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Model heroes
Local builders contribute to Toccoa museum
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From left, Kristi Apostel holding 8-week-old Siri Apostel, Hina Apostel, 2, and Steve Apostel visit the museum. - photo by Ben Holcombe

TOCCOA — The small warplane and even smaller airmen look ready to whip the world.

Cased in glass, the lifelike miniatures built by members of the Forsyth County-based Georgia Mountain Modelers club stand among the rifles and uniforms, artifacts and Army gear in the Currahee Military Museum.

In the first of several planned gifts over the past two years, model club members contributed the C-47 in D-Day markings, a replica of what paratroopers jumped out of over France.

Chris Mobley was one of the project’s three builders, which also included club president Keith Pruitt and Dan Duna, a Virginia man who completed the figures.

“Being able to work on projects for the museum is a privilege for us as a group,” Mobley said. “This kicked off the first project. It turned out to be an interesting one.”

The projects will continue during the annual Currahee Military Weekend, Oct. 3-5, when the modelers plan to present replicas of the “Grim Reaper” fighter aircraft flown by Toccoa resident Col. Lowell Brueland.

The World War II museum located inside the historic Toccoa train depot sees about 14,000 visitors a year and has been visited by people from 34 countries.

“It can take you 30 minutes or it can take you three hours,” to take the tour, said executive director Brenda Carlan.

“The thing that’s different about this museum is you don’t find a military museum stuck out in the middle of anywhere, but we’ve got so many stories that go along with the museum.”

Oddly enough, until 2006, the museum occupied a local house, before moving into the restored Toccoa train depot. Caplan said several years ago, she visited the Cumming Country Fair & Festival for ideas on improving the museum.

About 17,000 World War II soldiers trained at Camp Toccoa, inspiring the stories of “Band of Brothers,” “Saving Private Ryan” and “The Dirty Dozen.”

The museum houses memorabilia from several generations of American armed services men and women.

Mobley said he and fellow club members just enjoy employing their hobby to help.

“This is a way for us to show our respect for the veterans of days past,” he said, “while giving visitors to the museum a look at subjects too large for the museum but which are an important part of the story the museum presents.”