HANNA CITY — This all started, this passion for collecting U.S. military-related memorabilia, when Jerry Lance was 6. That was 53 years ago.
“I got my dad’s Navy uniform, and I was hooked on the military after that,” Lance said. “Him and all my uncles were in the Navy. Every time somebody got out of the Navy, they went home and left their uniforms with my grandmother.
“I was sitting in the front room one day and for some reason, she got up and said, ‘I bet you’d want this.’ That was the beginning.”
From that humble start, Lance built a collection of thousands of artifacts from both world wars, the Vietnam War and other American military conflicts.
“Everything I saw, I had to have it,” Lance said. “The older I got, the more I realized all this stuff is history and people are throwing it away.”
Now, because of a fire last month at his Hanna City residence, it appears Lance will have to throw away most of his collection.
About 7:30 p.m. Oct. 13, a few hours after Lance had perused some of the items stored in his garage, he heard a popping sound. Then he looked out one of his house’s windows and saw a big, red glow.
The Logan-Trivoli Fire Protection District, among three other departments, was able to bring the blaze under control within about 25 minutes. It wasn’t clear what caused the fire, although Lance said he used halogen workshop lights when he visited the garage earlier.