CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - A Cape Girardeau County man has been collecting and assembling war memorabilia in his home for more than 40 years.
“I started in 1977 and the first plane I built was a F4u Corsair,” Historian Richard C. Urhahn stated. “It’s probably one of our best planes, if the not best plane, in WWII as far as maneuverability and speed.”
Urhahn in the past would frequently take trips and interview those who were serving or have served in the military.
“I would interview pilots, the grunts on the ground in Vietnam and WWII and a couple snipers,” Urhahn recalled. “One, in particular, was a NAVY Seal from WWII that would slip into the islands before we attacked again in the Pacific Theater and get the layout of the land.”
Urhahn said it was those people he talked with, his passion for the military and the instruments used during the wars that compelled him to assemble thousands of these war memorabilia items as a hobby for all these years.
"I would be scared to count all of them," Urhahn laughed. "It would probably be worse to dust them all."
Not only does Urhahn assemble these items, but he in doing so, learns what different parts are used for at the time when they were used. He also learns about who operated them, the materials used, the safety measures, the cultures that pertained to the items and why they fought with those particular models.
He then took his new-found knowledge and wanted to help educate others as well.
"In 1990-1991, during the Persian Gulf War, I was able to visit multiple schools," Urhahn explained. "I would be able to take some of these kits to the schools and show them what we're up against. For instance: in the Persian Gulf War, what tanks the Iraqis were using, T62, T65, T72, etc. I would then show them the tank that we used which was the M1 Abrams."
Urhahn also bonds with his grandson, Liam McGill, which has helped build some of the planes as well.
Urhahn states that every memorabilia item has a story behind it and that all of the items are an important part of history in the world.
He remembers the stories of the soldiers he talked with in the past that talked about the different aircraft and gear they were in. He said it made it more memorable and real to him when he went to assemble those particular models.
“These gentlemen that flew these planes, that fought in these tanks, etc., were heroes!” Urhahn stated. “I just admire what they did.”