Idaho Museums (Military History)
If you are a history buff, Idaho is a great place for you to be. A lot has happened in Idaho’s borders, and a lot of it has had a lasting effect on the country or world as a whole. For example, the Oregon Trail passed through many states and territories that would become states, but it had a lot of principle stops and river crossings in Idaho. Beyond all the history that happened in Idaho, there are a ton of places you can go in Idaho and learn about general history that occurred throughout the United States and the world. One such place you go to to learn more is the Idaho Military History Museum, which you can find right next to Gowen Field, a piece of history itself. This museum has a ton of different objects and information on both Idaho’s involvement in the military and the general course and facts of different wars abroad (And their effects at home).
There is a lot of cool stuff to check at the Idaho Military History Museum. A lot of their exhibits focus on smaller details of the different wars the United States has been involved in. There are different uniforms that were worn in the different branches of the United States Military across the years, important figures on display with pictures and little facts about what they have done in the past, and what kind of gear soldiers and military personnel were wearing at the time. Naturally, you can check out a lot of the different weapons that have been used in the past, including both small arms that infantry brought into combat and larger vehicles that served as weapons, with replicas (Life size or built to scale) and the original vehicles that might have seen combat or operated at the time. A neat weapon in their collection is the standard issue rifle of World War 2 United States infantry, the M1 Garand, which is famous for its 8-round clip that made a distinctive pinging noise when all of the bullets in the gun were fired and the clip was launched out of the gun. You may check out a large collection of the different medals that soldiers have been able to earn over the years, including an exhibit dedicated solely to the Idahoan members of the military that have been given the Medal of Honor, and little bits of information on who they were and how they managed to earn the medal.
For many, the main event will probably be the full-sized vehicles and vehicle trainers that the museum has on display, both on the inside and the outside. There are many different tanks and transport vehicles and other vehicles that filled important rolls for different wars. On the inside of the museum, you can find a cockpit simulator for both the F-4 Phantom and the F-16 Fighting Falcon, both jet aircraft that have seen use in the last fifty years. The F-4 Phantom was one of the first jets in the United States Air Force to truly embrace the idea of air to air missile combat. Before the F-4, planes would often get into dogfights like you may have seen in movies and war footage, but as missile technology became more advanced and understood, it was realized that it might be possible to avoid this kind of combat all together and that a missile could destroy an enemy plane before it ever came into visual range. In such a case, the pilot of the F-4 might never be in any serious danger. This was not ultimately the right idea, as planes designed for air to air combat have since continued to be outfitted with machine gun cannons designed to shoot down other aircraft. The F-16 is a more modern jet which saw quite a lot of use in Desert Storm. You might have come across images of the plane flying in wings of three or four to a backdrop of oil fields burning. Such pictures are iconic for the conflict. For both of these aircraft, you can get a small part of what it feels like to be a pilot of a highly advanced jet. Of course, it is not the full experience, but it is as close as you can get in an airconditioned museum.
Some of the cool vehicles they have on the outside are the M113 Armored Personnel Carrier, which is basically just a little metal box on a set of tracks. The M113 is one of the most popular military vehicles in the world. It is still used today, despite being quite old, by several militaries, and has been used at one point or another by forty plus countries. It is a very modular vehicle and has been made to use a lot of different variants. You can put a heavy machine gun on top. You can hollow out a hole in the middle and place a mortar (A portable artillery weapon) in the back so that the mortar can be moved from place to place quickly and still be safe from most danger (Incidentally, the museum has this particular variant as well, known as the M106 Mortar Carrier). What will really excite you are the tanks. The museum has an M4A3 Sherman, which was the main battle tank for the United States and several other Allied countries during World War 2. Nazi Germany was well known for its tanks that dominated the battlefield, but the Sherman gave them good competition. Today, the United States uses the M1 Abrams as its main battle tank and the museum has an M1IP Abrams tank which was an early test variant of the vehicle.