Historical firearms now on display at Wilder Museum

Photo provided to the Times Observer Several historical firearms donated last fall serve as key pieces of a new World War II gun exhibit at the Warren County Historical Society’s Wilder Museum in Irvine. Here, from left, Ike Borland, John Bowler and Norm Chamberlain install the newest additions to the World War II collection.

A visit to the Wilder Museum in Irvine has prompted a donation.

Last fall, Bill Woods donated several historical weapons to the museum.

They were recently put on display as part of a new World War II gun exhibit.

“Bill had visited the museum a year earlier and was so impressed he wanted to offer some items to add to the collection,” Sue Borland, Woods’ sister and a historical society volunteer, said. “He saw that he had some firearms that the museum didn’t have.”

That included the famous MI Garand as well as the Russian Mosin-Nagant rifle, British Lee-Enfield and a Japanese mark 99.

According to information from the Historical Society, Woods graduated from Warren Area High School in 1975 and served 27 years between active duty and the reserves, retiring as a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force.

His career started as an instructor pilot for fighters before shifting to heavies where he served as a C-130 pilot, serving multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as a reservist during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Woods was a United Airlines pilot during his reserve years and is an avid gun collector, especially of military and historical firearms.

So how did he get the weapons now on display at the Museum?

Borland said he “met an elderly man at a Vets Club whose children and grandchildren had no interest in the M1. After several conversations with elderly man about his experiences, the gun was offered to Bill.

“The elderly man gave a price far below value,” she said. “When Bill said no he wanted to pay a fair price, the gentleman said ‘Well that’s the price, I want it to go to a veteran.'”

The museum is open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 14


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