Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 38
COURTESY CURRAHEE MILITARY MUSEUM
An exhibit at the Currahee Military Museum
in Toccoa pays tribute to Lt. Gen. Robert
Frederick Sink, who commanded the 506th
Parachute Infantry Regiment through most
of World War II. He was portrayed in the
television miniseries "Band of Brothers" by
retired U.S. Marine Capt. Dale Adam Dye Jr.
our country. It honors them and the
families they leave behind," he says.
National Infantry Museum & Soldier
Fort Benning was the inspiration
for city leaders in Columbus to build
a signature museum to honor the
infantry's legacy and the valiant sacrifice of America's foot soldier, says
Greg Camp, retired Army colonel and
president of the National Infantry
Museum Foundation. "They told us to
think big," he says.
Fundraising and a public/private partnership between the U.S.
Army and the foundation created the
$100 million, 190,000-square-foot
facility. Opened in June 2009, it has
hosted 2.5 million visitors.
"Classes from Fort Benning hold
graduations on our parade grounds
and bring their families to the museum to see the legacy they have
joined," Camp says.
The museum includes interactive and immersive exhibits; fully
preserved World War II-era bar38
racks, mess hall, orderly room, supply room, chapel, sleeping quarters
and headquarters; a Memorial Walk
of Honor; a Vietnam Memorial Plaza; and, most recently, a memorial
to those lost fighting terrorism. (See
"Honoring the fallen" on page 8.)
USA Today has voted it the No. 1 best
free museum in America.
"The signature exhibit is The
Last 100 Yards, the part of any battle fought by the infantry. Its sloping
ramp depicts life-size dioramas of
American battles through the centuries, starting with Yorktown [during
the Revolutionary War]," Camp says.
Other galleries immerse visitors
in the types of fighting found during
World War II, Vietnam and other conflicts.
"We use thousands of artifacts
and multimedia to bring the stories
to life," he says.
He remembers two high-ranking
officers who had fought in three wars
hitting the ground when the sounds
of a firefight broke out in the Vietnam exhibit.
Camp believes that the exhibits give people a better understanding of the role of the infantry and
show them that freedom isn't free. "It
warms our heart to see veterans come
in. It's emotional, but they are doing
what they all said they'd do: They're
remembering their comrades."
Currahee Military Museum, Toccoa
Currahee, an Indian word that
means "stands alone," became the
battle cry for a new type of soldier
during World War II: the American
paratrooper. Between 1942 and 1945,
17,000 soldiers of the 501st, 506th,
511th and 517th Parachute Infantry
Division trained on hikes and runs
"3 miles up, 3 miles down" Currahee
Mountain in Toccoa.
Located in the restored train depot in Toccoa, the Currahee Military
Museum tells the story of the original
6,000 paratroopers who jumped from
airplanes-often behind enemy lines
in Europe and the Pacific-during
World War II as well as those who
More online at www.georgiamagazine.org
"You can't imagine what these
troops meant to the people in Europe
under the Nazi occupation," says
Brenda Carlan, executive director.
She recounts a favorite story of
a young girl in Europe in 1944, who
described the paratroopers' arrival as
"these mushrooms [that] fell from the
sky. They landed, grew legs and ran
away. Everything got better from that
Carlan calls the three-building
depot museum a "mom-and-pop" operation, because there is no government funding.
"We don't have a lot of fancy
electronics, but what we do have are
authentic artifacts that you can touch
and feel to understand history. We are
more interested in sharing the stories
than the statistics," she says.
A standout exhibit is an English
stable that was one of hundreds used
to house American troops before DDay.
"We raised the funds to move it
here and fixed up the stalls like the
Army had them," Carlan says.
The museum opened in 2006,
and more visitors and veterans come
every year. The current number is
about 18,000 per year.
"I don't think the 'Band of Brothers' producers know we exist, but
that show really boosted interest in
Currahee," Carlan says.
The camp was abandoned in
1945, but since 2011, the Camp Toccoa at Currahee nonprofit organization has been raising funds to rebuild
the camp gate and other buildings.
"If you respect something, you
preserve it," Carlan says. "I feel like
we're racing against time. If our generation doesn't pass history on to the
next, we're all in trouble."
Laura Raines is a freelance writer who lives in Mableton. Her feature
stories have appeared in local and
regional newspapers and magazines.
To learn about more military
museums and attractions in
see the bonus online
web exclusive Georgia,
content on page 38A of this month's
digital edition at georgiamagazine.org.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - January 2018
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 3
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 5
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 6
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 7
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 8
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 9
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 10
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 11
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Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 26A
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 26B
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 26C
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 26D
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Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 38
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 38A
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 38B
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Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 48A
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 48B
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Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 50A
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 50B
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - Cover3
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - Cover4