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European theater artifacts.

1. Sam Kruty wore this oxygen mask when he flew in his B-17. Most World War II-era aircraft were not pressurized so crews had to wear oxygen masks to breathe above 10,000 feet. Notice the shrapnel hole in this mask where Kruty was shot.

2. These are Sam Kruty’s polarized goggles, used to help reduce glare from the sun as he looked through the bombsight while on bombing missions in his B-17.

3. On one of his bombing missions over German-occupied Europe, Carl Clader’s plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire. This piece of shrapnel tore through the plane and lodged in the seat where Clader sat. Fortunately he was not injured, but kept the shrapnel as a souvenir.

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John Boynton using his helmet as a washbasin.

4. Carl Clader traveled with the 489th Bomb Group via British Guiana, Brazil, over the Atlantic Ocean to Dakar, Marrakesh, and finally landing in England. Clader got this machete in South America. Machetes like this were used to cut through brush when trekking through heavily forested areas.

5. This German Army helmet, Stahlhelm in German, is made of pressed steel and is heavier than the American Army helmet. The German Army introduced steel helmets in 1916 and made many design changes over the course of World War II. This helmet was produced c. 1940.

6. Mess kits and canteens are fun for camping, but imagine having to eat every meal with a mess kit like this for days or even weeks at a time. This canteen and mess kit were made in 1945.

7. The M1 Army helmet was introduced in 1942 and replaced the older World War I-era helmets. Helmets could be used for more than just protecting your head. It could be used as a bucket, a seat, an entrenching tool, or even a washbasin, as John Boynton demonstrates.

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Original exhibit label for the European Theater artifact case.