The Ordnance Museum is a non-profit organization, which many people may already know, but what most museum-goers do not realize is that every item on display was manufactured, stored, or tested here.

The museum is run by Herman Millsap, an Oak Ridge, Tenn. native, who has worked at Hawthorne Army Depot for over 42 years.

A quiet, mild-mannered man with many years of experience behind him, he opens his museum to the public free of charge. He knows everything about the museum, about Hawthorne and the base here.

He awaits the visitors, and when they arrive, they are introduced to the needle pin. The needle pin represents the individual visitor and is placed on a map of the U.S., depicting the visitor's hometown. The map, which is located at the front of the museum, is covered with hundreds of pins. Most come from Nevada, California, and Washington, but others scatter across the United States. Remarkably, the visitors are not strictly from the U.S.; people from Mexico, Europe, and Asia also come to this small town of Hawthorne, also known as America's Patriotic Home.

Hawthorne was given this name because the entire town and its citizens, like Mr. Millsap, have dedicated their lives to serving the military. Hawthorne is mostly known for its compound Hawthorne Army Depot, and more specifically for its demilitarization site.

Demilitarizing ammunition means to render weapons, i.e. munitions, ordnance, and warheads for rockets inert and unserviceable. For three weeks in the month of July, the Army Reserve, Marines and Navy all worked together during the recent Golden Cargo exercise. The annual training exercise consists of transporting millions of munitions across various states in the U.S. Hawthorne Army Depot served as one of the most important sites for this exercise.

All of the artifacts in the museum come from Hawthorne Army Depot. The museum educates the public, especially visitors from out of town, about what the civilians and the military do here.

A journey into the Hawthorne Ordnance Museum is an awe-inspiring journey through
multiple generations of ordnance history. To the right of the store stands a majestic blue-colored 1950s torpedo, officially known as an anti-submarine rocket. In front of this rocket is a glass-wall case of small arms ammunition from WWII to Vietnam. Behind that is a military Jeep, one
resembling the very Jeep made famous from the TV show, M.A.S.H.

Further into the museum, the time continuum continues. Old uniforms from the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, and Navy are on display in a glass case and dress the museum walls. Most notable are the old leather jumpsuit and the black and white photographs of servicemembers, especially female Soldiers during the 1950s.

The museum provides a link between military and ammunition from all eras of military history. In a time when many families have had a loved one deploy to Iraq of Afghanistan, this museum caters to all servicemembers throughout all generations and authenticities. Hawthorne Ordnance Museum really established Hawthorne as America's Patriotic Home.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16