Being from a military family (Air Force) and having written a book called World War II Legacies: Stories of Northeast Indiana Veterans, I am interested, along with my husband, in learning about all matters military, especially World War II.
The National Military History Center in Auburn did not disappoint us. They featured dozens of pieces of machinery, vehicles, uniforms, weapons used in World War II. The pieces were purchased from a European collector and transported to the museum for American visitors.
I had heard many vets refer during their interviews with me about the revered ‘88’s. This 88-mm gun was used by the Germans as an anti-tank, anti-aircraft, and artillery gun during World War II. This was a formidable weapon and it helped to see it first-hand to appreciate the damage it inflicted.
Another item I had wanted to see was the landing craft. Soldiers used to ride in these boats to a beach. The back end flipped down and the soldiers disembarked in water. Equipment was also carried on landing crafts. I believe they were fired on extensively during D-Day and I wonder that any soldier made it to shore without being injured.
This German half-track is also cool. Half-track means it has a track instead of a back wheel on both sides. This helped with traversing various types of terrain.
People make up the war and the museum explains the roles of famous figures like General Dwight D. Eisenhower standing here beside his car.
A poster of Rosie the Riveter represents women who helped the war effort by working in factories. She is positioned near a display that explains the tasks of women who enlisted in the branches of the war.
By its nature the museum is sobering. This was dramatically revealed to me upon viewing this mobile structure of the USS Indianapolis, an American ship which tragically sunk after being hit by a Japanese sub in July 1945. Of the 1,196 crewmen aboard, approximately 300 went down with the ship, making it the single greatest loss of life at sea in the history of the U.S. Navy.
The small display devoted to beloved Hoosier newspaper reporter Ernie Pyle is another reminder of war’s travesty. On April 18, 1945, the Pulitzer Prize–winning American journalist who believed in standing beside the soldiers in battle for his reporting was killed by an enemy sniper during the Battle of Okinawa. His death is not any worse than another but as a writer, I am saddened to think of the stories he never wrote.
There’s a sweet ‘end-of-war’ photo that brings a light touch to the subject.
After two hours, we had finished the World War II exhibits and were approaching the Vietnam era section, but decided to take a break. So much information, so little time/energy!
The museum will hopefully still be there in a few months when we return to finish the tour. The museum can be rented for large gatherings, such as receptions or parties.
National Military History Center encourages veterans to tell their stories to volunteers who will record them. Contact the museum for more information.
This museum is easily located off of I-69 in northern IN. It’s low cost is affordable to scout groups, clubs, civic groups.
Hours of Operation
Mon.-Fri: 9 am – 5 pm
Sat. & Sun: 9 am – 5 pm
Children 6-12: $6
Children under 6: Free
WWII Veteran: Free
Family (2 Adults + Dependent Children): $25
5634 CR 11A Auburn IN 46706
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