Retired U.S. Marine from Greensburg displays WW II weapons, gear at West Overton Museum | TribLIVE.com
Westmoreland

Retired U.S. Marine from Greensburg displays WW II weapons, gear at West Overton Museum

Paul Peirce
1354921_web1_Ron-Maxson
Paul Peirce | Tribune-Review
Retired U.S. Marine Ron Maxson of Greensburg displays .30-caliber cartridges used in World War II-era M1919 machine gun displayed Saturday at West Overton Museum near Scottdale. June 29, 2019
1354921_web1_A4-.30-caliber-machine-gun
Paul Peirce | Tribune-Review
World War II era M1919 A4 machine gun and demilitarized rocket launcher, with dummy rockets were among items displayed Saturday at West Overton Museum, near Scottdale. June 29, 2019
1354921_web1_Maxson-display
Paul Peirce | Tribune-Review
Retired U.S. Marine Ron Maxson of Greensburg, right, picks up M1 rifle included in his WW II weapons displayed Saturday at West Overton Museum near Scottdale. Looking on are Garrett Weaver of Scottdale, left, and his father, Jim, of Dawson, Fayette County.

Retired U.S. Marine Corps First Sgt. Ron Maxson picked up a 9 1/2 pound M1 rifle on exhibit Saturday at West Overton Museum in Scottdale and told the onlookers he could still “tear it down and put it back together blindfolded.”

None of the spectators admiring the dozens of World War II-era rifles, handguns, bayonettes, knives, dummy grenades, rockets and combat field gear that Maxson was exhibiting had any doubt.

“This is my favorite. It was the first rifle the Marines issued me with when I joined at 17-years-old in 1958,” said Maxson, 77.

He also noted famous Gen. George Patton’s letter to Springfield Armory noting the rifle’s importance to U.S. soldiers during the war.

“In my opinion, the M1 rifle is the greatest battle implement ever devised,” Patton wrote.

Maxson joined the Marines in 1958 and retired in 1979.

The Greensburg resident has been collecting weapons and military gear for more than 20 years.

“I’ve been interested in the military my whole life,” Maxson said.

Maxson, practically an encyclopedia of military weapon information, pointed toward a Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) rifle nearby, which actually was a light machine gun, often fired from a bipod. It had a range between 100 and 1,000 yards.

“When I was 17-years-old and had just joined, they asked who wanted to have an automatic rifle and I raised my hand. It weighs about 23 pounds,” Maxson laughed.

The next day, Maxson said he regretted volunteering after he had to carry the heavy rifle, along with his field pack, helmet and other gear, during an 8-mile hike.

“You got used to the weight pretty quick, though,” he said.

Maxson’s weapons collection was scheduled as part of the museum’s ongoing exhibit commemorating the area’s commitment to assisting the war effort during World War II, according to Aaron Hollis, director of education at the museum.

The interactive exhibits include videos, memorabilia, artifacts, newspaper headlines and photographs. It will continue through the end of the year.

Visitors explore the revival and decline of local coal and coke industries, the surprising jobs at local distilleries and breweries, and the important work of rationing, buying war bonds, and scrap drives as part of the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of World War II.

Museum visitors also learn about a welding shop in nearby Everson, Fayette County, that was part of the effort and can even try on a welder’s mask, Hollis noted.

Jim Weaver of Dawson and his son, Garrett, were among the exhibit visitors . He noted his late father, Roy, was in the U.S. Army and served at both the Normandy Invasion and the Battle of the Bulge. He often talked about many of the same weapons Maxson displayed.

“It’s really nice to see these up close,” the elder Weaver said.

Maxson said he displays the collection to area groups, but keeps many of the valuable items including an M3, submachine gun, commonly known as a “Grease Gun” secured in vaults.

“The grease gun only cost $17 to produce during he war,” he said.

However, he noted they are worth “thousands of dollars” today.

A large 3.5-inch rocket launcher used late in World War II and during the Korean War was demilitarized for display, he said. He even has dummy rockets that were used in the weapon on display.

In addition to weapons and field equipment, Maxson also collects military dress uniforms.

“I have 50 dress uniforms … dress blues, dress greens, female uniforms — you name it,” he said.

Maxson also restores military vehicles. He will be driving his recently-restored Dodge M37, 3/4-ton, four-wheel drive truck in the Latrobe 4th of July parade Thursday at 10:30 a.m.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, [email protected] or via Twitter .

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.