Local News

Airborne & Special Operations Museum Officially Opens in Fayetteville

Posted August 14, 2000

— TheArmy's Airborne and Special Operations Museumopened its doors to the public for the first time Wednesday morning.

The Fayetteville museum was a long time coming. The opening ceremony was the culmination of an idea that began 20 years ago.

The grand opening of the museum also brought benefactor Ross Perot to town. Perot donated $1 million to the project.

Perot is no stranger to Fort Bragg and was a crowd pleaser when he compared today's soldiers to America's early settlers.

"They went ashore, they found a job on their own, they saved their money, got a covered wagon and headed west. There were no roads, no superhighways, no McDonald's," he says. "These were tough people. Can we agree on that?

"This same toughness exists right here at Fort Bragg and throughout the special forces and throughout our military forces, and we are so blessed to have it."

On National Airborne Day, the opening of the new museum was as much about the people as it was the displays. Throughout the museum, young soldiers mingled with veterans. Even pins on uniforms sparked conversation.

For veterans, the questions brought back memories. For soldiers, it was a lesson about the past.

PV2 Richard Wenkel learned from veteran Richard Mandich that an H on his wings commemorated the Invasion of Holland in 1944.

The mix of veterans and Bragg soldiers is one reason opening day was so special. Real stories from real people to go along with all the exhibits.

Some visitors were so touched by the museum that they signed up to become volunteers.

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