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Old 14th August 2010, 20:33
CMS-PAM CMS-PAM is offline
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Kochan & Center for Military Studies Response to McCarthy posts

Dear Forum Member,

It has been brought to my attention that an email from Mr. Matt McCarthy purporting to seek assistance in locating the Center for Military Studies has been generating misinformation and half truths. In the interest of providing you the forum member a balanced picture of both the Center and acquisition of the Logbook of FLT Tarkowski, I would like to submit the following background information for your review:

First, the Center has never tried to hide anything of its operation or history. I do take blame for not having updated our website which would have eliminated much of the conjecture that has been guided by the slant of Mr. McCarthy’s posts on your site.

Mr. McCarthy contacted us prior to posting anything on your forum demanding that we sell back his “grandfather’s” logbook. He stated that FLT Tarkowski had dementia, he was a trustee for the estate and the Center had no right to the logbook. I wrote back stating that we as any institution had a responsibility to honor the intentions of the individual entrusting something to our care. I explained to him that there had been two occasions previously where a family member felt that they deserved the item and did not agree with their family and seller of the item. Both those occasions resulted in initial bad press because of the emotional nature of “family”, yet in the end had resulted in even the dissenter accepting the wishes of the others and acknowledging that our venue was a proper one to honor their family member. During the time that I interviewed FLT Tarkowski, he was lucid and was able to answer any and all questions with great detail. Another point that Mr. McCarthy chooses to ignore is that FLT Tarkowski’s wife was present during the entire discussion, and no one has dared to suggest that she too was suffering from dementia. I was there to talk with FLT Tarkowski at the bequest of other former flyers who had participated in a documentary that I wrote and produced on the PAF during WW2 called White Eagle in Borrowed Skies. FLT Tarkowski offered the logbook to me in hopes of aiding my efforts to research and to promote the WW2 history of the Poles. I informed them that his logbook had a financial value to collectors and that I insisted on paying them at least the auction value of comparable logbooks as a condition of taking it. At that point in time, I had already enjoyed some success in taking the Polish efforts mainstream and provided key artifacts and displays to the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum, the 82nd Airborne Museum, and the Silent Wings Museum among others.

Despite our legal right to the logbook, I have from the very first communication stated that I would consider an exception to policy, selling it to the estate, provided that I received specific information attesting to FLT Tarkowski’s dementia and Mr. McCarthy’s status as trustee and concurrence of the others responsible for his estate. So that there could be no confusion, I even had my British lawyers formally state these conditions to Mr. McCarthy. There has as of yet been no response to these basic requests.

Mr. McCarthy makes a point of saying that the item is not on the Center’s website and that he is concerned as to whether it is even in the Center’s possession. The website has never been intended as a catalog of inventory. It is there to provide additional access to researchers. Mr. McCarthy was informed from the start that the Center has the item and even has a copy of it courtesy of a researcher who obtained it though the Center.

Mr. McCarthy makes great note of seeking the museum of the Center in Texas. There has never been any museum in Texas, nor have I ever claimed such. There is a “brick and mortar” location under our own control now, but not in Texas. The Center occupies a dedicated wing of the Polish American Museum in Port Washington, Long Island. I serve as curator and member of the board of directors at that institution in addition to my responsibilities as Executive Director for the Center.

Our organization has gone through several growth stages in its history. From small scale such as the earliest efforts in which I promoted the work of George Cholewczynski, author of Poles Apart by arranging a speaking tour and accompanying him so that he could present to many professional schools such as the Infantry Officer’s Career course. We learned much through our efforts to document the Polish struggle resulting in the documentary, White Eagle in Borrowed Skies. Each event gaining greater contacts, experiences and broadening our focus. Just as you don’t need to own a studio to make a documentary, our early efforts at exhibits were aimed at using other institutions to pass the word. Soon, we were involved with supporting several institutions. September 11th changed the access to many of the military museums and we experienced the effect that a change in directors can have at other institutions. So in the quest for greater control and access we formed an alliance with the Polish American Museum under the leadership of Barbara Szydlowski, President which started off as a series of cooperative ventures and is now a formalized partnership. As stated earlier, we occupy a dedicated wing of the museum under our control and continue to expand, rotate and present new materials at that location to enhance understanding of not just Poland’s WW2 experience but recent efforts in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq in conjunction with U.S. forces. Currently, we are in the process of releasing two new documentaries about the Polish Forces in WW2 and updating the websites of both the Museum and following that of the Center.

Much has been made of the emotional impact of a family member’s artifacts going outside the family. I understand the influence of emotion because it is the emotional homage to my own Father’s service as a Polish paratrooper during WW2 and my Grandfather with 2nd Korps as while as numerous other family members that prompted my efforts. They were crystallized for me as a result of my own experiences as an officer and decorated combat veteran who served alongside Polish forces. I hold very sacred the trust to honor the veterans, and family members who have placed their trust in us. We are not yet perfect and with each spurt of growth experience the growing pains that accompany it, yet we are still dedicated to that mission.

Lastly, I hope that you members of the forum will use that same energy you have displayed thus far to help us do an even better job in our mission. We invite you to get involved, please feel free to contact me with your insights or questions directly at
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