U.S. Army Transportation Museum Fort Eustis, VA (Newport News)
After cussing you out, an Army drill sergeant will relentless pound a message into your head. Keep moving soldier! Well, it’s a message not lost on anyone in the military — mobility is essential to an army and this six-acre museum explains how our U.S. Army uses every possible air, sea, land, and rail transportation assets to keep its soldiers moving. It’s an interesting story with an unusual assortment of objects not all of them usually associated with the Army.
Your visit to the Transportation Museum starts in the 1950s-looking red brick building where you will find dozens of dioramas explaining the many unusual ways the Army Transportation Corps has moved men and material. For instance, in 1944, just days after D-Day, Army tugboats – yes, Army tugboats — were used to position the coastal breakers called Mulberries off the Normandy coast of France. The Mulberries only lasted a few days – a terrific storm blew them apart – but during those critical days they performed spectacularly allowing cargo ships to dock and unload supplies for our troops. How about an Army train that supplied the city of Berlin with food, coal and other necessities during the Cold War? Did you know that the Transportation Corps had Gun Trucks, too? Gun Trucks were like the Gatlin gun-totting AC-130 Puff The Magic Dragons aerial gunships – they were trucks bristling with guns that were placed in supply convoys in Vietnam to lay down fire if convoys were attacked. The one on display here was known as Eve of Destruction (the soldiers painted names on their trucks like pilots did on their planes) and it is one of the few left today.
Now head out to the vehicle park for a kaleidoscope of shapes and sizes. The park is divided into four pavilions one each for land, sea, rail, and air transportation. In the shed dedicated to wheeled vehicles you’ll see rows and rows of Jeeps and the many variations and modifications made to them. Perhaps more impressive is the rugged 6×6 wheeled transporter displayed with an M4 Sherman tank mounted on its back. Beyond that is an even larger and quite ominous looking 8×6 wheeled transporter (seemingly out of the Terminator) with an M60 Patton tank. . More to today’s war on terror, the third transporter here is a 6×8 with one of the new, heavily armored Mine Resistant Ambush Protected MRAP vehicles (they replaced Humvees).
In the aviation section there are a few fixed wing aircraft like the Caribou small cargo plane, plus numerous helicopters. There is the futuristic-looking heavy lifter that wraps its steel legs around an object called a CH-54 Skycrane helicopter—and a small, one man helicopter called an Aerocycle. There are tried and true helicopters like the Huey, the Choctaw and the Chinook, but also failures like the H-25 Mule, a twin bladed helicopter. The black-and-gold Blackhawk was assigned to the Military District of Washington, D.C. The Transportation Corps also took care of dignitaries.
Further down the path is the train shed where you’ll find an assortment of locomotives, utility cars, and boxcars. One of the locomotives was designed for narrow gauge track, another was built not to ride our own rails but to move supplies across the tracks of a post-WWII Europe. As many as a dozen other railroad cars are exhibited, odd ones, many to repair tracks, others to move goods.
The watercraft area is next. The largest boat here is the LARC — the Light Amphibious Resupply Cargo vehicle used for beach supply in Vietnam. It can carry no less than five tons. Around it are an assortment of experimental designs including an amphibious car, and several service boats like tugs, barges, and J-boats (J-boats were shaped like patrol boats but for were used to transport supplies on rivers).
There is a small gift shop here and a full tour will take you about two hours. And note this: A third of the visitors here will be soldiers. Soldiers brought here to appreciate the extremes the U.S. Army Transportation corps will go to get their mission done, which is why a visit here makes for a fascinating destination for all of us.
Guided tours are available but they require advance reservations.
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 9am – 4:30pm
Closed: Sunday, MondayVisit museum website