Posts Tagged ‘Infantry’

A D-Day Vet Comments on IMAX Movie about D-Day

May 19, 2014



I’ll tell you what I thought  of the  film, but first,  here’s what 93-year-old Charles Maupin of Columbus, who was a 23-year-old 29th Division radio operator who landed on D-Day plus 1,  had to say about it.

D-DAY IMAX 002 (2)

“I thought it was real good. The only thing missing was the actual combat footage. That might have been too grewsome for most people. People ought to know, though, what  those guys went through, those guys that landed first…Those guys showed determination and courage.”

He said that when he landed there were row upon rows of bodies on the beach, covered with ponchos.

He is very concerned that today’s young people have no understanding of what service to country means.  He said, “All young people should serve their country in some capacity to get an appreciation of their country and what that country stands for.  Too many young people today don’t know and don’t care.  I think it’s sad. We’re losing our freedom.”

I would go a little further than “good.” I would say it is an extraordinary, visually stunning documentary. Broadcast journalist and historian Tom Brokaw, the film’s narrator says “What I was drawn to in this film is that it tells us the story of D-Day in a new way that gives such clarity to one of the most important events in the history mankind.”

Charles is also on target in being concerned that young people “don’t know and don’t care.”  We have to ask, though, whose fault is that? Parents? Teachers?  Our education system?  Perhaps it’s time to start emphasizing the importance of history in our schools again.

Since this movie uses the latest techniques in movie making, using animation, CGI, and live-action images, and since it is quite immersive on an IMAX screen, and has a wonderful musical score played by the London symphony orchestra, I would think it would have a high impact on today’s young people.

In my view, every 9th grade high school student within a hundred miles of the Patriot Park IMAX should be bussed to the National Infantry Museum to see it.  It’s a very effective history lesson.



$138 Million Renovation of Former Infantry Hall Starts this Weekend

November 21, 2008

  While all eyes this weekend are trained on the SOA Watch protest, which brings thousands into the Columbus-Phenix City area, there is something starting on Fort Benning that will have a much larger and longer impact on the United States Army and our area. The very beginning of the four-year, $138 million renovation of the former Infantry Hall gets underway this weekend. Building 4, which is what most people call it, is no longer Infantry Hall. It is the Maneuver Center of Excellence building.

Infantry Hall, Building Four, Fort Benning, Georgia, soon to be Maneuver Center for Excellence

Infantry Hall, Building Four, Fort Benning, Georgia, is now Maneuver Center of Excellence (Courtesy, Jim Cathorne, Camera 1)

  Interestingly enough, Fort Benning’s new commander, Major General Michael D. Barbero, to whom the baton was passed by retiring Major General Walter Wojdakowski, will soon be commanding the post from the original, historical  Infantry Center building. Fort Benning’s Public Affairs Officer Bob Purtiman tells me that General Barbero will be operating out of the old headquarters for about two years. Ironically, in light of this weekend’s annual SOA protest, WHINSEC, the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, will be moving out of the historic building that was once occupied by legendary American heros, including Generals George C. Marshall and Dwight David Eisenhower, to another nearby building.  

Jim Cawthorne, Camera 1)

Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdjakowski, Maj. General Michael Barbero, and Gen. William S. Wallace at Fort Benning change of command ceremony (Courtesy: Jim Cawthorne, Camera 1)

  General Barbero will be overseeing one of the biggest changes in the Army ever. The infantry and armour schools will be combined into one organization.  This is the result of moving the Armour Center and School from Fort Knox, Kentucky to Fort Benning as a part of the latest BRAC ( Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission) action.    

  All of this, to the Columbus business community, is a godsend, especially in light of the current economic freefall. About $2 billion will be spent in converting the post to the Maneuver Center for Excellence. Somehow, that doesn’t roll off the tongue like “Infantry Center.” I guess we’ll get use to it.

  We’ll have more thoughts and memories about Fort Benning in the context of this sea change in identity for the post in furture posts on this blog. Meanwhile, I’d love to hear your Fort Benning stories over the years. Please feel free to click the “comments” button and give us your take on this really big story.

This is IT!

July 14, 2008


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





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.





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






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.





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 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.




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. 




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.