The Airborne & Special Operations Museum is again open to the public and offers two exhibits. The 13th Annual Field of Honor exhibit went up Oct. 3 and will be up for display until Nov 30., and the GWOT Memorial Flag exhibit opened Oct 13., and will run until Dec. 6.
The Field of Honor exhibit, in partnership with Cool Springs Downtown District, showcases 500 flags on display at the ASOM field, said Abbie Cashel, donor relations and event coordinator for ASOM Foundation.
“Each flag comes with a story, each dedicated to someone whether it be a service member, a veteran and this year we actually opened it up to personal heroes, people that made a positive experience during COVID-19 or just in general,” she said. The tag on each flag identifies who the flag represents and honoree information.
“We are really excited that we sold out this year, all 500 flags, that was incredible, all the great community support,” Cashel said.
The flags sold out for $35 each which will may motivate the museum to have more slots available next year.
“A lot of people come from all over to view their loved ones’ flags, it acts as a memorial for people and they also use it to honor their loved ones and their service and that's what makes it really special in the community,” she said. “It’s just a really peaceful, respectful place to view a hero.”
The Global War on Terror Memorial Flag is 28 feet wide and 6 feet tall and designed by Veterans Athletes United. The design symbolizes the shape of a flag when draped on a fallen service member’s casket.
About 7,000 dog tags form the flag, belonging to those killed in the War on Terror. The 50 gold stars on the flag represent all Gold Star families across the nation. Displayed in front of the flag is a battlefield cross sculpted from mahogany wood by female veteran artist Alicia Dietz.
The tags are in alphabetical order ranging from Sept. 11, 2001 to Dec. 31, 2019, the tags are in chronological order of the date the service member was killed in action.
“It’s a really cool piece that we have had up before and a lot of people came, it’s just another exhibit that allows people to honor and remember their loved ones,” Cashel said.
The GWOT exhibit is free to the public but the museum welcomes a $5 donation.
The museum is preparing for its next feature, the Ghost Army Exhibit :The Combat Con Artists of World War II , which will open to the public Dec. 15 and be on display until April 25, 2021.
The exhibit will highlight the story of the 23rd Headquarters Special Group, the first mobile, multimedia, tactical deception unit in U.S. Army history.
The top secret, unique “Ghost Army” was composed of 82 officers and 1,023 men and was activated Jan. 20, 1944, under the command of Colonel Harry L. Reeder.
The group was successfully capable of simulating two whole divisions, approximately 30,000 men by using visual, sonic and radio deception to fool German forces during the final year of World War II.
For more information on the exhibit visit https://www.asomf.org/event/ghost-army-the-combat-con-artists-of-world-war-ii/
The museum is open Tuesday to Friday, from 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. The ASOM is using a reservation system that helps keep capacity level in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines, but people can walk in and sign in at the front desk,
ASOM first opened its doors in 2000, and celebrates its 20th year anniversary this year, although many of the planned events were postponed due to COVID-19 and will hopefully be rescheduled for next year, she said.
“It's really a place for people to come and learn about Airborne and Special Operations and their history,” Cashel said. “Entry is free, so pretty much everyone in the community does have a chance to come and look and learn and engage with the history of past soldiers that paved the way for modern day soldiers.”
Visit https://www.asomf.org for more information about the museum.
Pictured: (Above) The 13th Annual Field of Honor will be on display until Nov. 30. (Below) The GWOT Memorial Flag is made of about 7,000 dog tags identifying those killed in service (Photos by Dylan Hooker)