June 10, 2015 Edition

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Williams history students
create museum displays

Williams Baptist College senior Blake Tyler (right) explains an exhibit on the Eastern Front at the Wings of Honor Museum. Tyler is a social studies education major from Paragould.

The Wings of Honor Museum in Walnut Ridge has several new displays, thanks to the efforts of history students at Williams Baptist College. The students completed a wide array of exhibits for the World War II museum as part of their spring semester studies.

The projects were done for WBC’s World War II class, taught by Dr. Daniel Spillman. Also serving as chair of the Williams history department, Spillman said a total of 10 exhibits were completed by 13 students, with some doing solo efforts while others completed team projects.

"The students conducted extensive research into primary sources at archives, libraries, museums and in some cases by interviewing World War II veterans. In other words, their projects were based on primary and secondary research materials," said Spillman.

The professor said students chose their own areas of interest for their projects. Exhibits created run the gamut from prominent battles like Guadalcanal, the Eastern Front and the Battle of the Bulge to more focused subjects, such as baseball in WWII and church life during the war.

"I was pleased to see the students uncover some remarkable primary sources and then to use their sources visually in creative ways to tell a narrative about a specific aspect of the war," Spillman added. "I think the hands-on nature of the project provided a nice compliment to the more traditional in-class lectures, readings and discussions."

Wings of Honor Museum, which is located at the Walnut Ridge Airport, commemorates the Walnut Ridge Army Flying School. It includes an extensive collection of exhibits relating to World War II.

"The students’ displays were very nicely done, and they add a tremendous appeal to our museum," said Harold Johnson, head of the museum. "The students were really good to work with, and several of them have been back and brought friends since the official showing. They seem to have a real interest in the place."

The exhibits were unveiled during an opening ceremony in late April, and most remain on display at the museum. Johnson said many of the projects will continue as permanent displays.

"I want to make a special note of the tremendous volunteers who run the Wings of Honor museum, particularly Harold Johnson, Frank Wilson, Carolyn Propst and Bill O'Barts," said Spillman. "Without their kind and skillful help, including countless hours, the class project could not have happened."

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