A hearty Saturday Salute goes this week to Alec Paul, who took on a project to get a historical marker placed at the site of the 1945 Cornhusker Ammunition Plant explosion.
The marker, at 90th Road and Old Potash Road, was dedicated last Sunday, recognizing that the nine people who died due to the explosion gave their lives in service to their country just like the members of the military whose sacrifices are honored on Memorial Day. Cornhusker Ordnance Plant workers produced its first bomb on Nov. 11, 1942, and loading operations continued there until Aug. 16, 1945, the day after Japan surrendered.
Paul, a 17-year-old member of Boy Scout Troop 14, carried out the historical marker project as part of the requirements to become an Eagle Scout. He worked with people in the Hall County Historical Society to determine the wording and the best placement for the marker.
He said the project was important to him in telling the story of the community and the vital role the Grand Island area played during World War II.
The historical marker includes a little history of the ammunition plant.
“During World War II it produced artillery shells, and various bombs weighing up to 2,000 pounds apiece,” the marker reads. The explosion, the inscription reads, “... killed nine people, leveled a building, and was felt in the nearby towns of Cairo and Wood River.”
The cause of the explosion was never determined. Howard Uhrich of Wood River, a local historian, said the cause was investigated but the reason for the explosion could only be speculated. He will speak about the history of the plant later this month in Wood River.
This is the 23rd historical marker in Hall County, the third to be put up as an Eagle Scout project.
Paul deserves a salute for his efforts to preserve this piece of Hall County history, ensuring that county residents always remember the role this area of Nebraska played in World War II.
Volunteers turn out on Loup
We also salute all the volunteers who helped with efforts to find Brett Swantek, a member of the Genoa Volunteer Fire Department, who fell from a kayak on May 25 while attempting to go over the Loup Public Power diversion dam on the Loup River.
The search went on for days, with volunteers lining the banks of the river to help rescue personnel when, due to extremely fast currents and dangerous conditions on the river, rescuers were not able to use watercraft.
This was a very sad situation, but so many people came out to help, hoping to give Swantek’s family peace of mind.