Whether you are a history buff or not, the Museum of Forgotten Warriors is a mecca of military memorabilia and owner Dann Spear has done a wonderful job not only collecting for the past 33 years but dedicating his life to displaying thousands of items for others to view.
There are over 5,000 military books in the library of this complex of buildings and Spear would have more but he has given some away.
Spear's personal tribute to honor all veterans is a crusade that he has worked very hard to complete with the help of his wife, including making the museum a 501-3C for donations.
"War brought a lot of people together," Spear explained on a personal tour last week.
Spear and his wife started out with a mobile display that they took all over northern California from 1972-1978 before the four buildings started popping up on his property.
Group tours are a favorite for Spear as he has that many more to talk to and explain the origin of the many artifacts. The Combat Motorcycle Club will visit in September and two years ago a parachute drop was done there with 400 attending. The California Highway Patrol held a board meeting there recently and it is a perfect spot for gathering groups. Those attending a recent kids scavenger birthday party received prizes for the items they found and watched a WWII movie on a big screen before holding a BBQ.
A group of 60 kids from South Sutter School visited in groups of 10
Spear has been lucky to receive donations of beautiful bookshelves and glass for cabinets which helps since he and his wife had been funding the museum and expenses until donations could be accepted.
"Where there is a will, there is a way," Spear explained. "I've been willing to put a lot of work into this."
When driving up, visitors are greeted by a Huey helicopter that came from Fresno and a SR-71 start cart from Beale Air Force Base which he received in February.
There is a landing craft out in the back but after going through 3,000 and 6,000 square foot buildings a person's mind is blown and ready to sit and reflect on what they have seen.
We are 75 percent done now," Spear stated.
The walls are lined with thousands of pictures all personally signed to him from veterans. There are over 700 GI Joe dolls in the collection and even a SR71 Blackbird with signatures of the RSO's, pilots and crew chiefs who worked in the program circa 1970.
Dann was just ten years old when he started collecting military items, the first a glass case that sat on his parent's front porch.
The museum is open Saturdays from 10 a.m., to 3 p.m., and Thursdays evenings from 7 to 9 p.m., Memorial and Veterans Day 10 a.m., to 3 p.m., or call for an appointment 742-3090.