The Texas National Guard fought in every theater of World War II. Although the role of the 36 th Infantry Division in Europe usually garners the most attention, the Texas Guard units that fought in the Pacific made equally outstanding records. This exhibit in the museum’s Great Hall focuses on the history of the 112th Cavalry Regiment and the 124th Cavalry regiment. Serving under General Douglas MacArthur in the Southwest Pacific, the 112th fought its way from New Britain, through New Guinea into the Philippines and was among the first units to occupy Japan . The 124th served in the China-Burma-India Theater of War, making an epic march through mountainous jungles before fighting a vicious battle to drive the Japanese off the Burma Road. Dramatic photographs, displays of weapons, bugles, saddles, radios and other objects used by the two regiments from the 1930s through World War II highlight the exhibit, alongside a 75mm pack howitzer and full scale examples of the uniforms and equipment of mounted Texas Cavalrymen at the start of the war.
The 2nd Battalion of the 131st Field Artillery was shipped to the Pacific at the start of World War II, captured when Java fell to the Japanese, and then disappeared into the Hell of Japanese prisoner of war camps in Burma and Japan . The horrors these soldiers endured while being used as slave labor to construct the infamous “railway of death” and the bridge over the river Kwai is meticulously recounted.
Outdoor exhibits display a remarkable collection of tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery, self-propelled guns, engineer vehicles, helicopters and jet fighters. These exhibits are located around the museum itself and on the parade ground of Camp Mabry.
On Armor Row you will stand in front of: an MGR-1B Honest John tactical nuclear missile; M24 Chaffee light tank; M26 Pershing tank; M48 Patton tank; M60, M60A1 and M60A3 Patton tanks; M1 Abrams tank; M577A2 Command Post Carrier; M75, M59, M113A2 Armored Personnel Carriers; M84 Mortar Carrier; M114 Command and Reconnaissance Carrier; M901A1 Improved TOW Anti-tank Combat Vehicle; M106A1 Mortar Carrier; M981 Fire Support Team Vehicle (FIST-V); LT-LB Soviet Multi-purpose Tracked Vehicle captured in Operation Desert Storm; M578 Light Recovery Vehicle; M919 Mobile Concrete Truck; M105A2, M149A2 and XM107E1 trailers; M728 Combat Engineer Vehicle (CEV) and a D7F Bulldozer.
Along Artillery Park you’ll see: an M7 Priest self-propelled gun from WWII and an M7B1 from the Korean War; a M56 “Scorpion” self-propelled gun; M42 “Duster” self-propelled AA gun; M110A2 8-inch self-propelled heavy howitzer; M108 self-propelled howitzer; M44 self-propelled howitzer; French 75mm mountain howitzer; M101 105mm U.S. howitzer; American M5A1 3-inch anti-tank gun; German 10.5 cm light field howitzer; M1A1 4.5-inch Field Gun (U.S.) and a Soviet M1938 122mm howitzer.
Visit the parade ground to see: an F-16, F-86D “Saber” fighter jet; an F4C Phantom II fighter-bomber; an AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter; UH-1M and UH-1H Huey utility helicopters; an M2 155mm “Long Tom” gun (U.S.) from WWII and a Soviet M1946 130mm Field Gun captured in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm.
The Great Hall showcases many of the museum’s large artifacts, with vehicles ranging from horse-drawn wagons used in 1901 through the World Wars, the Cold War and the War on Terror. Also found in the Great Hall are exhibits on the Texas National Guard in the Pacific Theater of World War II.
Among the artifacts on display are: a Model 1901 Escort Wagon; model 1917 machine gun carts; an M3A1 Stuart Tank; an M4A3 (105) Sherman Tank; an M4 Halftrack, a Kiowa Helicopter; a Cold War-era Mess Truck; L4 Piper Cub Observation Plane; an OH 23 “Raven” helicopter; the entire family of jeeps from World War II through the Cold War; a staff car used by the Adjutant General of Texas throughout the 1970s and 80s; Russian, Japanese, German and Italian anti-aircraft guns; an M29 Weasel; several WWII era German vehicles including a kubelwagens, a SdKfz 251 halftrack, and a “Hetzer” jagdpanzer 38.
In addition to all the exhibits and equipment we have inside the Texas Military Forces Museum we have over 1 acre of historic vehicles and equipment outside on Armor and Artillery Row or out by the Parade Field ( what you see from MOPAC). This equipment after years of being subjected to the brutal Texas weather, needs some TLC and we have been working on getting that started in the last year.
The 4 pieces of armor up above are getting ready for the move to M.A.T.E.S in Waco for restoration! The M113’s and M114’s vehicles date to the 1960-70 time frame and probably haven’t had a paint job in 30+ years. One the restoration is complete they will return to Armor Row.
This is part of an ongoing project in which soldiers here at Camp Mabry’s shop or at the machine shop in Waco are working to restore all of our outdoor equipment. They have already worked to restore the Chaffee
and the Duster
The M1 Abrams will also be headed to M.A.T.E.S with the M113/M114s next week. We hope to have all of the outdoor equipment restored or at least repaired and repainted in the next 2 years.
The story of the Texas Navy is one of the most compelling yet unknown sagas in the history of the Lone Star State. Created in the throes of revolution, the First Texas Navy played a vital role in helping Texas win her independence from Mexico. The Second Texas Navy was one of the most active military elements of the Republic of Texas – its actions highlighting the struggles of a young country trying to maintain its sovereignty and establish itself among the family of nations. Despite this, the story of the Texas Navy is not generally known. Moreover, it is mentioned only in passing in our schools and receives scant attention in other venues. A few museums around the state, mostly along the coast, have minor exhibits on the Texas Navy. Generally speaking, however, it is treated as a sidebar.
The Texas Military Forces Museum has changed that fact.
In November 2013 the museum opened a major expansion, renovation and redesign of its 19th Century gallery. Among the features of this new 3,600-square foot gallery is a dramatic exhibit highlighting the role that both the First and Second Texas Navy played in the early years of the Republic. The exhibit – funded by the Texas Military Forces Historical Foundation and the Texas Navy Association (www.texasnavy.org ) – is experiential and allows visitors to stroll up a gangplank onto a replicated ship’s deck and view a recreated bulkhead, complete with a cannon on a naval gun carriage “run out” and ready to fire through its gun port. The cannon is a replica of the famous “golden standard” which was captured from the Mexican Army at San Jacinto and turned over to the Texas Navy afterwards. A similar bulkhead, minus the cannon, graces the wall on the opposite side of the room. Large format exhibit panels detailing the history of the Texas Navy are mounted on the surrounding walls.
In many ways the heart of the museum, this gallery covers the story of the 36th Infantry Division from its creation in July 1917 to its reorganization in 1968 and reactivation in 2004. The role of the division in World War I and World War II are extensively covered. Galleries are under construction through 2019.
Among the many highlights in this gallery are:
an exhibit telling the story of the Choctaw Code-talkers of World War I
A complete field surgeons kits used by Captain William H. Ogden while serving with the division in the First World War
uniforms and weapons used by American Doughboys during World War I
dioramas depicting the 36th Division’s amphibious assault at Salerno, Italy, the battle of the Rapido River, and the breakout from the Anzio beachhead at Velletri
a display commemorating members of the division who earned the Medal of Honor during World War II
uniforms, weapons and radio equipment used by American GIs during World War II
film footage of the Battle of San Pietro;
the regimental silver of the 142nd Infantry Regiment — made out of silver objects looted by the Nazis and captured by the regiment when it overran a German supply convoy late in the war;
souvenirs brought home by members of the division including:
a wooden Nazi eagle taken from Fishorn castle were the 36th Division took the surrender of Hermann Goring,
a cap belonging to Field Marshall Erwin Rommel. Which was found in Rommel’s home when it was used as a battalion headquarters by the 141st Infantry Regiment
A silver presentation piece presented to Max Amin, publisher of Mein Kamp and Nazi Party member number 3, on his 50th birthday;