African-American Military Museum opens in Hattiesburg

By Kevin Wheeler

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The historic USO club in Hattiesburg was packed again Saturday. There was no music or dancing, but there was still joy in the air.

The historic building was renovated into the African American military history museum. This building opened in 1942 and served as a hang out spot for African American soldiers stationed at Camp Shelby.

"Save that old U-S-O building," said Iola Williams.

Iola Williams saved the building from being torn down. Since 2006, the museum committee and the convention commission have been working to transform this building into a history story.

"They'll learn an awful lot about this building, about the people that this building was built for and the people who were around it surrounding those people," Williams said.

Charles Brown is a Vietnam Vet. He says he's thrilled to have this museum in Hattiesburg.

"We have a story to tell, and they can come here and get the full picture of Afro America and their patriotism, their service for this county," Brown said.

The museum has several displays and photos that show the role that blacks played in our nation's military history. Brown says the service of African Americans went unnoticed.

"We served honorably for freedom cause, yet returning home you was denied that same freedom we was fighting for on foreign soil," said Brown.

Garry Gordon says a museum of this kind is long over due.

"I'm more than impressed. I'm overwhelmed," Gordon said. "It just brings a tear to my eye and joy to my heart to know that people are finally being recognized for their service."

Terry Spain says he couldn't miss the opportunity to witness this history.

"It's the first African American Military Museum, and I'm excited. I learned about it on the radio station, and I did some research, Spain said. "I had to be here for this."

Those behind this museum say they just hope visitors will learn about the service and sacrifices that African-Amercan solders have made. Visit the museum's website at

©2009 WLOX. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.