New exhibit sheds light on Korean and Vietnam wars

The uniform, names and photos of Korean War veterans decorate one wall of the exhibit at the Soledad Historical Society. (Photo by Samantha Bengtson)

SOLEDAD — A new exhibit is now open featuring displays about the Korean and Vietnam wars at the Soledad Historical Society.

According to Craig Stephens from the Historical Society, the exhibit relates to what the 11th-grade students are studying at Soledad High School.

The exhibit begins with information on how people prepared for attacks in the 1950s, into McCarthyism, the Korean War, NATO, protection from a nuclear attack and more.

“We’re highlighting the combat veterans from Korea,” Stephens said. “We do not have a complete list. We’re hoping to get some more names.”

Two of the Korean War veterans the Society is highlighting are Raymond Gularte and Vernon L. Cowger, who both served in the U.S. Navy.

Cowger served on the USS Boxer, an army aircraft carrier, while Gularte was stationed on the USS Manchester, a combat ship during the Korean War.

The exhibit continues through to Cuban history, the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis and three assassinations of Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy.

Following that is the list of the Vietnam War veterans. Stephens said the list isn’t complete and visitors can include missing names on a form at the Soledad Historical Society.

There is a section for the three men, Pete Cruz, Rodolfo Serrano and Walter Skinner, from Gonzales High School who were killed in action. Along with photos and names of those who served, there is such equipment as shoes, dog tags and hats that soldiers would use during the Vietnam War.

Soledad students will visit the exhibit later this month and a special reception for the Korean and Vietnam wars exhibit is set for Saturday, March 30.

The exhibit finishes out with the Civil Rights Movement, segregation and civil unrest.

“March 29 is the National Remembrance Day, but no one could make it so we’re doing it on Saturday,” Stephens said. “This exhibit is a way of reviewing and putting that entire time period in perspective.”

The exhibit is also part of the educational outreach program for the Soledad Historical Society. The program has been around for about nine years and displays are either taken to the schools or the schools visit the museum on Soledad Street.

The museum exhibit will be open on Thursdays during the Farmer’s Market, which begins April 4.

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