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Students Lead Bong Center Heavy Metal Tours

Baihly Warfield
Updated: August 21, 2019 10:39 PM

Shea Callaghan and Henry Huber said they knew a little about Richard I. Bong, but after this summer, they'll be experts. 

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They are guides on the "Heavy Metal Tour" at the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center. They're two of 27 students doing that job this summer. 

"They're all trained on how to give a tour, how to properly speak to a group, how to engage with them, how to handle questions that they don't know the answers to," Executive Director Hayes Scriven said. 

Each student worked five days a week or a two-week period. 

"I love history, so I thought it would be right up my alley," Huber, going into his junior year at Superior High School, said. 

Callaghan thought it would be a good fit with her theater background.

"We were also given a book all about Richard Bong, his history, his career, and during World War II," she said. "So I used both of those things to kind of forge my own little tour."

But Scriven said learning the history and getting the dates and facts straight is only the second most important part of the job. 

"The program is meant to give the students an experience," he said. "For a lot of them, it's their first job, so we really want to emphasize that kind of work ethic with them and give them that experience." 

Showing visitors the M60 Patton tank and the Lockheed P-38 Lightning is sweet, but the man who flew the plane makes the tour memorable. 

"I really like telling people that don't really know much about Richard Bong, just kind of giving them the basic breakdown about who he is and what he did," Huber said. "He's like a local hero, you know, from Poplar, it's pretty cool." 

"I knew about Richard Bong in a nutshell," Callaghan said. "I never went into depth about it, even though he was local from here. I'm so glad that I did, though, because I'm so honored to be a part of this." 

Scriven said he wasn't sure what to expect running the student program for the first time. He hoped the students would would lead 2% of tours over the summer. But since June 1, the Heavy Metal Tour has made up 11.5%. 

The Heavy Metal Tour runs through Sept. 2 and costs $20 for the tour and admission to the Bong Center. Scriven hopes to bring the program back next summer.

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Baihly Warfield

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