Pop quiz, hot shot: What’s the only major Civil War battle ever to be fought in Arizona? If you’re drawing a blank on the answer (it was the Battle of Picacho Peak, by the way), consider spending an afternoon boning up on your history at the Arizona Military Museum.
Inside this 1930s-era adobe building located on an Arizona National Guard base are displays and dioramas exhaustively chronicling our state’s vast military past, including every single skirmish ever fought around these parts. Depictions of historic moments from local military lore are in abundance, ranging from the U.S. Cavalry’s battles with Geronimo and General John J. Pershing’s pursuit of Pancho Villa to the World War II-era caper when 25 captured German soldiers tunneled out of a Papago Park POW camp. And if any kith and kin happen to be veterans, be sure to invite ’em to tag along, as a significant number of exhibits are designed to honor Arizonans who served in every major armed conflict of the last 150 years — from the Spanish-American War right up to the current combat taking place in the Middle East. An endless cache of military supplies and retired vehicles also occupies the place, such as a meticulously restored Huey UH-1C gunship from the Vietnam War. And though freedom ain’t free, admission to the museum certainly is, as there’s never a charge to enter.
Arizona Military Museum
5636 E. McDowell Road
Phoenix, AZ 85008