News & Events
April 17, 1999
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Museum Effort Is Gaining
drive to build a national museum dedicated to understanding the Vietnam
era is gaining momentum as the news of its existence spreads. What
started just over three years ago as the idea of a group of Vietnam
helicopter pilots meeting in Mineral Wells, Texas is beginning to
receive national attention. Thanks to the publication of recent articles
in several veterans’ publications, other veterans and veterans’
organizations have begun making contact with the museum committee to see
how they can contribute to the effort.
concept for the museum began simply enough, a group of former helicopter
pilots decided that it was time those who answered their country’s call
to serve in Vietnam deserved some recognition. The original
was for a modest helicopter museum, in an existing building in Mineral
Wells. This would include recognition of the contribution of the former
Fort Wolters as a training base for virtually every helicopter pilot who
flew in Vietnam.
However, as the committee continued to work on this idea, contact with
outside elements in the museum community and the consulting world
convinced them that they were thinking on too small a scale. The time
appeared to be right for a national venue that would address the full
scope of the Vietnam War - the participants, the root causes, the after
effects - in an honest, and reasonably unbiased manner.
plans now call for a world-class facility that will create an atmosphere
of learning to engage people of all ages, nationalities, and political
points of view. Using storytelling, problem solving, immersion, and
interactive displays, the museum will address the following major
The Cold War - The
war in Vietnam will be examined from the perspective of the global Cold
War that drove American foreign policy decisions after World War II.
The Nation and Culture of
Vietnam – How our understanding of the history and people of Vietnam
affected the outcome of our participation in the war.
The Chronology of the
Vietnam War – From the fall of Dien Bien Phu to the fall of Saigon,
how the campaigns of the war fit in a historical context.
The Helicopter War –
There is perhaps no more memorable and recognizable symbol of the war in
Vietnam than the helicopter. This will provide a focal point for many
The Home Front – The
convergence of the civil rights movement with the anti-war movement will
be examined as well as the interconnections between the war and various
aspects of popular culture.
Technology and the War –
Various innovations can be traced directly to the war in Vietnam
including armaments, medical advances, and the helicopter.
War’s End and Aftermath –
The museum will pose the very troubling questions: Did we lose the
war? What were the social effects of the war? What were the diplomatic
and political effects?
Wolters – As the training ground for
most Vietnam helicopter pilots, the origin and mission of Fort Wolters
will be explored.
its cultural and military importance, there is currently no national
venue dedicated to examining the Vietnam War. While the healing process
began with the creation of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, the
full story has not been told. This museum seeks to put the Vietnam
experience in broader cultural and historical perspective to further the
understanding of this important moment in American history.
project was initiated by the Fort Wolters chapter of the Vietnam
Helicopter Pilots Association. While their viewpoint will be
represented, a deliberate attempt will be made to present the historical
facts and consequences of the war in an unbiased fashion. After more
than 25 years, many people on both sides of the conflict have amended
and tempered their views. It is time to share, study, and learn from the
natural part of the creation of the museum, the committee has been
engaging in modest fund raising efforts. Chief among these have been the
sale of memorial bricks and tablets. The bricks, selling for $100 each,
allow the purchasers to have three lines of text of fifteen characters
each engraved in a brick that will be part of the museum’s memorial
garden. Prior to the building of the museum, the brick purchasers
receive a miniature replica of their brick for use as a paperweight, and
a certificate of purchase.
larger memorial tablets are targeted at units who served in Vietnam, to
honor all the members who served with that unit. These memorial
tablets, selling for $1,000 each will also be placed throughout the
memorial garden. To date, the sale of the memorial tablets has been
limited to Army aviation companies, but is open to any unit organization
regardless of size. If demand warrants, even larger memorials for
Division or larger size units will also be explored.
newest fund raising venture is in conjunction with a local community
auxiliary of the museum – the Mineral Wells Friends of the Museum
organization. The museum board and the Friends organized a campaign to
raise funds for the purchase of a suitable piece of property for the
museum site. The plan is to sell “Landowner” shares to a limited number
of private individuals to be used for land acquisition. The goal is to
have a total of only 200 Landowners. Like the memorial tablets, the cost
of a Landowner share is $1,000. In the first four months of the
campaign, there are 25 subscribers from the Mineral Wells area alone.
on the Landowners campaign, the museum board is in the final stages of
negotiations on the purchase of 12 acres of property in Mineral Wells.
This is a prime location that fronts on U.S. Highway 180, close to both
the Fort Wolters location and Lake Mineral Wells State Park. Once they
have closed on the property, there will be a national competition
announced for the design of the museum building. Concurrent with the
design competition is the plan for a full-scale fund-raising campaign.
The goal of this campaign will be to raise between $15 and $17 million
to build the state-of-the-art facility envisioned.
the involvement of veterans’ organizations, concerned citizens,
business, and government agencies, this museum will become a reality,
and a place to preserve the history of one of the defining moments of
the Twentieth Century. Those who are interested in assisting with this
effort should contact the museum at P.O. Box 146, Mineral Wells,
TX 76068, or visit the museum web site at
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