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DonKarnage2

Military History Sites Worth Seeing

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First, I encourage others to post in here as well. This isn't just a thread for me to place stuff.

Second, I have a Degree in History with a focus on Military History and a strong focus on the Ancient Middle East and the Golden Age of Sail (specifically regarding the Caribbean). So, I find this kind of thing neat.

Third, this thread will hopefully help others see what else there is to see and visit. If others post in here too, hopefully I will get some ideas for future trips.

Fourth, I will do additional sites in subsequent posts.

Fifth, while I have seen a lot of places like Gettysburg, Little Big Horn, and Pearl Harbor I was a kid for many of them and have no photos. Still, I'm willing to answer questions about places I have been to.

Sixth, feel free to comment.

Edited by DonKarnage2
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Note: I have placed the more graphic photos behind a spoiler. It is not my intention to violate community standards, and there is nothing that is overly bloody (or bloody at all for that matter). Still, the preference is to try to be sensible and respectful to others. @Jazzyblaster, since you're a mod I trust you'll know if the two pictures in question need to be removed. Just let me know if they do, or do it yourself if it needs doing.

First, memorial to the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek just outside of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

During the brief reign of the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot in Cambodia thousands of people, very literally, were killed via various methods. I won't get into the details, you're free to research it yourself. It's not pleasant. Many of those who died were buried in various mass grave locations around the country and a few of those Mass Graves have been turned into memorials by the Cambodian Government.

I liken visiting Choeung Ek to visiting one of the preserved Nazi Concentration Camps from World War II. I imagine the the environment is very much the same and the history of those places is very much the same as well.

The tour itself is a self-guided audio tour, with every major language represented. You walk around to each site and the tour tells you about it. A lot of eye witness and survivor accounts are included. It's a very somber experience and, while it's not much fun, it's something that is important to see and to understand to avoid making the same mistakes, regardless of geographic location, in the future.

The site is dominated by the centrally located monument, which can be seen in several of the photos. That monument houses some, but not all, of the physical remains of the people that died or were executed at the site. Very literally, thousands of people. It also houses other physical remains such as clothing (adults and children).

There is also a small museum and a video (in English) that you can watch that will further discuss the history of the site.

The Cambodian Government, and volunteers and donations, take good care of the site and it is well maintained. Honestly, it was one of the only places I visited in Cambodia that I can say is generally accessible (mostly) to those with significant mobility issues. Given Cambodia's tropical climate year-round bottled water (tap water in Cambodia is not safe for Westerners to drink), sunblock, a hat, and comfortable hiking shoes are all must haves.

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Above and below you see the large central monument. It's also in a few other shots.

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Above, simply a reminder than something beautiful can grow even in a place like this.

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Above, a cast iron rice pot that is long abandoned. Below, one of the walk paths around the field and my date for the trip. Note: She is considerably better looking than I am.

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Spoiler

 

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Above, three examples of human remains that are entombed now in the monument. All of the remains were recovered from the field itself and they fill a significant portion of the interior of the monument which is several stories high.

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Above: Clothing, blindfolds, and shackles recovered at the site. Note the small size of those shackles, yes even small children and toddlers were shackled.

 

Edited by DonKarnage2
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42 minutes ago, DonKarnage2 said:

First, I encourage others to post in here as well. This isn't just a thread for me to place stuff.

Second, I have a Degree in History with a focus on Military History and a strong focus on the Ancient Middle East and the Golden Age of Sail (specifically regarding the Caribbean). So, I find this kind of thing neat.

Third, this thread will hopefully help others see what else there is to see and visit. If others post in here too, hopefully I will get some ideas for future trips.

Fourth, I will do additional sites in subsequent posts.

Fifth, while I have seen a lot of places like Gettysburg, Little Big Horn, and Pearl Harbor I was a kid for many of them and have no photos. Still, I'm willing to answer questions about places I have been to.

Sixth, feel free to comment.

Yes there are some out there that are worth seeing if you get the chance.  It's well worth the time to go and visit.  Even if its not World War 2.  You can learn new things about something, that's always a win.

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Well, there are quite a few preserved warships around the world, a lot of them in the US, but there are plenty elsewhere as well.

  • The Essex-classes in Texas, California (which I volunteer at, although admittedly school has taken a toll on that), South Carolina, and New York 
  • The Iowa sisters in California, Hawaii, Virginia, and Pennsylvania
  • Belfast in London
  • Mikasa in Yokahoma

In addition, among the war-related museums/memorial I've been to are:

  • Holocaust Memorial in Berlin
  • Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution
  • Arizona Memorial in Hawaii
  • Imperial War Museum in London

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5 minutes ago, Avenge_December_7 said:

Well, there are quite a few preserved warships around the world, a lot of them in the US, but there are plenty elsewhere as well.

  • The Essex-classes in Texas, California (which I volunteer at, although admittedly school has taken a toll on that), South Carolina, and New York 
  • The Iowa sisters in California, Hawaii, Virginia, and Pennsylvania
  • Belfast in London
  • Mikasa in Yokahoma

In addition, among the war-related museums/memorial I've been to are:

  • Holocaust Memorial in Berlin
  • Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution
  • Arizona Memorial in Hawaii
  • Imperial War Museum in London

I've been to the USS Bowfin, USS Missouri, and USS Arizona. I've also walked the flight deck on the USS Abraham Lincoln when it was in port at Norfolk, helps to have a dad that retired as an O-6, mind you this was also back before 9/11. As a kid I also got to go and see USS Midway.

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Second, Fort Canning and the Battle Box in Singapore.

Fort Canning was built in the mid-19th Century during the Colonial Era, though the area was occupied for a considerably longer period than that. All of the original fortifications have been demolished or removed, with the exception of the Main Gate (see below) and a pair of cannons.

In the lead-up to World War II Singapore was made the main base for British Operations for the Indochina area of Southeast Asia. Specifically, this was the Malaya Command and at hat time a large underground bunker was constructed on the site to serve as Headquarters Malaya Command. The bunker itself was the Headquarters Malaya Command Operations Bunker, more colloquially referred to as the Battle Box.

During the Japanese Invasion of Indochina following the attacks on Pearl Harbor and elsewhere on 7 December 1941 the Battlebox served as the Headquarters for Lt. General Arthur Percival's operations against the Japanese and the defense of "Fortress Singapore" until the defense collapsed in February 1942. The Japanese occupied the base until the end of the War. The British turned it over to the Singaporeans when they left and the Singaporean Military built their Command Staff College on the ground.

The tours are guided by someone that works at the site and they are in English (though other languages are available, I believe). You are NOT permitted to take pictures inside the Battlebox. Inside they have recreated the Fort as it appeared in late 1941-early 1942. There are wax figures, artifacts, maps, and a massive command table.

The site is, generally, friendly to those with mobility issues. It is hot and humid year-round in Singapore, bring water and a hat. The tap water in Singapore is safe to drink, honestly it's probably safer to drink than the tap water in the U.S. since they have EXCELLENT water treatment facilities on the island. There is a small Visitor's Center and Gift Shop where you sign up for the tour. If you do not take the tour you do not get to go into the Battle Box. The tour is professional, and well worth the cost. It would be worth the cost just to see the inside of the Bunker, honestly. The tickets are also quite nice and make handy bookmarks.

Sorry for the lack of pictures, you can take as many as you want of the grounds and park. But, it was rainy that day in Singapore and we didn't have a ton of time because of the weather.

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The only real war memorial I've been to of late is the Alamo in San Antonio. It was an enlightening experience; visitor automatically talk in whispers and the entire site feels hallowed. And while it was wonderful to visit the site, in a way I felt like a trespasser. I would recommend it for anyone who will be visiting the San Antonio area.

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Third, memorial to the USS South Dakota in Sioux Falls, SD.

Not the only World War II ship I've visited, but the only one I have pictures for.

Various bits and pieces of the South Dakota are preserved at the Memorial, as you can see.

The South Dakota was extremely active in the Pacific Theater, feel free to do some research. Most of the ship was scrapped following the war, but some of the pieces were saved and the concrete wall outline marks the Battleship's historical dimensions. I took a LOAD more pictures than what I posted here.

The Museum attached to the memorial is small, and a bit cramped, but it is filled with all kinds of memorabilia from the South Dakota and the war, including the Rising Sun Battle Flag from the IJN Nagato which was a very active Japanese BB during the war and Admiral Yamamoto's Flagship during the Attack on Pearl Harbor.

It's easy to walk around the area and, though a bit cramped inside the Museum, it is accommodating to people with mobility issues. There is a short video that can be watched in the small museum and a very small gift shop. They sell USS South Dakota mugs, which I often drink from when playing.

 

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What would have been amidships on the South Dakota, that building is where the museum is.

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Among the many plaques on the side of the Museum, there is one for each of the South Dakota's Battle Stars, I photographed them all but did not include the pictures here.

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This would have been the bow end of the South Dakota the concrete pilings there note where the A and B gun turrets were with mock up shells next to them in blue.

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One of the South Dakota's bow anchors of the battleship, they're enormous.

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The conning tower.

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One of the screws, this photo doesn't really illustrate accurately how bit the thing is.

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The only surviving main gun from the South Dakota.

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That was the most the wind would cooperate with me for a picture of the flag flapping.

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A much better representation of the size of the screw. The plaque mount there is about 3-4 feet in height.

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Two of the very impressive models of the South Dakota in the museum.

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Ship's bell. Please do not ring. I did not ring.

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The Nagato's battle flag, there was no way I wasn't taking a picture of that.

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Admiral Halsey's telephone when he commanded the South Dakota.

Edited by DonKarnage2
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21 hours ago, Avenge_December_7 said:

Well, there are quite a few preserved warships around the world, a lot of them in the US, but there are plenty elsewhere as well.

  • The Essex-classes in Texas, California (which I volunteer at, although admittedly school has taken a toll on that), South Carolina, and New York 
  • The Iowa sisters in California, Hawaii, Virginia, and Pennsylvania
  • Belfast in London
  • Mikasa in Yokahoma

In addition, among the war-related museums/memorial I've been to are:

  • Holocaust Memorial in Berlin
  • Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution
  • Arizona Memorial in Hawaii
  • Imperial War Museum in London

Been to the Yorktown, New Jersey, Torsk in Baltimore, Intrepid in NY. Seen Belfast but couldn't get aboard her. Pearl is on my bucket list...

 

Been to the Imperial War Museum. the Tank Museum and Fleet Air Arm Museum in the UK are really nice too.

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When I was still in service in the Marine Corps, on very rare occasions while deployed temporarily to Japan or Okinawa, the command would get the opportunity to fly guys out to visit Iwo Jima.  Last time was around for this was in the mid 2000s.  Iwo Jima is Japanese territory but it's pretty isolated out there.  There's a memorial atop Mt Suribachi for all the people that died in that battle.  It's not a typical stop for civilians.

 

I also used to be stationed on Okinawa in the mid-late 1990s, been through there several times due to Unit Deployment Programs.  The island is pockmarked in spots to remind you that a major battle took place there decades ago.  There's battlefield tours there that base Morale Welfare Recreations helped arrange.  There's caves out there and grave markers nearby.

 

I also remember when I was first stationed in Okinawa (Marine Corps Air Station Futenma) that my roommate, who was lucky and had a SOFA Driver's License and a car, drove me and our other roommate around.  He showed us around a lot of the southern part of the island, especially Naha.  We saw some good spots to frequent later.  Some good.  Some "Are we really supposed to be here?" kind of spots :Smile_teethhappy: One of the spots was a visit to Shuri Castle.  Cool spot but was saddened to learn that the original castle was destroyed during the Battle of Okinawa.  It was the HQ of the IJA forces in the defense of the island.  It's reconstructed but it's not original.

 

I also recall attending a picnic held by one of our shop's Staff Sergeant's family at Camp Kinser, Okinawa.  On a park near the housing towers and close to the waterline was where the picnic was held.  One of the things I remembered very vividly was the many signs lining close to the shoreline to not proceed past that point due to unexploded ordnance from the war.  I even saw the rusted bow of some ship sticking out of the water a few hundred yards away.

 

Anyways, if you are a person that likes beaches, go diving, the waters around Okinawa are beautiful.  Crystal clear.  A bunch of guys in my squadron at Okinawa, including my roommate with the car, took diving classes to get certified and went and got their own equipment.

 

Another place I frequented was Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.  The base is split with aviation units from both the US Marines and JSDF.  On the Marine side of the base near the barracks and base chapel, there is a hold over there to commemorate the base's WWII history.  It used to be a base for IJN aviation.  There is a small, single hardened aircraft hangar with a Zero in there as a very small exhibit.  Passed by it many times until one day I was curious enough to check it out.

 

On my first time visiting MCAS Iwakuni when I was a Corporal, one of the Sergeants in our squadron who had been to Japan many times arranged a Saturday trip out to Hiroshima to visit the sights there and see Peace Memorial Park, which was a memorial for the bomb drop in 1945.

 

The same Sergeant took us around the town of Iwakuni itself.  We rented a bunch of bicycles from MWR and he showed us around.  I still recall visiting this castle atop some hill.  We had to take some rickety gondola to get to the top, but it was well worth it.

 

Also, not a battlefield site specifically, but more of a celebration, commemoration, was in 2012 when my squadron during our deployment, visited Australia, specifically a RAAF base in Townsville in the northeast of the country.  We were there in August so the weather was very mild.  Anyways, the Aussies had an official celebration on the base.  Food, music, etc.  One of the things that was mentioned in the US-AUS history for WWII was that there used to be a ton of US military personnel in parts of Australia.  I can imagine.  Townsville was in the NE of the country.  Up north you had Port Moresby and off to the NE you had Rabaul, the Solomon Islands chain, and of course, Guadalcanal.  Coral Sea is to the northeast also.

 

There was a squadron I was with in the mid 2000s and talking to some of the guys that had been with the unit longer, they mentioned being able to have a short visit at Guadalcanal.  I was pretty jealous, would have loved to have visited Guadalcanal if even briefly.

 

Anyways, the sad part was I never had a camera most this time.  I did have one, one time in the 2000s but I was an idiot and left it in my seabag where it got crushed during unit movements.

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Some beautiful photos here guys, thank you for sharing them. Was wonderful to see these places. The only memorial I have been to is for the Titanic in Belfast. Was heartbreaking to read the letters they recovered, relive the stories of those poor people. The past is something we should respect and be more aware of. As negative as some monuments of the past were, it is important that we recognize and learn from our mistakes and previous actions

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Fourth, The Madras Maiden.

The Madras Maiden is a vintage World War II B-17 Flying Fortress, one of a handful to have been converted to a Pathfinder aircraft with special onboard radar. It is the only Pathfinder B-17 that is still in existence.

Yes, as you can see, you really can go for a ride in it. It is $450 for a 30-45 minute flight. Only 10 people and the pilot, co-pilot, and flight engineer get to go on each flight... or about what would have been the standard number of crew on a B-17 Mission. The operational cost, per hour, in fuel alone for the plane is between $4000-$5000. Additionally, any time basically anything breaks on the plane the replacement parts have to be custom machined, so they're not really making money on the operation and the group that flies it is also a non-profit. Last I knew, they were also in the process of restoring at least one other B-17, Memphis Belle I think. The point is, that the money you spend is being put to good use.

The flight is fantastic and well worth the cost. It is quite loud inside, but hearing protection is provided. For takeoff, if you're unlucky, you'll ride in the fuselage near the rear wheel. If you're quick and get on the plane fast enough though, you can ride in the cockpit behind the pilot and co-pilot or in the Radioman or Navigator's positions just behind the bomb bay. For takeoff I got the radioman's position, as you can see from the photo's below and for landing I deliberately positioned myself to be able to ride in the cockpit. I was also lucky in that one of the other people on the flight had been a bombardier on B-17's during the War. He didn't move around the plane very much, though he was pretty spry for someone his age.

Once the plane is in the air, you're free to move around and explore. The Ball Turret, Top Turret, and Tail Gunner's positions are all off limits for liability reasons. I know because the first question I asked on the tarmac was if I could spend the whole flight in the Ball Turret, I was the only one agile and small enough to have been able to fit... and it still would have been a tight fit for me. I was told no. They've also, I think, welded the Ball Turret hatch shut to keep people out of there. Then I asked about Tail Gunner, because I personally know a Tail Gunner that flew over 60 missions in Europe during the war, and was again told no. You can straight up fall out of the plane moving to the Tail Gunner's position if you're not paying attention to where you step or fall. However, you can go to the Nosegunner/Bombardier's station, cockpit, bomb bay, waist gunner's, radioman's, and navigator's positions. If you're significantly overweight, you will not be able to get to the Nose Gunner/Bombardier's positions or Cockpit. As you can see there's a squeeze there in the bomb bay and it's a tight squeeze.

They do NOT run the B-17 up to it's operational ceiling, they stay between 2500-4500 feet during the flight.

When they fire up the engines you can smell the exhaust, the plane vibrates. It's everything you want it to be, and more. It's also HOT inside the plane on the tarmac, but once you're in the air it's remarkably cool. There's a Norden Bomb Sight you can look through, very neat.

It's cramped inside the B-17, not as bad as you'd think though, and the plane is a LOT smaller than most people realize. Straight up, some of the private jets on the tarmac were physically bigger. That being said, if you have major mobility issues, you won't be able to go on the ride, but they'll still let you check out the plane from the outside.

Well worth the cost. Easily the most expensive tour I've ever done.

10/10 would do again.

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The Madras Maiden sitting on the tarmac pre-flight.

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Inside of the bomber, down at the bottom you can see the Ball Turret. They would not let me get inside. Pretty sure its welded shut.

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The Radioman's position, where I rode for takeoff. That is the real radio. It does NOT still work.

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Looking out the window, on the tarmac, from the Radioman's position.

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Looking through the bomb bay from the Radioman's position. Note, the bomb bay doors are NOT welded shut. If you drop something in there, like your keys, wait to get them until AFTER the flight.

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Spinning up engines 1 and 2.

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This is just an open hatch for air flow behind the cockpit.

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The cockpit, pilot, and co-pilot... and all the controls.

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Bombardier's position, and the Norden Bomb Sight.

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The Bombing Control Panel, I didn't test it but I assume it's NOT still hooked up to the bomb bay doors since that would be a potential liability risk.

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Looking back from the main fuselage to the Tail Gunner's position, note the rear wheel... you can see it but it's open sky under it.

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Port waist gunner's position. No, they don't stock .50 cal ammo in the guns and, one assumes, that the firing pin's have been removed. Note, Arrowhead and Kaufman Stadiums... which should tell you where I live in the U.S.

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Looking out the pilot's side window towards the airport and engines 1 and 2. I rode just behind the pilot for landing.

Edited by DonKarnage2

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Fifth, The USS Cairo Museum, located at Vicksburg National Military Park in Vicksburg, MS.

A few years ago I left a couple of days early for a cruise that was leaving out of New Orleans, just so I could see the Vicksburg Battlefield along the way. Didn't even know that the Cairo was there.

The Cairo was a City-Class armored river boat that helped the Union maintain control of the Mississippi River which effectively divided the Confederacy in two and played havoc with their supply lines. Sherman's March to the Sea also helped.

The ship was the first one in history to be sunk with a hand detonated torpedo, and it sank in 12 minutes but none of the crew were killed. In the 80's or 90's they dug it up and now its on display at Vicksburg since it was sunk during the battle.

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Entrance to the Museum.

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The Cairo in all her glory.

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The bow, and the three cannons mounted there.P1010239.thumb.JPG.e6fd0e87dfff014e866ec0c68c569349.JPG

Port bow, just in front of the entrance to the Museum, which is behind me.P1010241.thumb.JPG.756ae41cae6bd2069b49de5443254b90.JPG

Part of the engine works and wheel house. The Cairo was a steam powered paddle wheel ship.

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Cairo's boiler.

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One of the capstans and two cannons.

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Pilot House.

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Ship's Bell.

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A really nice model of what the ship looked like during the War.

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Gun port and where you go aboard the ship.

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This one is VERY picture intensive. This is just a small handful of the shots I took.

Sixth, The Fort Larned National Historic Site, in Larned, KS.

If you get a chance to go to one of these kinds of places over a major-ish Federal Holiday, like Labor Day, Memorial Day, or the Fourth of July (which is why I posted this one now), odds are good they will have all kinds of living history actors, professors, and so on around for lectures, demonstrations, and reenactments. I went to Larned over Memorial Day weekend in 2016.

The Fort itself was built along the Santa Fe Trail, to protect settlers moving west. Not here for the various debates on that, a simple recitation of why the fort was built and what was going on. Generals Winfield Scott Hancock, Phillip Sheridan, and George Armstrong Custer were at the Fort at various times during its operation and it served as the meeting site between Hancock and the Dog Soldier Chiefs of the Cheyenne Nation. It served as a sort of base camp location for Hancock during "Hancock's War" against the Cheyenne and Lakota people. The post also played a key role in the establishment of the Medicine Lodge Treaty, which was the focus of the Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock Case that was argued before the Supreme Court in 1902 and ruled on by the Court in January 1903. The Chief Justice of the Court during that time was Melville Fuller who was appointed by President Grover Cleveland and, among the cases the Fuller Court ruled on was Plessy v. Ferguson which famously upheld the "Separate but Equal" Jim Crow Laws.

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The Living History folks lowering the Flag at the end of the day.

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Front Gate Sign.

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The actual blacksmith doing a smithing demonstration and talk. Was super hot in the blacksmith's shop. But, the forge is real and it works. He was forging a chain for use somewhere on the site.

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Officer's Quarters

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Officer's wive's garden.

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Senior Enlisted Quarters.

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Replica stagecoach.

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Just a picture of the central courtyard area and some of the buildings. Smithy dead ahead, stables and armory to the right.

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Officers and Senior Enlisted quarters, main barracks and infirmary behind.

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More quarters shots. Both above and below.

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Above, we have a collection that encompasses every major rifle ever used by the United States Army or Marine Corps. Yes, there's even a Johnson Rifle in there. They had the collection and were temporarily storing it for another site that was being renovated.

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A cannon.

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Important cannon stuff.

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Yes, yes they did fire a powder charge out of that period Mountain Howitzer. Note the horse, much like a honey badger, the horse did not care about the noise.

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A platoon of re-enactors getting ready for a weapons demonstration and explaining about the rifles.

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The Infirmary and the guy that was the Doctor. He talked a good bit about the use of all kinds of things that aren't used in medicine today. He's a professor from the local college.

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Powder House? Brig? I don't remember.

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Storehouse, no those barrels aren't really full of beer. Very sad.

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Inside the Armory. The guy there is a history professor at Fort Hays State University.

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Above is a real, not a replica, Conestoga wagon that would have been (and was) used on the Santa Fe Trail.

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General Store House

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The re-enactors going to take down the flag at the end of the day. It was not windy when they started, but the wind picked up as they were lowering the flag and I was able to get one (out of about 25-30) good shot of the flag waving as it was lowered. That one good shot was the one I included above.

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229
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Beta Testers
1,485 posts
8,034 battles

I dont know if you'd consider the USS Nautilus submarine memorial a war memorial per say. The place gives a very therough rundown on the war and peactime history and science of the silent service. The museum has a few minisubs and a boat load of torpedoes. One of the submarines on display is from wartime imperial japan.

The uss Constitution museum in Boston MA is annother one. I havn't been tgere since high school but i believe she's still treated as a commissioned navy ship. Unfortunately, unlike the Nautilus museum, the Constitution is very [self] specific.

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Supertester
550 posts
5,041 battles

USS Nautilus would definitely qualify as a Military Site, it was a warship. USS Constitution is great, or so dad says. Of course, as a retired O-6 and the ship still being active duty they rolled out all the bells and whistles when he and mom went to visit.

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