WHITEHALL — Flags taken from one of the Gestapo headquarters to badges to letters that he sent to his wife; Frank Richmond knew World War II would be remembered and collected items in hopes that future generations would learn from the atrocities that followed him once the war was over.
"My father was born and raised in Montana and he left Montana in 1939 and went south because the woods industry was not doing well in Montana and he went to work for an aircraft company called Northrop," said Roger Richmond, Frank Richmond's son.
“Dear Tilly, I don’t understand why people are killing each other. It’s such a beautiful day, but I step outside, and I worry about getting shot or having to kill somebody..."
At 23 years old, Frank had to leave his wife, Tillie, who was pregnant, to serve in the war.
"He was writing two-to-three letters a day, every day when he was overseas, and mom wouldn’t get ‘em for two-to-three weeks," said Richmond.
Frank was suddenly moved to the front lines and then behind enemy lines in a reconnaissance group taking orders from General Patton.
"They relieved a concentration camp called Bad Orb. There were 5,500 prisoners in it... by the time the Bad Orb was taken over, out of the 30 guys originally that had started, there were 17 left," said Richmond.
He had seen children as young as 12 shooting at American tanks and die at the hands of the American military. He had seen towns leveled and fellow soldiers die.
"One of the things he said that was really touching was “Dear Tilly, I don’t understand why people are killing each other. It’s such a beautiful day, but I step outside, and I worry about getting shot or having to kill somebody,” said Richmond.
On April 30, 1945 -- seven days before the Armistice was signed, Frank met the end of his military career.
"All he heard was a large explosion and they shot something like a bazooka shell that hit the side of the vehicle and almost blew off his face," said Richmond.
Frank had multiple surgeries and years of rehab but could never shake the memories from the war.
The memorabilia kept by Frank will be shown in a digital collection through the Whitehall Community Library.