2017  HIKING, CYCLING,

& RV TRAVEL ADVENTURES

Lake McIntosh @ Line Creek Nature Area, Peachtree City, GA

 

   
 
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   VISITING THE NATIONAL INFANTRY MUSEUM
& SOLDIER CENTER AT FORT BENNING, GA

TUESDAY, MARCH 28

 
"The National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center salutes soldiers in a 190,000-   
square-foot facility nestled where Columbus meets Fort Benning. It is the only museum in
the country dedicated to the American Infantryman and preserves one of the greatest collections
of military artifacts. Featuring state-of-the-art exhibits, the museum traces infantry history
from colonial times to the present in a series of galleries. [It] also showcases the
Vietnam Memorial Plaza, featuring the Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall 
and the iconic World War II Company Street." 
 
~ from the official Georgia tourism and travel site
 
 

Since Jim was in the Army for three years, including a year in Vietnam (1968), then retired from the Army and Air Force National Reserves, it was a no-brainer that we'd visit this huge museum while we stayed at Fort Benning.

We recommend anyone who's visiting the area spend at least a couple hours touring this facility. There are thousands of interactive exhibits, monuments, artifacts, and video presentations on public display, and even more archived for preservation and future display.

We barely scratched the surface of the interior in one hour and didn't have time that day to see any of the exhibits outside. Someday we'll go back to see all the things we missed.


The perspective of my photo is wonky; the museum is not!

You don't have to go on post to see the museum and all of its attractions; access is off a beautiful boulevard called Legacy Way in Columbus.

You do have to go through a security check to get in, however, so leave your backpack, large purse, or pocket knife in your vehicle.

Access is free for everyone. Donations of $5 per person are "suggested" and it's well worth that cost or more to tour this interactive and technologically innovative facility. It's a great place for everyone from school-age kids to senior citizens. All areas inside the museum are handicapped-accessible.


Statue at entrance

There are three levels to the museum and the layout is well designed for self-guided tours.

After a volunteer in the main lobby gave us a brochure with a map in it, he directed us to the "Last 100 Yards Ramp," which took us gradually up through infantry exhibits depicting scenes from the American Revolution through modern conflicts to a landing called the Fort Benning Gallery:


Depiction the capture of Redoubt #10 during the American Revolution,


Jim looks at a Huey helicopter like those he flew in during the war in Vietnam.


Wars in the Middle East

Numerous exhibits and displays on the Landing showcased modern Army life, Ranger training, equipment used, history of Fort Benning, and other topics:

Next we went up to the mezzanine level, which houses a giant screen theater (we didn't watch anything there), administrative and organizational offices, the OCS and Ranger Halls of Honor, Heritage Hall, the Fife & Drum Restaurant, and the 2nd Infantry Regiment Gallery.

On the gallery level are several large rooms surrounding the Grand Hall that focus on various "eras" of conflict, like World War I and II, during the last century:


WWII


This large room focused on Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, and the Soviet Union .


Jim pointed out to me where he fought in 1968.

Within the large room with exhibits about Vietnam is a glass-enclosed room with such a realistic depiction of combat conditions in these jungles that the entrance door has a caution sign re: how realistic it is -- and how to bypass it. We both went through it:

 

There is so much to see in the half dozen "era" rooms that a real history buff with lots of time on his or her hands could spend days reading all the information about each war. We didn't go into all of them.

The impressive Hall of Valor, which pays tribute to American infantrymen who have received Medals of Honor, is located in the Grand Hall:

The Medal of Honor is our nation's highest award for bravery. Since the Civil War the Army has garnered more Medal of Honor recipients than all the other branches of military service combined.

The gallery level also includes training simulators and a virtual rescue mission in a Humvee.

As mentioned earlier, we didn't have time the day we visited the museum to go outside to see all the exhibits on the campus. They include:

  • Heritage Walk, which is lined with state and territorial flags and commemorative pavers. It leads to Inouye Field, where graduation ceremonies are held for Army trainees.

  • A 3/4-scale replica of the Vietnam Wall lists the names of more than 58,000 killed or missing service members.
  • The Memorial Walk of Honor has dozens of memorials to Infantry units in a park-like setting.
  • WWII Company Street features seven buildings outfitted with period pieces depicting life on an Army post during the 1940s. Check for tour times inside the museum.

A new Global War on Terrorism memorial will be dedicated in October. It consists of eight large granite panels etched with the names of ~ 7,000 service men and women from all branches of the military who have lost their lives since 9/11.

This is the website for the museum, if you'd like further information and photos. Be sure to check the website for days and hours of operation if you plan to visit, as well as a list of items you can and cannot take inside. Photos and videos (without flash) are allowed for personal use.

Next entry: why we decided to buy another house and stop full-time RVing

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, Casey, and Holly-pup

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2017 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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