Quartermaster Donald Wischmann of VFW Post 2100 holds an 1828 French saber that Paul Davis Restoration of Greater Seattle restored before returning it to him on Friday, May 26, 2023, in Everett, Washington. Wischmann intends to display artifacts restored by Paul Davis inside the VFW. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Quartermaster Donald Wischmann of VFW Post 2100 holds an 1828 French saber that Paul Davis Restoration of Greater Seattle restored before returning it to him on Friday, May 26, 2023, in Everett, Washington. Wischmann intends to display artifacts restored by Paul Davis inside the VFW. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

‘Holy smokes’: For Everett veterans, a chance to restore war memorabilia

For Memorial Day, a local VFW post partnered with a restoration company to save decades-old uniforms and medals.

EVERETT — Beyond the boxing ring in the basement gym where veterans work out and listen to hip-hop, beyond the stacks of chairs and boxes, sit a chest and a tattered luggage bag.

Filled with uniforms from World War I and II, they sat there for years at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2100 on Oakes Avenue.

On Friday, local experts unearthed the long-untouched uniforms, as part of the first effort here at the VFW to restore stained war uniforms, tarnished memorabilia and rusty medals.

In honor of Memorial Day, the Lynnwood-based Paul Davis Restoration of Greater Seattle led the effort at Post 2100 to restore valor to generations-old mementos kept in attics and closets for decades.

This month, the post, led by Quartermaster Donald Wischmann, gave uniforms, medals and a compass to the restoration company, one of 350 franchises in the United States and Canada.

The clothes go through “the mother of all washing machines” to return them to their prior form, said Kyle Haberkorn, the company’s contents manager.

In the 1990s, Wischmann bought a dress saber for $2 at a rummage sale. He later found it dates back to 1828. And it’s not even American. It’s French.

The saber had long been covered in rust, said Wischmann, who served three tours in Vietnam in the Navy.

But finding it at the VFW on Friday morning after its restoration, he said he wouldn’t have even recognized it.

“Holy smokes,” the quartermaster said.

Tyler Austin, the business development manager at Paul Davis Restoration, is also a member of Post 2100. He served in Operation Iraqi Freedom as a sergeant with the Marine Corps. Austin said he needs to look for some medals he wants restored. They’ve been boxed up for years. He has some uniforms that could use a facelift, as well. One had been improperly stored and got moldy.

“When many years, decades, pass, and we go back in and look through our stuff and we realize we really didn’t take care of it as well,” Austin said, “and so at that point it does mean quite a bit.”

He added that when veterans go through old memorabilia and think about putting it on display, it can be disappointing to find it degraded.

“So we’re just hoping to turn some of that around,” Austin said.

Once Paul Davis restores the rest of the memorabilia and uniforms, Wischmann hopes to fill a few display cases at the post that were donated by a local antique store.

Austin and Wischmann plan to keep partnering every year.

Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439; jake.goldstein-street@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.

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