As the president for the Friends of the 6th Cavalry Museum, the Cartersville resident and business owner is honoring his father's legacy while combining his love of military history. Since 2009, Russell has directed the nearly 30-member Friends group, which helps the Fort Oglethorpe museum generate awareness and funding.
"[Our] goal is to keep alive the 6th Cavalry's tradition there at the museum and their history and to help explain the history of Fort Oglethorpe with the town," said Russell, owner of Kyle Russell Painting, who has been a 'Friend' for about five years. "Because the town basically wouldn't be there if the fort hadn't been there.
"But there were other things at Fort Oglethorpe, like there was a contingent of WAC [Women's Army Corps] that was there. There were prisoners there during both world wars and there was a CCC [Civilian Conservation Corps] camp. There's a lot of history in that area."
Formed in 1861, the 6th Cavalry is a heavily decorated unit of the U.S. Army, serving in numerous military conflicts, including the Civil War, Spanish-American War of 1898 and World War II.
According to www.6thcavalrymuseum.com, "The 6th Cavalry Museum preserves the rich military history of the 'Fighting Sixth' Cavalry, stationed at The Post at Fort Oglethorpe 1919-1942. The story of the 6th Cavalry is an illustrious one, beginning in 1861 as a U.S. Cavalry Regiment to present day with Germany and Korea home to 6th Cavalry regiments.
"Located on the Post's original parade ground -- polo field, the area is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites, surrounded by officer's homes and other Post buildings. Visited by presidents, military heroes and Hollywood celebrities, the museum houses 6,500 square feet of artifacts, uniforms, weapons, accoutrements, photos, Patton Tank and Cobra Gunship Helicopter."
Russell's late father, Roy, was stationed at Fort Oglethorpe during peacetime from 1935 to 1941, joining the 6th Cavalry when he was 15.
"I'm a real military history nut so I was always fascinated with my dad's military career, especially cavalry," Russell said. "I later was a cavalry re-enactor, so I've always been fascinated with that part.
"Dad, he talked about being in the 6th Cavalry. He went to the reunions. He considered that really his unit I think because he had started out with them," he said, adding his father later was transferred to the 112th Cavalry unit before retiring from the Army in 1957.
Along with his usual Friends responsibilities, Russell currently is helping the museum's executive director organize the venue's fundraiser, Remembering Our Heroes, on Sept. 4. Starting at 10 a.m., the polo field will host several activities, including World War II battle re-enactments at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., a patriotic concert at 1 p.m., and vehicle and equipment displays.
"To me the highlight is going to be our speaker. We're having [a dinner] there at The Colonnade and also an auction and we're going to have Gen. [George] Patton's grandson there," Russell said about George Patton Waters' evening address. "He's going to be speaking and he'll have some artifacts from his grandfather there on display. I think, to me that's going to be very interesting ... because the 6th Cavalry served with Patton during World War II."
In addition to Waters' speech, The Colonnade Center's offerings from 6 to 9 p.m. will feature a buffet, and a live and silent auction. Admission to the daytime activities will be $5 per person, with children younger than 5 being admitted free of charge, and the dinner will be $25 per person.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.wwiiheroes.net or call the 6th Cavalry Museum at 706-861-2860.