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106th Cavalry Uniform

America’s G.I.s were the best outfitted soldiers in the world, as evidenced by this collection of uniform items. They include a tanker jacket, a woolen shirt, boots, pistol belt, tanker bibs with suspenders, helmet, winter helmet cover, woolen gloves, a canteen with canteen case, and a first aid kit. The tanker jacket includes the insignia for the Illinois Army National Guard’s 106th Cavalry Group.

Tanker Uniform

Courtesy of the Illinois State Military Museum, Department of Military Affairs, Springfield, IL

Sergeant Arthur Betts, an African American soldier in the 94th Engineer Regiment, participated in the Army’s massive Louisiana maneuvers before the unit shipped out to North Africa in 1943. Years later, his helmet was discovered in Louisiana, and after

seventy years Sergeant Betts’s daughter gratefully received it from a collector—a tangible connection to the father she so deeply admired.

Arthur Betts' Helmet

Courtesy of Mrs. Judith Betts Davis


Seaman Martin Lein of Chicago proudly wore his dress blue uniform when marrying his sweetheart, Mabel Obenland, in her parent’s Villa Park, Illinois, living room in May 1943, shortly before he shipped out. They met before Martin enlisted, and continued to see each other while he went through basic training at Naval Station Great Lakes. His uniform included the sailor’s iconic “Dixie cup” hat.

Navy Uniform

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

 Pilots - Bombers

Bomber Crewman

This headset, often worn over an airman’s crusher cap, was used by Ray M. Bell, a crewman on a B-29 Superfortress in the 883rd Bomber Squadron. Bell and the entire crew died in January 1945, while on their first bombing run against Japan–victims not of enemy fire, but of an engine malfunction and bad weather.


Courtesy of the Illinois State Military Museum, Department of Military Affairs, Springfield, IL


Crusher Cap

Courtesy of William Lear

Thin Air and Frigid Temperatures

America’s heavy bombers routinely flew at 20,000 feet or higher when attacking industrial sites in Germany. At that altitude, the air was thin and the temperatures frigid, requiring the crew to use the A-14 oxygen mask and B-8 goggles, along with an insulated winter pilot helmet.

Pilot's Cap with Breathing Apparatus, Goggles, and Headphones

Courtesy of Michael Luke

Top Secret

Air Force commanders hoped the “top secret” Norden bombsight would revolutionize the accuracy of bombing missions during World War II. Once over the target area, the pilot gave control of the aircraft to the bombardier until after he released the bombs. Bombing accuracy, however, was a disappointment.

Norden Bombsite

Courtesy of The National World War II Musuem

Coast Guard - South Pacific

Coast Guard

This cap, which Coast Guardsmen often referred to as a “Donald Duck” hat, was worn by Elmer Duncan. His battle station on LST (Landing Ship-Tank) 796 was a 20 mm gun. The ship was launched in Pittsburg, and supported the invasion of Okinawa.

Coast Guard Cap

Courtesy of the National World War II Museum

Elmer Duncan, Jr., U.S. Coast Guard

Courtesy of The National World War II Museum


Flotilla 24

This pennant flew from an LCI (Landing Craft-Infantry) that sailed with LCI (L) Flotilla 24. The flotilla logged over a million miles throughout the Pacific from July 1944 to July 1945. Commander Alfred V. Jannotta of Chicago served with the flotilla and was awarded the Navy Cross for valor when he helped rescue the crew of the burning U.S.S. Orestes after a Japanese ‘Val’ dive bomber crashed into the ship.

Flotilla 24 Pennant

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Marines - Iwo Jima

Iwo Jima

Lieutenant Warren Musch wore this dungaree shirt when he landed with the 28th Marine Regiment on the heavily fortified island of Iwo Jima in February 1945, in the shadow of Mount Suribachi. Years later, he was given a small container of black volcanic sand from the beach where he had landed, an enduring symbol of the valor and sacrifice of the 60,000 Marines who fought there and the 6,821 Marines who lost their lives.

Dungaree Shirt

Courtesy of Warren Musch

Sand from Iwo Jima

Courtesy of Warren Musch

Marine Lieutenant Warren Musch

Courtesy of Warren Musch


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