The U.S. Army Airborne & Special Operations Museum, the U.S. Army’s only museum not on a military base, stands minutes from I-95 in the heart of downtown Fayetteville. On a regular basis, the Smithsonian-quality museum welcomes visitors from all over the country and all over the world.
In the main gallery, guests walk through history, starting from test platoon to present day. The gallery includes multi-media exhibits, full-size military equipment, artifacts, uniforms, photos and detailed histories for each conflict and campaign. While the main gallery can take up much of a visitor’s time, there are a few not-to-miss items outside of the main gallery. Make time to visit:
- Iron Mike stands at the entrance to the museum. This statue originally stood at the entrance to Fort Bragg. Needing repairs, the statue was removed and renovated. Once complete, it was moved to the entrance of the Airborne & Special Operations Museum. Today, Iron Mike is a favorite spot for visitors to grab a picture.
- Overlooking Iron Mike, Constant Vigilance is the world’s first memorial to special operations canines killed in the line of duty. It recognizes all dogs from the United States, United Kingdom or Australia who have died in the line of duty since 9/11. A small plaque with each canine killed lists their name, date of birth, country and the date they died. The inscription on the front of the plaque reads:
- Just outside the museum, hundreds of paver stones honor those who fought and died for our freedom. The Sunken Garden at the back of the museum is the perfect place to reflect upon the stories the museum highlights.
- On the left side of the lobby, the Congressional Medal of Honor Wall honors the 73 soldiers who received the Congressional Medal of Honor while assigned to an airborne or special operations unit. Additionally, an interactive, multi-media exhibit provides the opportunity for visitors to learn each medal recipient’s story.
- Across the parking lot form the Airborne & Special Operations Museum, the Visitor Center at North Carolina Veteran’s Park holds two special exhibits. A unique 33,500 dog tag chandelier hangs from the ceiling. Nearby, an exhibit holds dog tags that represent each North Carolinian killed during each war and conflict since World War 1. Organized by each conflict, the exhibit is a powerful representation of the lives lost in defense of our country.
These are just a few of the museum’s gems. Make plans to visit and explore not only the museum but also other military sites around Fayetteville. The Patriots, Past & Present Cultural Heritage Trail provides an overview of sites from the Revolutionary, Civil War and modern military era.