Texans in WWII

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Our Part of Victory

Texans in World War II

 
SAN ANTONIO – Nearly 750,000 Texans served during World War II. From the raw recruit to the some of the highest decision makers of the war, Texans were an integral part of every branch of service. Backing them, millions of Texan civilians also contributed to final victory. From the men, women, and children directly engaged in war efforts to the common Texan abiding by war rationing rules, all did their part.
 
Opening Sept. 2, the 70th anniversary of the Japanese surrender, the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures presents "Our Part of Victory: Texans in World War II" to explore the many roles Texans played in bringing the war to an end.
 
"Texans were present in every major event of the war" said Bryan Howard, director of research, exhibits, and collections. "From the first U.S. warship sunk during World War II in the Atlantic even before Pearl Harbor, to the surrender in Tokyo Bay, Texans were there. On the home front, Texas industry produced ships, aircraft, ammunition and supplies. Texas oil kept the forces advancing. Texas agriculture helped keep them fed. Texas bases trained 1.6 million troops, and Texas flight schools produced another 200,000 airmen and women. Texas was vital to war effort."
 
Artifacts on display include uniforms, memorabilia, and souvenirs of the war saved by Texans from across the state. Among objects of high-profile Texans are a helmet used by Audie Murphy, one of the most decorated soldiers in U.S. history; a jacket from Harlon Block, a Marine who helped in the famous flag raising of Iwo Jima; shoulder boards from Admiral Chester Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet; and former president, but then Lieutenant Commander Lyndon B. Johnson’s Navy uniform.
 
Some of the lesser-known stories include brothers at Pearl Harbor, Texan POWs in the Pacific and Europe, German soldiers held in Texas camps, and Master Sergeant Poochy, a Texan canine who faithfully served her country.
 
The exhibit will explore the lasting effects war. It accelerated a shift from a rural Texas to a more urban society. It created an unprecedented industrial system, still vibrant today. It ushered in social change, such as the roles of women in the workforce, and advances in civil rights.
 
"When people walk out of this exhibit" said Howard, "our hope is they realize the important place Texas had in bringing victory, and that victory was not only something won on the battlefield, but also at home. The war touched the life of every Texan at some level, and even if you don’t realize it, it’s still touching life in many ways today."
 
Our Part in Victory runs through 2016. The Institute of Texan Cultures is located on the UTSA HemisFair Park Campus, 801 E. César E. Chávez Blvd., a short distance from the Alamo and the River Walk. Regular hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $8 for adults (ages 12-64); $7 for seniors (ages 65+); $6 for children (ages 3-11); free with membership, UTSA or Alamo Colleges identification. For more information, call 210-458-2300 or visit TexanCultures.com.
 
 

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©2014 Institute of Texan Cultures. University of Texas at San Antonio. All Rights Reserved.
 

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