ROMULUS – The military museum at Sampson State Park will open for the summer season on May 25. Dolores Dinsmore, museum director, said the museum will be open for extended hours this season, including holidays. One of the hidden treasures in Seneca County, the Sampson Military Museum is open from 9 am to 3 pm Wednesday through Sunday. The museum will remain open until the first weekend of November.
Admission to the park is $7 per car full. A donation of $1 is gratefully accepted at the museum. The money is used to preserve archives and other artifacts at the museum.
Dinsmore said the museum is desperately in need of funds to repair the roof at the museum, which has been damaged in recent storms. Water leaks in and has damaged ceilings, storage areas and some artifacts, said Tom Kirk, an Air Force flight instructor at Sampson who is now is one of its volunteers.
Sampson’s military museum pays tribute to the park’s role as a training site for WWII Navy boots and Korean Conflict Air Force airmen.
Sometimes, while browsing through the exhibits of sailors ditty bags or Air Force flight simulators, you get to see those magical moments when something tweaks Grandpa’s memory and he begins to tell his grandson about his life in the war. His son, the boy’s father, listens with tears in his eyes, “I never knew.”
Dinsmore said the museum was begun in 1986, when WWII Navy vets decided to create “a living history to educate the generations.” The museum is located in the former Sampson Naval Training Center brig. Attractive exhibits include a periscope that rises through the roof to scan Seneca Lake. The museum houses the largest collection of company photos in existence.
“The Navy destroyed their photos, so we have them as families fill in the collection,” Dinsmore said. “We also have a limited list of names of men who trained here.”
In 1995, the Sampson Air Force Veterans Association established a museum in one of the side of the brig, which is a hollow square with a courtyard paved in commemorative bricks. The Air Force museum presents an overview of the life here during the six weeks of training. Sampson was opened at the start of the US Air Force, created in 1950.
In addition to the flight simulator, the Air Force section has uniforms, sand a library of photos. “We are fortunate to have the extensive collection that we do,” said Kirk. “We have to make every effort to preserve this special history.”
The Sampson Brig
Tours are available of the museum, including a self-guided tour. Sometimes museum visitors are in for a special treat, when WWII Navy vets or Korean Air Force vets like Kirk volunteer at the museum to give tours and meet the public.
On Aug. 3, the Friends of Sampson State Park will host Salute to the Troops, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event presents exhibits of military weapons, dress and lifestyles from the French and Indian War to the present. Additional exhibits will feature the Doughnut Dollies of the Red Cross, War Dogs, military vehicles, weapons firing, local historical societies, speakers and a military fitness trail. Entry to the park is $7 per carload.