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Warplane Museum hosts American Legion officials

Livingston County News - 2/23/2017

Geneseo's National Warplane Museum off Big Tree Lane played host earlier this month to a contingent of American Legion officials, including John Sampson, the veterans' advocacy organization's New York State commander.

While no stranger to military museums - "In Pensacola Fla., they have the Aviation History Museum, so I've seen a lot of stuff," - the sight of the National Warplane Museum's variety of displays as well as its crown jewel, the cargo plane Whiskey 7 that flew in the D-Day invasion, still has the ability to evoke in Sampson a sense of awe, not only at the technological innovation and resources that made the mass production of such complex machines possible but at the guts and skill it took to actually fly them.

"When you're standing next to one, you look at it and aerodynamically, there's no way this thing should have ever got off the ground," said Sampson, speaking in one of the Geneseo museum's hangars last week. "Yet (airmen) flew 25 missions before they could go home - if anybody lived that long or the equipment held up that long."

Recognizing such commitment, and passing on its significance to younger generations, is more important now than ever, said Sampson.

"It's amazing the human psyche to get through all that, apply everything they could possibly think of to make something that size get off the ground, the power plants they built for it, the munitions," said Sampson. "The one fear I have is not passing all this information on to the next generation. If we don't, shame on us... the real cost of freedom is in that hanger there."

Sampson, a Navy veteran, made the trip to GeneseoFeb. 10 as part of his annual tour to each of New York's 62 counties.

He started out the morning in Caledonia, visited Geneseo for a tour of the Warplane Museum and finished out the day in Conesus.

Museum President Austin Wadsworth said the museum has worked with Livingston County'sAmerican Legion Post 0271 on numerous occasions in the past.

"It is always a positive experience for all of us," said Wadsworth. "Anytime we're looking for veteran representation for an event, whether large or small, Post 0271 is ready and willing to participate and help us to further our mission of recognizing all U.S. veterans."

Jamieson Steele, the museum's director of collections and displays, led the tour for Sampson and his fellow American Legion officials.

Steele said "there's always something new" in the works at the museum, but that currently, he and his fellow volunteers are focusing on coming up with exhibits to fill nine display cabinets donated by a local company and on offering more events for the public.

"We want to do something every month," said Steele. "We're trying to reach out more - (people) have to know what's here and what there is to see - I don't think a lot of people know what there is to see here, (so) the biggest focus is getting events down here, getting people used to coming down here because it changes all the time. There's always something different."

 
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