AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Thousands of Texans drive past it every day, but few take advantage of the amenities free to the public 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 on Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“We organized the museum in such a way that there’s something here for the two year old to enjoy and there’s something here for the 95 year old to enjoy,” museum director Jeff Hunt said.
Hunt said the museum, which opened in the early 1990s, has a 30,000 piece collection that grows by 8,000 to 10,000 pieces annually. Artifacts range from items taken from high-ranking Nazis captured in World War II, to flags flown by the 10th Texas Cavalry during the Civil War. Piece of the Pentagon from Sept. 11, 2001 and Brigadier General Woodford Mabry’s uniform also reside in the museum. The facility includes several cannons, planes and tanks, some of which are still in working order, Hunt said.
“We’re blessed to be able to tell this story, and we’re very proud of the work that we do to tell that story to honor our veterans to support our troops to try and help instill in them esprit de corps so that they know what their history is, and they can draw the lessons from that history, and they can try and 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 on Friday to check out the exhibits, said he wanted to teach his kids something new by immersing them in the state’s history.
“They love all this history stuff, and so it’s nice,” Valle said. “And it’s air conditioned, and it’s free.”
“I don’t think a lot of people know about this museum, which is unfortunate,” he said, as his boys clamored to search for items marked by museum staff as part of a scavenger hunt-style worksheet. “It is a great place to honor our heroes.
In addition to the museum, Camp Mabry has a parade field, where changes in command and charity events often take place.
“We welcome you to come here and check out the museum, check out the equipment that we have displayed here on the parade field,” Major Amy Tibbetts, Camp Mabry Garrison Commander said.
Camp Mabry also has an all-faiths chapel which hosts around a dozen weddings each year, two fishing ponds, a couple of picnic areas and a hiking trail.
“It’s a great green, wonderful place that you can take a little hike down,” Maj. Tibbetts said.
More information about the Texas Military Museum can be found on its website. The museum regularly hosts battle reenactments and events. As of May 28, Camp Mabry had 18,949 Army Guardsmen, 3,420 Air Guardsmen and 1,809 State Guardsmen.