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Fort Worth

Paying homage: Museum strives to keep military history alive

🕐 4 min read

Military Museum of Fort Worth

2501 Rodeo Plaza

Fort Worth 76164

817-945-2680

www.facebook.com/militarymuseumoffortworth/

The Fort Worth Stockyards is world renowned for displaying the city’s storied massive cattle sales and meat packing history throughout a big part of the 20th century. But tourists also can learn about world and local military history while visiting Fort Worth’s Northside.

The Military Museum of Fort Worth recently reopened at 2501 Rodeo Plaza, which is an array of shops and display areas in the building that’s adjacent to the west side of Cowtown Coliseum in the Stockyards. The military-oriented museum formerly was located just off Camp Bowie on Dorothy Lane.

The museum features the history of the United States’ involvement in wars over the past century. It’s is filled with memorabilia – helmets, guns, uniforms, insignia – from World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf Wars.

Tyler Alberts, the museum’s executive director, is adamant about educating the public about military history.

“We all have a free society,” Alberts said. “But in order to have a free society, you have to have a protection and we had to have a military to fight for freedom. … The least that we can do is pay homage.”

That’s true, he said, especially for those who never served.

“I never served, but I’ve found a way to give back. My purpose of my way of serving or ‘wearing my country’s uniform’ is to protect the stories of those who did,” he said.

Alberts said he’s concerned that people are becoming less knowledgeable about military history as time marches on.

“I talk to a lot of people who are not much younger than me and they don’t seem to know some of the significant World War I or World War II or Vietnam era history,” he said. “Granted people understand the more current wars that we’ve been in the past 15 years. But there is overall a disconnection and that’s the reason museums like this are more important than ever.”

The museum features a display from Camp Bowie, a U.S. Army National Guard Mobilization and Training Camp first established in 1917. The camp existed during the First World War in what currently is called West Fort Worth. The museum features an array of items including a detailed map and aerial photos.

The majority of the museum’s Camp Bowie exhibits have been temporarily moved to the Fort Worth Library to be featured in an exhibit called From Cowboy to Doughboy – North Texas in World War I: Mobilization for the Great War. It marks the 100th anniversary of the United States entry into the First World War. The exhibit will be featured at the library from July 9 through Oct. 19. Alberts is scheduled to speak on Camp Bowie at the library’s Tandy Lecture Hall at 1 p.m. July 29.

Throughout the Military Museum of Fort Worth, there’s an array of exhibits of local residents who participated in the military.

For example, the museum features a display on Lt. Col. Clarence Burke Brewster, a medical doctor who served as Fort Worth’s Director of Health and Welfare. Brewster also was called to active duty during World War II with the 36th Infantry Division, serving as division surgeon. He also was transferred briefly to the VI Corps as the assistant corps surgeon in the Italian Campaign. Brewster participated in assault landings in North Africa, Salerno, Anzio and St. Tropez. Brewster was wounded when a large shell landed near him and literally tore off his clothes in 1944.

Being a doctor, Brewster collected medical equipment in collecting medical equipment used by the enemy counterpart medics. Several German medical bags and their contents are featured.

Within the display, there are two silver crosses that were blessed by Pope Pius XII whom he met while attempting to attend to the needs of civilians after the liberation of Rome on June 5, 1944.

Also within the display, are Brewster’s unit insignia and awards including the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, French Croix de Guerre with Silver Star and an Italian medal presented by Prince Umberto of Italy.

Brewster also shot almost 13 minutes of rare 8 mm footage from some of the locations he worked in while in Europe, as well as images of his two boys after he returned home. His son, Webb, donated the images to the museum.

Brewster’s home movies can be viewed at his display case at the museum. At the time, color footage was only shot by those who had the exceptional financial means and passion to do it.

“Buying Kodachrome footage back in the early 1940s was like what we today would think of paying $500 for a video cassette,” Alberts said. “It was expensive.”

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