FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- The U.S. Army Basic Combat Training Museum, previously known as the Fort Jackson Museum, reopened its doors on July 1, 2011, after an extensive two-year renovation project. Recently, the museum celebrated its first anniversary since the reopening.

In the past year, the Basic Combat Training Museum has seen more than 50,000 visitors come through its doors, including U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint, U.S. Rep. Buck McKeon from California, and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler.

The majority, about 75 percent, of the museum's patrons are friends and families of Basic Combat Training graduates who visit the museum on Family Day. The museum averages more than 860 visitors on Family Day. On other days of the week, the museum welcomes an average of more than 50 visitors a day. They include students, veterans, local citizens and tourists.

With more than 7,000 visitors, August was the busiest month for the Basic Combat Training Museum since its reopening. The busiest single day for the museum was March 14, a Family Day for the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, with more than 1,500 visitors.

"Probably the most exciting event at the museum this year was the kick-off celebration of the Month of the Military Child, " said Julie Fishel, museum specialist.

On April 9, the museum invited 500 students from Fort Jackson's two elementary schools to learn from active-duty Soldiers about the basics of drill and ceremony and the history of the Army's training program.

"Everyone had a really great time, and the museum was able to honor all the kids here at Fort Jackson for their sacrifices," Fishel said.

In addition to the regular exhibits located at the museum, the Basic Combat Training Museum has also focused on reviving their heritage month displays used by various groups around base.

New displays currently available upon request concentrate on the history of women in the Army, the history of Asian/Pacific- Americans in the Army, the Month of the Military Child and the Army Birthday.

"We want to reach out to the Fort Jackson community and to the Columbia area," said Henry Howe, museum director. "In addition to the heritage month displays that we will continue to improve in the upcoming year, we are working to set up travelling exhibits in locations all around Columbia that reveal the role of Fort Jackson in the Army for the past century."

These new exhibits will complement the temporary exhibit already in place at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport that addresses the training of Soldiers during World War I and Camp Jackson's role in that effort.

The Basic Combat Training Museum is an official Army museum. The museum's 7,500-plus square feet of exhibit space are dedicated to telling the story of how training in the Army has developed since 1917 when Fort Jackson, then known as Camp Jackson, first opened. Through the museum's galleries visitors follow the schedule of Basic Combat Training, learning along the way how the separate elements of training have evolved since World War I.

The museum is free and open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. On Family Days, the museum hours are extended from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. to accommodate the friends and family members of Basic Combat Training graduates at Fort Jackson. For more information, call 751-7419.

Page last updated Wed July 25th, 2012 at 00:00