Last Updated on March 31, 2023
Last Updated on March 31, 2023
The US Army Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville (Airborne & Special Operations Museum), is a wonderful tribute to US military forces and soldiers who have fought for our liberty.
The museum impressively displays and honors the history of airborne units and special forces through artifacts, interactive exhibits, and more. We’ve been lucky enough to visit and want to share how you can spend time at this wonderful place in North Carolina, too.
Inside this guide, we cover a bit of background on the museum before focusing on its exhibits, special events, and things to do nearby. Here’s what you’ll find:
- US Airborne and Special Operations Museum Background
- Admission Details
- Exhibits at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum
- Iron Mike
- Early Airborne
- World War II
- Korea and Cold War
- The 555th (Triple Nickels)
- Civil Unrest in the Homefront and the Vietnam War
- Contingency Operations and Training
- Global War on Terror
- Airborne and Special Operations Museum Events
- Visit the Gift Shop
- Freedom Memorial Park
- North Carolina State Veterans Park
- Nearby Attractions in Fayetteville
US Airborne & Special Operations Museum Background
Address: 100 Bragg Boulevard, Fayetteville, North Carolina 28301
Established in 2000, the US Airborne and Special Operations Museum is part of the Army Museum Enterprise, a system of museums that interpret the history and legacy of our military throughout the nation.
This museum focuses on the progression of airborne units and special forces from the 1940s to the present day.
2 to 3 hours are recommended during a visit, as the exhibits are thorough in detail and explanations.
All exhibits are accessible and there are wheelchairs on site that are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Admission to the Fayetteville Airborne Museum is free, but they strongly appreciate donations to keep operating.
The Museum hours are:
- Tuesday to Saturday: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
- Sunday: 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm
- Closed Mondays and most federal holidays
A spacious parking lot awaits in front of the museum. Handicap Accessible parking is available closest to the front, and large vehicle (bus and RV) parking is available along Hillsborough St and next to the North Carolina State Veterans Park.
No food or drink is allowed at the museum, due to the unique and rare nature of the exhibits.
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Exhibits at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum
The Airborne and Special Operations Museum is home to a myriad of exhibits, recounting army history (as we mentioned) from the 1940 Parachute Test Platoon to current events.
Before even entering the Museum, you’ll be greeted by Iron Mike, a 15-foot, 3,235-pound statue. The statue encompasses the spirit of all Airborne troopers, past, present, and future, and stands watch over the Museum.
This first exhibit describes the emergence of the American paratrooper during World War 2. Lieutenant Bill Ryder holds the title of the first paratrooper, changing the trajectory of American special forces.
World War II
World War II is renowned for the use of airborne fighters, with the newly created Airborne Division proving vital in the Normandy invasion (D-Day) and the ending of the war.
As you move through this exhibit, look at reconstructed scenes of the war, watch real footage from the time period, and see one of the only restored gliders in the world.
Korea and Cold War
The innovations of World War II continued to permeate global affairs long after the war ended. The US Airborne and Special Operations units became key players in the Korean War and the Cold War.
In this exhibit, learn about the secret and little-known 8240th Army Unit, a group of anti-communist North Koreans led by the US Army.
The 555th (Triple Nickels)
Additionally, read about the creation of the Ranger units and the 555th Batallion (aka Triple Nickels). They were disbanded following the military’s integration but went on to form the 2nd Rangers.
This group includes honorary members such as General Colin Powell and Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Civil Unrest in the Homefront and the Vietnam War
Not only were the airborne units used abroad, but they were also sometimes used to monitor and break up unrest and protests in the US. Much of the civil unrest in America was caused by the unpopular Vietnam War, a major event that has its own exhibit in the Museum.
The Vietnam exhibit features multiple recreated scenes of a Viet Cong prisoner camp and guerilla warfare and honored soldiers such as Major Charles J. Watters and Lieutenant James Rowe.
Contingency Operations and Training
After the Cold War ended, many of the Airborne and Special Operations units were used for peacekeeping and contingency operations. The exhibit highlights these peacekeeping missions and includes a real M551A1 Sheridan armored reconnaissance vehicle.
Global War on Terror
The museum concludes its display of history with an exhibit dedicated to current events, most notably the War on Terror. Immerse yourself in the details of these operations and the role the Airborne and Special Forces played.
Airborne and Special Operations Museum Events
The Museum has many events and special exhibits scheduled for the coming year.
Previous and current examples include:
- In March 2022, there was a four-day remembrance of the Vietnam War for the 49th anniversary of the US exiting the war. The cornerstone of the event will be “The Moving Wall,” a replica of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.
- The remarkable “D-Day: Freedom from Above” exhibit, open until June 18, 2022, focuses entirely on the Normandy invasion from the perspective of the soldiers.
- Between June 28 to November 13, 2022, “Courage and Compassion: The Legacy of the Bielski Brothers” celebrates three brothers who saved more than 1,200 people during World War II.
- On December 15, 2022, explore the life and legacy of Bill Mauldin, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning cartoonist who specialized in political and military affairs.
Visit the Gift Shop
The Airborne and Special Operations gift shop sells everything from army-themed apparel, to kids’ puzzles and toys, books, mugs, and so much more. After your tour of the Museum, stop by the store for a special souvenir!
The gift shop is also where you can purchase a ticket for the Pritzker Simulator.
Freedom Memorial Park
On the opposite end of the parking lot for the Airborne and Special Operations Museum is Freedom Memorial Park. Constructed in 1992, Freedom Memorial Park honors the lives of fallen servicemen and women since World War I.
Every Memorial Day, there is a special ceremony held at Freedom Memorial Park to remember the fallen and appreciate the sacrifices made to keep our nation safe.
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North Carolina State Veterans Park
We mentioned parking available near Veterans Park and hope you’re able to spend time here, too. This is the first park dedicated to NC military veterans from all branches of the Armed Services, including the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard.
Ready to Visit the US Airborne and Special Operations Museum?
We look forward to visiting the US Airborne and Special Operations Museum again, not just for the events and also, not just because it’s a convenient day trip from Durham and elsewhere in Central North Carolina.
The exhibits, its location in downtown Fayetteville, and those events we mentioned are the perfect combination to keep us coming back. If you’re familiar with this amazing museum, we’d love to know about your favorite exhibits inside.
You can let us know in the comments section or by email.
Whether it’s your first visit or 500th, you can share your photo adventures from this special place in our North Carolina Travel Facebook Group.
Before you do any of the above, though, here are a few fun places nearby.
Nearby Attractions in Fayetteville
Games at this stadium are among our favorite things to do with kids in Fayetteville.
Also nearby is downtown Fayetteville, a kaleidoscope of shops, boutiques, restaurants, and more. Check out shops that include:
- A Bit of Carolina
- City Center Gallery & Books
- Downtown Market of Fayetteville
- Lodestone Art & Antiques
Read More: The Best Day Trips from Raleigh
Fayetteville is also home to a great variety of restaurants.
- Get a taste of the mystic New Orleans right here in North Carolina at The Bourbon Orleans, a restaurant specializing in authentic Creole cuisine.
- For the best Southern food in town, grab lunch at The Friend’s Table, a hit new dining spot.
- Finish off a day of adventure with a sweet treat at The Sweet Palette or the Fayetteville Pie Company!
Here are a few of them: