Fife formally became a city on Feb. 11, 1957 – 60 years ago this week – and was named after William J. Fife, a prominent Tacoma lawyer, Yukon prospector, once head of the Washington National Guard, and a Lieutenant Colonel in Army during the Philippine Insurrection.
With those military ties at its formation, the Fife Museum held a grand opening on Feb. 11 of “Heroes,” an exhibit chronicling the military experience of local veterans from World War I to Desert Storm.
The exhibit started out as an extension of the museum’s 2013 exhibit on Fife during World War II and morphed into a collection of artifacts and personal effects from local veterans of Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and the conflicts in Bosnia and Iraq, thanks to retired Army LTC Peter Kilburn, who served as a general surgeon in Desert Storm, Bosnia and Iraq. He will be doing a series of presentations on his service this spring about his military experiences.
“This was a really big exhibit for me,” museum director Julie Watts said of her first exhibit, which includes her father’s Korean-War era canteen, photos and personal items.
While some of the displays and artifacts come from the museum’s existing collection, Watts partnered with local veterans, particularly with member of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 11401 from Fife, Milton and Edgewood.
Notable artifacts include a tile from Adolf Hitler’s bathroom in the Reich Chancellery in Berlin, a collection of WWII Army Field Manuals and an exhibit of local members of the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team, an all-Japanese-American unit in World War II that remains the most decorated unit in military history. Other exhibits include photographs of Milton City Councilmember Susan Johnson from when she served in Vietnam. A wall map shows the world travels of Fife City Councilmember Pat Hulcey’s late father, David during his 26-year career as a sailor with the Navy and Merchant Marine. His career spanned some 6,200 days at sea and is still being researched.
The 17-year-old museum is located at 2820 54th Ave. E. Admission is free. The museum is open from noon to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. Call (253) 896-4710 or visit fifehistorymuseum.org for more information.