CARLISLE BARRACKS, Pa. (Nov. 14, 2012) -- A new 7,000-square-foot "Soldier Experience" gallery opened Friday at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center, U.S. Army War College, here.

Museums bring the experience of Soldiers the attention of fellow Americans, said Lt. Gen. David D. Halverson, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command deputy commanding general, who attended the grand opening of the exhibit.

"This is about the sacrifices of Soldiers," Halverson said. "It's like Patton said - wars are fought by weapons, but won by Soldiers."

Patricia Morrow traveled from Baltimore to visit the new exhibit and she said it was perfect for all ages. "I think you can bring your kids here. You can bring your grandparents here," she said.

The gallery gives patrons a chance to honor veterans by sharing their stories of military experiences, in peace and conflict, using interactive exhibits, pictures and interpretation.

Each element features personal items, clothing, photos and the words of individual Soldiers selected from six eras: Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Visitors can select a dog-tag scan card and follow a Soldier's story scanning the card at five different stations to learn additional information about the Soldier's experience.

The Soldiers and veterans who are portrayed in the exhibit were invited guests for the opening event.

The 7,000-square-foot gallery provides an in-depth look at the history of the U.S. Army as seen through the eyes of Soldiers. Its materials come from the extensive historical collection of the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center, or USAHEC, which covers every period in the U.S. Army's history from the Spanish-American War through current operations.

USAHEC's collection of nearly 67,000 artifacts, 2 million photographs, and 11 million archival and library items, includes a broad spectrum of materials related to the service of individual Soldiers and constitutes nearly 10 percent of all artifacts within the U.S. Army Museum system.

Visitors can:

-- Experience a simulated Army rifle range
-- Lift gear that today's Soldiers carry
-- Experience a bunker attack during a Korean War battle
-- Parachute into Normandy during D-Day
-- Obey orders from a drill sergeant during basic training

In addition to the Army history timeline, the gallery features an electronic rifle range where visitors can test their marksmanship, a Normandy parachute simulator, a Korean War bunker featuring sounds of war, and "Stories from the Heart," a feature film.

Throughout the exhibit there are opportunities to compare the size and weight of different types of weapons and body armor, as well as opportunities to take pictures in current combat gear.

The gallery features interactive components and immersive displays that highlight some of the best Soldiers' stories found in the Heritage Center's historical collections.

The Soldiers Experience exhibit at the Army War College's Army Heritage and Education Center is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. A gift shop and the Cumberland Café are also on site.