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Finishing Touches Put on Fayetteville Military Museum

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FAYETTEVILLE — Hundreds of pieces of military history have been collected, cleaned up and put on display in Fayetteville. The new Airborne and Special Operations Museum is just two weeks away from its grand opening.

Much of what is inside the $22 million museum is being kept secret until opening day on August 16.

The new museum takes up an entire city block in downtown Fayetteville. Soon, it will take visitors into the lives of army soldiers who parachuted into battle.

"They are going to get a feeling behind the personalities of the men, and now the men and women, who jumped into battle," says Sandy Klotz, the executive director of the Museum Foundation.

The final preparations are being made to the parade field and to the exhibits.

Authenticity is an important part of the museum experience. The staff has researched and relied on manuals to make sure the old equipment and scenes look accurate.

"I think it's important for detail, and they actually rigged it and did it so when they bring kids and families through, they can say, 'That's exactly how we did it,' and that would be the best compliment we could have," says Captain Kevin Gilson of the 647th Quartermaster Company.

Visitors will see stories of sacrifice and courage from people like World War II veteran Al Alvarez. He was at Omaha Beach and made more than 200 jumps in his military career.

After his work at the museum, he knows other veterans will experience what he already has.

"Everything will bring back good or bad experiences in thier lives, because they'll remember the French villages did look like this -- the destruction, all torn up," he says.

More than 500 dignitaries have been invited to the museum's grand opening. Beginning at 9 a.m., the Golden Knights Army parachute team will jump in. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as Ross Perot, will be the featured speakers. The public is welcome.