Museum staffs portray historic Army
January 17, 2013
FORT SILL, Okla.-- Employees and volunteers from Army Field Artillery and Air Defense Artillery museums braved a frigid north wind to revive soldiering skills and weapons from the nation's past wars Jan. 5 at Fort Sill.
The reenactors, dressed in uniforms depicting the Revolutionary and Civil wars and World War II, educated more than 150 visitors and answered questions about the lives of Soldiers and officers during those wars. They also briefly warmed the morning air firing an 1841 6-pounder field artillery piece and a World War II M1A1 75mm Pack Howitzer.
"Living history days are far better teaching tools than just displaying historic items in museums," said Jon Bernstein, Army ADA Museum director and curator. "It helps people better relate to a friend's or relative's experience during these wars."
Cpl. Harry Shappell spoke for the men of the Field Artillery Museum Gun Detachment and told visitors about the different projectiles the 6-pounder fired. He then acquainted them with the duties of each cannon crew member. He ended his talk with the No. 4 man who pulled the lanyard that caused the powder to ignite and belch out another thunderous report.
Mariah Gilligan brought her two sons - Liam, 11, and Jack, 6, to the living history day. The boys expressed a keen interest in a World War II jeep Zane Mohler restored and asked many questions about his vehicle and gear. But another war drew the older of the two Gilligan boys to the event.
"Liam just did a project on the Gettysburg Address and both boys have been interested in artillery so we decided to come today," said Mariah.
Despite his recent studies, Liam, a fourth grader at Hugh Bish Elementary School in Lawton, said he especially liked the jeep and World War II missiles.
Mohler and Bernstein then sighted and loaded the pack howitzer with Bernstein drawing lanyard duties to add a bright orange flame to briefly contrast with the gray overcast day.
In between artillery firings the majority of visitors and reenactors gathered inside the FA Museum. There, Gordon Blaker, FA Museum director and curator, garbed as a Revolutionary War Soldier demonstrated some of the weapons of that particular period in American history.