101 Mill Road
The Westhampton Beach Historical Society has opened its new summer exhibit, “Remembering WWII on the 75th Anniversary of D-Day,” on view at the Society’s 101 Mill Road location Saturdays, 10 am-1 pm through September 7. In preparing for the exhibit, the Society reached out to the community to request donations and loans of WWII memorabilia and artifacts. According to the Society’s President Jon Stanat, and Collections Manager Jaime Karbowiak, the response was amazing and enabled an extensive exhibit of WWII items and information about soldiers from the area who served during the war.
Black-and-white photo images of planes of the era and framed artwork views of war-time air defense equipment will amaze visitors who are more familiar with the high-tech look of airplanes today. Among the servicemen in the exhibit, visitors will learn about the career of flying ace Francis Stanley (“Gabby”) Gabreski, best known for his credited destruction of 34½ aircraft in aerial combat and being one of only seven US combat pilots to become an ace in two wars. Former Westhampton Beach Mayor, Arma “Ham” Andon received Medals of Honor from Austria and France, among many other citations for his exceptional bravery and leadership, and was inducted into the Veterans Hall of fame by the New York Senate in 2014. “Ham,” a former Westhampton Beach Mayor, was also a local hero.
Along with various weapons, the exhibit includes eight uniforms representing the different armed services worn by local men, and one worn by a local woman, Lola Jessup, in 1941. Correspondence soldiers sent to their loved ones at home capture their fear as well as their bravery as their recount war experiences. Also included are ration books used by area residents, war posters, and other ephemera.
The Society is grateful for the many items local families have lent to this special exhibit, and for items provided by the Suffolk County Historical Society, John Berdinka, and Wes Winters.