GREENVILLE — It took more than six months and 75,000 individual pieces to create the Fighting Falcon, the first glider to touch the ground in Europe during the Allied invasion of World War II. And it was built right here in Greenville and paid for through war bonds sold by the Greenville High School class of 1943.
The restored glider is just one of the hundreds of historical military artifacts on display at the Fighting Falcon Museum’s Veterans Day celebration to be held Sunday from 1:30 to 4 p.m. A flag raising ceremony at 2 p.m. will kick things off, the museum will remain open for tours.
Memorabilia from many of America’s conflicts — World War I, World War II, the Civil War, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War and modern war — can be found at the museum, located at 516 W. Cass St., including Nazi weapons and gear, bomb shells, a bomb sight, uniforms and more.
What’s so different about the Fighting Falcon Military Museum?
Every single item on display has ties to Greenville, whether belonging to an enlisted man or woman or obtained by one.
The pride of the museum, according to Bill Delp, one of the founders of the museum, is the display dedicated to the four Jensen brothers, who went into war together and each came home to live out their lives in Greenville.
But not all Greenville service men and women made it home from war. Of the 811 Greenville residents who served in all wars, 77 were killed in action.
“That is a tremendous sacrifice,” Delp said.
But Greenville contributed more than feet on the ground. Greenville was a hub for creating military weapons and products. One of those manufacturers was The Gibson Refrigerator Co., where Delp helped construct the glider and built incendiary bonds.
Museum secretary Bill Garlick said the museum doesn’t intend to glorify war, but instead “to inform and celebrate the military heritage of the Greenville area.”
And the heritage runs deep and residents of the city played huge rules in some of the most important acts of the nations military history.
“(The event is so) people will understand the contribution this community has made with servicemen and products,” Delp said. “We want to honor those who contributed to earthshaking military events.”
To find out exactly what those contributions are, visit the museum, which has docents more than willing to give informational tours through the different rooms designated to different wars.