Washtenaw on Display

30Jun11 - documentary video added
"Project Harbor" is the name of an operation undertaken to resurrect the public display of USS Washtenaw County artifacts and memorabilia formerly displayed in the Ann Arbor, Michigan Courthouse, but mothballed in a warehouse in the early 2000's. The new USS Washtenaw County display is now completed, and a dedication ceremony was held May 7th, 2011 at the Washtenaw County Clerk Building in Ann Arbor. Nine Washtenaw crew members, including Tom Osmond and Captain Jim Burpo, attended the ceremony.

This historical display is the result of a dedicated committee of veterans whose persistence in fund raising and hard work saw the project through to completion. The committee members include Gary Lillie, Donald Miller, our own shipmate Thomas Osmond, George Perrault, Thomas Rang, Elmer White and Phil Hecker. Elmer is a Vietnam era Air Force veteran and historian, and the rest are all Vietnam veterans and members of local Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 310. The design and building was done by James Leacock of Multiform Studios with help from Jerry Wysocki, a USMC veteran. Donations came from our USS Washtenaw County Veterans Association and members,local VFW and members, VVA Chapter 310 and members, and the public. Bravo Zulu to all!

Documentary and Dedication video

Newspaper article

Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 310 web page

25 dedication photos available on our Yahoo Groups page.

The following has been left up to provide a history of Project Harbor.
Tom Osmond reports that Project Harbor is under construction, and a dedication ceremony is planned. In Tom's words "The date of dedication will be May 7th, 2011, the 36th anniversary of the official end of the Vietnam War. Publicity is being handled by Melissa Milton-Pung, the county official in charge of the project, along with the Historic District Commission. The dedication may also become the official or unofficial kick-off event for Michigan History Month". Crew members are invited to the dedication in Ann Arbor. Tom is looking into the possibility of discounted hotel rooms.

The fund raising goal of Project Harbor has been met, and construction has begun, starting with the building of a mockup of the display and keosk.

Back in late 2007 and early 2008 we held a fund raising drive to purchase a Commemorative Plaque for display at the United States Navy Memorial Foundation in Washington, D.C., which we dedicated during our 2009 reunion.

We now have another fund raising project to support, which once again will honor USS Washtenaw County!

At one time artifacts from USS Washtenaw County, including the ship's bell, wheels and ribbon bar, were on display in the court house building in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ann Arbor is the Washtenaw County seat from which USS Washtenaw County draws her name.

Below is a message from Tom Osmond with details. Our goal is to raise $2,500 of the final cost with the balance covered by other organizations. Don't miss Tom's radio interview here.

Hello shipmate's,

The following is a message about "Project Harbor", a fundraising effort to help preserve the history of our fine ship.

�Project Harbor�

Is an initiative to replace the old display case of ship�s artifacts from the USS Washtenaw County located in the old Washtenaw County Admin building in Ann Arbor Michigan.

In 2005 the display was moved to a warehouse, or "Drydock", to allow for remodeling construction in the building. The artifacts were removed from the case and placed in storage for future display. The display case was damaged during the move and then dismantled for disposal.

Now the time has come for the artifacts to be displayed again. The location that has been chosen for the updated display is the entrance vestibule of the new County Administration building which is a much more visible location for public viewing.

A contractor has already been selected by the county to design and build a new display case in which the artifacts will be placed for public viewing. The contractor is Mr. James Leacock of Multiform Studio�s, who has previously worked on projects related to the U.S. Marine Corps Museum and the D-day Museum in New Orleans. The estimated cost of Project Harbor is $7,500.

There is a level of urgency involved with the project at this time, in that due to public funding constraints, the committee handling this may be disbanded at the end of this year. If that were to happen, the project would likely be shelved for later consideration or abandoned entirely. Consequently the Navy would then require that the ship�s artifacts be returned to Navy custody as they are on loan to Ann Arbor at the present time for the purpose of historical display. If that were to happen there is also a possibility that the Navy would be reluctant to loan the items back out again.

I am now asking for your support to consider donating whatever you can to help support Project Harbor. Any donations can be made through our organization, the USS Washtenaw County Veteran�s Association, federal tax-exempt #04-3845752, and will be fully tax deductible.

Thank you,

Tom Osmond
Senior Vice President,
USS Washtenaw County Veteran�s Association

Project Harbor Goals and Progress:

- Fundraising goal of at least $7,500

- Project will build new display case to contain ship�s artifacts

- Preserve the history of the USS Washtenaw County, the most highly decorated ship of the Vietnam War, with an appropriate display

- New location will provide for more accessible public viewing

- Washtenaw County Michigan Veteran�s organizations have donated over $2,000

- Washtenaw County resident veterans have donated over $2,500

- Fundraising goal for former crewmembers of $2,500

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