured I could ask him a favor."
"Please take me now," he said. "I don't want to burn."
The unit is a place where stories like General Cordero's are all too familiar.
"Our get-together is more about the camaraderie ... we enjoy the companionship," said retired Col. Ernest "Buddy" Gossom. "We start telling stories. We don't know who is telling the truth and who is not, and we don't care."
Before Hurricane Katrina hit the city of New Orleans, the 122nd BRSU had 25 active volunteers.
"Right now we have about eight to 10 people who come out here and join us," Colonel Gossom said. "Everyone is getting older, and they just can't make it."
The reduction of members is not the only challenge members of the 122nd BRSU are facing.
"Since Katrina, our work has grown, and our work space has changed at least four times," said retired Col. Arthur Alberti. "We look forward to our next workspace which is made just for us to do our restorations."
The multi-use complex building, scheduled to be completed in January, will have two bays in where the 122nd BRSU can work.
"The 122nd (BRSU) is a part of the history department, which is why we have an area for them in our new building," said Stan Amerski, the acting director of the Jackson Barracks Museum and curator. "It's important to honor their service by restoring the aircraft they flew."
Most of the members of the 122nd BRSU were the pilots of the aircraft that need to be restored.
"It's a blessing to have them because they are the experts," Mr. Amerski said .
Once in the new facility, the members of the 122nd BRSU will begin restoring the aircraft in the air park outside the museum.
"Once we have our spot, we will be able to start on more than two projects," General Cordero said. "But we are going to need extra hands."
The 122nd BRSU is accepting volunteers of all ages to help with the restoration process and to keep military history alive.