Saturday, December 3, 2016

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE MIGHTY EIGhTH AIR FORCE

We had a guest this past week and one day we went up to the Mighty Eighth Air Museum in Pooler, Georgia. I had no idea what the Mighty Eighth was, but discovered it comprised our European bombers in World War II. The force was activated at Savannah, Georgia, in January 1942 after Pearl Harbor. Within a few months, troops and bombers set up in English bases and began flying against the Germans. While bombers seem to have made up its main force in the beginning, fighters and support aircraft also came under its command before the war was over.

I knew there was an actual airplane on exhibit there--when we drove up we could see it-- but I had expected a little building with musty artifacts and pictures.

Was I surprised!

The building was huge. They must have worked hard to gather the donations to make such a museum possible. In this photo, you can see the back doors of the museum that let you out into a memorial garden with a reflection pond at its center.


The garden itself is quite large. There are walkways to the left and right, twining through the different markers and benches and statues carved with names of bomber planes and their crews. And over on one side is a replica of an English chapel.


Inside, many of its beautiful stained glass windows feature airmen. Like this one:



And not only were there airplanes outside on the grounds. Inside were more! These are an actual fighter and a training aircraft, restored and hanging in lofty splendor from the ceiling:



This B-17 "Flying Fortress" in the process of renovation, is named to honor the "City of Savannah" which was the name of the 5000th airplane processed through Hunter Air Field in Savannah during WWII.



Whew! And that isn't nearly all to be enjoyed in the museum. For instance, there are films.

One allows you to pretend you're inside a bomber going on a bombing run (the guide said bomber crew members tell him it's so lifelike as to be scary; only the sound of the bombs going off isn't authentic because the planes were too high to hear the blast).

Other sections are devoted to POWs, and the women pilots who ferried planes across the seas, and the Tuskegee airmen, and even the foreigners who risked execution to hide airmen shot down. My favorite part was a reproduction of the inside of a French farmhouse (including wooden floors) that might have harbored a downed airman.

There is also a diorama showing the layout of one of the many English bases where the bombers stayed. Oh, and did I mention the gun turret used in the filming of "Memphis Belle" is there? Great story as to how it got to the museum!

If you're around Pooler, Georgia--just off I-95 at Savannah--make time to see this wonderful place. It will remind you how proud we ought to be of our veterans and how our country once came together in almost perfect unity to battle evil.

Finally, one of the plaques inside held this quote from Franklin Delano Roosevelt, outlining his belief in a basic four freedoms:

"The first is freedom of speech and expression—everywhere in the world.
The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way—everywhere in the world.
The third is freedom from want—which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants—everywhere in the world.
The fourth is freedom from fear—which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor—anywhere in the world."

His speech is still valid today, isn't it?

Great museum.

4 comments:

  1. An incredible building- I would love visiting there!

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    Replies
    1. I can't remember the last time I was so impressed with a museum!

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  2. Replies
    1. Anyone interested in history or WWII would love it!

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Thanks for commenting!