Iowa Gold Star Museum

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Saturday we took a trip to the Des Moines area.  The first place on our schedule to visit was the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum at Camp Dodge in Johnston.  The museum contains the largest military weapons collection in Iowa and is open Monday-Friday 8:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. and Saturday 10:00 to 4:00.  There is no admission fee.

We went through security at Camp Dodge, and soon realized we should have asked the guard where the museum is.  After a little wandering, we found someone who directed us down a road to the museum.  On the way, we saw national guardsmen/women training and drove past the barracks.  Later in the day we could hear target practice.  

We were greeted in the museum by a retired sergeant who had told us of his experience in the armed forces , and explained to us the meaning of the gold star.  The blue star was placed in the windows of families who had a member in the service and the gold star was for mothers whose sons had died in the service.

The first room we toured contained a gun collection.  There were revolvers, dueling pistols, flintlock pistols, anti-tank guns, rifles, mortars, incendiaries, and grenades.  

On the left you can see among others a M1917 Smith & Wesson revolver (.45 caliber, 6 shot) and a M1903 Colt .38 caliber.  On the right there's a Spanish .54 caliber flintlock pistol (1780-1850), and a German 13mm percussion dueling pistol (muzzle loader) (1830-1870).

In the next room there was a collection of civil war era lances and swords.  The Gatling Gun (above right), a forerunner of the modern machine gun, is from 1883.

There was a separate display on each war the U.S. participated in.

1917 Machine gun ammunition cart and  1898-1909 German light field howitzer

There were helicopters, a Humvee, a half-track, and a jeep. 
 A Curtis P-40 B fighter plane replica hung from the ceiling.  At the push of a button by any passerby, a sound track would play of the plane going into a dive: then lights would flash from the replica guns and you could hear them "fire."  

In the submarine room you can find controls and monitors (and an informational video) as well as a periscope which gives a view of the street outside of the building.

The display on the most recent "Global War on Terror" includes a mortar used in Afghanistan and rockets like those mounted on either side of the Cobra.

On the other side of the building there is a small room with more information on the Civil War.  There is a small room dedicated to the Iowa State Patrol with mannequins displaying the State Patrol uniforms over the years.

On the left is the original uniform (1935--why does it remind me of Sheriff Andy Taylor?) and on the left is the current Honor Guard uniform worn by Iowa State troopers.

Outside there was a Republic F-84F Thunderstreak flown by the 132nd Fighter Interceptor Wing Iowa Air National Guard from May 1969 to April 1971.  It had a maximum speed of 658 mph and a cruise speed of 539 mph.

There was quite a collection of tanks, trucks, and artillery as well as a few rockets in the field near the museum.

We wished we could have spent more time: there is so much to see!  But after a very pleasant hour we had to leave quickly.  We didn't want to be late for the chess tournament!

The Iowa Gold Star Museum is a great place to visit!  Just be sure to come when you have plenty of time to enjoy it fully.

Tomorrow read an account of the chess tournament: Des Moines Time Odds Blitz