October 29, 2022 | Last updated Jul 18, 2023

A Tale of Two Ships

Normally our Ford Conservation Center’s Gerald Ford exhibit is open by appointment only, but when Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Chris Tysor showed up they decided to make an exception.

Back in April, we had an unexpected visitor at the Ford Center.  Most of the staff was out front helping a client load a particularly large painting into a truck.  As we were maneuvering things into place, a young man approached about wanting to see the Gerald Ford Exhibit inside the Conservation Center.  Just as we were about to say it was open by appointment only (which it is, because sometimes we are all outside loading very large paintings), we noticed the young man was wearing a USS Gerald Ford hat.  Once the painting was safely aboard the truck, we invited the young man inside, asked about his story, and gave him a tour, including the small display of items commemorating the USS Gerald Ford.

Hat, books, medal, and patch commemorating the commissioning of the USS Gerald Ford in display case.

Items commemorating the commissioning of the USS Gerald Ford.  They were donated to History Nebraska by Allen J. Beermann.

The young man was Chief Aviation Ordnanceman, Chris Tysor.  He has been active in the US Navy since 2004, and served on the USS Gerald Ford from 2013 to 2017.  He was travelling through town on behalf of the Office of Mortuary Affairs which is responsible for handling the remains of deceased servicemen and women.  Ordnanceman Tysor’s particular assignment is to deliver the remains from the USS Oklahoma, which was destroyed during the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.  According to pearlharbor.org “Of the 429 crewmen killed when the Oklahoma went down, only a handful were identified and were given the honor of a proper burial.”  Because DNA testing was decades away, 388 could not be identified and were buried in unmarked graves.  Since 2015, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency has begun to identify the remains and return them to their families on the mainland or give them proper burial at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.  Ordnanceman Tysor sent photos from the internment of John Dennis Wheeler whose remains were returned to his family in April 2018.  You can read the full article here.

Newspaper clipping showing photo of John Dennis Wheeler and photo of headstone.

Clip from the Harrison Daily Times describing John Dennis Wheeler’s internment.  Full article here.

Sailors carry coffin draped in American Flag.

Sailors from the US Navy, carry the remains of John Dennis Wheeler.

Naval officer salutes seated man holding folded American Flag.

Naval Officer Presents the Flag to and salutes the family of John Dennis Wheeler.

We thank Ordnanceman Tysor for his service and for taking time to visit the Ford Conservation Center.  And we wish everyone, especially servicemen and women, and all veterans, a very Happy Independence Day!

Chris Tysor stands in front of bust of Gerald Ford and photo of young Gerald Ford.

Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Chris Tysor visiting the Gerald Ford Conservation Center.

(Updated 7/18/2023)


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History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
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