The Veterans' Museum
The Museum is owned and operated by The Dyersburg Army Air Base Memorial Association, Inc., a non-profit organization founded in 1992 by Pat Higdon and Martha Crites, both of Halls.
The purpose of this Museum is to preserve materials and artifacts from WWI to date as a reminder to the older generations and to educate the younger generations about their heritage. The facility is located on the ramp of the former WWII B-17 Training Facility (The Dyersburg Army Air Base).
In 1986, state-wide emphasis by Governor Lamar Alexander to highlight the history of Tennessee, Homecoming '86, was a project accepted by the Mayor of the Town of Halls, Sammie Arnold. Pat Higdon was the chairman of the event that brought the first B-17 back to the air base since 1945. After extensive nationwide publicity and local residents contacting those they knew who had trained at the Dyersburg Army Air Base, the July 4th weekend became a springboard for air shows as well as the Museum. It was also the springboard for the public's willingness to share their memorabilia with the Association.
A static air show in 1993 was a great success, and much of the air base memorabilia was exhibited in the Arnold Field airport 600 sq. foot office the fourth weekend of September each year.Beginning with 1994, flying airshows were held through 2002. It was reactivated in 2010 and ran through 2016.
More and more people sent or brought memorabilia until finally, in 1997, the first Museum was built. The collection of artifacts more than filled the 4,000 sq. ft. facility; in 2004, the Edith Tanner Center (4,900 sq. feet) was built, and in 2014 the Command Headquarters was completed (2,800 sq. feet). Total footage for bothe buildings to date is a 11,700 sq. ft. buildt on the 65 year-old ramp.
Pictures and documents from the National Archives, materials from WWI through present day conflicts, diaries, personal and official letters, technical publications, and divisional histories, WWII and Korea military and Iraqui Freedom vehicles, uniforms, and videos excite adults and give the young an opportunity to look at history personally. Unusual exhibits for a private, non-profit museum are the Murals painted by Ernie Berke. Photographs of 72 crews are also displayed. Tim Bivens, who is one of the DAAB incorporators, has been able to secure these and many more pictures that reveal base life.
The West Tennessee Healthcare Conference Room is host to the Sammie Arnold Lending Library, with approximately 1500 volumes. The collection of books covers WWI through today and contains Non-Fiction, biographies, periodicals, technical manuels, encyclopedias, and general historical books of each era.
The Museum Director is Patricia M. Higdon. Pat would like to say to the ladies, "don't pass this Museum up because it is "military". Our WWII DAAB exhibits depict the lives of families in the Halls area during this time. Add to that the Memphis Belle exhibit and the story of Margaret Polk and Robert Morgan, the pilot of the Belle, and our museum is a joy for all ages and genders.