Combat Parts Inc. in Abbotsford has been a long-time supporter of The Highground, creating and refurbishing many metal items including structural parts of The Highground and sculptural tributes. They recently accepted a task that was challenging due to the meticulous scope and because it came with a five-week deadline.
Part of The Highground’s mission is Education. This mission aspect is fulfilled daily at The Highground Museum with permanent and changing exhibits that include military history, memorial displays and, above all, the human cost of war. These educational exhibits are viewed by thousands of visitors a year, including students during special events like The Highground Education Days, held annually in October (and hosting roughly 1,200 students over four days).
In preparation for the upcoming “WWII – Pacific Theater” Exhibition (on display Dec. 4, 2021 – March 6, 2022), Museum Curator Theresa Hebert brought the idea to Dale Hammel of Combat Parts (Jeremy Fiedler, Brandon Schreiber, Jeff Karl, Arlyn Thorne and Robin Weiss) to build a full-scale replica of the atomic bomb that was detonated over the Japanese city of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. That act helped end WWII, and changed our world forever.
Combat Parts was the key to what will be an outstanding, permanent exhibit for The Highground—the full-scale replica of that atomic bomb, known as “Little Boy”. Dale and the crew worked diligently to create the 10’ x 28” welded metal replica plus a wheeled cart. They put in an amazing amount of effort to get all the exterior details to match the original from photos and diagrams. After Combat Parts finished building “Little Boy”, they sent it to Kulas Body Shop in Abbotsford for painting.
When asked why she chose to have the item created, Ms Hebert replied, “The educational value of having this exhibit item as part of The Highground Museum’s permanent collection fulfills several areas of our mission statement. Having the full-scale replica where visitors can see the actual size of the bomb that inflicted such immense devastation and touch it will put the reality of war— the Human cost of War—front and center. This will help show visitors how decisions made during war have incredible consequences, sometimes no matter which action is taken. This important item will force visitors to think about these issues in a way that no small black and white photo from a history book can. Our intention with this piece is that It will be a tangible and unforgettable reminder to all about the consequences of war. Our hope is that “Little Boy” will start conversations about our history, help people think more deeply about WWII, and wars in general, and also to understand that the decisions like the ones made at the end of WWII could come into play again in this current age and with monumental consequences.”
Dale Hammel, owner of Combat Parts, shared his thoughts about the project. “Working with The Highground each year has always been special for us at Combat Parts, Inc. Every year the work we do on projects are interesting, but this year’s project was something very special to be part of. I could tell there was a lot of enthusiasm in the shop working on this one! As the “Little Boy” was taking shape it seemed even more incredible. We tried to get every detail of this to be like the original one was from the pictures provided. I think the shop did an incredible job duplicating the size and features. We are honored to be a part of this.”
The “Little Boy” replica was funded primarily by Combat Parts Inc., Kulas Body Shop (Paul Erickson, owner) and Maryann & John Vedder. Additional funding given to the WWII – Pacific Theater exhibit as well as general Museum exhibit donations were used.
An Open House for the WWII – Pacific Theater exhibition will be held on Saturday, December 4 at 1 p.m. in The Highground Museum.
For more information, send an email to Theresa at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-743-4224. The exhibit is open from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. daily Dec 4, 2021 – March 6, 2022. The Museum will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. The Highground is located at W7031 Ridge Rd, Neillsville WI 54456.