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John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Museum

18 January 2012

U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Museum

35º 07′ 33″ N / 78º 59′ 47″ W

Emblem of the U.S. Army Special Forces — photo by Joseph May

This museum houses some of the country’s artifacts and relics which were collected most dearly. All of them, without exception, were purchased with pain, blood and sacrifice. It takes several years of hard training to earn a colored beret of the U.S. Army and these soldiers have a small but national calibre museum within the perimeter of Ft. Bragg, North Carolina — the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Museum.

Statue to Col. Arthur D. "Bull" Simons — photo by Joseph May

I chose to visit in mid December 2011 and was surprised to find the main gallery was under renovation. This museum does not have a web site but its association and store have joined in one — the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Museum Association. Unfortunately, the web site did not mention the main gallery closure — which it should have, at least for the visitors who spend money and take time from work to drop in to see the history which is on exhibit there. Fortunately, there were exhibits on the grounds.

Replica of an 81mm mortar pit — photo by Joseph May

Captured DShK-38 12.7mm heavy machine gun — photo by Joseph May

The museum store is open, as is a small gallery, and I was extremely lucky in running into a man I only know as “Ted the Exhibit Guy”, a quiet professional. On his own initiative, befitting a museum dedicated to a special warfare museum, he pointed out the newly installed LED lights which are super modern, not yet available generally. Clustered in threes, they emit a bright light without wasteful heat or damaging UV wavelengths. These lights will better preserve artifacts which have certain inks and dyes as well as reduce air conditioning costs. He also showed the exhibit cases being built. This national caliber museum does not have a national caliber budget so these cases are being made by Ted and for less than a fifth the retail cost — adapting and overcoming is the Army way. I am consistently pleased and amazed by the intelligence and professionalism of museum staff such as Ted.

Relic of the World Trade Center resulting from the 9-11 attacks — photo by Joseph May

I’ll be happy to go back, once the main gallery reopens, to see the revamped exhibits but primarily to see “Barbara” — the model.

The museum is free and entry is gained onto the base only by the security gate on the All American Highway (take care to be in the left hand most lane when approaching the gate). It is a bit tricky this next bit,  but once cleared through security (have a license/passport, insurance card as well as open the trunk, hood and all doors ) one has to cross three lanes of traffic in 0.2 miles (0.3km) to take the Gruber Rd exit west. Pay close heed to speed limits and travel 0.8 miles (1.3km) to Reilly St then turn right (north). A short way will bring you to Ardennes Rd where a left turn should be made to the west where, a block later, is the intersection of Ardennes Rd and Marion St — the museum is on the southeastern corner of this intersection with parking in the back off of Marion Sreet. Restrooms are there — as is water.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 25 January 2012 01:05

    Great write-up, Joe. I was in USAF Special Ops (1st Air Commando Gp) 1962-64, and our aircraft — C-47s and C-46s — dropped Ft. Bragg 7th SF “A” Teams, in various locations including Pope AFB, Howard Field, Panama Canal Zone and Bien Hoa AB, SVN. The Army did not have any bigger transports than the DH Caribou during that era. I shall certainly make a detour to Ft Bragg and visit this museum on my next road trip north from Florida.

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      25 January 2012 04:42

      Thanks Mac 🙂

      On 1 February a post goes up on the 82nd Airborne Museum which is also on Ft Bragg … they have several aircraft there including the three you mentioned (C-46, C-47 and Caribou). Just 5 minutes away from the Pope Airlifters Air Park.

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