Dress right dress

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 19, 2006

By Ed Shannon, staff writer

Using the uniforms and personal stories of six area Marines, Kurt Barickman presented a program in the city council chambers Tuesday during the noon hour as part of series lunchtime presentations sponsored by the Albert Lea Public Library.

These authentic uniforms and equipment collected through the years by Barickman are part of his extensive collection of American military items based mainly on World War II.

Featured in this program were dress uniforms on eight mannequins, plus several photos and souvenir items, including a Japanese samurai sword.

These uniforms were acquired from Merlyn Thisius, Jim Dody, Carlyle Lageson and the late Robert Urbatsch, all from Albert Lea, plus a Marine from Fairmont and a Marine from Owatonna. Theses six men were U.S. Marine Corps combat veterans of the World War II era from 1942-1945 in the Pacific Theater.

&8220;Anything I have is authentic and has a story behind it,&8221; Barickman said

&8220;I’m a historian first and a collector second,&8221; he said.

Barickman, who grew up in the Fairmont area, said his hobby based on military history and equipment &8220;started when I was 10.&8221; At that time he was primarily interested in German items from World War II.

He is a veteran of 9 1/2 years of service with the U.S. Navy. Barickman’s teaching degree is from Moorhead State College, plus a master’s degree from Mankato State University. His master’s thesis was based on German history with special emphasis on the holocaust of World War II.

Barickman has lived in Albert Lea for about 17 years and is a teacher of world and U.S. history at Albert Lea High School and Riverland Community College.

&8220;I go to the veterans to get the materials I use on the mannequins,&8221; he said. As a result, he explains that &8220;each mannequin is named and based on a real person.&8221;

Barickman told his audience he has 20 mannequins, two or three closets in his home filled with uniforms, and quite a collection of military documents, letters, flags and other mementos.

Several of the mannequins are based on U.S. Army Airborne (paratrooper), infantry and Armored personnel, again mainly from the World War II era.

&8220;We’re planning on a program on Veterans’ Day (Nov. 11) at the American Legion Club,&8221; he explained. This display will be more extensive and based on U.S, Marine, Army and Navy veterans who fought in the Pacific Theater during World War II.

Barickman is a member of Leo Carey Post 56 of the American Legion and serves as a trustee on the executive committee.

He and his wife, Jill, have two daughters. Sara will be a sophomore, and Abby an eighth-grader.