A Remarkable Day at the Oregon Coast Military Museum
Late last summer, a couple months after we had our grand opening, as we were preparing to open the museum, a volunteer, Daryl Parsons, and I noticed a pickup turning into our parking lot. Since we were about 15 minutes until opening, I went out and invited the men in the pickup to come on in early.
They were a father and son travelling along Hwy. 101 from California to Washington. They noticed our signs and decided to come by.
As Daryl was talking to them, he discovered that the father had served in the Corp of Engineers in the Portland area around 1963, the same period of time that he was working there. As the conversation progressed they realized that not only were they in the same area, they worked on the same project: the dredge "Multnomah" on the Columbia River. They began to remember and share familiar names, one of whom was Daryl's uncle, Arnold Novack. As it turned out, he and the father had been best friends for many years. Arnold was the mechanic for the Corp and was well known as being the best one around.
1963 was the year of tremendous floods along the Columbia and Wilamette Rivers. The Columbia was filled with debris, log jams, twigs and branches, trash, and even houseboats adrift on the river. Logs and debris were piling up against the dredge, making the situation extremely dangerous. One particularly stormy night near midnight, Daryl was working on the side of the dredge clearing some pilings when he fell into the black, cold, log-filled water, wearing his foul-weather gear. Out of nowhere the tugboat J S Poleumes appeared and shined its floodlight in the water, spotting Daryl. He heard a man on dredge deck calling out to him, trying to reach him. The man was afraid he would pull Daryl's arms out of their sockets, but he lifted his arms and was pulled to safety.
As Daryl was recalling his harrowing story he mentioned that he knew the last name of the man who saved his life that night was Wanke, but couldn't remember his first name. The elder man replied, "It wouldn't be Howard, would it?"
"Yes! That's it!" answered Daryl. "Did you know him?"
The next words Daryl heard will impact him the rest of his life...."You're looking at him."
They had a wonderful reunion that day, and we have a wonderful memory to keep. - Story Courtesy of the Oregon Coast Military Museum
If you would like to add the Oregon Coast Military Museum to your next event in the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region or would like to host your next meeting at the museum give us a call.