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A Special Reunion at Museum Artifact Display Viewing

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On June 27, WWII veteran, Lt. Commander William F. Nesser, visited the Museum to see his artifacts in a display, Carrying Victory: The United States Merchant Marine, located in the Museum’s Louisiana Memorial Pavilion. The display highlights the invaluable role played by the Merchant Marine during the war by focusing on the service of Lt. Commander Nesser, who participated in convoys to France and to the Soviet Union, including the infamous Convoy PQ-17.

Among the artifacts displayed is a sextant, a nautical instrument used to measure the angle between a celestial body and the horizon. Nesser purchased this sextant at a local company, Baker, Lyman & Co., Inc., on February 3, 1942, when the company was located at 308 Magazine Street. He carried this invaluable tool for the rest of his nautical career.

Opening in 1920, Baker, Lyman & Co., Inc. is the oldest NOAA & Admiralty Chart Agent in the United States and is still in business in the New Orleans area. When the Museum discovered this fact, we contacted Baker, Lyman & Co. to inform the company about the exhibit. To our delight, Mr. Jerry Gauthier, Vice President of Baker, Lyman, & Co. was available to visit the Museum and view the display on June 27. Mr. Gauthier has been with Baker, Lyman & Co. for over 40 years and was able to provide the Museum’s curators with some interesting facts about the company relating to WWII.

The introduction between Mr. Nesser and Mr. Gauthier turned out to be a reunion when the two realized that they had been longtime neighbors some years ago. And, as a wonderful surprise to the Museum, Mr. Nesser and his family arranged to have 5 of his WWII buddies, Larry Goldfinch, Johnny Ngai, Sam Cooper, William Guste and Lloyd Mercadel, from the Chateau De Notre Dame Retirement Community accompany him on his visit.

It was an awe-inspiring afternoon for both employees and visitors to be able to thank these WWII veterans for their courageous service and to applaud one of the leaders of an established company that helped make American soldiers’ journeys more successful during the war.

Special thanks to Baker, Lyman & Co., Inc., the Chateau De Notre Dame Retirement Community, and Mr. William F. Nesser and his family for supporting the Museum and its mission. In true American Spirit – We are all in this together!

For more information on Carrying Victory: The United States Merchant Marine please visit http://www.nationalww2museum.org/see-hear/collections/artifacts/usmm.html.

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