Friday, September 4, 2009

Jacksonville Museum of Military History Part 2

My tour of the museum begins with the Civil War section and in particular I learned about the Battle of Reed's Bridge that took place in Jacksonville on Aug 26th 1863. The Confederates burned Reed's Bridge to try and stop the Union Army from crossing Bayou Meta and moving on to capture Little Rock. I got to exam the actual bolts from the burned bridge. You can tell they have been burned and are very old!

Next, Frank McClure a volunteer here at the museum told me all about the Arkansas Ordnance Plant (AOP) that was located in Jacksonville during WWII. The ordnance plant made detonators and fuses for explosives used during WWII. In fact the Arkansas Ordnance Plant made 85% of all the detonators and fuses used during WWII!!! That's a lot of explosives and it was dangerous work. Frank explained to me that 75% of the workers were women which was a big social change for back then. Women usually didn't work outside the home. The women that worked at the plant were nicknamed "WOWs" which stood for Women Ordnance Workers.

There is so much military history here in Jacksonville it's hard for me to take it all in. In the 1950s the military opened up an air force base here in Jacksonville. Even though its in Jacksonville they named it the Little Rock Air Force Base, which seems a little silly to me but...whatever. During the 1970's and 80's they had Titan II Missiles here at the base. They were the most powerful nuclear weapons ever made! I got to sit at a mock control panel and do a simulated launch of a Titan II Missile. In the 80's the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to get rid of some their big nuclear weapons and the Titan II's were taken out.

This is the Mighty Mite Jeep. It is the smallest Jeep ever made and was used by the Marines in Vietnam. The military considered them a "throw away" Jeeps so if they broke down they just left them and didn't try and fix them. That's why there's only about 20 of them left in the world. Even though it's the smallest Jeep ever made, it's still too big for me to drive.

While I was at the museum I got to try on a helmet that was worn in Desert Storm. Hey...who turned out the lights!

Well I guess since it's dark I'll call it day. Whew, I'm tired. Tomorrow I'll get to greet visitors to the museum and help out the volunteers at the front desk. In the afternoon I'll be helping the guys with the renovations on the F-105 Fighter Jet and tomorrow evening I'm going on a tour of the Reed's Bridge Civil War battle site. Another big day! I better get some rest. Good night all...Sleep tight...Don't let the bed bugs bite!

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