General Carl Spaatz Museum opens in Boyertown
BOYERTOWN – After three years and countless hours of volunteering, General Carl Spaatz’s National Air Force Museum hosted its grand opening.
A self-guided, WWII-era immersive experience that places visitors in interactive living history exhibits, the museum is dedicated to General Carl Spaatz, a native of Boyertown, and all those in his hometown who served during WWII in uniform or at home in support.
With around 250 attendees, the October 2 event kicked off with live 1940s music and a military vehicle exhibit.
Boyertown Mayor Marianne Deery delivered a speech at the dedication ceremony: “Listen to this,” she told the assembled crowd, “National Air Force Museum of the United States Army of General Carl Spaatz – Wow! Here in Boyertown.
“I hope that young people will be inspired by what there is in this museum, behind these doors, that they will carry on the legacy entrusted to them.” – Marianne Deery, Mayor of Boyertown
The museum was founded by retired Marine Corps Col. Keith A Seiwell.
” Collar. Keith Seiwell not only had a dream, he also had a mission. And behind those doors is the fulfillment of its mission, ”said Deery. “The screens are impressive, to say the least. “
Learning the story of a Four-Star General is a must read, but Deery is equally in awe of the men and women who serve in the area.
“Some have come home and some haven’t. The men and women who served, and the men and women who serve today, solidify in my mind the bowels of the Boyertown area, ”said Deery. “I hope that young people will be inspired by what there is in this museum, behind these doors, that they will carry on the legacy entrusted to them.”
Deery dedicated the newly renamed General Carl Spaatz Avenue.
“Our address is no longer 28 Warwick Street. It’s number 10 on General Carl Spaatz Avenue, ”said Seiwell, founder and CEO of the museum.
The legacy of Ge. Carl Spaatz is not well known outside of military circles and certainly does not live up to the importance of his contribution to our success as a nation, Seiwell said.
“Current and future generations should know of Carl Spaatz’s contribution to American victory in World War II, and hence our leadership position in world affairs,” he said.
Promoting and preserving its heritage is the objective of the museum.
“The evolution of the US Air Force as we know it today would not be possible without Carl Spaatz,” said Seiwell. “He is known as the architect of air supremacy, a guiding principle of modern warfare, but incomprehensible to those around him at the start of World War II.”
Some highlights about General Carl Spaatz
• Eisenhower said he was “one of the two greatest generals of WWII.
• He commanded the Army Air Corp in North Africa, Europe and the Pacific during World War II.
• He was the general commanding officer of the units that provided air cover for the D-Day invasion.
• He commanded the Army Air Corp unit which dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
• He pioneered aerial refueling, keeping an aircraft, “The Question Mark”, in the air for 150 hours.
• President Truman appointed General Spaatz Chief of Staff when the US Air Force was created in 1947.
• After his death in 1974, he was buried on the grounds of the US Air Force Academy in Colorado.
“Among the giants of American military leadership during World War II, Spaatz received too little attention. This museum is going to change that, ”Seiwell said.
Museum visits and exhibitions
The living museum concept includes nearly 6,000 square feet of museum space comprising 10 exhibits, six of which are presented as interactive.
Self-guided tours of the museum feature audio descriptions, including Carl Spaatz’s career and the experience of a WWII pilot.
Visitors are immersed in the world of air warfare with everything from pre-flight briefings, donning gear and gear, to piloting a bomber and acting as machine gunners and bombers.
There is also an Escape Room experience where customers search for clues before moving on to the next room.
Explaining the inspiration for including an escape room experience, Seiwell said, “Being shot down in enemy territory was a terrifying and common occurrence among Allied crews. Being captured was fortunate given the alternative, and attempting to escape was an order enshrined in the prisoners’ code of conduct. The heroism of the French resistance and the cruelty of the German camp guards are well documented. It wouldn’t be a worthwhile experience without it.
Catherine and Michael McCaleb attended the opening of the museum because Catherine’s grandfather, Reverend Peter W. Smith, 381 Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, was a WWII prisoner of war in Belgium.
“They made a radio in my grandfather’s prison camp with batteries and flashlight parts,” Catherine said. “They were listening to all these foreign radio reports. There was a report which was all in broken English. Every now and then they would say a word to the prisoners they knew how to listen. On D-Day, they (the guards) tried to convince all the prisoners that it was a terrible failure, but the radio show slipped the word success into the show.
A Monopoly board game is on display in the POW Barracks exhibit. Melissa Taylor of the Military Vehicle Club explained how the creators of the board game hid cards, files and blank keys in the game boards in the hope they would be sent in POW care packages to help them. to escape.
“It’s funny because you think, ‘Oh! It’s child’s play, but even they (the creators of the game) were doing all they could to support the troops, ”Taylor said.
Build a museum
“(Seiwell) came to Boyertown as an outsider with an idea,” said Tom Gosse, museum marketing director, explaining the origins of the General Carl Spaatz National US Army Air Forces Museum.
“It’s really not that long, this vision. I remember when Keith (Seiwell) came into my office just a few years ago and told me what he thought he could capture from a Boyertown native. I thought, Wow! It’s really awesome, ”said representative David M. Maloney Sr.
“You want a naval colonel, not Boyertown, to lead a group to build a museum for General Spaatz,” said Charles Haddad of the museum’s board of trustees.
” Collar. Seiwell, it is with great pride that we from Boyertown and the Borough and this community thank you for what you have done to bring this museum to what it is today, ”Haddad said before presenting the daughter of Colonel Sara Seiwell.
Sara presented her father with a plaque in honor of Seiwell: “A man who dedicated his life to military service had the vision to honor General Carl Spaatz of Boyertown with a museum dedicated to him and all from his hometown who served in uniform during World War II. or at home for support. They will be remembered and honored in this museum.
A KC-135 tanker and two WWII T-6 trainers flew over the museum just before Spaatz granddaughter Rebecca Palo cut the ribbon, officially inaugurating the museum.
“It’s really nice to see him (General Carl Spaatz) honored,” said his granddaughter, Rebecca Palo.
“He would have hated that,” she joked. “He really deserves it. I love that it was everyone, the whole community and everyone who served – which he would have liked. “
“I’ve never seen a community like Boyertown where people come together to make a difference in this community that you don’t see in other communities across Pennsylvania. I don’t hit any other area, but I haven’t seen that kind of support and cooperation in any community like I see here in Boyertown, ”said Berks County Commissioner Christian Y. Leinbach. “That’s what makes Boyertown different – it’s everyone, it’s the community. “
The museum is open Thursday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission for the self-guided tours will end at 3:00 p.m. as the tour lasts approximately one hour. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit https://www.spaatzmuseum.org/ or call 484-945-3402.