The National Museum of the Pacific War is a must see for World War II veterans, history buffs, and veterans’ families. This world class museum is located not in Pearl Harbor, but in landlocked Fredericksburg, Texas. Surprising until you learn Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz was born in this small Texas Hill Country town.
The National Museum of the Pacific War, newly expanded in December 2009, boasts a six acre campus. The main museum complex deftly tells the Pacific wartime story with artifacts, memorabilia, photographs and video. Unlike other World War II museums, the National Museum of the Pacific War devotes considerable exhibit space to set the historic stage describing Russian, Japanese, Chinese and American actions leading up to war’s outbreak.
The museum illustrates the war’s progress in exacting detail. You’ll learn about the famous and the obscure – from the Doolittle Raid to Operation Good Time in the Treasury Islands. Operation Toe Nail gets my vote for the most interesting titled campaign. News clips are interspersed with veteran interviews describing actual battles. Diaries, uniforms, pictures, propaganda posters – it’s all there. This muti-media approach makes what would otherwise be just a history lesson into an emotion-packed, personal experience. In addition to smaller artifacts, the National Museum of the Pacific War houses larger items like a Wildcat F4F and the two-man Japanese submarine grounded on Oahu following the Pearl Harbor attack. The museum provides us with an objective look at the Pacific War – the sacrifices, the heroism and the brutality. It honors all who served and attempts to bridge the past to the present.
Additionally, the National Museum of the Pacific War offers living history programs at its Pacific Combat Zone site located a few blocks from the main museum campus. A schedule for the reenactments can be found at the museum’s website. While there, be sure to visit the co-located exhibit about Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz and learn how a farm boy who wanted to go to West Point became one of our nation’s greatest admirals. The National Museum of the Pacific War is located at 340 East Main Street in Fredericksburg Texas – about 75 miles outside of Austin, Texas.
For those wanting to continue their World War II experience, I highly recommend a stay at the Hangar Hotel (155 Airport Road, Fredericksburg). A converted hangar on the edge of Gillespie County Airport houses this elegantly simple hotel. Large ceiling fans, antique switchboard and palm trees greet guests as they check in. Off the hotel lobby is the Officer’s Club open weekends. Staying at the Hangar Hotel is like stepping back in time to a World War II Bachelor Officer Quarters. Rooms are furnished in rusty reds, mossy greens and rich browns. Weathered leather chairs, vintage style dresser and armoire outfit the room. Every detail, from drapery pattern to reproduction phone transport you back in time. The black and white tiled bathroom completes the setting. There is even a green, wool army blanket on the bed. The room television is the only concession to the 21st century. Advance reservations are a must for the Hangar Hotel which has been designated a Texas Top Ten hotel. Contact the hotel at (830) 997-9990 or at their web site.