The Museum of Veterans and Military History in Vilonia, this week, added to the inventory a document referred to as a U.S. Bureau of Pensions certificate. It was issued to Sarah Alwood, widow of John Alwood, a private, Co.D, 60th Regiment, Ohio Infantry.
A story regarding the certificate has not been confirmed and possibly never will be. It was donated by Joe Maxwell of Vilonia. He said he was told that his cousin, Mr. Alwood, was killed in action. The certificate shows his widow was to receive a pension rate of $12 per month to commence on Jan. 10, 1912. The envelope, shows it to have been delivered as a registered letter to an address in Lancaster, Ohio. Research has revealed little about the soldier. One can only speculate the rest of the story.
On another note, several visitors have shared stories this week. Freddie Hare of the El Paso area, was one. He talked about his grandfather, the late Arch Hare of Rose Bud, who entered the military in 1917, 100 years ago, at the age of 18. He caught the tail end of WWI. He was in France for two months when he became ill with the flu. It could be 100 degrees outside, Freddie Hare said, and his grandfather would be cold. He served in the trenches until his feet were frozen, Freddie said.
Most of the men folks in Freddie’s family have served in the military. Freddie’s dad was in World War II—serving in Germany on VE Day and in the Philippines on VJ Day. Freddie’s older brother served 40 years in the Army. His younger brother served seven years in the Army and Freddie served 22 years in the Air Force. Freddie was a loadmaster on a C-130 and involved in Operation Babylift—the name given to the mass evacuation of children from South Vietnam to the United States and other countries at the end of the Vietnam War. He was also at the last official battle of the Vietnam War at Kohtang and there when Saigon fell. One of his jobs, he said, was picking up the bodies of the fallen. He knows the name of many on the last panel of the Vietnam Memorial panel.
Documenting the veterans’ stories, the docents said, is just as important as logging in the memorabilia. Prior to the 2014 tornado, that downed the museum, about 35 were on file. Many were lost as a result. This week, the museum has launched, once again, the program "Voices" where veterans’ stories will be recorded and archived. Veterans are invited to participate.
Located at 53 N. Mt. Olive, the museum is open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays and 1 p.m. until 4 p.m., the first Sunday of the month. No charge to tour. For information, call 501-796-8181.