The Great White Hunter and I finally got to enjoy visiting the St. Charles County Veterans Museum in O’Fallon, a place that’s been on our Monday’s with Morie list for the last year. Our Monday trek had to take place on Saturday because the museum is only open Thurs-Saturday. I have to say, I was very surprised with the quality and professional feel of the museum. I guess that’s because normally, small local museums don’t have the polish of other museums who may have a bigger budget. But wow. I walked through the door and said “oh, my”. We had a guided tour by a Vietnam Veteran who was very familiar with all the displays and generally could tell us a little about all of them.
The museum houses donations from men and women from St. Charles County who are veterans of all the past wars. The Veterans Museum was the brainchild of Ralph Barralle, a World War II veteran who lived in Lake Saint Louis. As a past President of the LSL VFW, he spearheaded a campaign to have the South Service Road of Interstate 70 renamed to Veterans Memorial Parkway. This parkway now runs from the Missouri River Bridge in St. Charles all the way to Warrenton, Missouri, a distance of about 35 miles.
Barralle next set his eyes on a Veterans Memorial in Lake Saint Louis. Barralle wrote in his memoir:
My next dream was to have a Veterans Memorial in Lake St. Louis. Fortunately, the City
donated four and a half acres for it. I had a picture in my mind of what it should look like. A large six point star on the ground with a flag of every service at each point. I got a committee of veterans together. We decided to sell bricks with Veterans names and information on it for $100, also for other people who we would like to honor a love one. The dedication was on Armed Forces Day, May 17, 2008
Ralph’s last wish was the establishment of the Veterans Museum. Sadly, Ralph died just three weeks before the building keys were turned over. The museum opened in April 2019 in O’Fallon, Mo.
One of my favorite of all times is the Navy’s Blue Angels. Who knew one of their Commanders, Lt. Commander Garrett Kasper of the United States Navy lives in our County and donated this display. Was he one of the men soaring through the sky over Scott Air Force Base as I had my eye glued to my camera lens?
We wandered around for over an hour, which was really not enough time. If we’d stopped to read all the fascinating stories, we would have been there much longer. Luckily, many of the stories of the veterans are included on the website.
And by the way, regardless of what the Great White Hunter would like you to believe, women Marine Corps Reservists were not really known as BAMS (Broad Axle Marines—he had a different term for “axle”) but were in fact, Marines…Marine Corps Women’s Reserve (MCWR).
General Holcomb adamantly ruled out all cute names and acronyms … stated his views very forcefully in an article in the 27 March 1944 issue of Life magazine: “They are Marines. They don’t have a nickname and they don’t need one. They get their basic training in a Marine atmosphere at a Marine post. They inherit the traditions of Marines. They are Marines” https://www.nps.gov/articles/womenmarinesworldwarii.htm