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Every day, memories of World War II – its sights and sounds, its terrors and triumphs – disappear.
The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world, so that all generations will understand the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn. By partnering with The National WWII Museum, you can ensure that your children, grandchildren and loved ones will know the real stories of our heroes and fully appreciate their struggle and sacrifice.
Jack Gross started his conversation about his late father with one of his dad’s quotes “All of the medals on my jacket represent the tears of my wife and mother.” Herbert Gross, Jack’s father, served as an Army Air Force Staff Sergeant tail gunner and flight engineer. Gross fought in 30 missions during the war against the Japanese, all aboard B-24 heavy bombers…
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As a Museum volunteer and supporter, Jack is very knowledgeable not only about his father’s role in World War II, but also about the many planes on display in the USS Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center. Jack started as a museum volunteer and docent in July 2015 and has contributed 2490 hours of service through February 1, 2021. In addition, Jack has his own historical notebook filled with facts on WWII that impresses Museum visitors, giving them a memorable visit.
Jack Gross has the work ethic of his father, having spent his life as a geophysicist for various oil companies before his retirement. An article in the Staten Island Advance by Kiawana Rich stated and quoted Herbert Gross, Whatever he was asked to do during his service, “I did it my damnedest,” he said. “All my hands, my heart, my strength — all my being went into this war,” said Gross.
The most harrowing experience of Herbert Gross during WWII occurred on his 22nd combat mission with the 14th Air Force (the fabled Flying Tigers), 308th Bombardment Group, 375 Bombardment Squadron on May 20, 1944. He was aboard the B-24 named Hilo Hattie. During the firefight, anti-aircraft fire struck the turret Gross was manning, sending shrapnel through his legs, igniting hydraulic fluid and his pants, and causing 50-caliber bullets that crisscrossed beneath his feet to cook off. He parachuted out and dangled off a steep slope in French-Indo China (now Vietnam) for five hours before freeing himself and finding a village. Some days and several villages later, Gross and other crew members who were encountered along the way, eventually crossed over the border into China and found a Chinese general’s estate.
During his 10-day odyssey behind enemy lines, Gross came down with Dengue Fever, and suffered more than 100 infected flea, lice, leech and mosquito bites. This was in addition to the shrapnel wounds, burns, and a hematoma on his hip and buttocks from colliding with the jagged mountain on his parachute descent. After a month of treatment, Gross was cleared to return to active duty. He was honorably discharged on Oct. 30, 1945.
For his service, Gross received numerous service medals, including The Distinguished Flying Cross and The Purple Heart. He added that he never got a pension, “but I was never bitter. No one can say I did this for money. I did it from my heart.”
Jack Gross made a substantial contribution to further the educational mission of the National World War II Museum through a charitable gift annuity — a gift that pays him income for life. Jack is passionate about preserving the democratic ideals his father fought to preserve during WWII with a gift from his heart.
Herbert Gross at 95 years old
Few people understand the importance of the Stephen E. Ambrose Legacy Society as well as Michael Abrams. As a student of Professor Ambrose at Johns Hopkins University in the late 60’s, Michael saw firsthand the amazing spirit and impact of the man for whom the Legacy Society is named. That’s why being a part of this distinguished group has special meaning for him. Michael explains…
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…his reasons for joining the Stephen E. Ambrose Legacy Society in his own words:
I can rightly say that the answer is mostly personal on several levels.
On an individual level, I served for nine years as an Air Force and Air National Guard Historian. In that capacity I helped preserve the heritage of the 90th Bombardment Group (Heavy) which fought under General Kenney in the Southwest Pacific theater during World War II. That unit deployed to Australia in October 1942, and participated in the campaigns around Guadalcanal, Rubal, New Guinea, and the Philippines. Working on one of the group’s reunions, I truly developed an appreciation for all they sacrificed and accomplished to preserve liberty and defeat the dark shadows of dictatorship and militarism. The Museum perfectly embodies telling this story on a much larger scale. In fact, the Boeing Pavilion includes several pictures of the 90th Bomb Group, which I immediately recognized when I visited the Museum in November 2019.
On a familial level, the Museum tells the story of my family. Both my mother, a nurse, and father served in the Navy during the war. Dad participated as a Navy doctor in both the battle of the Atlantic in 1942 and later in the South Pacific from 1943 to 1945. In addition, all my uncles served in uniform in the Navy, Army, and Army Air Forces. Being born in 1947, I can still recall them talking on the porch about what they did and where they went. I want to help preserve the recollections of all those like them.
On an academic level, I particularly wanted to make this donation. Professor Ambrose served as my academic advisor in the History Department at Johns Hopkins University while I attended undergraduate school. In addition, he taught a course entitled “War in the Modern World,” which was the best class I attended in nine years of undergraduate and graduate schools. Professor Ambrose was a master storyteller in the classroom and a true lover of the American GI.
I recall Dr. Ambrose telling a story about the Russian defense of Moscow in 1941. At the end of the lecture, he recited the words of Stalin: “Moscow is saved, General Winter has arrived, and the politburo looked out the window and saw that it was snowing.” The entire lecture hall of 100 students literally stood and cheered. I have never seen that before or since. My contribution serves to commemorate such a wonderful teacher.
Tad Taube’s story with the Museum began in 2006 when he was introduced to the institution by close friend Pete Wilson, former Governor of California and current Museum Trustee. His passion for preserving and teaching history strongly connected with the Museum’s mission, and ultimately led to his recent establishment of the Taube Family Holocaust Education Program at the Museum…
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Through this effort, he hopes to extend the Museum’s initiatives to share the important story of the Holocaust and its ties to American history, including the US Army’s liberation of Nazi concentration camps, the Jewish American families who lost loved ones at the hands of Nazi Germany, and the survivors who relocated and rebuilt their lives in America.
Taube’s personal family history ties closely to his educational endeavors at the Museum. Born in Kraków, Poland, he escaped the country just months before the Nazi invasion of 1939, and lost a significant number of family members in the Holocaust. His parents created a new life for their family in the United States, and through hard work and perseverance, their efforts allowed Taube to attend Stanford University, helping lay the foundation for his future career ambitions—from real estate to his philanthropic work. As he explains, “In the minds of refugees such as myself who have been embraced by this great country, there exists a level of gratitude for the opportunities we have had that is somewhat analogous to a debt to be repaid. Some refer to it as a feeling of ‘giving back,’ but I prefer to call it wanting to ‘share opportunity.’”
Through a planned giving commitment to the Museum , Taube and his wife, Dianne, are confident that their estate plan will carry their legacy of expanding public awareness of World War II and its consequences that still impact lives today. “The Museum is a national treasure, and I encourage others to sustain its efforts through a legacy gift that will have a lasting purpose for future generations,” he said.
Robert and Lenore Briskman
Planned Giving Supporters Robert and Lenore Briskman first visited the Museum in January 2013 for the grand opening ceremonies of the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center. The two enjoyed their first visit and have returned many times. Their favorite visit came in June 2015, when Rob brought a large group of Princeton classmates to tour the Museum and learn about…
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…Princeton’s role in the war. They were “very impressed,” he said, and was thrilled to share this information with his friends and family.
The Briskmans are committed to expanding the Museum’s education mission so that younger generations can learn about the importance of the war, and have made steps to include the Museum in their future Planned Giving initiatives.
“It is very important to look at the future,” Rob said. “A decade from now all WWII veterans will be deceased, so the Museum must do what it can to enhance its educational activities.” He said that the variety of Planned Giving options at the Museum offer many ways to give and help strengthen the Museum’s Endowment Fund for this very purpose.
It is important for visitors to “know the whole story of World War II, not just the battles, but the things that affected civil society,” Rob said. “It was a tremendous change of our culture, society and industry. All of this needs to be told.” Added Lenore, “This was the most popular war, and probably the most important war in recent years. . . . It would be a pity for people to lose track that this particular event could have changed the world in a disastrous way.”
The National WWII Museum is thankful for the leadership and generosity of Robert and Lenore Briskman, and honored to highlight their generous Planned Giving support.
Bob Hamrdla of Palo Alto, CA, is no stranger to World War II history. He is a retired Stanford Professor and an expert in German studies. In addition to teaching at Stanford for over 30 years, Bob has also led Stanford tours to Europe for the past 50 years, taking thousands of students and alumni on educational journeys. “I have always been a strong and convinced WWII buff and having lived in…
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…Germany, I learned about different aspects of the War, visiting many, many sites that have figured in the battles. That ratcheted my interest to the high level I still retain. To me, World War II demonstrates that human beings can fight for ethical and beneficial causes, devoting energy, time, and money toward virtuous ends.”
Bob has been a supporter of The National WWII Museum for ten years. He first learned about the Museum in a newspaper article and was immediately intrigued. Shortly after discovering the Museum, Bob decided to make the trip to New Orleans to visit its exhibits firsthand. After his first visit, he quickly realized that he would be returning and decided to become an annual member through the Patriots Circle, thus beginning his lifelong relationship with the Museum. “I am and will be a member for life,” he exclaimed.
In 2013, Bob declared his intention to leave a legacy gift to the Museum. When asked what legacy means to him and why he decided to support the Museum in this way, Bob responded, “Legacy means something positive one leaves behind for the enrichment of others’ lives. For me, the Museum is a most meaningful and involved way through which I can help attract others to serve our country’s legacy.” Through his gift, Bob’s name is secured forever as a member of the Stephen E. Ambrose Legacy Society, an essential part of the foundation of this institution. Ambrose devoted his life’s work to preserving and honoring the stories of our service members. Through the Legacy Society, members have the opportunity to reflect those same values and support the Museum’s mission.
When it comes to generosity towards the Museum, David Wesley Ewell Black, a native resident of Atlanta, is a shining example. David is a retired Army Infantry Officer who spent 20 years in service. His late father, Ewell Conway Black Jr., was a Corporal in the US Army’s 106th Infantry Division during World War II. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge and was captured in December 1944…
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…spending six months as a prisoner of war before being liberated.
Giving to the Museum comes naturally for David. “History has always been a passion for me, especially American military history,” he says. “I have done extensive reading on the Battle of the Bulge, since that is where Dad fought and was captured, and came across the Museum in some of my readings about the D-Day invasion.”
David began donating to the Museum in 2004 because he recognized the importance of preserving history. “All history is important,” he continues. “Without understanding history, we cannot understand ourselves. Wars are terrible, and there is sadness and heartbreak on all levels. We need to understand why wars are fought and why people made the sacrifices they made to go to war. Without understanding these matters, we will not know how to prevent future wars.” In 2017, David decided to make a planned gift to the Museum.
Through his gift, his legacy is secured forever as a member of the Stephen E. Ambrose Legacy Society, an essential part of the institution’s foundation. Ambrose, the Museum’s Founder who passed away in 2002, devoted his life’s work to preserving and honoring the stories of our servicemembers. Through the Society, members have the opportunity to reflect those values and support the Museum’s mission, which is to educate younger generations on the lessons of World War II and to honor the men and women who sacrificed so much.
When asked what philanthropy means to him, David responds, “Well, it’s a big word that I’ve always associated with very wealthy people. I guess I am being philanthropic, but I don’t feel like it. I’m just doing my small part to help maintain the Museum and educate people on a part of American history when the country came together and sacrificed on a national scale to preserve freedom.” David’s commitment, and the dedication of other Society members, helps ensure that future generations are inspired by the Museum and the stories it holds. As you plan for your future, we invite you to join our mission so your legacy can play a significant part in continuing our educational initiatives.
Paulette & Frank Stewart
The Stewarts have been dedicated supporters of the Museum since before its opening. Born and raised in New Orleans, Mr. Stewart saw early on the need for the city to have such an institution, dedicated to teaching “the price of peace and the consequence of war.” In addition to his gifts of financial support, Mr. Stewart has served as a member of the Museum’s Board of Trustees, and has…
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generously supported ongoing exhibit planning Mr. Stewart was a young boy during World War II. He felt inspired to take action after the surprise Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, and set about collecting foil, gum wrappers, cans of lard, and newspapers for the war effort. His mother made bandages as part of a wives group organized by the Red Cross on the Home Front. After the war, Mr. Stewart remained dedicated to public service and to the spirit of citizenship. He served in the US Navy on minesweepers patrolling the coasts of Florida and Cuba during the 1950s, and he was promoted to lieutenant junior grade at the age of 25.
Mr. Stewart first became involved with the Museum through a meeting with Stephen Ambrose and Nick Mueller in the 1990s. He was deeply impressed with their plan for a museum to honor WWII veterans and preserve their story for future generations. Mr. Stewart provided the capstone gift from the private sector, and The National D-Day Museum concept came to life.
With The National WWII Museum now celebrating its 15th year, the Stewarts still consider that capstone gift as one of their most gratifying accomplishments. Mr. Stewart reflects, “Life has given me everything. I have got to give back because of what life has given to me.” The lesson he most wants to share with others—through the Museum and its programs—is how America won the war after trailing badly in its defense preparation, and how citizens can succeed at anything through discipline, hard work, and volunteerism.