A Visit to the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, NC
Fayetteville, NC – On the second day of my South Carolina/North Carolina road trip, I visited the US Army Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, NC near Fort Bragg. It is part of the US Army Museum System like the National Infantry Museum in Columbus, GA near Fort Benning. The Airborne and Special Operations Museum tells the story of US Army Airborne forces from their inception prior to World War II, how Special Forces developed out of the relationship between Airborne forces and the OSS during World War II, and the missions and operations of both Airborne and Special Operations units through the present day. The museum’s current special exhibit focuses on Airborne and Special Operations during Operation Just Cause in Panama during December 1989 and January 1990.
The US Army and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, NC
The Iron Mike statue in front of the Airborne and Special Operations Museum honors the Army’s Airborne Troopers
The Airborne and Special Operations Museum also features a memorial for Special Forces K-9s killed in the line of duty
The Airborne and Special Operations Museum’s current special exhibit is on Operation Just Cause in Panama during December 1989/January 1990. The first photo above depicts Airborne Troopers and Special Forces Operators involved in Just Cause. The middle photo is a speaker system used to blast rock music at Manuel Noriega at the Nunciatura until he surrendered. The photo on the left shows how similar the Panamanian and American uniforms were and how it caused confusion in identifying friend and foe.
The Airborne and Special Operations Museum features a couple of interesting vehicles. On the right is the M29 Cargo Carrier, or “Weasel” from World War II, a small amphibious tracked vehicle that could operate in snow, in mountainous areas that could be air-delivered. On the left is the Crosley Pup, a small one man four wheel drive jeep type vehicle.
These exhibits at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum focus on World War II Airborne Operations in the European Theater. From left to right: paratroopers jumping out of a C-47 during the D-Day invasion of Normandy, Paratroopers on the ground during the D-Day invasion, and Gen. Anthony McAuliffe’s famous reply of “Nuts” to a German demand for surrender at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge.
These exhibits at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum focus on World War II glider operations. From left to right: a jeep exiting a CG-4A Waco glider, a Clark bulldozer small enough to be landed in a glider, and a 75mm Pack Howitzer, an artillery piece small enough to be carried in a glider.
Pathfinders were Airborne troops that jumped into enemy territory ahead of the main force of paratroopers to help guide the transport planes in. This exhibit at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum focuses on the Eureka/Rebecca system. Eureka/Rebecca consisted of an AN/PPN-2 Beacon system, on the left, that transmitted the LZ location to the Rebecca system on C-47s, which used the antenna on the right to receive them.
This Airborne and Special Operations Museum Exhibit focuses on OSS operatives who received training from Airborne Forces. On the left, an Office of Strategic Services (OSS) Jedburg operative is meeting up with French resistance fighters. On the right is a Suitcase Radio used by Jedburgh operators.
This Airborne and Special Operations Exhibit depicts fighting on Hill 420 in South Korea during the Korean War. On 31 May 1951, Cpl Rodolfo Hernandez of the 187th Airborne RCT, his M-1 Garand jammed, engaged attacking enemy soldiers with his bayonet, killing six of them before passing out from his wounds. He received the Medal of Honor for his actions on Hill 420.
This Airborne and Special Operations Museum exhibit depicts the 173rd Airborne Brigade in the Battle for Dak To during the Vietnam War in November/December 1967.
This Airborne and Special Operations Museum exhibit depicts operations during Operation Just Cause in Panama during December 1989 and January 1990. On the left, the 160th SOA and Special Forces Operators rescue of Kurt Muse. On the right, Airborne Troops with an M551 Sheridan tank, A 7th Special Forces Group soldier with an anti-tank missile are on the ground while a Ranger parachutes in.
This Airborne and Special Operations Museum exhibit focuses on operations in Afghanistan. On the left, a Special Forces Close Air Support team calls in and controls air strikes. On the right, a 5th Special Forces Group that was part of Operation Dagger is depicted meeting with the Northern Alliance.
This rotor hub is the largest piece of unearthed wreckage of SUPER 61, one of the MH-60s shot down over Mogadishu on 3 October 1993, killing its pilots Cliff Wolcott and Donovan Briley. The wreckage was recovered by a private company in 2012 and repatriated to the United States. The rotor hub is currently on display at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, NC
This Airborne and Special Operations Museum Exhibit focuses on Army Special Forces Operations in north and west Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. On the left is a Humvee used by special forces operators. Above the passenger door in both photos is equipment used to control a drone seen above and to the right of the Humvee in the right photo.
If you’re interested in military history, this really is a museum you should visit. It’s well kept and informative and they rotate special exhibits in addition to the regular exhibits. The museum volunteers, who are military veterans, are quite knowledgeable and readily share information and their experiences. Airborne units and Special Forces aren’t really one of my areas of expertise, so I learned a lot about their development here following on from a couple of visits to the National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning.
Airborne and Special Operations Museum, Fayetteville NC, History, Military History, Photos, US Army