I began collecting military antiques when I was ten years old. My father used to take me to all of the museums and estate sales in the DC area and my grandfather gave me his medals from his service in World War II. From that point on, I was hooked on history.
I attended St. Johns College High School in Washington, DC where my teachers fostered and encouraged my love of history. I studied history at The Catholic University of America and earned a BA in 1998. Prior to graduation, I served as an intern at the National Museum of the United States Navy and worked on a Medal of Honor exhibit at The Bethesda Naval Hospital. After graduation, I spent the next year working as a Research Historian at History Associates Inc in Rockville, MD where they taught me to navigate the National Archives.
In 1999, I entered the History Program at Kansas State University and earned an MA two years later. After graduate school, I served as the Staff Historian for the Congressional Medal of Honor Society on a two-year contract to organize their archives. After my contract ended, I moved on and went to work for an antique business in Springfield, VA where I built and managed their eBay business.
In 2006, I started my own research and antiques business and enjoyed every minute of it. I located and scanned documents for Navy Veterans who were trying to obtain benefits based on their service in Vietnam. I also scanned World War II and Korean War unit records for the children of veterans who wanted to know what their fathers did in the war. In 2009, The Naval Historical Foundation became a client and I went to work finding historical photographs for The Cold War Gallery that they were building at the National Museum of the United States Navy.
I eventually saw a job opening at The Naval History and Heritage Command and went to work as an historian. From 2010-2015, I interviewed over 100 active duty officers, sailors and veterans, answered historical inquiries from the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Congressional Staffs and the public, and wrote entries in the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The most interesting times were when I interviewed sailors on a destroyer off the coast of Virginia and aviators on a carrier crossing the Atlantic. I also worked with the staff of the Navy Museum to identify artifacts and ended up marrying one of the curators.
I always encourage veterans to talk to their families first because you never know if a child or grandchild might have an interest in war relics. I am always looking to buy whatever is not going to stay in the family or go to a museum. Whatever you do, please do not throw anything away until a historian, curator or collector like me has a chance to look. You might have an historical treasure and not even realize it.
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