Spring 2015 – Spring 2016, the Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum is presenting:

Uniform Stories: Johnson County Dressed for Service


Uniform Stories


Citizens of Johnson County Wyoming have long served in all branches of the United States military.  The museum decided to honor some of these local veterans in our temporary exhibit for 2015.  The eight veterans range from World War One to the Cold War, and represent many branches of service.  Though it is a uniform being displayed, the exhibit is about the veteran who wore them, focusing on where they went and what they did during their time of service.  The veteran’s uniform, insignia, medals, and photographs help tell their story.  Visitors will also learn about their lives after their time in the military.



Private Werly Accola – Army, World War One

Accola was born in Missouri.  During the war he trained to be an infantryman with the 34th Division in New Mexico, and served as an MP in England.  He later opened a bakery in Buffalo which was the first to deliver sliced bread in town.


Private Halbert Miller – Army, World War One

Miller was born and raised in Buffalo.  During the war, he saw major battles in France and Germany as an infantryman in the 1st Division.  At the Battle of Soissons he received a wound to his leg.  He returned to Buffalo after the war before relocating to Idaho with his family.


1st Lieutenant Irene Voiles (Smith) – Army, World War Two

Voiles was born and raised in Buffalo.  After completing a nurse training program she joined the Army Nurse Corps.  She was assigned to the 59th Field Hospital stationed closed to the front in France, Germany, and Czechoslovakia.  After the war she returned to Buffalo and became active in the community.


Major George Knepper – Army, World War Two

Knepper was born and raised in Buffalo.  He joined the Army as an infantry officer before World War Two.  During the war he engaged in battles in France, Luxembourg, Czechoslovakia and Germany as part of the 5th Division.  After the war he returned to Buffalo and opened Knepper Electric.  He also served on Buffalo’s City Council.


Petty Officer 2nd Class Walter Benjamin Thompson – Navy, World War Two

Thompson was born in Sussex, Wyoming.  He served as a baker in the Navy stationed at Hawaii, Canton, and Palmyra islands.  After the war he returned to Wyoming and worked many years for the Soil Conservation Service.


Petty Officer 1st Class Cullen J. Watt – Coast Guard, World War Two

Watt was born in Johnson County in 1902.  He was not old enough to serve in World War One, but he actively sold war bonds with the Boy Scouts during the conflict.  When World War Two started, he enlisted in the Coast Guard at the age of forty.  After the war he spent time in Wyoming, California, and Arizona before retiring full-time in Sheridan, Wyoming.


Staff Sergeant Larry Gray – Air Force, Korean War

Gray was born and raised in Johnson County.  He wanted to serve in the Air Force like his brother, Fred, so he enlisted in the early 1950s.  He was stationed at the Pacific Proving Grounds on Eniwetok Atoll where nuclear bomb tests were done.  After his discharge, he opened several businesses in Buffalo including Indian Campground.


Specialist 4th Class John Gordon Meldrum – Army, Cold War

Meldrum was born in Johnson County.  He was drafted in 1958 and served as a radio teletype operator for the 3rd Armored Division stationed in Germany.  He became a district manager for International Trucks after the Army and now lives in Denver, Colorado.



Come see Uniform Stories: Johnson County Dressed for Service and learn about these eight lives and how Johnson County has participated in worldwide events.  The exhibit will open May 2, 2015 and will remain open until spring 2016.  We hope you will come see our tribute to some of the men and women who have represented Johnson County in the military.


Join us for one of our Community Day events – Saturday, May 2, 2015 – for free museum admission, special exhibit opening of Uniform Stories: Johnson County Dressed for Service, and refreshments.  10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.


Photography is not permitted in the galleries. Researchers and special requests considered. Please contact Sylvia Bruner, registrar@jimgatchell.com.