WWII History Museum Exhibits at West Houston Airport
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History Museum of WWII Exhibits
The West Houston Airport is located on our end of town and in addition to the usual hangars housing small aircraft and paved runway, it is the site of a fascinating number of WWII museum exhibits.
My husband and I recently toured the small but interesting local museum when we decided to attend an exhibition of World War 2 airplanes and those from the Commemorative Air Force which put on an interactive flying exhibit on the first weekend in April. It was interactive in the sense that the airplanes were not only on display, but one could actually climb on board some of these old war birds and for a stipend even go for a ride in selected ones of them.
While there we discovered this jewel of a museum in which people can see all kinds of World War 2 exhibits ranging from the smallest things like victory stamps to full-sized uniforms and more.
West Houston Airport
Often mornings and evenings our subdivision is in the flight path for the small corporate jets and other airplanes that call the West Houston airport their home base. We have become used to hearing the drone of engines as they are revving up in ascent or decelerating for a planned landing at this small airport a few miles from our home.
Most of the time we hardly notice the noise unless sitting on our back patio and if the winds dictate a take-off or landing path directly over our house and an airplane is flying lower than usual. That generally grabs our attention!
We have driven past the West Houston airport on occasion as an alternate route once in a while when bringing Skippy home from a run in the nearby dog park. People can learn how to fly airplanes at the West Houston Airport.
It was such a pleasant surprise to learn about all of the various objects about World War Two in one of the large hangars located on site here. Some of the more extensive exhibits like airplane engines, a jeep, and other artifacts are located around the perimeter of the large metal hangar building, but a small enclosed room holds the smaller memorabilia pieces from World War 2 in a series of glassed-in cases.
These exhibits relating to World War 2 come from different countries and places, but the common bond is that they all had something to do with the war effort whether it was actual clothing worn, maps, flight instructions or how to identify enemy aircraft by their physical shapes.
Most of the things shown are authentic except for a few posters and a few model airplanes. One photo that I took shows a German officer’s pistol and dress bayonet.
Even though this local museum is small, one could spend hours there if one were to read all the tags and information about all of the artifacts on display.
Yankee Doodle Gals
The article about these particular women back during World War 2 was interesting. Back during that time, women did not typically serve in war zones. But these women were pilots!
They flew manufactured airplanes to the point of embarkation where the planes would then be picked up and utilized for war purposes. These women pilots saved critical human resources that could better be used elsewhere. While they were not officially a part of the Air Force, these “Yankee Doodle Gals” were recognized in later years for their essential part of what they accomplished in the war effort.
Dwight David Eisenhower
Known fondly as “Ike” this old Life magazine shows then 5-star general Dwight Eisenhower as supreme commander of the Allied Forces in Europe.
My dad and my husband’s dad were both serving in Europe during World War 2. My dad was a paratrooper and what would have been my father-in-law (had he still been alive) was a pharmacist. Both men were in France for at least a portion of their time during the war.
General Eisenhower directed invasions against both France and Germany and later became the 34th President of the United States. He is the first President that I vividly remember from my childhood.
Civilian citizens were called upon during World War 2 to purchase war bonds.
I remember my mother telling me that even school children did this! It was considered to be an act of patriotism, and they were sold in denominations to suit almost anyone’s finances, even school children.
After the war’s completion, these filled war bond books were exchanged back for money. The money raised by the sale of war bonds helped to finance the military expenses.
Ration books tell the story of food, gasoline, and other items being rationed during WWII.
Meat and other items were shipped overseas to keep our military men well fed and well equipped with what they needed. Civilians back home were called upon to cut back on certain foods and other purchases to help our men in uniform. New car orders were put on hold because the metal was needed for the war effort as an example.
One of the posters in the history museum at the West Houston Airport is of Winston Churchill.
He was a great statesman and the Prime Minister of Great Britain during those dark days of WW2. Known for his oratory skills he kept the British people apprised of the war with his regular radio broadcasts. Churchill hardened their resolve to withstand the bombings and other horrors of conflict, leading to eventual victory.
Helmets and Goggles
There are quite a few helmets and goggles on display in this museum. Many of the items have been donated over time, and while my husband and I were visiting this history museum dedicated to WW2, we heard a woman talking to a docent about giving some of her family’s war-time possessions for safeguarding and also for the ability to be able to be put out on display.
Instead of keeping relics like this in a closet, it is excellent for many people to be able to see the things used by our men in uniform from earlier times.
It would be lovely to think that war-time paraphernalia would never again be necessary. Going forward from biblical times when Cain killed Abel (his brother) humanity sadly seems intent on warfare.
Navy door gunner’s face mask
The notation card next to this face mask reads as following: Navy Door Gunner’s Cold Weather Face Mask
This synthetic material cold weather mask was used by Navy door gunners in the years just after WWII. These synthetic masks replaced the leather cold weather masks. Flights at altitude in unpressurized aircraft are extremely cold. Face masks protect gunners from frostbite.
World War II Uniforms
There are several World War 2 uniforms on display in the museum. They are all identified as to which service member would have worn them. Most are inside of glass cases with a mixture of other artifacts around them.
When one can look at these uniforms bearing various emblems, one wonders about the men who once wore them. Did the men wearing each of these uniforms survive the war? Were they able to go on and have productive lives?
Looking at the accouterments of war in a sanitized museum setting is one thing. Thinking of how all of these things are utilized during war is another.
During World War 2, Japanese airplanes did reach Hawaii and successfully bombed the United States base at Pearl Harbor. History buffs know that was the final straw. That bombing drew the United States into the war effort in the Pacific and Europe.
Except for Pearl Harbor, we never again had to fight any part of World War 2 on U.S. soil. But we were prepared should that have occurred. Civil Defense was taught at home.
Television sets regularly ran ads saying that “This is only a test.”
During a real emergency we would have to tune in for further announcements to specific radio channels.
Even at the end of WW2, growing up as a child attending school in the 1950s when the “cold war” was in existence we had (in addition to our regular fire alarm drills) bomb drills where we were taught to go under our desks covering the backs of our necks and heads. “Duck and Cover” was drilled into us!
Lucky were the people who had their very own bomb shelters underground with supplies meant to outlast the devastation caused by dropping an atomic bomb.
I guess my parents thought that our basement in central Wisconsin with the food stored down there would have to suffice. Lasting are the memories of those good old days! Ha! Every generation seems to have to face and prepare for scary things, whether real or imagined.
World War II Memorabilia
The flag featured behind a glassed case has a notation which says the following: “Japanese Battle Flag recovered from Iwo Jima and assorted Japanese Medals and Decorations.”
To see more of the exhibits, some of which are in the hangar, be sure to put this on your “to see and to do list” if you are ever visiting Houston, Texas. And for locals who live here, make some time to see this fantastic place! The museum is open to the public on the 1st & 3rd Saturday of each month from 10 am to 3 pm.
The West Houston Airport (IWS) is north of Interstate 10 off of Groeschke Road between Highway 6 and Barker Cypress Road.