Museum opens exhibit dedicated to ‘Warrior Airmen’

January 17, 2009 at 7:38 am

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A new exhibit at the National Museum of the United States Air Force now gives visitors a chance to see not only the service’s past, but also its present and future.

Called “Warrior Airmen,” the new exhibit highlights how today’s Airmen are contributing to the war on terrorism, both in the air and on the ground.

The exhibit includes more than 400 artifacts, three dioramas with fully dressed and equipped mannequins, an audiovisual presentation on a 15-foot wide screen, and compelling firsthand accounts

“The Air Force has always been an adaptive service,” said Dick Anderegg, the director of Air Force history and museums. “This exhibit is a testament to this adaptability and serves as an opportunity for future generations to see what we already know our Airmen are capable of.”

The exhibit, which opened to the public Jan. 12, is divided into three sections, each highlighting a way the Air Force is supporting efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. The first section, “Battlefield Airmen,” is dedicated to Air Force special operations forces such as pararescuemen, tactical air controllers and combat weather personnel. The section opens with an immersive video recreation of the battle for Takur Ghar, where several Air Force pararescuemen were either killed or wounded while attempting to rescue a Navy SEAL who had fallen out of his helicopter when it was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.

The next section, “Expeditionary Combat Airmen,” highlights other ground operations Airmen perform on a daily basis in support of operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. These Airmen include security forces personnel, convoy operators and explosive ordnance disposal teams.

The final section, “In the Air,” demonstrates how pilots and aircrews continue to perform important missions in the air, providing close-air support, flying rescue aircraft and dropping bombs on target.

“The Air Force is truly engaged in the war on terrorism,” said Jeff Duford, the museum’s research historian. “But not many people realize how many Airmen are working on the ground. This exhibit will hopefully educate a lot of people on this fact.”

All of the uniforms, items and photos in the exhibit were donated by Airmen who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan. For them, this exhibit is a way to honor all Airmen and keep the memory of their sacrifices alive.

“This place, this exhibit, defines legacy and heritage,” said Senior Master Sgt. Ramon Colon-Lopez, a pararescueman who donated several items he used and wore while in Afghanistan. “Our legacy now lives on for our sons and daughters.”

The exhibit also includes several firsts at the museum. There are several digital touch screens that allow visitors to interact with the displays and the donated items include numerous special operations “tools of the trade.”

The exhibit itself is also an original at the museum. It is not a monument to the past, but to the present and future of Air Force operations.

“The past is static and never changes,” said retired Maj. Gen. Charles D. Metcalf, the museum’s director. “This exhibit is a contemporary one, though. It will change and grow with the mission as long as the mission continues.”

The “Warrior Airmen” exhibit is a permanent display at the museum and will be open year-round.

“More than 1 million people will see this exhibit each year and our hope is that they will better appreciate the courageous sacrifices of today’s Airmen and gain a better understanding of how they make a difference in the world,” Mr. Duford said.

The National Museum of the United States Air Force is located at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. It is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day). Admission and parking are free.

Matthew Bates (AFNS)


Entry filed under: American Military History, Aviation History, Military Museums and Battlefields, Modern Military History. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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