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Published: Sunday, 6/12/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

On the Town: Stage Door Canteen in Swanton extends appreciation to vets

BY BARBARA HENDEL
BLADE COLUMNIST
Kevin Donovan shows off a WWII Navy Advance Trainer to Bill Smith, center, and his father, William Smith, an Army vet who recently went on an honor flight, during the WWII Stage Door Canteen event inside the hangar at the 180th Fighter Wing in Swanton, Ohio. Kevin Donovan shows off a WWII Navy Advance Trainer to Bill Smith, center, and his father, William Smith, an Army vet who recently went on an honor flight, during the WWII Stage Door Canteen event inside the hangar at the 180th Fighter Wing in Swanton, Ohio.
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Thanks is always in order for our servicemen, and in that vein Honor Flight Northwest Ohio and the Air National Guard 180th Fighter Wing hosted a Stage Door Canteen recently at the fighter wing's facility in Swanton.

The event was to honor World War II veterans by providing them a chance to re-live the experience of a 1940s-era entertainment venue.

According to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, the original canteen was started by Broadway performers to offer servicemen a place to relax with dancing, food, and often big-name entertainment. It opened in New York in March, 1942.

The Hollywood Canteen was founded by film actors Bette Davis and John Garfield and debuted in October, 1942. "On any given night [servicemen] could be serenaded by Dinah Shore, dance with Joan Crawford, or laugh at the antics of a Red Skelton or Mickey Rooney," according to the museum.

A modern jet plane flies over a WWII bomber during the WWII Stage Door Canteen event. A modern jet plane flies over a WWII bomber during the WWII Stage Door Canteen event.
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By the end of 1945, 11 million soldiers had been entertained at eight canteens in U.S. cities, plus London and Paris.

WWII test pilot Tony Barnum shows off his white uniform to Navy Lt. Commander Dean Moeller and his wife, Lt. Diana Moeller, during the WWII Stage Door Canteen event. WWII test pilot Tony Barnum shows off his white uniform to Navy Lt. Commander Dean Moeller and his wife, Lt. Diana Moeller, during the WWII Stage Door Canteen event.
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Norman Powers, of Helena, left, and his father, Norman Powers, of Gibsonburg, wait for a WWII bomber to arrive at the WWII Stage Door Canteen event. Norman Powers, of Helena, left, and his father, Norman Powers, of Gibsonburg, wait for a WWII bomber to arrive at the WWII Stage Door Canteen event.
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