FORT BELVOIR, Va. (May 30, 2012)--Under Secretary of the Army Dr. Joseph W. Westphal visited the U.S. Army Center of Military History's Museum Support Center Facility to gain situational awareness and view the impressive collection of over 16,000 pieces of American history housed in the state-of-the-art facility.

Rob Dalessandro, executive director, U.S. Army Center of Military History, and Charles H. Cureton, chief of the U.S. Army Center of Military History's Museums Division, explained the role of the support center and introduced Westphal to the skilled workforce, comprised of a crew of 32 who restore and carefully manage hundreds of years of Army history.

"I am very impressed with this talented team of professionals and this amazing facility that manages such important pieces of Army, and American, history," Westphal commented.

The curators meticulously manage all of the material in the support facility, registering and cataloging all of the artifacts in a comprehensive database before they are stored in the climate controlled and energy efficient building.

"To preserve the pieces here the air is filtered and decontaminated and the building is kept at 68 degrees with 50 percent relative humidity," said Sarah Forgey, the center's art curator, as she explained the complicated process of maintaining the priceless works.

"The Museum Support Center will better support the U.S. Army Center of Military History's effort to tell the history of the U.S. Army and is leading the way for all the services in preserving and protecting our military history," Dalessandro said.

During his tour of the facility, Westphal recognized the workforce for their expertise and dedication to preserving history and the importance of their contributions to telling the Army's story. "The work that you do honors the sacrifices of our Soldiers and preserves their contributions to this nation and the history of our country," Westphal told the workforce.

The Army's official interest in art originated in World War I, and the program has evolved to encompass a world class collection of a wide range of military art and artifacts, including unit colors from the Civil War and several watercolor paintings by Adolf Hitler.

The Museum Support Facility is managed by the Center of Military History, or CMH, which is responsible for the appropriate use of history throughout the United States Army. CMH provides historical support to the Army Secretariat and Staff, military history education, writes the official history of the U.S. Army and manages the Army's museum system. It supports the use of history to foster unit pride and give today's Soldiers an understanding of the Army's past.

To learn more about how the Center of Military History preserves Army history visit http://www.history.army.mil/.