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National WW2 Museum: 1st WW2 veteran museum board chairman

September 30, 2018

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The National World War II Museum has a veteran of the war in the Pacific as its new board chairman.

C. Paul Hilliard, 93, is the first World War II veteran to be appointed board chairman for the museum, which opened in 2000, the museum said Monday.

The oil and gas executive joined the board in 2006 and, as chair of its collections and exhibits committee, oversaw the initiative to digitize artifacts and make them available online, according to a news release. He also has spent years on the board’s executive committee.

“Paul has been a great champion and supporter of our institution, working tirelessly to help educate millions of Americans about our shared history,” museum President and CEO Stephen Watson said. “As a WWII veteran who served in the Pacific, Paul has a special understanding of the importance of preserving the personal stories of the war. His experience, passion and captivating storytelling ability will play an integral part in continuing to bring the Museum’s mission to life.”

Hilliard enlisted in the Marines when he was 17, serving as a radioman and gunner in SBD Dauntless dive bombers. He flew 45 combat missions and was twice awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in addition to receiving the Air Medal with six bronze stars.

After the war he earned a law degree and worked for Chevron and H.L. Hunt oil companies before creating Badger Oil Co. — named after the mascot of the University of Wisconsin, the first college he attended after leaving the Marines in June 1946.

Donations from Hilliard and his wife, Madlyn Hilliard, have contributed to the museum’s collection of oral histories, the restoration of several artifacts and the acquisition of numerous artifacts including a C-47 aircraft and a Douglas Dauntless dive bomber.

“If you are born in America, you start in the top 3-4 percent of the world socioeconomic structure,” he told the Lafayette Daily Advertiser in 2016. “You come into the world with a great advantage. You ought to be able to do something with that.”

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