West County family looking for permanent home for unique WWII model planes

Published: Nov. 13, 2022 at 10:41 PM CST
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CHESTERFIELD, Mo. (KMOV) - Memories built over decades in a West County basement are looking for a new home. A local man spent years crafting and painting hundreds of World War II model planes, and now, his family is looking for a permanent home for the collection.

“The ones he has hanging up, they seem to all have the same history. Same way here, and as you can see, it just goes all the way around,” Sheri Newcom said.

Newcom, one of the last remaining family members of Neal Hendreck, said there are planes from the United States, England, Germany, Japan and more.

“There’s every plane that was in World War II. I think he’s got it,” Scott Moore said.

Moore is also a remaining family member. They said in the last year, more than 200 WWII model aircraft have sat collecting dust in Hendreck’s basement.

“They didn’t have any kids, and I think they were married 63 years. He passed away, and she’s 83,” Moore said.

Neal and Sandra Hendreck lived in St. Louis for decades. Their main passion was traveling, and they left their mark in dozens of spots worldwide.

“They were very much just their own unique couple,” Newcom said.

In their time off, Neal Hendreck discovered his love for WWII planes, finding every single model, building them from scratch, painting them and more.

“The detail, the history, the information from beginning to end of the plane, where the plane may still be today, who flew it. You don’t see that a lot,” Newcom said.

Newcom and Moore said Neal Hendreck spent decades crafting these unique models. He also researched and wrote out information on all 207 of them. Because of their uniqueness, Newcom and Moore reached out to News 4 for help, looking for a permanent home.

“A good home, to where people can appreciate them and hopefully display them and show the world what sometimes the little things you forget about and you miss,” Newcom explained.

Newcom said they’re looking for a museum or air force base to display Neal Hendreck’s work. A place their family can visit to relive their memories and where others can come to learn and even remember their own.

“I think it’s pretty amazing that they can, especially if they had a great grandfather or great uncle or something that flew, to say ‘this is the plane they flew in’ that does not exist,” Newcom said. “I think Neal, in some of his wishes, would really appreciate that someone else or a lot of people could see the same vision he had as he was making these.”