Stephen F. Austin State University




Louisiana is a state that is filled with military history. And Louisiana is also a state filled with veterans who have served this nation and have fought in the many wars and conflicts that have made history. Recently my wife and I took a trip to Ruston, La. to tour the North Louisiana Military Museum. On August 5, 2017 the museum was hosting exhibits and displays from various military groups and re-enactor groups both inside and outside the museum building. And what a great time we had!

The North Louisiana Military Museum is a place filled with the historical memorabilia of war from the Spanish American War to Desert Storm and into the current war on terror. Outside the museum Ernie Stevens, the museum curator, has amassed 15 different rare military vehicles and aircraft that includes a RussianSA-2 missile, a M113 armored personnel carrier, M551 Sheridan tank, and 2 aircraft that every Vietnam veteran remembers, an A-4 Skyhawk jet and a UH-1 Huey helicopter. And then there is the little army mule that was used to haul supplies, water, and ammo during Vietnam. And then there are other pieces of artillery and tanks! Plenty to look at outside and on the day of the visit several re-enactor groups set up displays from the Vietnam War. Jason Langlinais had a very large display of items from Recon Team Louisiana MACV SOG (Vietnam Re-enacted) that these special force units used during the war. Recon Team Louisiana was feared by the Viet Cong and NVA troops for their courage and ability to take the fight to the enemy. Included in this display were items from the Montagnards who fought alongside the Americans in Vietnam. And Apache Troop 1/9 Cavalry (1st Cavalry Vietnam Re-enacted) had vehicle displays and during the day they set up a large weapons demonstration. During the demonstration those in attendance got to see how the M-16 rifle and M-60 operated and were fired. One World War II veteran spoke of how fast the M-16 and M-60 could fire compared to the M-1 rifle and M-1 carbine of World War II that he had used during his service.

Inside the museum it is filled, and I mean filled, with thousands of artifacts. Every war has artifacts, uniforms, and weapons depicting it. The museum has a very extensive weapons collection, from pistols, (including a rear Liberator pistol of World War II), rifles, sub-machine guns, automatic rifles, and machine guns. One display that caught my eye was the Home front display. It is set up just like a living room during World War II of a family who has someone in the service and is filled with personal items. It reminded me of how my grandparents' home was set up with them having 3 sons in the service during the war. And if you are interested in machine guns, there is one of the largest displays of military machine guns that I have ever seen with them affixed to the many various types of mounts to support them. In the Vietnam POW display there is the uniform and personal items that American POW's were issued by the North Vietnamese military.

Ernie Stevens and the directors of the North Louisiana Military Museum have worked for many years gathering up, cataloging, and displaying the thousands of items in this remarkable museum. And the museum is still gathering more interesting military artifacts to this large collection. The museum has many vehicles that need to be restored before being displayed and they have a program where the public can assist in the restoration process. This program is called the "Revive the Relics" and when you visit the museum you can donate to this program. And they can always use some help!

This great museum has no admission charge and is located at 201 Memorial Drive in Ruston, La. For more information you can call the museum at 318-251-5099. And let me tell you it is a short drive to Ruston and when you get there you will have a truly exciting time viewing all the many displays at this great attraction. Take a trip and you will be surprised at what you will find at this great military museum. And you will be greeted with true southern hospitality. Thanks North Louisiana Military Museum for the great day we had on August 5th!

Large display of Vietnam Special Forces and Special Operations Group (SOG) by Jason Langlinais set up outside the North Louisiana Military Museum. (Robertson Collection)

Apache Troop 1/9 Cavalry (Vietnam Re-enacted) conducting a weapons demonstration of the M-16 rifle and M-60 machine gun at the North Louisiana Military Museum. (Robertson Collection)

Clay Shank driving his Vietnam Era army mule at the North Louisiana Military Museum. (Robertson Collection)

Vietnam War M-35A2 deuce and half military truck on display at the North Louisiana Military Museum. (Robertson Collection)

Vietnam War Era UH-1 Huey helicopter on display at the North Louisiana Military Museum. (Robertson Collection)

Large display of machine guns located inside the North Louisiana Military Museum. (Robertson Collection)

Vietnam War poster that remembers American POW's and MIA's in the museum. (Robertson Museum)

World War I American uniform and French Chauchat machine gun as used by the U.S. Army in France during World War I. (Robertson Collection)

World War II American uniforms and equipment on display in the museum. (Robertson Collection)

World War II Red Cross nurses uniforms on display at the museum. (Robertson Collection)

Vietnam War uniforms, equipment, and weapons on display at the North Louisiana Military Museum. (Robertson Collection)

Vietnam War U.S. Marine A-4 Skyhawk fighter jet on display outside the museum. (Robertson Collection)

U.S. Navy helicopter on static display outside the museum. (Robertson Collection)