By Bill Sniffin, publisher
DUBOIS – When it was first announced, the National Museum of Military Vehicles was viewed as one of Wyoming’s next great museums. Now that it is open, it is obviously much more than that. It is one of America’s next great museums.
Boasting 140,000 square feet of space, the $100 million project had to postpone its official opening on Memorial Day because of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, it did a “soft” opening in August with more than 1,000 attending each of three days.
Founders Dan and Cynthia Starks have self-funded the project entirely on their own.
They are passionate about how the United States won World War II. During one of the rare tours that he presents, Dan starts off his tale by describing the state of the American military at the start of the war.
“We just lost most of our ships in Pearl Harbor,” he says. “Our Pacific army was in the Philippines. Pretty soon, the Japanese bombed the heck out of them and forced them into surrender. We lost 75,000 of our finest young men,” he said.
“Across the other ocean in North Africa, we joined the British in an attempt to attack the German General Rommel. He routed us. He captured 183 American tanks and just destroyed our expeditionary force. We retreated over 50 miles to get away from the Germans, leaving all our equipment behind. It was a disaster.”
But from that lowly beginning, Starks said, America figured out a game plan to defeat enemies at two fronts, the Germans in Europe and the Japanese in the Pacific. How they did it is described in great detail in his new museum.
Starks has huge murals detailing how America used its vast manufacturing capability to gradually provide enough tanks, trucks, airplanes, and other items to keep a 12-million-member Army supplied. Plus, the USA was supplying other countries like Russia, Britain, and Australia. Examples of all this are on display.
The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Masks are required. Admission is $15 for adults and seniors. Youths 8 to 17 are $10. Kids 7 and under are free. All military veterans and active duty receive free admission. The museum is located eight miles south of Dubois on Highway 287/26. More information is at www. NMMV.org.