Taking the Mystery Out of Military Artifacts

The family of the late John Edward Wiest from northeastern Pennsylvania was not sure when and where he served in the U.S. Army until last year when they brought his discovered uniforms to the U. S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle.

Chief Curator, Jay Graybeal, said the collection is very unusual because of its size and good condition.

“This unit went to Cuba during the Spanish American War,” said Graybeal, pointing to parts of Wiest’s uniform. “And they were brigaded with the 10th Cavalry, the Buffalo soldiers and the 1st Volunteer Cavalry, the Rough Riders.”

Wiest’s uniform parts were identified and then his service tracked as part of Mysteries in Military History Day held last summer at the Army Heritage Center. And, again, this Saturday, August 9, military history experts will be on hand to identify unknown military items, including uniforms, medals, manuscripts and weapons brought in by the public.

“We want them to come in and talk to us a little bit about the collection they have at home,” said John Giblin, Research and Education Chief at USAHEC. “We want them to give us an opportunity to look at the material and tell them a little bit about what they have.”

Visitors will also get tips on how to properly preserve historic artifacts, while observing how staff experts restore and care for historic military items at the center.

The preservation of historic artifacts is a key mission at USAHEC, along with helping the public trace family members through their military records.

“Most of the artifacts come from soldiers or their families who donated them to be preserved here at the Army Heritage Center,” said Graybeal. “That’s what we do here. We want to tell that part of Army history through an individual soldier’s story.”

Graybeal noted that anyone bringing old military weapons to the event must first call ahead to arrange for a safety check before entering the building.

The event will run from 10 am to 2 pm. For more information or to arrange a weapon check, contact www.usahec.org or call 717-245-3972.

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