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Pieces of military history for sale at Fairplex

Ashley Morgado
Staff Writer

The community was welcomed to learn about our history in a different way when Vintage Productions brought a bi-annual Militaria Collectibles Show to the Fairplex in Pomona.

Anything you have ever wanted to know about past wars and military could be answered by walking among the long lines of tables.

“People are here to buy,” owner of the military show Bob Chatt said. “Military collecting is one aspect about history.”

Chatt has organized the West Coast Historical Militaria Collectibles Show for 15 years.

After hearing the news that the Fairplex’s annual “Great Western Gun Show” was not going to return, Chatt moved his San Diego based show to the fairgrounds six years ago.

Authentic uniforms worn during wars, flags, ammunition still in original boxes, medals of honor, and priceless photographs were just a few of the items brought to the event.

These incredible items were not just showcased by vendors from all over the world, their artifacts were also up for sale.

“I’ve collected war memorabilia since I was 10 years old,” Chatt said. “As a kid, I didn’t appreciate it.”

At the age of 13, Chatt showcased his collectibles as a vendor at his first show.

When he turned 20, he became a full time dealer.

Now, he has made it his career to bring together vendors and collectors from all over the world to showcase and sell their incredible pieces of the past.

“We are now the third largest military-only show in the U.S.,” Chatt said.

First time vendor Jim Livie of Santa Barbara, brought a piece of Hollywood glam to the show.

Livie owns a Hollywood costume company, Eastern Costume, where he rents authentic military wardrobe to cinematic production companies.

Recently, he got the offer to obtain hundreds of uniforms and gear used in the filming of the HBO miniseries “The Pacific,” which he brought to sell.

“There’s an element out there where people want military memorabilia,” Livie said. “It’s something I don’t understand.”

Livie laughed as he expressed his incomprehension of buying the items, but he did understand the demand for the items and the importance.

“If the buyer and seller are both happy, then you have a good event,” Livie said.

Stephen Nelson, who is the director of the Fort MacArthur Museum in San Pedro, has been a vendor at the event since the beginning.

“My mom brought me to the Pomona Gun Show in fourth grade,” Stephen Nelson said.

Stephen Nelson’s mother, Jean Nelson, is a retired elementary teacher who has always been interested in military events.

“I think because I was very impressionable with the war,” Jean Nelson said. “It’s a unique opportunity to really come into contact with history.”

Both Jean and Stephen Nelson agreed that teachers should take advantage of this local history event and use it to help teach children.

“You can touch it, it’s not two-dimensional. It’s not a text book,” Stephen Nelson said. “You can never really describe the reality, but you can try to get as close as possible.”

For more information, visit militariashow.com.

Ashley Morgado can be reached at ashely.morgado@laverne.edu.

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