Stories from heroes: The Yukon Veterans Museum

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YUKON, Okla. - Their stories are muted from behind the glass cases, barely noticed among the Yukon Chamber's morning coffee session.

It's only as the crowd dissipates that organizers can begin to explain the tales behind the old headlines and faded pictures.

Over the past several years, retired Army veterans like Rick Cacini have brought their own souvenirs from police actions and wars too.

Cacini points to a small table behind a set of sand bags, "This radio set was used by the CIA prior to the U.S. going into Vietnam."

The Yukon Veterans Museum began with a group of guys and their own baggage, but they had other stories from Canadian County families as well.

"I can't believe they have some of this stuff in their homes," Cacini said. "But, I'm very glad they're bringing it out."

As the museum became better known, in came artifacts from as far back as the Civil War.

Jerry Stafford served with a hero of his, Division Officer Richard Stratton stood up to his Viet Cong captors as a POW for years.

"He wasn't about to cooperate in that way," Jerry agrees.

Tom Thomas reserved a case for his old friend Charlie Walkingstick, who collected all kinds of souvenirs from his time as a Marine in the Pacific.

"He collected all this equipment from the beaches," Thomas said.

J.A. Watkins was a WWII prisoner of war who made secret sketches of fellow inmates whose families were waiting for word of whether they were alive or dead.

"His son, Pete Watkins, lives here in Yukon, and he's the one who donated this information to us," Cacini said.

There are small pockets in museums all over Oklahoma and the rest of the country that tell the human stories of great courage and sacrifice.

Many are lost but, in an old Legion Hall on Main Street Yukon, one generation of veterans works to save the stories of another and then hopefully another.

The Yukon Veterans Museum is located at 1010 West Main Street in Yukon.

The museum is open noon to 5 Wednesday through Saturday.

For more information, go to their Facebook page.

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