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Keeping it

The GRPM Blog

Honoring Volunteers and Veterans


November 10, 2022

Honoring the Veterans on the GRPM Volunteer Team.

"The folks who volunteer for the Grand Rapids Public Museum come from a wide variety of backgrounds. One commonality, throughout the generations, are volunteers who have also honored this nation through military service. Our oldest volunteer veteran is 94 and the youngest is 34. Some fought recently in the Middle East, others during the 50s and 60s, and others alongside the greatest generation in World War II. Whether drafted, or enlisted, they served this nation on our behalf. So this one day out of the year, I want to recognize them as the above and beyond volunteer. They served our nation faithfully and now they serve visitors to the Grand Rapids Public Museum as volunteers. We are grateful for both lines of service."

What is Veterans Day?

Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, was originally set as a U.S. legal holiday to honor the end of World War I, which officially took place on November 11, 1918. In 1938, through an act of Congress, November 11th was made a legal holiday.

Volunteer Stories.

This Veterans Day, the volunteer team was given a questionnaire about their respective careers in the US Military. The questionnaire was optional, however, being the community-focused people that they are, a few responded and shared their stories of service. Below, in their own words, is their account of their time serving, as well as their experience in their service as a volunteer at the GRPM.

John D. Nelson

1969-1997 United States Army

"To support the mission as a team member."

What do you remember most about your experience?

“The great people from all different races and ethnic groups that I worked for and who worked for me. The tremendous support and friendships that I established over the many years served. Several assignments exposed me to how people gathered in teams to make important decisions where each member was enabled and contributed and then when the decision was made, 100% of the team supported that decision.”

How do you use what you learned during your service in your work as a volunteer?

“To support the mission as a team member.”

What is your favorite part of your volunteer work?

“Interfacing with museum guests (especially young students) via either as a first person program presenter or exhibit interpreter.”

Gordon Henry

1964 - 1966

591st Military Police Company

Gordon Henry with GRPM Volunteer Manager Mo Flemming
What do you remember most about your experience?

“I remember how fast the Military could respond following a Presidential Order.”

How do you use what you learned during your service in your work as a volunteer?

“As a young person, I learned how to interface and interact with people at all levels. Even though rank does have its privilege!”

What is your favorite part of your volunteer work?

“Helps me give back to the community and gets me out of the house.”

James (Jim) Paul Rosin

1966-1968 United States Army

Jim during the GRPM Cultural Heritage Festival 10/15/2022
How do you use what you learned during your service in your work as a volunteer?

“The volunteer work I do as a wood lathe operator at the GRPM was another way for me to give back to the community.  It is a real heartwarming pleasure to use my woodturning skills to bring smiles to our many visitors, especially the children.  Many families are impressed with the GRPM’s commitment to retain this machinery and skill and maybe inspire others to take up this art form as well.”

What is your favorite part of your volunteer work?

“Visitors from all over the world are very interesting to talk to and listen to their stories. One family from Ukraine and Russia had family members that also made wooden toys, like we do on the lathe, for their children since commercial toys were not available”

What do you remember most about your experience?

“I was sent to Vietnam (Oct 1967) with the 146th Infantry, 198th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division. Upon arrival in VN, I was assigned as a Senior Combat Medic to an infantry battalion, stationed in Chu Lai, near Danang in the northern part of VN.

Took part in 13 Infantry helicopter combat assaults with Infantry platoons in the Central Highlands. We usually lived in the field for 7-10 days at a time before returning to base camp.  Meals and supplies are brought in by helicopter as needed. We used Medivac helicopters to remove any wounded/casualties from insurgent battles. 

In Dec. 1967 while on foot patrol in the central highlands on a “search and clear” mission, we entered a small village. As we entered the village, I discovered a Vietnamese woman in child labor very close to giving birth. The only training I had was a short 20-minute film on a normal baby child delivery, no gloves, etc. As I was assisting the woman our platoon in the village came under intense sniper fire. I made sure our platoon was safe and stayed with the woman who was now fully dilatated.

"The only training I had was a short 20-minute film"

 After the firefight, the woman and child were airlifted by US Army Medivac helicopter to a regional military hospital.
The Bronze Medal with “V” (valor) I received citation reads as follows:

‘Specialist Rosin immediately moved forward to assist the woman when his company suddenly came under intense fire from an enemy force of undetermined size. With complete disregard for his own safety, Specialist Rosin maneuvered to the woman’s position and continued to assist her until delivery of the child was complete. Although he was continually exposed to the insurgent’s fire, he courageously remained at the young woman’s location to complete the task at hand. Due to his unselfish devotion to duty and professional competence, the mother and baby (boy) survived, and a great step forward in the battle to win the hearts and minds of the people of the Republic of Vietnam was accomplished. Specialist Five Rosin’s personal bravery and avid devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the Americal Division, and the United States Army.’”

Thank you for your service.

More to Explore!

Learn more about GRPM volunteer opportunities.

Discover veteran artifacts in the GRPM online Collections.

Expand your Veterans Day plans with a trip to the GRPM’s Collecting A-Z exhibit, featuring the “V is for Veterans” section. 

Late Opening Notice.

On Saturday, May 11, the Museum will open at 12 p.m. due to road closures for the Amway River Bank Run.

Early Closure Notice.

The Museum will close at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, May 1 for Museum Adventure After Dark. Tickets are still available!