Charleston, SC – When I visited Patriot’s Point two years ago, the Vietnam Experience Exhibit was closed; it is now back open to the public. It offers a glimpse of two parts of the Navy and Marine Corps experience in the Vietnam War. Just after you enter the exhibit, there is a display symbolizing Vietnam War dead from South Carolina; it consists of pegs on which dog tags are hung. This is an incredible visualization and it truly catches your attention, so much so that I never was able to bring myself to take a photo of it. The first part of the exhibit is representative of a “Brown Water Navy” river patrol boat support base. There’s a UH-1M painted in HA(L)-3 “Seawolves” colors. There’s a MK1 River Patrol Boat (PBR), a Comm Shack, hooch for the crews, other support buildings, Observation Tower, a UH-1H “Dust-Off” medevac helicopter, and a UH-34D Sea Horse. After you pass the through the support base, you enter the second half of the exhibit – a representation of a Marine Corps artillery support base like the one at Khe Sanh. It features a 105mm howitzer, an M-42 Duster (self propelled anti-aircraft gun used for ground support fire), CH-46E Sea Knight, and a deuce-and-a-half truck.
The aircraft in this exhibit have recently been repainted and are looking great. It won’t take the scorching southern sun and heat to take its toll on them, so try to get by soon before the paint begins to fade and degrade. The AH-1 that looked so poorly on my last visit to Patriot’s Point is now sitting by the fence next to the gift shop and is still looking poorly; I’d have thought they’d have given it some new paint and included it with the Vietnam Experience Exhibit… perhaps that’s in to be done in the future. Anway, it’s a shame to see the Cobra still in that state.
Note: Two of the aircraft in this exhibit are on loan from the National Naval Aviation Museum, which I visited in 2015.