USTRANSCOM artifacts offer education in transportation history
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. – There is a very special place connecting U.S. Transportation Command’s Buildings 1900 East and 1900 West.
Known as the second floor breezeway by many, it is also a museum of transportation history, and contains artifacts worthy of closer examination by the workers who rush past them every day. In fact, similar displays abound throughout the command.
“The displays and framed items are designed to educate the viewer on the history and lineage of the services and the history and mission of USTRANSCOM,” said Peg Nigra, staff historian. “Most of the pictures and artifacts are of military transportation or scenes from military history.”
Items in the breezeway include a propeller from a De Havilland 4 (DH4) which is on loan from the National Museum of the Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; a ship’s wheel came from the USS Tappahannock which was once displayed in the Secretary of the Navy’s office; and an ox bow, ox shoes and a wagon wheel circa 1860.
“The décor contributes in a number of ways,” Nigra said. “The obvious is to make this a nice place to work. It is a morale issue. It also contributes to the joint experience.”
U.S. Navy Cmdr. Mark Wheeler is a fan of the displays.
“I’m amazed at all the really interesting and amazing photos and drawings on display,” Wheeler said. “The collection is some of the finest I have seen anywhere. Whoever manages the headquarters artwork deserves a big thank you for taking the time to give it their very best effort.”
According to Nigra, items on the first floor of Building1900 East specifically illustrate USTRANSCOM’s link to military logistics history. The command celebrates the 25-year anniversary later this year.
“The displays show were we are, where, we’ve been and where we are going,” Nigra said.
Larger artifacts can be found outside, in the Transportation Plaza.
“The plaza is dedicated to the men and women of the U.S. Transportation Command and its components,” said Dr. Jay Smith, command historian. “The displays represent land, sea, and air transportation and the services.
“Our newest display is the anchor from the USNS Paul Buck,” Smith continued. “The ship’s screw, or propeller, is from a World War II Victory ship and weighs 34,000 pounds. The truck display represents the land mode of transportation and the Army.”
There is also a traffic light from the 1960s, a directional sign which shows the distance from Scott Air Force Base to various airports and seaports and probably the most unusual item, a KC-135 refueling boom.
If you ever have a desire to visit the past but don’t have a great deal of time, take a stroll around USTRANSCOM where you can actually touch history.
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