Continuing my travels through Georgia, I made the hour and forty-five-minute southwest drive from Warner Robbins to Columbus, Georgia. I discovered an outstanding military history museum.
The National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center, Columbus, Georgia
Located in Columbus, Georgia, this privately funded museum is one of the best military museums I have visited. The museum’s archive holds over one hundred thousand artifacts. Adjacent to sprawling Fort Benning, the Home of the Infantry, this enormous building houses the history and story of the Infantryman.
You begin your visit walking up ‘the Last 100 Yards’ that takes you through significant battles in every major conflict since the Revolutionary War to Iraq by life-sized dioramas. Interesting to note, the figures in the scenes are cast sculptures of Active Duty Soldiers who auditioned to chance to represent their predecessors. The musical score sets the scene for the emotional journey of the Last 100 Yards.
Leaving the battlefields behind, you will discover the history of and the creation of Fort Benning. How it came to be in Columbus and how the Fort has influenced the area since 1919. You will see and learns how a soldier trains to become an Infantryman.
On the lower Gallery Level, there are six immense galleries to explore: Securing our Freedom, The International Stage, A World Power, the Cold War, and the Sole Superpower and the Armor and Calvary. Each of these areas is filled with artifacts and stories to explore.
Securing our Freedom/Defining our Nation 1778-1898
This exhibit covers the Revolutionary War, the U.S. Civil War, and the Spanish American War. Artifacts such as the rifles and uniforms worn by the soldiers in the Revolutionary War and the Civil War set the stage for those conflicts set on U.S. soil.
The International Stage, 1898-1920
This exhibit covers the Spanish American War, The Philippine Insurrection, Boxer Rebellion in China, and the ‘War to End All Wars’ World War I.
Artifacts guide you through the exhibit; a pothole from the USS Maine, the event that bought the U.S. into Cuba, to the Philippines, the defense of U.S. interests during the Boxer Rebellion in China to the uniforms and weaponry worn and carried by the soldier’s in the trenches of World War I.
A World Power 1920-1947
This exhibit covers World War II and the role of the Greatest Generation in defending freedom. This exhibit features the largest collection of artifacts on display in the museum. The Combat Infantryman Badge was established in 1943 represents the qualities of sacrifice, experience, and history in the foot soldier that have faced death for the United States.
The Cold War 1947-1989
This exhibit covers the era of post World War II, the forgotten war of Korea and the U.S.’s continued presence there, the escalation into the jungles of the Vietnam War, and new warfare brought on by the Soviet threat and finally the tearing down of the Berlin Wall
The Sole Superpower 1989-present
This exhibit covers Desert Storm, The Gulf War, to the War on Terrorism as well the global hotspots of the present day.
Armor and Calvary
This exhibit provides the history of the creation of the U.S. Calvary during the American Revolution to the establishment of the Armor Branch in 1950. There are many large artifacts to see in the gallery. The machines of war used by the Infantry over the years and the history of the Calvary to the Infantry troops.
Hall of Valor
This centerpiece of the Gallery level pays tribute to American Infantrymen who have received the Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest award for bravery. Inside, you will find the names and faces of those nearly fifteen hundred, who displayed “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity” in the face of danger over 230 years. It is the place to reflect on those individuals who bravely serve our country and the many who gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect our country.
Memorials surround the museum and include the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, POW Memorial, and Memorial to the Global War on Terrorism.
Be sure you have plenty of time to explore this one of a kind museum thoroughly; there is a lot to explore and learn here about our countries warfare throughout our history. There is no fee for admission, but a five-dollar per person donation is suggested.
Astronaut Fred Haise
I had the good fortune of attending a talk by Astronaut Fred Haise of Apollo 13 at Columbus State University. He recounted his time training for and flying on Apollo 13 with Astronauts Jim Lovell and Rusty Swaggert on the fateful space journey.
After a long day of travel, I spent the night at the Comfort Inn in Columbus. It was a modest hotel, but comfortable. I had a delicious dinner of Pad Thai at Lemongrass Thai and Sushi not far from the hotel.
On my way back home from my Georgia Journeys, I stopped at the Dixie Wing of the Commemorative Air Force in Peachtree City, GA. They were in the middle of a non-flying event, but it was worth a stop.
Commemorative Air Force/Dixie Wing
The Commemorative Air Force was founded to acquire, restore and preserve in flying condition a collection of combat aircraft which were flown by all military services in the U.S. as well as selected aircraft of other nations, for the enjoyment and education of present and future generations of Americans.
The Dixie Wing is the Georgia chapter of the Commemorative Air Force that is dedicated to preserving World War II aircraft and history.
At the Dixie Wing, you will find the following fully operational airplanes: a Douglas SBD-5 “Dauntless” dive-bomber; a North American P-51 D “Mustang” fighter; a Goodyear FG-1D Corsair fighter; a North American LT-6D “Mosquito” spotter attack aircraft; a Fairchild PT-19A primary trainer; a Aeronca L-16 liaison and spotter aircraft; a North American SNJ advanced trainer, and two replica Japanese aircraft: the “Zero” fighter and the “Kate” torpedo bomber, these last two built for the movie “Tora, Tora, Tora!”
On display at Dixie Wing in the main conference area are artifacts and memorabilia, such as uniforms, models and aviation art.
I was fortunate to have arrived just as one of the vintage aircraft was being readied and fired up for a flight. Here is a video of the Kate torpedo bomber getting heading for the runway.
If you happen to be in South Georgia, this is a great place to see some pristine World War II Warbirds that still fly. Dixie Wing is only open on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 9-4.