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MILITARY MATTERS: 3rd Infantry Museum reopens in Georgia after pandemic shutdown

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 12:18 AM CDT
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HINESVILLE, Ga. (WTVM) - It was shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic for 15 months. Now, a museum, exploring rich history of a division on the front lines of both world wars, is back open, Tuesdays through Fridays in Georgia.

James Atwater is the director of the 3rd Infantry Division Museum at Fort Stewart, just southwest of Savannah. He’s spent most of the last year taking stock and waiting.

“We fall underneath what’s known as the center of military history, and they decided since we were closed to the public do complete inventories 100%, plus we were doing cleaning of exhibits, changing some exhibits around,” Atwater said.

The museum, which just reopened after shutting down for more than a year due to COVID-19, tells the story of the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Division nicknamed “Rock of the Marne.”

The museum features uniforms and weaponry of the 3rd ID from present day vehicles to the guns fired in France 100 years ago.

“Most people think we were issued with American equipment that’s actually not true. We are a lot of British and French equipment were actually issued to American forces,” Atwater said.

The 3rd ID was the only division of the U.S. Army to fight the Nazis on all fronts in World War II. The museum details the Third’s journey from Africa to Austria, and even dispels one popular narrative.

“Because of the show Band of Brothers, everyone assumes it was the 101 that took Berchtesgaden. It was not. It was actually third ID. The 101 was just sent up there after their ID was told to move forward,” Atwater said.

Perhaps the most impressive artifacts in the museum are some of the newest.

Atwater added, “They’re the ones who seized Saddam’s palaces. They pulled out gold weapons, which we have a display. Which you know, I’d always heard them I’ve never actually seen one and know that we actually have a nice sized collection of various weapons.”

While the 3rd ID gallery is the largest, the 14,000 square foot museum also focuses on the local history, including airfields in Georgia.

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