AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Thousands of Texans pass by every day, but few take advantage of the free-to-the-public amenities at Camp Mabry.
Located just off Highway 1, known in Austin as MoPac, Camp Mabry is home to the Texas Military Forces Museum in addition to serving as an active military installation.
Tens of thousands of artifacts reside in the 45,000 square foot museum, which is free to the public Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“We’ve organized the museum so that there’s something here for two-year-olds and there’s something here for 95-year-olds,” museum director Jeff Hunt said.
Hunt said the museum, which opened in the early 1990s, has a collection of 30,000 pieces that is growing by 8,000 to 10,000 pieces a year. Artifacts range from items from high-ranking Nazis captured during World War II to flags flown by the 10th Texas Cavalry during the Civil War. A piece of the 9/11 Pentagon and Brigadier General Woodford Mabry’s uniform also reside in the museum. The facility includes several guns, planes and tanks, some of which are still in working order, Hunt said.
“We are blessed to be able to tell this story, and we are very proud of the work that we are doing to tell this story to honor our veterans to help our troops try to instill the esprit de corps in them so that they know what their history is, and they can learn from that history, and they can try to emulate the Texas heroes of the past in their current operations,” Hunt explained.
Hector Valle, an Austin dad who brought his two sons to the museum Friday to see the exhibits, said he wanted to teach his children something new by immersing them in the state’s history.
“They love all that story stuff, and so that’s good,” Valle said. “And it’s air-conditioned, and it’s free.”
“I don’t think many people know about this museum, which is unfortunate,” he said, as his boys demanded to search for items marked by museum staff as part of a worksheet treasure hunt style. “It’s a great place to honor our heroes.
In addition to the museum, Camp Mabry has a parade ground, where changes of command and charity events often take place.
“We invite you to come here and visit the museum, see the equipment that we have on display here on the parade square,” said Major Amy Tibbetts, Camp Mabry garrison commander.
Camp Mabry also has an interfaith chapel which hosts about ten weddings each year, two fishing ponds, a few picnic areas and a hiking trail.
“It’s a beautiful, green place where you can take a short hike,” said Major Tibbetts.
More information about the Texas Military Museum can be found on its website. The museum regularly hosts battle re-enactments and events. As of May 28, Camp Mabry had 18,949 Army Guards, 3,420 Air Guards, and 1,809 State Guards.