Posts filed under ‘Military Museums and Battlefields’

Museum opens exhibit dedicated to ‘Warrior Airmen’

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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)


January 17, 2009 at 7:38 am

Fly Girls of World War II: WASP exhibit opens in Arlington

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The Fly Girls of World War II traveling exhibit began its national tour at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Nov. 14 here.

The exhibit, which is dedicated to the history of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, features a history of the WASP.

The exhibit includes the “WASP Film Strip,” an “Above and Beyond” tribute, a 26-foot WASP Timeline, WASP standups, uniformed mannequins and hundreds of photos. Also featured is a special tribute to the 38 WASPs who lost their lives in service to the United States, WASP memorabilia, a celebration of their final battle for recognition, and a mosaic featuring the face of each WASP.

During the grand opening ceremony, each WASP in attendance took a minute to introduce herself and share a few thoughts and words, which brought laughter, tears and smiles to fellow WASPs, family members, retired and current servicemembers who gathered in the packed exhibit hall.

“Everybody remarks about how courageous we were … but, we just had a great time. It was fun! We hope the young women who are coming out now will have as much fun as we had,” said Doris Brinker Tanner, a WASP official.  

One thousand seventy-four women earned their wings during the WASP program, which began in 1942 and continued through 1944. They flew every type of aircraft the U.S. Army Air Forces had while logging more than 60 million miles. The pilots were assigned to Air Transport Command, where they ferried aircraft from production plants to bases around the country. Others flew personnel transports and performed target towing duties while some test piloted experimental aircraft. Their safety record was even better than their male counterparts. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter signed a bill making the WASP part of the Air Force.

“With this exhibit here on hallowed ground, visited by millions of people every year, we are finally telling your story in grand, grand fashion,” said Maj. Nicole Malachowski, the first woman pilot on the Air Force Thunderbirds team. “Your service to our nation during a time of war is the stuff that legends are made of. And, I think that the legacy you leave me with is that, when you have dedication, commitment and a desire to serve you can overcome tremendous obstacles. Your service to our nation in a critical time of history, actually to the entire free world, is remarkable not because you are women, but it’s remarkable in its very own right.

“You didn’t fly and serve your country because you are women, but because you had to overcome some attitudes and restrictions of the time, you managed to serve our country in spite of being women,” said the major who currently serves as a White House Fellow. “You had a dream and you followed that dream and it’s your legacy that inspired my own dream.”

Each WASP, while proudly wearing her service uniform, wandered through the exhibit while chatting with old friends and sharing stories with current servicemembers and guests. Friends and family members proudly snapped pictures.

“I’m so proud of her,” said Janice Holton of Grand Rapids, Mich., when chatting about her mother, Jane Baessler Doyle, who served as a WASP from 1943 to 1944. “For her day, she and the women paved the way for other women to do a lot more in the military.”

“It’s great to see some of the old friends today and the way they put together the exhibit,” Ms. Doyle said. While glancing at her own photos in the exhibit, she said, “It’s nostalgic. It brings back the good old days.”

This is the first major exhibit about the WASP at the Women’s Memorial. It is scheduled to remain on display at the Women’s Memorial through November 2009, before continuing its nationwide tour. 

April Lapetoda (AFNS)

November 24, 2008 at 3:49 am 1 comment

USS Constitution Celebrates More than Two Centuries of Service

USS Constitution — Old Ironsides Salutes Boston Harbor

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The crew of USS Constitution – the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world – celebrated the ship’s 211th birthday and recognized the performance of her Sailors Oct. 21.

More than 100 people attended the celebration, including her crew, staff members of the USS Constitution Museum and invited guests for the annual “Grog Ceremony” on her decks. The party also included a birthday cake and the presentation of the Berenson Award, the Military Historical Society of Massachusetts Leadership Award, and Millerick Award.

In his remarks, USS Constitution Commanding Officer Cmdr. William A. Bullard III spoke of the ship’s history, legacy and role in today’s Navy and world.

“More than 211 years ago today the Unites States Navy, in a very real sense, let down its anchor right here in Boston, and that anchor is this ship,” he said. “Without that anchor holding that chain to the ground, that ship will drift off and drift into danger. For 211 years this ship has been the Unites States Navy’s anchor. It has kept us grounded and rooted in our tradition and in our heritage that has made us great.”

In an active service career that spanned more than half a century, USS Constitution served in the Barbary Wars, Quasi-War with France, the War of 1812 and the African Slave Trade Patrol. She fought in 33 engagements and emerged victorious in each.

“Every Sailor alive today who served or who has served in the United States Navy traces his or her professional heritage right here to these decks. If not for this ship, many of us including our guests, would not be here in the nation that we know today,” Bullard said.

The Berenson Award is given annually to the junior crew member who best exemplifies the spirit and ideals of the ship’s crew during her sailing days and has consistently demonstrated the highest standards of conduct, loyalty and dedication to the pride of the ship.

During the ceremony, crew member Postal Clerk 3rd Class Karl Hendrickson received the award.

“Known for giving historically detailed and entertaining tours, he represented USS Constitution, as well as the Navy, proudly and professionally,” the award citation noted. “Postal Clerk 3rd Class Karl Hendrickson was consistently hand-selected to give tours to senior military officers and high-ranking government officials, instilling in them a sense of pride in our Navy, USS Constitution and our country.”

Master-At-Arms 1st Class(SW) Manoj Ram was named the 2008 recipient of the Military Historical Society of Massachusetts Leadership Award.

According to his citation, “Petty Officer Ram was chosen by his peers as the Sailor who consistently displayed the finest leadership qualities and earned the highest respect and trust of all crew members.”

The Millerick Award is presented annually to the National Historical Center, Detachment Boston (NHC Det. Boston) civilian worker who in the past year demonstrated a mastery of craftsmanship of American ship-building heritage. It recognizes his outstanding service to the preservation of USS Constitution.

This year’s recipient was John Hinckley, as voted by his peers at NHC Det. Boston.

“For my crew, for those of us who love USS Constitution so much, I charge you to keep this ceremony up, let’s not keep it a secret,” Bullard concluded. “Let’s make sure that the Navy, the city of Boston and the country indeed know that this is going on. This is far too important and far too significant of an event to be kept to ourselves.”

Brian M. Brooks (NNS)

November 24, 2008 at 3:43 am

100th Anniversary of the Great White Fleet Commemorated in New York

Naval Calendar 2009

Naval Calendar 2009

Our Naval Calendar 2009 features 13 images of US Navy and allied naval forces in action. Buy the Naval Calendar 2009 exclusively at the PatriArt Gallery for only $ 19.99. Worldwide delivery available.

The U.S. Navy commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Great White Fleet in New York Oct. 7 at Grand Central Terminal with the opening of an exhibit that will run through the 2008 Columbus Celebration ending Oct. 17.

The exhibit – which includes eight-foot models of battleships, artifacts, memorabilia from Sailors aboard the ships and photo displays that tell the story of an American naval mission – highlights aid provided by ships of the Great White Fleet to Italy in 1908 following a devastating earthquake.

“This is a great opportunity not only to recognize the accomplishments of the Great White Fleet but to also highlight our continuing Navy and Marine Corps mission to help keep international waterways safe and to reach out to those in need,” said Rear Adm. Terence McKnight, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 2.

In 1907, then-President Theodore Roosevelt sent 16 battleships with the hulls painted white to circumnavigate the globe on a goodwill mission and display of American naval power. The ships were later known as the Great White Fleet.

When a devastating earthquake followed by a tidal wave hit Sicily and Southern Italy in late 1908, leaving an estimated 200,000 dead, ships from the fleet rushed to provide essential humanitarian aid and services.

The exhibit demonstrates the clear parallels between the Great White Fleet, sent on its deployment by Roosevelt, and today’s Maritime Strategy emphasizing increased global partnerships to promote peace and prosperity worldwide.

“Just as four ships from the Great White Fleet provided humanitarian assistance following an earthquake in Sicily [one] hundred years ago, our amphibious ships continue that important mission today,” said McKnight.

“USS Nassau (LHA 4)returned recently from relief efforts following Hurricane Ike, and USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) spent a great deal of time rendering aid to Haiti following tropical storms and hurricanes that affected that nation.”

“I have the great honor and privilege to inaugurate this very special exhibit in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of one of the world’s worst natural disasters and the humanitarian assistance rendered by the Great White Fleet of the United State Navy,” said Richard Greco, former assistant secretary of the Navy. “Together the Department of the Navy and the Columbus Citizens Foundation, along with many corporate and governmental sponsors, have all co-sponsored this exhibit because we believe it is a story that needs to be told.

“This is a story that cannot be forgotten, a story of unspeakable loss of life and misery but a story of great charity and love by one nation to another nation in a time of need.”

The 2008 Columbus Celebration in New York will feature the U.S. Navy while remembering the Great White Fleet and the aid provided to Italy. It is the largest celebration of Italian and Italian-American culture in the world. The Columbus Celebration is organized by the Columbus Citizens Foundation, which raises scholarship funds for students of Italian descent.

“The significance of the rescue efforts in Italy is important because it shows the close relationship between the United States and Italy which continues today,” said Lawrence Auriana, chairman of the board of governors of the Columbus Citizens Foundation.

Noreen Kirk, from Connecticut, and her 2-year-old son stopped by the exhibit at Grand Central Terminal.

“I didn’t know about the Great White Fleet, but this is very informative,” said Kirk.

“We had been here a few days ago and saw the announcement that this exhibit would be opening,” said Debbie Friedman, a native of Manhattan visiting the exhibit with her husband. “This is very impressive, and it describes a part of history that is not very well recognized today.”

The amphibious assault ship Nassau will visit New York for the Columbus Celebration with Sailors participating in the New York City Columbus Day parade. The ship will be open for public visitation Oct. 13.

The Italian submarine ITS Salvatore Todaro (S 526) will also be in port alongside Nassau as a sign of the enduring partnership between the United States and Italy. Though she will not be open for public tours, Todaro can be viewed from the pier during Nassau’s public visitation.”


Lesley Lykins (NNS)

October 9, 2008 at 2:17 am Leave a comment

Home sweet home for C-133 Cargomaster

Aviation Calendar 2009

Aviation Calendar 2009

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 In front of more than 80,000 spectators, the last flying C-133A Cargomaster returned home to Travis Air Force Base at the 2008 Travis Air Expo, Aug. 30. 

The event was special for a lot of reasons said Master Sgt. Terry Juran, Travis Air Museum director. 

“The arrival and retirement of the C-133 here really fills a void in our aircraft collection,” said Sergeant Juran. “Only two bases had the C-133, Travis and Dover. They have their aircraft and now we have ours.” 

The C-133 flew at Travis from 1958 until its departure in 1971. According to Mr. John Lacomia, 60th Air Mobility Wing historian, the first C-133 arrived at Travis on Oct. 17, 1958 and was dubbed the “State of California” and was assigned to the 84th Air Transport Squadron of the 1501st Air Transport Wing. The last Cargomaster a C-133B departed Travis on July 30, 1971 for Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona. 

The arrival of the C-133A has been more than 20 years in the making. Members of the Jimmy Doolittle Air and Space Foundation, formally the Travis Historical Society, played a major role in the acquisition. 

“We wanted to have this part of history here at Travis,” said Mr. Dave Floreck, foundation member. “This arrival means a lot to so many people.” 

Mr. Floreck was an active duty Airman and worked on the aircraft while stationed in Korea. He, along with other C-133A crew members and maintainers, from as far away as Switzerland, made the trip to Travis to see the landing. 

“It’s a great day for the aircraft,” said retired Lt. Col. Joe Fouts, a former C-133A pilot.
Colonel Fouts resides in Anchorage, Alaska, where the C-133 had been flying. He saw the plane take off from there and land during the show at Travis. 

Colonel Fouts said he had many fond memories of the Aircraft. In particular was a mission that took his crew around the globe, flying heads of state and dignitaries in July, 1960. 

“We planned for the trip to take 84 hours,” he said. “We took off from Travis and touched down in exactly that time.” 

Colonel Fouts praised the Aircraft for its reliability but said they knew it was better to be safe than sorry. 

“We took two extra engines, two props and an extra maintenance crew, just in case.” 

The Travis Air Museum has plans to move the aircraft from its position on the ramp to a location near the David Grant Medical Center, closer to the base’s entrance and future site of the Jimmy Doolittle Air Museum. 

“We really want to show off this aircraft to honor those who served and sacrificed.”
Because only 50 total C-133s flew in the Air Force, Sergeant Juran said he felt its history, and the history of its crewmembers had been overlooked. 

“It’s such a small community of people who served on this aircraft. But they did a lot of work. I think we may have forgotten that, but with the arrival of this aircraft we can right that wrong.”

Shaun Emery

September 16, 2008 at 2:30 am

PAVE LOW dedicated into AF Armament Museum

An MH-53 PAVE LOW helicopter took its final flight Sept. 5, landing outside the Air Force Armament Museum near Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

The helicopter, from the 20th Special Operations Squadron, 1st Special Operations Wing, will remain right where it landed as part of the museum’s collection, representing the fleet of MH-53s that will be retired from Air Force inventory Sept. 30.

“This is a wonderful aircraft that served its country proudly for over the past 35 years,” said George Jones, the museum director, who officiated the dedication ceremony. 

The largest, most powerful and technologically advanced helicopters in the Air Force, the PAVE LOWs have service records dating back to the Vietnam War. They opened the air war in Operation Desert Storm, flew reconnaissance missions over Ground Zero in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, and have since been continuously deployed in support of the Global War on Terrorism.

For MH-53 tail No. 73-1652, much of that history involves Lt. Col. Sean Hoyer, who piloted the aircraft en route to the museum. In fact, it carried him through his first combat mission in Bosnia almost exactly 11 years ago.

Hoyer later flew the same aircraft in Iraq. He said bringing it to its final resting place at the museum is “bittersweet.”

“All of us know it’s the end of an era,” he said. “I had a really good time. I was privileged to work with some of the best people I could ever know.”

The flight was also the finis flight, the last flight in the airframe, for Hoyer and Master Sgt. Jason Rushing, a flight engineer.

“It’s a fitting end,” Rushing said, “putting it in a place where other people can appreciate its history.”

The crew said 1652’s final flight was uneventful, but their squadron didn’t let it go without ceremony. Upon exiting the aircraft, Hoyer, Rushing and their crew were attacked from above – with a bucketful of water.

“I saw the bucket from afar, so I kind of figured it would happen,” Hoyer said.
The ceremonial dousing is tradition for finis flights.

The MH-53 is the first aircraft to be dedicated to the museum in almost 10 years. It’s also the only aircraft ever to be flown to its resting place.

“I think it will be a great thing to show friends and family when the time comes,” Hoyer said. 

A handful of PAVE LOWs are still in use in the Middle East, and will fly their last missions in combat before being transported back to the U.S. The final local flight will take place Sept. 16.

Lauren Johnson

MH-53 Pave Low

MH-53 Pave Low

Find a poster, framed print, or 12-month calendar of the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) MH-53 Pave Low helicopter at The PatriArt Gallery.

September 13, 2008 at 1:12 am 1 comment

Oldest B-17 Flying Fortress Now at Air Force Museum

The Swoose, the oldest surviving B-17 Flying Fortress and the only “D” model still in existence, was transferred from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force near Dayton, Ohio. 

Shipment of this unique aircraft from Washington, D.C., is in progress and it is expected to be completed in the coming weeks.

“The early years of World War II were a time of both tragedy and heroism,” said Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Charles D. Metcalf, the museum’s director. “With The Swoose — the only surviving U.S. aircraft from the beginning of the war in the Pacific on Dec. 7, 1941 — the Air Force’s national museum (received) a B-17 that is a veteran of the very first day of the war in the Philippines while assigned to the 19th Bomb Group in the Philippine Islands. This is a great story in our history.”

The bomber, originally nicknamed “Ole Betsy,” flew on the first combat mission in the Philippines only hours after the surprise attack against Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. For the next month, its crew hit back against Japanese invasion forces. Ole Betsy operated over a vast area of the Southwest Pacific, mounting strikes from Australia, the Philippines and Java.

In January 1942, during a bombing mission, enemy fighters damaged Old Betsy. The aircraft was repaired and overhauled with a replacement tail and engines from other B-17s, and a makeshift tail gun was added. Its pilot gave it a new nickname after a popular song of the time about a bird that was half-swan, half-goose –The Swoose.

Later, Gen. George Brett, commander of Allied air forces in the Southwest Pacific, used The Swoose as his personal aircraft to visit forward air bases in the combat zone. On some of these flights, the crew had to man the guns to fend off enemy attack. After it returned to the United States, it received additional modifications and served as a high-speed transport until the end of the war. Its operational retirement marked its service for the entire duration of World War II.

“We are pleased that The Swoose is coming to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force,” said Terry Aitken, the museum’s senior curator. “The transfer between the two federal institutions is a demonstration of good stewardship of our national historic collection. Our museum’s restoration staff will use their experience and expertise being gained from the restoration of the famous Memphis Belle to accurately restore The Swoose, which is so important to our history.”

The Swoose will undergo an extensive and detailed technical inspection. Based on the findings, the museum will determine how to best restore and display the historic aircraft. The extensive restoration is expected to take a number of years.

“The transfer of the B-17D The Swoose to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is the first step in an historic effort to refine our nation’s military aircraft collection,” said Dik Daso, curator of modern military aircraft at the National Air and Space Museum. “After the Air Force’s restoration of the B-17F Memphis Belle is completed and their B-17G Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby moves from Dayton to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles (airport in Washington D.C), the National Air and Space Museum will be able to expand upon the European strategic bombardment story which is vitally important to our collections and curatorial goals. Our collection is enhanced, more aircraft will be on display and the nation will be the beneficiary of thoughtful stewardship that is due these historic fragments of our past.”

Visitors may see both The Swoose and Memphis Belle in the museum’s restoration facility by signing up for a behind the scenes tour held each Friday. Advanced registration is required and interested individuals can find more information by visiting

July 18, 2008 at 3:55 am