This is IT!

  

  My former WTVM newsroom co-worker and still friend Cyndy Cerbin took me on a fascinating tour of the new National Infantry Museum recently.

 

 

  

CC

Cyndy Cerbin

 

 

 Cyndy is now Director of Communications for the Infantry Foundation. She said, “Dick, this is the ‘It’ they were talking about when they said Columbus needs an ‘It’ to attract lots of tourists.” Since this baby could bring in between 400,000 and 500,000 visitors a year, I think she’s right.

  

 

 

 

 National Infantry Museum Panorama

 National Infantry Museum Under Construction

 

 

   Fort Benning is already supplying 3,000 visitors a week to eat in the city’s restaurants, stay in its hotels and visit tourist attractions.  With the original National Infantry Museum still operating on post, and, in town, add the Coca-Cola Space and Science Center, the National Civil War Naval Museum, the Columbus Museum, and an attractive softball complex at South Commons, and you can see they already have a lot to do.

 

  Those 3,000 visitors come from all over the country to Fort Benning each week to attend a loved one’s graduation ceremony. That ceremony is going to move to the new National Infantry Museum’s “back yard.” The field is ready now, but the stands have to be added.

 

  

 

NIM GRAD FIELD

National Infantry Museum Graduation Field

 

  

 

  Either before or after the ceremony they’ll be able to stroll through the World War II barracks area, which not only boasts real WW II barracks, but General Patton’s headquarters building and the cabin near it where he slept. They’ll also see a WWII Patton tank, and a smaller tank of the type Patton used during Fort Benning exercizes.

 

  

 

WWII Barracks

World War II Barracks

 

 

 

 

Patton Shack and Tanks

Gen. Patton’s Sleeping Quarters and Patton Tank

 

 

  

   Once inside the !00 million dollar museum, they’ll walk along the Last One Hundred Yards Ramp, It’s called that because of the famous saying that, “the infantry owns the last one hundred yards of battle.”  This one hundred yards will contain exhibits that graphically depict, with virtual high-tech aids, seven major battles fought by the infantry, ranging all the way from the Revolutionary War to Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom and Afghanistan.

  

 

 

NIM Lst. 100 Yrds.

Last 100 Yards Ramp 

 

   A couple of standouts will be a real Bradley Fighting Vehicle that saw action in Iraq and Vietnam era Huey Helicopter. Both will hang over the side of the ramp where they will also be seen from the Grand Hall on the Gallery level. The Bradley is already there. Cyndy said that it’s so heavy it had to brought in during the early stages of construction, that the museum is being built around it. 

 

  

 

NIM Brad Ft. Vehicle

 Bradley Fighting Vehicle

 

 

 

 

BFVOH

Bradley Fighting Vehicle seen from Grand Hall on Gallery Level

 

 

  

  At the end of the ramp is the  Fort Benning area, where they will see and experience how young civilians are transformed into soldiers. There will be a jump tower. Also, a virtual firing range will allow visitors to experience the same virtual firing training that our soldiers receive. There will also be a section dedicated to the relationship with Columbus over the years.

 

  

 

FBA

Fort Benning Section

 

 

 

Because of the Department of the Army’s sanctioning of the museum, it cannot charge admission. However, it can charge admission to the 300 seat IMAX Theater and adventure simulators. Income will also be generated by the full service restaurant and gift shop.

 

 

 

 

IMAX

IMAX Theater Entrance

 

 

The galleries on the lower level will feature large exhibits of the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World Wars I and II, Korea and Vietnam together, and the desert wars.

 

  

NIMDW

Desert Wars Exhibit

 

 

 

 The Vietnam exhibit will feature another Huey that is already in place. Part of the Vietnam exhibit will recreate the jungle atmosphere of Vietnam, including the tropical weather that soldiers had to endure while fighting in that country. 

 

 

VNHUEY

Covered Huey Helicopter in Vietnam War Exhibit

 

  

 You’ll be able to see the finished product on March 20, 2009.  That’s the target date to open the museum. As the late Arthur Godfrey used to say on CBS Radio, “If the good Lord be willing and the creek don’t rise,” I’ll see you there.  

 

   

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

  

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