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The Vietnam Experience 2.0

Chris Hauff Jan 07, 2021

Something great happened at the Museum last month.  For that we gratefully thank our volunteers,  Lowcountry Leathernecks veterans, and staff for making a thorough renovation to the Vietnam Experience.

We launched the 3-acre Vietnam Experience (VNE) exhibit in 2014.  The only one of its kind in the U.S., the exhibit offers an authentic war-era encounter. It serves as a place for Vietnam veterans to reflect and reconnect with their past. Veterans and others praise the VNE for realism in its sights, sounds and memories of the war.

The VNE includes dozens of structures, weapons, vehicles and other equipment that were part of everyday life for service men stationed at an overseas Brown Water Navy support base and Marine Corps artillery fire base. Just a few of the features include a Quonset Hut, MK1 River Patrol Boat (PBR), observation tower, helicopters, and 105 Howitzer. You can easily spend an hour or two in the VNE to take in all of this history. This extensive exhibit is so realistic that Veterans Administration physicians send or accompany their patients who are working through Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to see it. We provide free access to the VNE for these veterans.

But like most long-term things, the VNE needed a “dust off” after six years. Some 300,000 visitors pass through each year. Key features needed cleaning, refurbishing, or repairs.

The VNE closed for just 12 days in December, and after a whirlwind of work from Patriots Point volunteers, staff and Lowcountry Leathernecks, the site is better than before.

They mended the wooden dock; replaced hundreds of sandbags; remounted boards; and repaired bunkers — among other tasks.  All in all the work crews incurred dozens of hours. Material costs were close t $8,000. The VNE reopened to visitors on Dec. 21.

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