The Chennault Aviation and Military Museum, located near the Monroe Regional Airport, honors not only the legacy of its namesake, General Claire Lee Chennault, one of the most accomplished men ever to wear our nation’s uniform, but other men and women connected to our state who bequeathed us a legacy of honor and courage.
The Museum is housed in a 1942 era building, one of the few surviving structures of the WWII era Selman Army Airfield, a navigator training base. The area is now the Monroe Regional Airport with the old 1942 era runways still serving after being lengthened for jet aircraft.
As one approaches the museum entrance a bronze statue of General Chennault donated by the Chinese government stands by the entrance. On the other side of the walkway is a memorial to fallen servicemembers, while a static display of various aircraft is across the street. There is a lot to see, even before you enter the museum proper.
The museum is neatly laid out, but absolutely jam-packed with artifacts. There is a room devoted to General Chennault’s life and career. The jewel encrusted dragon robe that was presented to Chennault by the Chinese government is perhaps the most unique item in what is quite an eclectic collection. There are also paintings, his original 1919 pilot wings, uniforms and other memorabilia.
There are displays of items telling the story of the men and women who served in every conflict the United States has fought from the Civil War to the present day. Aside from its varied military collections however, the most eclectic parts of the museum deal with subjects as varied as airlines and moonrocks.
The Monroe airport was the home of a small crop-dusting service that went on to become Delta Airlines. The museum tells the story of the airline’s early days with original posters, schedules, uniforms and other paraphernalia.
Did you know that Monroe, Louisiana is the home to a moonrock brought back to Earth by astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt of Apollo 17? NASA Rock # 70035, formed from a lunar lava flow about 3.8 billion years ago, lies in a display case in the Chennault Museum next to a display honoring space shuttle astronaut and West Monroe native and Jim Halsell.
The Chennault Aviation & Military Museum is an amazing place to visit and a family friendly treat for history buffs of all ages. The museum has no admission charge. The museum’s address is 701 Kansas Lane Monroe, LA 71203 318-362-5540.
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