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Stolen WWI gas mask found in pawn shop

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 31, 2014 at 1:58 pm •  Published: July 31, 2014

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A World War I gas mask stolen from the Wyoming Capitol and missing for almost a century is on display in Cheyenne again after a South Dakota pawn shop donated it back to the state.

The German gas mask originally got to Wyoming by way of U.S. Army Sgt. Robert O. Pennewill, who served in the war. The gas mask was part of a large collection of World War I items displayed in the Wyoming Capitol in the years after the war.

Records show some of the items were stolen either while they were being displayed or stored elsewhere in the building in the 1920s, according to Wyoming State Museum officials.

Now, 100 years after the outbreak of World War I, the gas mask is the Wyoming State Museum's artifact of the month. It remains in outstanding shape.

"It's surprising, considering it's been out on its own for so long," Wyoming State Museum manager Helen Louise said Thursday.

Museum officials said they recently got wind that Presidential Pawn in Rapid City, South Dakota, was selling the old gas mask on eBay. A tag on the gas mask is labeled "Pennewill Collection" and indicates it was found in the Belleau Wood in northern France.

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