Chairman Editorial Board, VT

Months ago, our local Congressional office contacted me about helping locate missing historical artifacts that had been in America’s second largest military museum, here in Toledo, Ohio. 

Built in 1886, this grand structure, now missing from the local skyline under "mysterious circumstances" contained thousands of uniforms, weapons, medals and more from the Civil War onward, worth millions of dollars.

Now nothing remains but a parking lot, a corner stone and a few leftovers saved by a dedicated group in Oregon, Ohio working to keep the history of our military heroes alive.  Where did the rest of it go?  Where do I start?  Items "disappeared" over a period of decades, some "went missing" quite recently.

For 25 years, veteran activist, Nick Hauptricht, has pursued this task.  What he has found is shocking.  Public records, news clippings, documents and filings of every kind tell a story, a tale of decades of incompetence and disrespect for our veterans. 


In 1952, one of Ohio’s greatest historical buildings was sold for a parking lot.  The details of the deal are predicatable, an "insider" special, pennies on the dollar.  The contents of the building, famous paintings, hundreds of uniforms from the Civil War onward, weapons, including artillery pieces, gattling guns, and hundreds of machine guns, pistols, swords along with battle flags, plaques, documents and so much more, went into storage, eventually at a local zoo.

Then it began.

Signed statements indicate that weapons worth thousands were handed out like party favors.  Secret auctions were held where millions in historical treasures disappeared.  Statements of witnesses indicate that valuable items, including hundreds of Civil War uniforms listed as ‘discarded’ were packed up and shipped away.

With the hundreds of pages of records that exist and the Ohio Attorney General now investigating allegations of abuses, even more records, some held by the Toledo Zoo are withheld, even from members of Congress.

If one tenth of the accusations are true, this will be one of the most shameful events of its kind.

Who did this?  I am not naming names.  Those responsible for preserving history were prominent leaders of veterans organizations, lawyers, judges and politicians, the local power elite.

Many, even most are now dead but not all.  Do we punish the wicked or work to restore missing Medals of Honor, battle flags and the uniforms, lugers, machine guns and documents donated for preservation by returning veterans from war after war, veterans who trusted their own and were betrayed.

How do we begin rebuilding our history?  How do we begin honoring our veterans when, even now, every imaginable effort is made to bury this issue?  Every politican in Ohio has been contacted.  Many have spoken with us and tell us to "leave it alone."

Nobody asked to find themselves neck deep in sewage.  All we wanted was to serve our community, help local veterans and our Congressional representative that called on us.

Why is the property of Ohio’s heroes floating across Ebay and filling private collections around the country?

Was it laziness?  Was it money?  Was it simply that once a veteran makes good, gets elected to office or falls into some cash, they change?

Is it worth destroying the reputations of so many?  We are told no, no matter what they did.

Even today, so many, newspapers, TV and radio, every politician, Zoo officials, all are stonewalling, hiding misdeeds, some decades old.

All we wanted was to tell a story, not of greed and corruption, but of honor and sacrifice. 

In 1886, the museum was opened with great pride, even on a national scale.  Generals, even Presidents donated personal items, all now somewhere, somewhere hidden away for the few.

When we started this, we began working with Duke University, the Morris Organization, the Tennesee Historical Socity, the Smithsonian, the Toledo Museum of Art, the Medal of Honor Society and many more museums and groups.  All were wonderfully helpful and we have made many good friends in the process.

Many warned us also.

Stripping American history bare is a business.  Selling off our honor in the dark of night is common.  Museums can’t compete with greed. 

Did that machine gun adorning the private collection of the famous movie star disappear from a museum?  That sword or brace of pistols, owned by the oil billionaire, were they given to a museum by a poor soldier who was assured they would be kept for posterity?

I don’t care about the money.  Money in unimaginable amounts disappears in America hourly.

I don’t even feel disappointment.  It isn’t worth it.  Nobody expects much from anyone anymore and rightly so. 

I thank those in Oregon, Ohio who have worked to preserve the leftovers, the discards, the remains of our history. 

I hope that records will be released and our history repatriated and our heroes honored again.  Simple internet searches have located some items already.  The new owners, when contacted, all well aware they possess ill gotten gains.

And so it goes…

gduffGordon Duff is a Marine combat veteran and regular contributor on political and social issues.


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Gordon Duff posted articles on VT from 2008 to 2022. He is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War. A disabled veteran, he worked on veterans and POW issues for decades. Gordon is an accredited diplomat and is generally accepted as one of the top global intelligence specialists. He manages the world's largest private intelligence organization and regularly consults with governments challenged by security issues. Duff has traveled extensively, is published around the world, and is a regular guest on TV and radio in more than "several" countries. He is also a trained chef, wine enthusiast, avid motorcyclist, and gunsmith specializing in historical weapons and restoration. Business experience and interests are in energy and defense technology.