Portage County Historical Society observes 75th anniversary of war’s end
By Kris Leonhardt
PORTAGE COUNTY – Seventy-five years ago, portions of Europe and Asia lay in ruins as the Japanese government issued a statement saying that they would accept the terms of the Potsdam Declaration. In the United States, summer was turning to fall as U.S. General Douglas MacArthur accepted Japan’s surrender aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, thus ending the second world war.
Today, the Portage County Historical Society honors the significance of that time through an exhibit hosted in the Old Plover Methodist Church, at Heritage Park in Plover.
The exhibit features numerous items from World War II, including: military equipment, memorabilia, memoirs, literature, medals, and insignia.
Sections of the exhibit feature communications, medical, weaponry, camp, D-Day, religion, siblings who served, and women who served.
Local service members and families are highlighted throughout the building.
Tamotsu “Tommy” Jitchaku, the father of a longtime Plover resident, was a medic and bronze star recipient with the 442nd Combat team.
“The 442nd combat unit was the most decorated combat unit in the United States Army, and it was composed almost exclusively of Japanese Americans whose families were in the internment camps,” said Portage County Historical Society President Tim Siebert.
Tommy received a draft card in 1941, but due to a heart issue was deemed ineligible. Still, Jitchaku volunteered for a spot in the 442nd. The medical examiner said that he was too short and did not qualify, but Tommy persisted and was allowed in.
Another exhibit tells of the Clendenin brothers, Orville, Raymond, Carl, and Lyle.
Ray and Orville served in the Army Air Corps during WWII, while Carl and Lyle served in the Army. All four brothers were less than seven years apart in age.
“This is one of the families that gave four; all of them survived. In fact, Ray would stay in the Air Force and get all sorts of (recognition) after World War II,” Siebert explained. “Their family is still around, although a number of them are daughters, so they have changed their names.”
While Siebert says that the society has not set an opening date, people can schedule an appointment to see it by calling 715-600-4930.
“We do require a mask and limited number of people in the building as the space is small,” he added.
Heritage Park is located in Plover, bordered on the west by Madison Street, on the east by Washington Street, and on the south by Willow Drive.
Upcoming weeks will feature more on the Portage County Historical Society’s recognition of the end of World War II.
Next week: The books