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Thursday, August 11, 2005Past Issues - S | M | T | W | T | F | S
 
South Jersey

Sunday, February 18, 2001

Local folks donate items to Big J


By VANESSA COLON
Courier-Post Staff
VOORHEES

Helen Collins gave up part of her scrapbook for a worthy cause: preserving the memory of one of the Navy's most decorated ships.

The 75-year-old Palmyra woman donated a collection of dinner menus, newspaper clips and pictures of her husband, a former machinist on the USS New Jersey, for a museum to be dedicated to the battleship.

Collins and her husband, Russell, also 75, were among the scores of people who brought more than 200 mementos to a table set up by the Home Port Alliance on the second floor of Echelon Mall on Saturday, where artifacts for the museum were being collected.

"I didn't think they would be interested," Collins said about her items, many of which her husband had mailed to her when he served in the Navy from 1943 to 1946.

Marie Nimetz, of Sewell, brought a plastic carton with linen, a Navy manual and a bunk mattress, among other things, all gifts from her father, James Mullen, who served in the Navy, but not on the Big J.

Scott Kodger, curator for the nonprofit Alliance, which is in charge of converting the ship into a museum, said it received such items as Navy uniforms, magazines, photographs and trophies.

The Alliance also signed up more than 30 volunteers by 3 p.m. to help give tours of the battleship.

On display at the mall's Strawbridge Court is a model of the ship, made by former Marine Joe Schultes of Wenonah.

The ship was launched in 1942 at the former Philadelphia Naval Shipyard and will become a museum on the Camden Waterfront. It served during World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War and in the Middle East before being retired in 1991.

For Russell Collins, the museum will preserve fond memories.

"It wasn't a bad life," Collins said.

"We always had three meals. They were good. It also was safer (than being on land)."



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