There is no more honorable act than serving in the United States military. These heroes are the very cause of all the freedoms and liberties that U.S. citizens are granted daily. The only shame is that there is only one day a year that veterans are celebrated. However, in Oklahoma, there are plenty of ways that you, your family, and your friends can celebrate and remember these brave veterans throughout the year.
This article is about celebrating what veterans have done for this great country. It will highlight some of the most spectacular military attractions throughout this Sooner state, be it museums or bases.
Military Museums in Oklahoma
One fun fact that many citizens of this state do not know is that Oklahoma boasts at least 16 military museums and sites throughout the state. We are a state that genuinely appreciates everything the brave men and women of the military have done, both those who serve now and who have served. There is no better way to commemorate these heroes than to visit one of these military museums and learn about their heroic acts!
45th Infantry Division Museum (Oklahoma City, OK)
The 45th Infantry Division Museum is a dedication to the 45th infantry of the national guard, otherwise known as the Thunderbirds. Here, you can find a collection of over 200 WWII cartoons by Bill Mauldin, a soldier of the 45th infantry division. There are also plenty of photographs and artifacts from the division’s actions in Europe during WWII. The Thunderbirds were also active during the Korean War, and those acts are also commemorated here.
The 45th Infantry Division’s bravery and courage are not the only things celebrated here. Artifacts from the Revolutionary and Vietnam wars are featured in impressive firearms collections. And finally, outside this spectacular museum, you can find Thunderbird Park, with tanks, aircraft, and large guns on display. The centerpiece of Thunderbird Park is the 40- foot monument dedicated to the soldiers of the 45th Infantry Division who served in WWII and the Korean wars. This museum is a must-see, not only this veteran’s day but every day.
The U.S.S. Batfish Submarine and Military Museum (Muskogee, OK)
Oklahoma might seem like a strange location to find a Navy Submarine. After all, we are a landlocked state. However, you will find that in Muskogee, OK, at the U.S.S. Batfish Submarine and Military Museum. The main attraction, the U.S.S. Batfish submarine, is an actual WWII Navy sub that sank 15 enemy vessels during the war, including 3 Japanese subs. All this was accomplished during the 6th war patrol in the South China Sea. The U.S.S. Batfish has not been bested by any other submarine, making it the most successful killing submarine in history.
The U.S.S. Batfish has been Muskogee’s key attraction for nearly 50 years. It was towed up the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River in 1972. Unfortunately, the submarine interior can no longer be toured by the public. There is still a lot of history here with their impressive display of army tanks, canons, and missiles. You can also enjoy a walk of honor commemorating veterans of all branches of the military. Plan your visit to view this wonderful memorial today!
99s Museum of Women Pilots (Oklahoma City, OK)
The 99s Museum of Women Pilots is genuinely one of a kind. Located within the Will Rogers Airport, this museum is 5,000 feet of artifacts and history on the women who have made considerable contributions to the U.S. Military. Along with the many woman heroes displayed, there are numerous artifacts belonging to Amelia Earhart. Among these amazing treasures is the lucky bracelet she left behind on her last flight and one of her famous scarves. The servicewomen of this United States are not celebrated enough, so this museum is a “must-see!”
Military History Center (Broken Arrow, OK)
There is no better way to celebrate and commemorate the bravery of our military veterans than brushing up on our history. The Military History Center in Broken Arrow boasts an impressive collection of artifacts from nearly every U.S. war. This facility is about 6,400 square feet of military uniforms, weapons, photographs, and other incredible military memorabilia. Citizens of this great state have donated most of the artifacts found here.
A few key attractions are a chaplain’s coat and bible from the Civil War, a camera said to have been used by Hitler’s personal photographer, and a cage used to house American POWs during the Vietnam War. You will also find a massive collection of newspaper articles, magazine stories, and soldiers' diaries. Along with that is an extensive library full of military history. This place is truly the best place to learn about military history this veteran’s day.
Historic Fort Reno (El Reno, OK)
Fort Reno is a historic military post established in 1874 to protect the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes from an Indian uprising. This eventually led to the Red River War. Fort Reno has seen the Land Run of 1889, served as a German POW camp in WWII, and was a remount depot from 1908 to 1947. Visitors to Fort Reno can be sure to find 25 structures, including a museum, post chapel, commissary, officer quarters, guard house, and visitor center. Many of these structures have been restored and added to the National Register of Historic Places. There is also a post cemetery where 70 POWs, Buffalo Soldiers, and Indian scouts lay to rest.
Fort Reno is home to many annual special events, including a National Cavalry Competition in the fall, Spirit Tours and Tombstone Tales around Halloween, and The Firing of the Christmas Guns each Christmas season. A visit here is fun for the family all year round.
Major Charles B. Hall Memorial Airpark (Midwest City, OK)
The Major Charles B. Hall Memorial Airpark is located near the Tinker Air Force Base in Midwest City, OK. It honors the trailblazing fighter pilots in U.S. Military history. Major Hall, whom the airpark is named after, was part of the Tuskegee airmen. He was the first black man ever to shoot down an enemy plane during WWII. He was also the first black man to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Pentagon’s highest award for extraordinary aerial achievement. At the memorial airpark, visitors can marvel at airplanes like B-52s and RB-47Es.
Military Bases in Oklahoma
Museums are not the only place you can visit to honor our brave veterans. There are many military bases located here in Oklahoma that is rich in military history.
Fort Sill (Lawton, OK)
Did you know that Fort Sill dates back to the American Indian Wars? Today it is one of the best field artillery training sites for all of the U.S. Army or the Marine Corps. Any soldier specializing in field artillery today will receive skills training at Fort Sill. Fort Sill also serves as one of four Army Basic Combat training in the country.
Fort Sill also houses the Fort Sill National Historic Landmark and Museum. This consists of about 50 buildings dedicated to the history of the United States Military. Here you can also find “Atomic Annie.” This was the M65 gun used to launch atomic shots. Visitors can get passes to enter the base and explore the rich history at the visitor center.
McAlester Army Ammunition Plant (McAlester, OK)
One thing that many fans of the military find interesting is the weaponry and ammunition! The McAlester Army Ammunition Plant manufactures, renovates, and stores conventional ammunition. This is the largest storage facility used by the Department of Defense. This base is also charged with the disposal and demilitarization of weapons, training in the proper procedures of weapons, and research for advancements in environmental protection.
Altus Air Force Base (Altus, OK)
The flying conditions here at Altus Air Force Base are ideal about 300 days out of the year. With flat plains, there are few obstructions, making this base perfect for the training of future Air Force pilots. The 97th Air Mobility wing is stationed here and trains around 3,000 students a year.
On any given day, you can watch the pilots flying in C-17 Globemaster III, KC-46, and KC-135 aircraft. This Air Force Base also has 550 mobility positions available for immediate deployment. Any aircraft lover will marvel at the likes of Altus Air Force Base. Plan a trip today!
How Will You Celebrate Veterans Day?
There is much more to explore in Oklahoma in honor of the military service men and women. This Veterans Day, go out and find your history! Why Not OK can help you in your quest for military history. Please share your favorite way to honor our veterans and celebrate the holiday in the comments below!