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Soldier visits Shell Museum courtesy of Blue Star program

By Staff | Jun 29, 2011

PFC Paden Sturtevant and his mother, Susan Love, check out the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum on Monday.

On Monday, Army Private First Class Paden Sturtevant stopped by the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum.

He didn’t come just to visit his sister, museum staff member Amanda Stirn, but he — along with his mother, Susan Love — wanted to reap the benefits of the Blue Star Museums partnership in which more than 1,300 museums around the country are offering free admission to active duty military personnel and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Sturtevant, 22, who is based at Fort Hood near Killeen, Texas, until he will be deployed to Fort Kalsu in Iraq next month, enjoyed the exhibits.

“I don’t know all the shells that are out there,” he said. “I’ve collected a lot of random shells when I’ve visited here, and I thought it’d be a good idea to check out what I’m missing. I knew about the (Blue Star) program and I wanted to take advantage of it. This is definitely appreciation for what I do.”

Love, who lives in Cape Coral and is a lifelong shell collector, said that she was happy and proud to accompany her son to the Shell Museum.

“I wanted to put some names to some of the shells I’ve collected–all of those hours doing the Sanibel Stoop,” she said with a laugh. “I wanted to check out the museum and we appreciate the fact that people are acknowledging the soldiers and what they do for their country. More and more people are getting on board with showing their appreciation. With two children in the military, it’s great to have them recognized.”

Love’s daughter is currently serving in the Air Force.

Stirn was glad to step away from her desk to welcome her mother and brother to the museum, and she’s looking forward to August when her son, Army Specialist Dalton Whitfield, will visit the museum before heading to Afghanistan this fall.

“I’m really proud of this program,” said Stirn, whose father also served in the military. “We don’t have enough services out there to show appreciation to our soldiers… it’s just an excellent program the Museum’s got going right now. I’m glad that not only my brother is able to see shells he’s never seen before, but my son’s going to be deployed shortly after my brother, so he’ll have a chance to come and be a part of the program as well.”

The complete list of participating museums is available online at www.arts.gov/bluestarmuseums.