Foundation leaders recently led Gen. Colin Powell and his son — and fellow Army veteran — Michael on a tour of the Museum. Gen. Powell became one of the nation’s most well-known and respected Soldiers in 1989, when President George H. W. Bush selected the General to serve as the 12th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was both the first African American and the first ROTC graduate to be selected for the position. Gen. Powell was also the youngest officer to serve in the role. His tenure as Chairman coincided with several historic national security events, including the end of the Cold War and the execution of Operation Desert Storm.
Despite the many history-making moments that made up Gen. Powell’s career, he reflected on the more personal stories of his service during his Museum tour. While visiting the exhibit on the Vietnam War, during which Powell was deployed twice and earned a Purple Heart and Soldier’s Medal, the General recalled learning of Michael’s birth while overseas. The journal he kept during his deployment marked the day simply with the date and “Mike!” written excitedly across the entire page. The General keeps a photo of the entry on his phone, which he proudly shared with the tour group.
The Foundation was honored to escort such an accomplished Soldier and Army leader on his visit to the Museum. Following his tour, the General expressed his appreciation for the Museum, noting, “The Museum is a wonderful tribute to the history and traditions of the Army and the American Soldier.”
Vietnam War Gallery
Many visitors to the Museum’s Cold War Gallery are drawn to the exhibits that provide a comprehensive look at the Army’s involvement in the Vietnam War. The exhibit opens with an extensive timeline of the era , educating visitors on the key events and hard-fought battles of the conflict.
Visitors can view a sample of an infantry Soldier’s load, which weighed 65 pounds. The Soldier carried an M16 rifle with up to 20 magazines of 20 rounds each, smoke grenades, an entrenching tool, poncho, water purification tablets, and several canteens. In addition to what Soldiers carried, the exhibit displays helmets featuring graffiti, including in some cases a timeline to check off each month until returning home.
Hanging overhead, the UH-1 Iroquois, better known as the “Huey,” was the iconic helicopter of the Vietnam War, and was first used as a troop transport. Over time, the Huey’s design changed, and it was upgraded with a more powerful engine to become a more versatile aircraft. The Huey was then used for a variety of missions, including air assault, cargo transport, medical evacuation, search and rescue, electronic warfare, and ground attack.
One of the Museum’s Soldier profiles features Chief Warrant Officer 4 Walter R. Jones III, a door gunner and then a crew chief on a Huey. During his six months in Vietnam, he logged 324 combat hours before being seriously wounded when his helicopter was shot down. He later recovered from his injuries and went to Army flight school to become a chief warrant officer flying the UH-60 Black Hawk.
The last stop in the exhibit discusses the Army’s post-war self-examination to improve its capabilities and move forward from a controversial war. The exhibit also talks about the elimination of the draft and the creation of the all-volunteer Army in 1973.
To learn more about the Cold War Gallery and the Vietnam exhibit, visit www.thenmusa.org.