Thursday, September 25, 2008

Savannah Trip Day 3- September 20 The Mighty 8th AF Museum & Charleston, SC

Saturday morning, Mark got up early and took a bus out to the airport to pick up our rental car for the weekend, while I got to sleep a little longer. I pried myself out of bed when he got back and after breakfast in the lobby we checked out and headed to our first stop of the day, The Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum in Pooler which is out next to the Savannah airport. This is an impressive museum that follows the time line of WWII from the beginnings of Hitler's rise to power to the end of the war, and it does a good job of integrating the 8th Air Force's role in the war into the overall history.

Once the US has declared war and entered into the fray, the first exhibit you come to is an interactive mission with a recreated Nissan Hut where you get your early morning mission briefing. You then move to a small theater where you see a film that transports you out to your plane. Finally, you go to a second theater where you fly your mission. The films use actual combat footage and combine lights and sounds to try and give you as realistic an experience as possible. There is a museum volunteer with you during this who also gives you further details and insights into some of the things that happened in the film. In the main display hall of the museum, there are plenty of models and real airplanes on display as well as many exhibits on each of the bomber crew positions. There is an interactive B-17 gunner training exhibit where you can try shooting a 50mm gun at enemy fighters, and exhibits on POW camps and evasion houses and techniques, the Tuskegee airmen and the women's WASP pilots.

After we were done in the main museum hall, we went out to the memorial garden area and found a wedding was just getting started at the chapel. It had a Scottish theme, this area of the south has a strong Scottish and Irish heritage, so the men were all wearing kilts and there was a bag-piper to provide music.

We spent about 4 hours at the museum, and could have easily spent all day there. To really see everything you would probably need 2 or 3 days.

After a quick fast food lunch across the street from the museum, we headed north to Charleston. We didn't have a good map, so we were probably took a bit longer than it should have to get there but we eventually found our way there and got a hotel room for the night before heading into historic Charleston to look around some. We drove out to Sullivan's Island and looked around Fort Moultrie. It was closed by the time we got there, so we could only walk around the outside path and read the signs, but that was enough. We learned the history behind the South Carolina state flag from one of the signs- the palmetto tree and moon represent the defeat of the British navy here during the first conflict of the Revolutionary war with the palmetto walled fort successfully defending the town.
and then we went back to downtown Charleston and ate dinner at Bubba Gump's. More yummy seafood in a very colorful setting!

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