The Cold War: 1947-1989

Korean War, Vietnam War, Operation Urgent Fury, the Berlin Wall

Gallery Index

The second half of the 20th century was dominated by severe political, economic and military tension between the world’s two superpowers: the United States and the Soviet Union. Though open war was never declared between the two nuclear powers, we engaged in a series of proxy wars and technological competitions in an effort to secure our interests and stem the spread of Communism. The Cold War gallery takes you from the initial period of post-WWII mistrust into our first open war against communist ideology: the Korean War. Hear the words of a Soldier recounting his experiences on the frontlines in the brutal Korean winter and learn more about the “forgotten war” that resulted in the US Army’s ongoing presence in Korea to this day.

As the scope of the Cold War grew, the technology of warfare took on a whole new dimension. One of our most popular artifacts is the M29 Davy Crockett, one of the smallest nuclear weapons ever produced.

Then travel from the frozen mountains of Korea into the tropical jungles of Vietnam, viewing the destructive power of the nuclear arms race along the way. In what is arguably our most interactive exhibit, you can experience life “in country,” listening to the voices of actual Vietnam veterans, told in between eruptions of gunfire, explosions and simulated rainstorms. Because the Vietnam jungle can be too intense for some visitors, it can be easily bypassed.

In September 2014, retired Army Command Sergeant Major Bennie G. Adkins was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions nearly 50 years ago. Prior to the ceremony, he and his wife toured the National Infantry Museum and spoke with active duty Soldiers. View the video below to hear CSM Adkins’ story in his words.

Leaving the 1970s, the voice of President Ronald Reagan announces the necessity of freedom and cooperation in the world. Examine real pieces of the Berlin Wall as you head out of the Cold War and into the present era. Along the way, pay respect to some of our nation’s greatest heroes, the brave Infantrymen who have earned the Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB) three times.


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