The Macomb Daily

Fraser High School senior creates traveling history museum

- Send news of service clubs and veterans organizati­ons to Linda May at lindamay@ or call landline 586-791-8116.

Hometown Heroes History and Displays is a traveling museum owned and operated by Fraser High School senior Zackary Howey. It was created because of his love for military history and respect for people who serve in the armed forces.

Its most recent showing was at the Marine Corps League Department of Michigan 2024 Midwinter Conference at a hotel in Dearborn, hosted by the Montford Point Detachment 158, and the Downriver Detachment 153 from Lincoln Park.

“I do several different themes to each display,” Howey said. “I have one that’s just Marines and that was for the Marine Corps League. I have one that’s just Vietnam and there are a couple hundred pieces in that collection.”

A room in his house has some of the artifacts in glass cases. When he displays the collection, his parents, Matt and Becky Howey of Warren, and grandparen­ts, Christine and Bill Kloski of Fraser, are usually his assistants who help him set up the items and watch over the pieces.

“A lot of it is donated to me by veterans or by other collectors who are getting out of the hobby and I buy from them,” Howey said. “Online, I find some of it. Garage sales, estate sales,” he said. “Some of my friends say that I can smell if there is anything military in a room.

“There are stories that come along with these things. I get called an old soul a lot but I believe a key part of my love was old John Wayne movies and my grandfathe­r Bill,” Howdy said. Bill Kloski is a U.S. Army veteran.

“For the Marine Corps League, I started off with the earliest time period with the earliest Marine Corps relic I had which is a 1912 Bell cover. It is a Marine dress uniform, dark blue with red piping and it was from a China Marine — so, he was stationed in China during his time,” Howey said. “That was the starting point and then I’d go with a World War I collar brass which was in the case with it.

“Then I’d go into World War II. I had a named footlocker out there filled with stuff that you would see in a soldier’s footlocker during World War II, you know, his helmet, uniforms, cigarettes from the ‘40s, pictures, a captured little Japanese sword he brought home, his shaver, his lighter, C-Rations and that kind of stuff was all in there. Dress uniforms from the time period, like dress blues that belonged to a gentleman who served with the Old Breed which is the 1st Marine Division at Guadalcana­l, and a World War II field pack.

“And then grave tracings of two Marines — somewhat well known — one of which was the first Marine Medal of Honor recipient who was killed in World War II. He was actually from Michigan.

His name was George

Ham Cannon. And then you have Kenneth Jewell Tibbs. He was the first African American Marine that was killed in World War II,” he said.

Howey made a video on George Ham Cannon.

“That was for ‘Sacrifice for Freedom.’ It was a project through National History Day which I compete through at Fraser (High School),” he said. “There were 16 of us who were picked that year, so, 16 students and teachers, who were sent to Hawaii for a month. And before that there was a sixmonth research program on World War II and the South Pacific and a gentleman (Cannon), a soldier, who is buried in the Punchbowl, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. They would assign us a person from our state and we would do research on them and do a eulogy at their gravesite. That’s what the video was about — him and his life leading up to his death in World War II.”

One of Howey’s recent displays was at Novi’s Suburban Collection Showplace.

“That was on the war in the South Pacific, taking a look at the U.S. Marines in World War II, the U.S. Navy and their role in World War II and the U.S. Coast Guard and also females during their time in the South Pacific with the Marines and the Navy. The show itself was on antique firearms. Mostly they focus on antique rifles, handguns, that kind of stuff but will have some military memorabili­a,” he said.

Historic Fort Wayne in southwest Detroit celebrated its 175th birthday in October.

“The barracks inside the fort is actually the third oldest building in Detroit. I did a timeline of soldiers going through Fort Wayne as an induction center — so from World War II until Vietnam,” he said.

The young historian meets a lot of interestin­g people in his passion for military stories.

Last spring Howey made a Special Forces in Vietnam display with his friend Chris Scalise who served in that capacity.

“It was mostly focused on the U.S. Army Special Forces, so, the Green Berets and the Rangers. Chris Scalise actually gave me one of his pieces out of his personal collection. He gave me his original tiger-striped beret that he brought home,” he said.

Both men now own military jeep quarter-ton

M151 utility trucks known as MUTTs.

“I’m working on restoring one I just bought this past summer,” Howey said.

“I do lawn jobs on the side to make some cash and I teach karate a couple days through the school district and teach people self-defense. I have odd jobs and my parents and grandparen­ts help me fund a lot of it,” he said.

His “Christmas haul from Santa” included WWII Marine Corps camouflage tents, Frogskin camouflage ponchos, USMC blankets, a woman Marine’s seersucker dress, a practice rifle and vintage flare gun.

“I got a Vietnam era helmet that someone graffitied on, like the unit they were with, artwork on it,” he said.

Howey is an artist also. “One day I was bored and I was doodling Devil Dogs. The Marines are called Devil Dogs. The Germans named them that in World War I because they chased them across the Rhine and they were so fierce. The Marines took that as a badge of pride so from then on they called themselves Devil Dogs. So one of the main figures is the English pit bull with a Doughboy’s World War I helmet with the Marine Corps emblem. I was also doodling designs from the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s and one was the modern design of the Devil dogs.

One of the Marines happened to see my sketch book and said he’d like to use these for a tattoo design. I also did a piece for Chris Scalise for his buddy who was killed in action in Vietnam, Mark Daniels,” Howey said.

In February, the Hometown Heroes History and Displays goes to a Marine Corps Black History Appreciati­on gala.

“I focus on the Montford Point Marines,” he said. “They are the first African American Marines allowed to serve in World War II. I was friends with three of the original ones in Detroit but two of them passed away and there’s one left now. I got to know them very well personally.”

Howey’s documentar­y on them called “Black Angels Breaking Down Barriers for the Right to Fight” earned him a National Marine Corps Award from Quantico, Virginia.

“It was about what the Monfort Points had to go through to get into the Marine Corps and what it was like for them, and then the aftermath of how others treated them after they got home after helping to win World War II, and what it was like for them coming home to a segregated country,” Howey said.

The documentar­y is posted on YouTube.

So will Howey go into the military or become a teacher, or something else?

“I’ve been debating between both but the way I look at it is, if I can teach about history it is almost as important as living it. I believe that if it is taught right, that kids that I teach will actually have a greater respect for the military for the people who put their lives on the line. So another Vietnam thing doesn’t happen where all these guys come home and they are disrespect­ed because no one knows what they went through,” he said.

Howey was active in the National History Day activities at his school, which — and this saddens him — have been downsized in the curriculum.

His plans are to attend Oakland University for his teaching degree and then perhaps going to Norwich University in Vermont.

“It is the oldest military school in the U.S. and actually offers a military history degree. I kind of want to teach high school to college range students. I could possibly teach at Annapolis with a history degree because you can be a civilian and teach there. Some of the Norwich graduates end up working for the Pentagon on the history that they (recruits) learn when they go to boot camp. The history that the DIs teach you — a lot of people who write that history went to Norwich.

“And a goal is to have a permanent museum where people can come to visit everything and see everything,” he said.

In his spare time,

Howey participat­es in

Civil War, World War II and Vietnam re-enactor groups.

“He has a couple more displays coming up,” Becky Howey said. “His biggest will be the Selfridge Vietnam Veterans event in May. The displays that he puts up are very detailed and you can see the pride he puts into honoring veterans by telling their stories. He also loves to hear stories from visiting veterans.”

A Salute to Vietnam

Vets is scheduled for May 18-19 at the Selfridge Military Air Museum in Harrison Township. The Sweetheart Swing Dance is at 6 p.m. (with free dance instructio­n) Feb. 10 at the Most Holy Trinity Catholic Academy Gym, 1229 Labrosse Street, Detroit. Tickets are $30 per person and $45 per couple. The school and the Historic Fort Wayne Coalition are beneficiar­ies.

The museum has a Facebook page, and Howey can be contacted at zackhowey2­

 ?? COURTESY PHOTO ?? Hometown Heroes History and Displays is a traveling museum owned and operated by Fraser High School senior Zackary Howey.
COURTESY PHOTO Hometown Heroes History and Displays is a traveling museum owned and operated by Fraser High School senior Zackary Howey.
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