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TAYLORSVILLE -- World War II buffs and military veterans experienced quite an exhibit of memorabilia Friday. It's part of a private collection that someday might help start a museum.
A preservationist shared his collection at Legacy Village Memory Care in Taylorsville.
Chip Henneman started collecting World War II memorabilia as a kid. He saw a John Wayne war movie when he was 5, and received his first collector's item when he was 8.
"[Veterans] see that, 'OK, what I did was important. Somebody cares about the sacrifices my generation made,'" preservationist Chip Henneman said.
"I was hooked, big time," says Henneman. "Any time I'd find anything I'd buy it, and I started running into the veterans."
Those veterans and their families started to share their memorabilia with the preservationist, and his collection kept growing.
Today, the Salt Lake collector has thousands of pieces: from uniforms and flags to photos and personal letters. He has it all catalogued, but he has no idea exactly how many pieces he owns.
Among the rarest items, a crystal radio, built from scratch by Tech Sgt. Delbert Williams while he was a POW in Stalag 17 in Germany. He built the case of the radio with a soap dish, and pulled wires from his flight suit. At night, he pulled out the radio and put in a crystal.
"He would hook up kind of a little antenna to a light bulb and they would listen to the BBC World News, so they would have the news of what was going on," says Henneman.
Long after the war, Williams became Henneman's childhood neighbor. They kindled a friendship and Williams shared his memorabilia and his stories.
Henneman only displayed one-tenth of his collection at Legacy Village, yet it filled a meeting room.
He's always honored to share his passion with veterans.
"It brings memories back to them," says Henneman. "They also see that, ‘OK, what I did was important. Somebody cares about the sacrifices my generation made.'"
Legacy resident and World War II veteran Don Stout enjoys the history. He even put on his uniform for the exhibit.
"There's a real education right here that you can get in a half-hour, or an hour, that would take you two years to learn in the university," Stout said.
Raymond Bingham and his wife, Fern, are reminded of patriotism. Ray grew up in the Roosevelt area with eight brothers; six of them went to war.
"He enjoyed being among the men and was proud to be able to serve," Fern Bingham said.
Henneman says he doesn't have any favorite types of memorabilia. If it's from World War II, Henneman is interested.
"Anything from any country, I'll collect."
Henneman's ultimate goal is to build a permanent museum for his collection.