DEVENS -- Honor our veterans at the Fort Devens Museum's annual veterans Day Open House on Saturday, Nov. 9, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
View exhibits that chronicle the history of Camp and Fort Devens and the roles its men and women played overseas and on the home front. Three special presentations will be given during the day to provide context for some of the stories told in the museum. Fort Devens was New England's largest military base with over 1 million men and women passing through its gates from 1917 to the present.
At 11 a.m., Dr. James Pratt of Groton, N.Y., will give an illustrated talk on the 366th Infantry Regiment, of which his father was part. In February 1941, 10 months before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the 366th was organized at Fort Devens, the unit made up entirely of African-American soldiers.
While not part of the 92nd Division, organized at Fort Huachuca, the 366th was attached to the 92nd for 90 days of combat at the Gothic Line in Italy in late 1944 and early 1945. Nearly all combat deaths for the 366th occurred during those 90 days.
Dr. Pratt has spent years compiling a list of the 366th soldiers who died while in service and learning about the unit's movements in Europe. His talk will provide both background on the 366th and insight into his own motivations and findings in documenting the 366th Infantry Regiment.
Dr. James Pratt is a retired agricultural economist and served four years in the United States Air Force in the 1960s.
At 12:30 p.m., museum volunteer John Letteney will speak about the history of the airfield at Fort Devens from its start as the location of the remount station in World War I, its major construction in World War II and its 1976 re-designation as "Moore Army Airfield" in honor of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Douglas Moore, an Ayer resident and Army helicopter pilot killed in action in Vietnam in 1969. The presentation will be supplemented with photographs of aircraft and the airfield.
A native of Lancaster, Letteney grew up close to the Fort Devens South Post training area. He went on to serve 30 years in the Air Force, retiring with the rank of major. He worked for a number of years as a defense contractor at Hanscom Air Force Base and Natick Laboratories.
Finally, at 2 p.m., the museum will present a three-part program on the Korean War in honor of the 60th anniversary of the end of the conflict. Museum President David Gordon will begin by providing background information about the war. Following his portion, a Korean War veteran will speak about his own experience during the war. The program will be wrapped up by a retired infantry officer who was stationed in Korea long after the war ended. He will speak about the after-effects on the area.
Along with these specific programs, the museum will have new artifacts on display and new stories represented. Additionally, a local military collector will have items for sale, including uniforms, field gear, patches and crests. These items date from World War II to the present and all proceeds will benefit the Fort Devens Museum.
Enter our raffle with great local prizes, including gift certificates to the Blackbird Café and Filho's in Groton and a free one-night stay with breakfast for two at the Hilton Garden Inn, Devens. Raffle tickets are currently available at the museum during regular hours. Winners will be announced at 4 p.m. at the close of our open house. Winners need not be present to win.
This event is free and open to the public, though donations are appreciated. The Fort Devens Museum is located on the third floor at 94 Jackson Road, Devens. The building is wheelchair accessible and if you need special parking, please contact the museum.
For information about this event, call 978-772-1286 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bring friends, family and memories to enjoy this day of honoring and celebrating our veterans and the unique history of Devens.