• The fiery flame thrower is an audience favorite at the Pacific Combat Zone. Dubbed “Island X,” the zone has been redesigned to resemble an island in the Pacific Ocean. It will open March 11-12 for its first reenactment in a year and a half. — Submitted photo

Reenactment Restart

Pacific Combat Zone moves to ‘Island X’ for re-opening March 11-12

All is quiet for now at the corner of East Austin and North Lee streets, but that’ll change in March.

The National Museum of the Pacific War’s Pacific Combat Zone will open again for reenactments at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, March 11-12, after being closed for a year and a half for its first major renovation in 20 years.

“Besides moving dirt around, this is our second renovation,” said Marvin Schroeder, the museum’s living history coordinator. “This will be the fifth battlefield we’ve used.”

Designed to give visitors a glimpse of what life was like in combat in the Pacific for the Army and Marines during World War II, the program brings history to life for visitors through weapon and equipment demonstrations. It features a live battle reenactment with special effects, a tank and WWII flamethrower.

Also to be featured at the first reenactment will be the return of Byron (Cooky) Vinyard of the Tri-State Living History Association and his WWII Field Kitchen, which will be on display March 11-18. The exhibit is included in the museum ticket.

The museum has eight weekends set for 2017 and tickets can be purchased online at www.pacificwarmuseum.org.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students and free for children ages six and under.

Combat zone layout

After entering the gate on East Austin Street, visitors will see a two-acre indoor and outdoor exhibit which is included on admission tickets for the museum. It has a new retail and ticket center, rest rooms, renovated TBM (torpedo bomber) and PT boat (patrol torpedo boat) and an open plaza.

The plaza also serves as a to-scale world map, showing how vast the Pacific Ocean is and the logistics and finances that went into transporting troops and supplies to help fight the war.

The new amphitheater can hold 425 guests (125 more than the old one) and has been christened the William P. Clements Jr. Living History Amphitheater.

The second part of the zone is the combat zone itself, including a 12,000-square-foot vehicle building and shop to house the museum’s military vehicles and a Higgins boat to be used during the show.

“We’re excited about actually being able to fix these vehicles and not just put a Band-Aid on them,” said Brandon Vinyard, the museum’s director of marketing and public relations. “Some of the vehicles are in bad shape, and we have no plans to acquire anymore vehicles. If someone wants to donate a good vehicle, I’m sure we’ll take it and put it in here. We have a couple of weapons carriers needing renovations.”

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Fredericksburg Standard

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