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Special World War II exhibit coming to ITOW Museum

An opening reception is slated to begin at 7 p.m. on June 13, featuring a presentation by author Paul M. Sailer, who told the story of that fatal bombing run in his award-winning novel, “The Oranges Are Sweet”. The reception is free and open to the public. Ronni Nordby, daughter of Art Dobias, will be a special guest at the event. SUBMITTED PHOTO

It may have been weather, or a faulty engine.

A U.S. Air Force crew of 10 left England for a bombing run over France during World War II.

Crashing after take-off with a full load of bombs, only six returned.

One of the survivors was area veteran Art Dobias, who served with the Allied Forces in the European Theater of Operations as a member of the 493rd Bomb Group, 862nd Squadron.

Dobias was a waist gunner, and later a ball-turret gunner, aboard a B-17 Flying Fortress, making many bombing runs over the Rhineland, Ardennes, and Central Europe.

When the war ended he and his fellow crewmen took part in food drops to the starving people of Holland.

ITOW’s newest exhibit features the story of that fatal bombing run, including artifacts and Dobias’ full flight suit.

That exhibit is slated to open Friday, June 13 at the In Their Own Words (ITOW) Veteran’s Museum, located at 805 W. Main St. in Perham.

The opening reception will begin at 7 p.m. Wine and cheese will be served.

To commemorate the exhibit opening, Paul Sailer will be the keynote speaker. Sailer is the author of “The Oranges are Sweet,” the life story of Minnesota fighter pilot Don Beerbower.

When the 22-year old died strafing a German airdrome in 1944, he was the leading ace in the Ninth Air Force and the commanding officer of the 353rd Fighter Squadron.

This unit is credited with more aerial victories than any other squadron in the United States Army Air Forces in WW II.

“The Oranges are Sweet” is a serious study about a major figure in U.S. military aviation history and the men who fought with him. It is a story about courage, duty, leadership, remembrance, and love.

Sailer will be presenting information from his book that exemplifies the difficulties faced by those in the armed forces and on the home front during WWII.

Sailer was awarded writer of the year by Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame in 2012, and will also discuss the process of writing during his presentation.

The event is free and open to the public, though free will donations will be accepted.

The exhibit is produced by the History and Cultural Association of East Otter Tail County (HACA).

Sailer’s presentation is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through grants from the Lake Region Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage fund.

For more information contact HACA at 218-346-7678 or