For 13 years, the Airborne and Special Operations Museum has served the Fayetteville area, educating visitors about the Army’s airborne history.
The museum is designed to give visitors a self-guided tour from 1940 to the present.
On Oct. 3, ASOM will continue the mission of education by opening a new, interactive Battle of Mogadishu exhibit that represents the 1993 conflict in Somalia that inspired the book and movie, Black Hawk Down.
To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the battle, ASOM, through its exhibit will give visitors a rare look at artifacts, a replica model of a part of the city and videos.
“One of the unique things about us is we offer specialized, temporary exhibits,” said Nicole Neville Suarez, curator. “We use immersive displays to draw visitors into our exhibits with touch screen displays.”
The Battle of Mogadishu exhibit has been two years in the making from planning to actual design and execution. The finished exhibit will not only have over 60 donated artifacts on display, but will also feature videos of Soldiers and Family member, interviews.
“The videos we have bring a perspective from the Soldiers who were there, but also capture what the spouses were dealing with back home,” said Suarez. “A lot of times it is forgotten how war affects those who are at home.”
While the movie and the book, Black Hawk Down, captured some of the events that transpired, this exhibit lets visitors see pieces as they might have been used during the battle.
This exhibit tries to replicate everything from a gun market in the open streets of Mogadishu with mannequins dressed in proper attire selling their wares, to trucks with mounted machine guns used by warlords to intimidate the local populace.
“Almost everything in here has never been seen publicly,” said Jim Bartlinski, museum director. “We’ve interviewed several veterans of the battle and most of them have never had their stories told. They haven’t appeared in books, films or documentaries,” said Bartlinski.
“This is an important exhibit because Mogadishu is one of those events that significantly impacted the way the Army does things today,” said Suarez. Because of the events that took place, the Army has better urban warfare (tactics), gear and (battlefield) medical treatments.
The ASOM’s goal has been and continues to be, training and education.
“This will never be completely accurate, but it evokes a feeling,” said Suarez. “People can see what it looks like to see an arms market or a technical (improvised fighting vehicle.)”
ASOM will run the exhibit for two years starting Oct. 3.
The museum is open Fridays and Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call 643-2766.