WARNER ROBINS -- The Museum of Aviation showed Wednesday that its scope isn’t just things that fly.
The museum held ceremonies to celebrate the recent addition to its collection of two beloved military ground vehicles.
One is the iconic M-35 cargo truck that carried troops and supplies through combat zones for decades. The museum’s truck was the last M-35 in operation at Robins Air Force Base. It now resides in Hangar One.
The other is the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, better known as the MRAP. It’s a fortified vehicle developed to project troops from roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The museum’s MRAP is an Air Force vehicle that struck a bomb in Afghanistan. All of the airmen inside survived. The vehicle was repaired and returned to action before being retired and given to the museum.
Tech Sgt. Chad Meadows, who serves in the 78th Security Forces Squadron at Robins, has driven MRAPs many miles in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also has been the top turret gunner. Meadows struck a bomb once, and all on board survived.
Prior to a ribbon cutting for the vehicle, which is on display in the Century of Flight Hangar, Meadows told the audience that many people don’t realize how many airmen do jobs unrelated to aviation.
“It’s really, really a big honor for us ground pounders to have something in an aviation museum to show that our force is a total force,” he said. “The vehicle is amazing for its ability to protect the people that are in it.”
Another Air Force veteran of Iraq, Ed Jones, is now a civilian working at Robins. He is in charge of the contracting office that purchases all the MRAPs for the Air Force. He has overseen the purchase of 815 MRAPs, which cost about $600,000 each.
He said his job is a passion to him because he lost two fellow airmen in Iraq who hit a bomb in Iraq but were not in an MRAP.
“That was a night none of us will ever forget, and for me, it was a night that I vowed that I would do whatever it took to protect our airmen,” he said. “I love this truck right here, and I love the fact that this vehicle has given me the opportunity to keep my vow -- that was to keep our airmen safe.”
To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.