Motts Military Museum

Melissa Kossler Dutton
Warren Motts talks about the new wing of the Motts Military Museum which opened at the end of May. Most of the artifacts in the new wing focus on Vietnam.

Much of the new wing of Motts Military Museum focuses on the Vietnam War. Museum founder Warren Motts wanted to make sure his facility recognized those veterans because many, he feels, did not receive a proper reception when they returned home.

"The Vietnam vets got it on both fronts," he said.

The new wing, which doubles the size of the museum's indoor space to a total of 10,500 square feet, also features exhibits on prisoners of war, Medal of Honor winners, medical units and women in the military, said Warren Motts' wife, Daisy.

"We could use about six more wings of this size because of the number of items we have and our desire to honor the veterans and their service," she said.

The museum, which began in the Motts home, moved to its current location in Groveport in 1999. The Mottses currently are planning another addition to display items from the Sept. 11 attacks.

As in the rest of the museum, the items in the new wing are identified with white cards that tell a bit about the history of the object. The Mottses said they like to collect stories as well as artifacts because that's what visitors will remember.

"It's not just a bunch of stuff. A person had this object. I talk about the person. It's about the people (who) owned these things," said Warren Motts, who creates all of the displays in the museum. A former military and professional photographer, he said his background helps him artistically arrange the artifacts.

Warren also tries to display items that have an educational element to them so they can discuss the items with children who come to the museum on school field trips, Daisy said.

"He picks out things they might relate to," she said.

Included in the new display is a Bible that a local man carried in his breast pocket during the Vietnam War. The book stopped a bullet and saved his life.

Another Vietnam veteran donated the helmet that protected his head from a bullet. Visitors can see where the bullet struck the helmet.

"(That veteran) brings his grandkids to the museum and tells them they wouldn't be here today if it weren't for that helmet," Daisy said. "They're not just displays. They're telling the story of that man or that woman's life."

One case holds the bag that an Ohio woman had with her when she was captured by the Japanese during World War II. The bag has a secret pocket that Army nurse Sallie Durrett sewed into the lining to hide her engagement ring. Her captors did not discover the ring during her 34-month imprisonment.

The museum continually receives new donations because veterans and their families can see how sincere Warren is about honoring the men and women who have served in the armed forces, Daisy said.

"My husband has such a passion for this. It is a mission," she said. "People just trust him with their families' things."

Warren is eager for children to see the display of female military uniforms - many of them from World War II - that a group of veterans donated to him en masse while the museum was still at his home.

"The girls have got to see this," he said. "They don't know how involved the women were."

He also anticipates that young visitors will enjoy the pieces related to NASA and space exploration. The exhibit includes a space shuttle tire, clothing that was worn in space and a pair of gloves worn by an astronaut as he repaired the Hubble Space Telescope.

Warren said he loves creating a place where children and adults can get a greater understanding of how people, events and objects shaped the American experience.

"This is history," he said. "We've got to save this stuff. We've got to remember."