The 82d Airborne Division War Memorial Museum at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, tells the story of the U.S. Army’s “All American” division, including its organization as a “square” division and combat in World War I, reorganization as the Army’s first airborne division during World War II, and participation in the Global War on Terrorism. The origins of the museum date back to 1945, when he 82d Airborne began collecting artifacts during the Allied occupation of Berlin. The current museum was constructed at Fort Bragg in 1957, and several expansions have increased the total exhibit space to 6,000 square feet. Future plans call for an additional expansion that will increase the museum by an additional 14,000 square feet.
Visitors entering the museum are greeted by a collection of photos of former division commanders. Nearby is a temporary exhibit of the 82d Airborne’s participation in relief operations following 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. Other displays near the museum entrance include photos and maps of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom and a diagram of the 82d Airborne Division under the Army’s Modular Force Reorganization plan.
The museum’s World War I gallery details the 82d Division’s organization, training, and combat role in the Great War. The gallery includes various types of uniforms, weapons, and equipment, including an M1897 French-designed 75mm gun and caisson. One highlight of the gallery is a replica of a World War I trench with the sounds of shell bursts and machine gun fire. The World War I gallery also features artifacts that once belonged to SGT Alvin York, the division’s most famous soldier of the Great War.
The World War II gallery highlights the division’s brief organization as a light infantry unit, its reorganization as the Army’s first airborne division, training at Fort Bragg and Camp MacKall, North Carolina, and the development of airborne doctrine. The gallery includes a large collection of uniforms, equipment, and weapons used by airborne forces, both Allied and Axis, and larger artifacts, such as a Jeep and the front section of a CG-15A glider. The gallery also details the division’s combat operations in Operations Husky (Sicily), Avalanche (Salerno), Shingle (Anzio), Overlord (Normandy), and Market Garden (Holland), in addition to the Battle of the Bulge and the drive into Germany. Other highlights include 1SG Leonard Funk’s Medal of Honor and Distinguished Service Cross, MG Gavin’s uniform, and a number of war trophies.
Galleries focusing on post-World War II era include exhibits on the 82d as a Pentomic division, the division’s participation in Operation Power Pack, the 1965 invasion of the Dominican Republic, and the 82d’s role in helping to restore order during the domestic disturbances of the 1960s. Another area focuses on the 3d Brigade, 82d Airborne Division, and its participation in the Vietnam War in 1968-1969.
The final exhibit areas detail the 82d Airborne’s participation in more recent combat operations, including Operations Urgent Fury (Grenada), Just Cause (Panama), and Desert Storm/Shield (Persian Gulf region). This area includes numerous examples of American and captured uniforms, weapons, and equipment, including uniforms belonging to Panamanian President Manuel Noriega. In addition to combat operations, this area also highlights peacekeeping efforts in the Sinai, disaster relief following Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and Operation Restore Democracy in Haiti in September 1994.
The outdoor exhibit area features several war memorials dedicated to the soldiers of the 82d Division. The museum’s outdoor exhibits also include examples of guns and vehicles used by the 82d, along with fixed-wing aircraft that have carried paratroopers of the 82d Airborne.
In addition to exhibits, the museum features a 65-seat theater with a 25-minute video on the history of the 82d Airborne Division and a museum shop. A research library is also available by appointment.
Making a Visit: The 82d Airborne Division War Memorial Museum is located in Building C6841, Ardennes Street, Fort Bragg, NC. The museum is open Tuesday-Saturday, 1000-1630, and closed Sundays, Mondays (with the exception of federal holidays), Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Admission and parking are free; donations are welcome. For more information, please contact Mr. John Aarsen, Curator, at (910) 432-3443/5307, firstname.lastname@example.org, or view the museum website at www.bragg.army.mil/18abn.museums.htm.