"The Last 100 Yards"
A scene from "The Last 100 Yards" depicts infantry Soldiers serving in Operation Iraq Freedom. The Bradley Fighting Vehicle used for this life-size exhibit came from the 4th Infantry Division after being damaged during combat operations in Iraq.

FORT BENNING, Ga. -- The Countdown to the "green" opening of the new National Infantry Museum continues while the number of artifacts being transferred from the old museum continues to dwindle, said Mike Criscillis, museum curator.

"We're wrapping up our portion here with the last remaining artifacts to go on exhibit," he said. "We are down to about 50 pieces or so. The first installment of putting the exhibits in the exhibit cases started Monday and we're working long hours to get the artifacts installed so we can meet the green opening on the 19th of June."

During the next few weeks, Criscillis said his crew will put the finishing touches on many of the exhibits and likened it to detailing a car.

"You have a Cadillac here, so it's like detailing that car on the assembly line," he said. "We are still detailing the figures and putting the final touches on them and getting ready to install them. We are finishing up on the Bradley ... hopefully the things that need to be done on it will be done in the next week ... things like tie-down straps, antennas, hand mics, ammo cans and things like that. Just little odds and ends ... we're getting close."

Authenticity in the exhibits is key, Criscillis said.

"Small things like binoculars, uniform items and insignia ... a lot of small stuff ... but people expect accuracy as much as we do. When you put a uniform on a figure we want to make sure we are accurate. We have to do a lot of research to make sure we are accurate."

Sometimes, replicas are used, like a World War II telephone, but Criscillis said he identifies them as replicas on the display.

When the doors of the gallery open, there will be a few surprises, Criscillis said.

"I don't want to give away all the key elements," Criscillis said. "We will have some of the Medal of Honor recipients items in there.

"A lot of stuff we pulled out of our artifacts hasn't been on display (before). So, I am not going to say what they are. We are going to do a hunt, a treasure hunt, to see what they can find what they haven't seen on display before.

"It's really an exciting time."

The museum is located off of Fort Benning Road at 1775 Legacy Way, approximately two miles south of Victory Drive and outside the access control points of Fort Benning. The museum is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. World War II Street, Imax Theater, Soldier Store gift shop and Fife and Drum restaurant are open to the public. Admission is free.

Page last updated Fri May 15th, 2009 at 12:00