Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Way Out West: Look Back at 45th Infantry Museum Thunderbird Park

By Mark Nankivil
On a previous western tour swing through Oklahoma City, The Aero Experience stopped at the 45th Infantry Museum's Thunderbird Park.  Surrounding the 45th Infantry Division Monument, on 15 acres of land, rest over 60 pieces of military equipment of all types.  The monument was original dedicated in 1959 to commemorate the division's service in World War II and Korea, but was moved to the current site due to the further commercial development of the original location.  This has proved to be a positive development as seen by the scale of the displays in Thunderbird Park on the museum grounds.  Prominently featured here are the aircraft, including both fixed-winged and helicopters, from the Bell 47 to the F-86 and more.

The 45th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army National Guard was formed in 1923 primarily from soldiers based in Oklahoma, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico.  It was engaged in domestic operations at the call of state governors and prepared for war in 1940.  During World War II, the Thunderbirds served for 511 days across European Theater of Operations.  Following the war, the 45th Infantry Division was based at Fort Sill, OK and later served 429 days of combat in Korea in four campaigns.  In 1969, the division was reorganized into separate units within the OK Army National Guard.

Here is just a sample of the aviation portion within Thunderbird Park:



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