If you are one of the hundreds of people who drive by the three-story white building on Interstate 5 between exits 120 and 119 and wondered if this historic building surrounded by military vehicles and aircraft is filled with even more interesting military and Pacific Northwest artifacts. The answer is a resounding YES!
Hello I am Master Sergeant Samantha Stryker volunteering here at the Lewis Army Museum at Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington. As a senior non-commissioned officer with 20 years of service, I have seen and worked with a lot of different service members, civilians and equipment throughout my career but one thing is true about today’s Army, it is not your fathers or grandfathers’ Army.
We could easily discuss the transformation of combat vehicles, evolution of military air support and transportation, women serving in combat jobs, the latest life and limb-saving battlefield medical procedures, secured communications equipment and uniforms. However, to understand and appreciate the latest military equipment and technology, we should look at the equipment and people that shaped the Techniques, Tactics and Procedures and best practices of today’s uniformed services. Here at the Lewis Army Museum, formerly the Fort Lewis Military Museum, visitors can do just that.
The general public is invited to view approximately 15, 000 square feet of indoor exhibits of Soldiers of the Early Pacific Northwest Gallery, Camp Lewis Gallery, the Fort Lewis Gallery, I Corps’ Gallery, Gallery of Valor, the Army Medical Gallery, Washington Territorial Gallery and Military Art Gallery. Visitors are greeted in the lobby by Army Soldiers and volunteers. There is also gift shop run by the Friend of the Fort Lewis Military Museum filled with great books, models and gifts for the whole family. Outside of the former historic Red Shield Inn building are numerous armored and tracked vehicles, aircraft, missiles and coming soon – a Stryker Combat Vehicle.
This is not just a collection of military memorabilia, the Lewis Army Museum offers a unique learning experience. Every week community groups, school-age classes, ROTC and JROTC classes and National Guard and Reserve units visit and learn about Captain Meriwether Lewis’ expedition to the region and about our nation’s defenders from the 1800’s thru World Wars I and II, the Korean War Era, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War to today’s modern war fighters. Museum Director Erik Flint and Curator Heidi Pierson, illustrator and historian Allan Archambault, historian and archivist Sythnia Santos and a few volunteers travel to events such as TankFest Northwest at the Flying Heritage Collection in Everett, www.flyingheritage.com Fort Nisqually Living History Museum in Tacoma www.metroparkstacoma.org/fort-nisqually-living-history-museum and Crater Lake Elementary School, a Clover Park District school located on post in order to take history to tomorrow’s leaders.
So the next time you find yourself in stop-and-go traffic on Interstate 5 between exit 122 and the Nisqually Bridge, make your way to exit 120 and visit the Lewis Army Museum. I guarantee you will learn something and take home an appreciation of our nation’s and regions past and future.
The museum is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm and closed on all federal holidays. Visitors without military credentials will require a base pass in order to visit. Procedures for obtaining a base pass can be found at the following JBLM visitor’s information page: http://www.lewis-mcchord.army.mil/des. For more information call 253-967-7206.