Thursday, July 28, 2011

Take a Trip to the 8th Air Force Museum on Barksdale Air Force Base

Steve and I took a trip to the Barksdale museum today; technically it is the 8th Air Force Museum.  I highly recommend a visit; you don't have to have base access to go.  Just enter through the North Gate and they'll get you there.  Their collection is rich in artifacts and history and is a great place to take the kids on these hot summer days.

The museum is one of only twelve Air Force field museums.  Inside, there are displays, dioramas, sculpture, paintings, video exhibits, even parts of airplanes.  Outside, the air park holds some 28 planes and peripheral non-airplane items such as an airplane tug and a firetruck.  There is also a walkway lined with memorial bricks which are quite interesting to read.  As a side note, Steve and I got married out there in front of the B47 plane (which is where his memorial brick is placed.)

We've been inside the museum before but it's been several years.  It was time for a return visit.  As it happens, there was an article in The Shreveport Times today outlining the changes that are headed the museum's way.   The photo above is what it looks like now; this is what the new design looks like:

According to The Times article, the Air Force says "several of the museum's airplanes, including its rare B-24, B-17 and B-29, might be sent to museums where they could be indoors."  Thus, the considered renovations.

When you walk in, the gift shop is to your right:

To your left would be a replica of a WWII era Quonset hut set up like a briefing room.  A thirty minute video of the history of Barksdale Air Force base runs on a constant loop.

Right outside the door is an old British telephone booth:

To see the exhibits you proceed down this hallway (this photo is the only one that isn't mine; it's taken from the museum website):

Here's a bust of General Omar Bradley:

Barksale AFB was the recipient of the Omar Bradley Spirit of Independence Award in 1991.

Here is the Lt. Eugene Hoy Barksdale Room; it's still under some construction so we couldn't go in:

This exhibit also has a video loop with Lt. Barksdale's biography:

And the board at the entrance of the room requesting volunteers:

One exhibit that always gives me pause is the 9/11 exhibit.   You'll remember that President George W. Bush stopped at Barksdale AFB to speak to the nation that morning after leaving Florida.

You can click on the picture and zoom in; there's a timeline of events throughout the day.  You can see, too, the screen at the far right which loops his speech that day.
Another angle:

And the clock, frozen in time:

Always remember.  In that display they've preserved the podium from which he spoke and the telephone he used.

This display commemorates Dedication Day for the base with front pages of the newspapers and a lady in fashionable dress:

I love these bomb-shaped salt and pepper shakers!

This display is from the WWII room and is intended to replicate "the home front":

Another angle:

I've chopped his head off with my photo but that's a picture of FDR on the wall.  Again, click and zoom to get all the details!

This is supposed to be a "typical" 8th Air Force soldier in England in WWII:

He reminded Steve of Radar O'Reilly.  His reading material:

And the accompanying plaque:

Gas mask: Flight suits and oxygen mask:

The POW/MIA display:

The sketch is CMSgt Charlie Poole whose remains were actually found.  He went missing in 1972 and his remains were identified and interred in Arlington National Cemetery in 2003.

The concrete marker to the far left was all that marked the grave of Lt.Col. Keith Heggen in North Vietnam.  It was returned with his body in 1974.  There is a binder there with all of the correspondence between his family and the government regarding his status.

The marker:

Here is an old bomb sight - maybe from a B52?  Not sure.

This was cool:  it's a portion of a brick wall discovered by the British Wall Art Conservation Society from the Red Cross Club at the 8th Air Force Base in Bottisham where the 361 fighter group flew Yellow Nose P51 Mustangs.  The wall was presented to the 8th Air Force in 1987.

I'm not sure where this lady was but she's neat, too:

This one was sad:  a memorial to the Raider 21 crew who crashed in 2008.  All six were lost.

They were based out of BAFB.

Some of the paintings in the museum:

The different types of wings:

When we finished up we went in the gift shop; Steve got a t-shirt and I bought a book.  The museum depends heavily on donations and this will be especially important as they try to grow, expand, and hang onto the aircraft on display outside.  If you're interested in making a donation to preserve history, send a check to:

8th Air Force Museum Association
P.O. Box 75
Barksdale AFB, LA 71110-0075 

They also accept historical artifacts.  See the website for details.

If you're looking for an educational afternoon activity for the kids, consider the BAFB museum.  There's lots to see, inside and out!


1 comment:

Shodan Kyokushin said...

I was a member of the 8th Air Force, headquartered at Westover AFB, Mass. back in the early 60s. I remember the B52s lined up on the flight line loaded with nukes the day President Kennedy was assassinated. A few years ago I was listening to a retired Russian General being interviewed on NPR. He was asked: "What made Russia finally turn their ships around and go home during the Cuban Missile Crisis?" His answer: "Only one thing - your Strategic Air Command. We knew they could wipe us off the face of the earth." Those were some of the proudest days of my military career.