History in our backyard

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Among the maps, photos, records, and historical documents in the museum, one can find artifacts collected from a B-29 that crashed off the end of the runway in April, 1945.
Among the maps, photos, records, and historical documents in the museum, one can find artifacts collected from a B-29 that crashed off the end of the runway in April, 1945.

History in our backyard

by: Tara Simpson | .
Stripes Guam | .
published: July 19, 2012

Heritage Hall Museum on Andersen Air Force Base celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. The museum and its volunteers continue to educate visitors about the pivotal role the 13th Air Force and Andersen serve in ensuring peace in the Pacific.

Housed in the base air terminal, the museum is open seven days a week allowing visitors to go on a self-guided tour of the illuminating exhibits that chronicle the functions of Andersen in World War II and Vietnam. The numerous maps, mission outlines, and photographs on display offer a vivid glimpse of the former North Field’s past.

A deeper understanding and appreciation of the museum can be gained by spending an afternoon with the chief volunteer, Chuck McManus. Working with Heritage Hall founder and former Base Operations Officer, Lt. Col. Don Cann, McManus spent two years collecting materials and preparing exhibits. His knowledge of Pacific War history and firsthand experience in Vietnam ensure he offers visitors an insightful and expansive perspective of the exhibits.

Heritage Hall is in its third home. It started in Building 21000 then was moved to the Airman Leadership School. The close proximity to the school was great for allowing leadership classes to conduct museum tours. McManus gave lectures to classes there.

Eventually the museum was moved to its current location in the air terminal. This location has the benefit of attracting visitors who are passing through Andersen and also folks assigned to Guam. McManus is most impressed with visitors who want to learn about Andersen’s history.

“People who come to the museum are very favorably impressed with what we have to show,” he said.

Among the stirring displays at the Heritage Hall are parts of the wreckage of a B-29 that went down in April 1945. After dropping its bombs on a mission near Saipan, it turned back to land at North Field. In addition to lining up on the wrong runway, the pilot came in too steep and too fast. The only survivor of the crash was the 458th Squadron gunnery officer tail gunner. Salvaged parts of that B-29 can be viewed at the museum as well as the Ocean Conference Center on Andersen.

The Heritage Hall Museum not only details Andersen’s contributions in times of war but also in humanitarian missions. It therefore helps people to understand the base’s past and present global impact.

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