Local firearms expert honored with new exhibit

By Pfc. Nasir Stoner, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Guests at the ceremony for the opening of the new George M. Chinn exhibit in the Kentucky Military History Museum view uniforms and firearms on display in Frankfort, Ky., Sept. 28, 2017. The new exhibit honors Chinn, a Kentucky native, and his firearms expertise instrumental to the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy in World War II. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Pfc. Nasir Stoner)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky Historical Society held a ceremony to open a new exhibit at the Kentucky Military History Museum for former KHS Director and military weapons innovator George M. Chinn Sept. 28, 2017.

“This exhibit heralds Colonel George Chinn’s unique and lasting contributions to the Nation and the heritage of the Commonwealth through his innovative spirit, passion for weapons technology, and his love of Kentucky history,” said Col. Alan Denny, Chief of Staff for the Kentucky Army National Guard. “The exhibit has literally been a lifetime and more in the making, and I’m excited to finally see it realized.”

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During his upbringing in Frankfort in the early 1900’s, Chinn became fascinated with and very knowledgeable about firearms and how to disassemble and reassemble them. He first disassembled a Gatling gun at age five and was able to reassemble it without any help.

Throughout his life journey Chinn went from a football player at Centre College, to football coach, to restaurant owner, to a weapons expert in the U.S. Marine Corps, achieving the rank of lieutenant colonel. He made great contributions to World War II as a go-to military weapons expert and innovator and had various accomplishments throughout his career.

After retiring from the military, Chinn continued to consult with the Navy who called on him to document and improve military weapons.

“After his service in the Marines, George Chinn became Director of the Kentucky Historical Society, where he revived the Kentucky Junior Historical Society and helped sustain the Historical Marker program,” said Denny. “He stepped down as KHS director and became deputy director so he could serve as the director of the newly formed Kentucky Military History Museum.”

Chinn was able to bring a wealth of knowledge along with his personal collection of weapons, establishing one of the best collections of military firearms in the nation.

“It was suggested between the military department and the historical society that the historical society move its military artifacts into the arsenal so it could become a museum,” said retired Maj. Gen. Richard Frymire. “Colonel Chinn was the executive director of the historical society and I was the Adjutant General and we had a partnership.”

The new exhibit, “George M. Chinn: Sights Set on Innovation” is located in the museum’s newly dedicated Maj. Gen. Richard Frymire and Mrs. Phyllis Frymire Gallery, honoring their service and generosity to the museum. While serving as adjutant general, Frymire oversaw the opening of the Kentucky History Museum in 1973.

The Kentucky Military History Museum is located at 125 East Main Street in downtown Frankfort. For more information, visit www.history.ky.gov.