11-year-old collects all things World War Two

By Jef Rietsma

Sawyer Sutherland

Collection? World War II memorabilia

How did your collection begin? Around second grade, I found books in our (Indian Lake Elementary) school library about different battles from WWI, WWII and Vietnam, but my favorite one was WWII. I found the weapons, the tanks and aircraft very interesting at first but now I enjoy learning more about the battles and the geography of where they took place.

What are some items in your collection? I have a 7-by-10-foot map of the world that takes up almost an entire wall in my bedroom. I’ve used about 150 little flags to mark locations where WWII battles took place. I have some badges, a lot of pewter airplanes and my parents let me get a military knife from the Korean War, but we keep that put away. I also own a lot of books and DVDs about WWII.

(Sutherland recently finished reading the book “Unbroken,” which was made into a movie in 2014.)

What is your most-treasured item? My grandpa took me out for my birthday and we went to a military surplus store in Kalamazoo. He bought me an actual Army combat helmet. It’s made of metal and it is pretty heavy.

What don’t you own now that you hope you’ll own someday? I’d really like an actual WWII gun or rifle. I would also someday like to go to Honolulu to see the U.S.S. Arizona and especially to New York City, where there’s an aircraft carrier museum. (Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.)

Where do you find items to add to your collection? Antique stores.

Footnotes: Sutherland, 11, is a Vicksburg Middle School student. In fifth grade, he helped a team of classmates earn a perfect winning score on a 20-question class geography quiz. Sutherland said he was in disbelief when the opposing team was asked to locate South Africa on a map and it selected Germany instead. Sutherland is especially well versed in the Battle of Midway. He also can easily identify WWII planes and ships. Sutherland, who is also a fan of Star Wars, said when he grows up he would like to work as an engineer for the Navy.

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