Travels With Bob You’re In The Army (Museum) Now

They often say, “You can’t go back.” That’s partially true. I recently tried on a visit to the National Museum of the United States Army, recently opened at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

I spent some time there back in the dark ages for training with the Combat Engineers. We built bridges in some forlorn section of the massive fort property in the morning, across a ravine. In the afternoon we dismantled them. Then, just for fun, they gave us half-pound blocks of TNT and we spent the time blowing things up.

I’m sure the same activities are still going on in the “Boondocks” of Fort Belvoir, but today the facility is a modern military camp. And it is home to one of the most amazing museums in the country…The National Museum of the American Army.

The modern building that houses the museum belies what is inside. There are displays ranging from the early days of our country to the modern conflicts our Army troops are involved in.

To some visitors looking at the mannikins sitting in Jeeps, atop tanks and in Revolutionary War uniforms and gear do a double-take and a step back. Each and every mannikin has the face of a living person, bringing a far more personal touch that virtually any other museum in the world, sans Madame Tussauds.

A call went out while the exhibits were being created for volunteers to submit to the process of creating the exhibits, using their likenesses. It truly brings the exhibits to a far more personal touch.

But that’s not all. There is a World War II tank on display, with a tank commander standing in the top hatch, that actually fought in the Battle of the Bulge. And the face of the commander might actually be someone you know or someone who fought in the tank corps.

One of the more interesting highlights regarding the tank. It had been left in Europe and stood, unused, unappreciated for nearly six decades when museum representatives learned about the historic war machine. The museum made arrangements to have it shipped back to the States and brought to Fort Belvoir. It was restored and today looks much like it did in 1945 and is ready for another tour of duty.

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