Yukon Veterans Museum deploys military collection ‘on wheels’

El Reno High School U.S. History students check out WWII artifacts, gear

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El Reno High School U.S. History student Eagle Hamilton and teacher Scott Gholston try on some military gear from Yukon Veterans Museum’s mobile unit. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer

Yukon’s military “museum on wheels” recently trekked westward to offer some hands-on learning to a group of enthused students.

The Yukon Veterans Museum’s mobile unit was deployed Feb. 3 to El Reno High School. Museum members brought the trailer to show a display of many World War II (and a few Cold War) artifacts to about 150 sophomores in U.S. History classes.

The enclosed, 18-foot-long, 8-foot-wide trailer was filled with authentic military memorabilia, featuring uniforms, newspaper clippings and photographs.

Students checked out the artifacts, tried on military helmets and other battlefield gear and heard combat stories from a soldier’s perspective.

Yukon Veterans Museum curator Rick Cacini explains some of the military gear he brought with the museum’s mobile unit to El Reno High School. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

“We had just wrapped up World War II units and we’re starting the Cold War,” ERHS History teacher Becky Lockler said. “It’s really convenient and nice to have the trailer available locally.”

Lockler normally secures a soldier’s footlocker for one week from the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, La. The footlocker is full of military items the museum has collected over the years.

“Because of COVID, they’re not sending it out this year,” Lockler said. “So, I was looking for something different.”

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After seeing the Yukon Veterans Museum’s trailer during a Veterans Day parade in El Reno, Lockler learned the mobile unit could easily come to the high school.

Rick Cacini, the founder and curator of the Yukon Veterans Museum, encouraged students to visit the museum at 1010 W Main. The museum’s regular hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, but appointments outside those hours are available.

“Many of them are very interested in doing that,” said Lockler, in her eighth-year teaching at ERHS. “The museum normally is open when students are in school, but Mr. Cacini told them to call and they would open it up anytime for them.”

Being able to deploy the trailer allows Yukon Veterans Museum staff to share part of their vast collection to people who wouldn’t be able to view it otherwise.

“Our mobile museum is able to provide assistance to any school that requests it,” said Cacini, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel. “We adapt to what the teacher wants – whether it’s Civil War, World War I, World War II, whatever.

“We can transport different items, depending on what they’re being taught. Whatever the teacher wants, we’ll bring out.”

Yukon’s mobile military museum can come to schools, retirement centers and other places upon request. To schedule a visit or for more information, call (405) 517-1901 or (405) 514-6794.

Members of an El Reno High School sophomore U.S. History class enjoy a tour of the Yukon Veterans Museum’s mobile unit on Feb. 3. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)