Next month will mark the 20th anniversary of the end of the Persian Gulf War, fought from August 1990 to February 1991 to liberate Kuwait from occupation by Saddam Hussein's Iraqi regime.
To commemorate that milestone, the S.C. Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum will present the exhibit "Shield and Storm: 20th Anniversary of the Persian Gulf War."
The exhibit features about 30 items used or brought home from Operations Desert Shield or Desert Storm by South Carolina soldiers and airmen. It opened Wednesday and runs through June 25.
Allen Roberson, the museum's executive director, said the exhibit offers a starting point to examine America's involvement not only in that war, but the Middle Eastern conflicts of today.
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"It is the appropriate time to look back on this great American victory and examine it in context of today's War on Terror," he said. "Desert Storm gives the context for America's post-Cold War strategic interests and marks the beginning of today's highly effective, technology-driven ... military."
In the Gulf War, the United States and 33 allies coordinated to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait.
Hussein called it "The Mother of All Battles," but most people remember how quickly the Iraqi forces collapsed, the carnage on the infamous "Highway of Death" and the controversy over former President George H.W. Bush halting the attacks at the Iraqi border and not removing Hussein from power.
The exhibit examines multiple aspects of the conflict from a South Carolina point of view, particularly the involvement of South Carolinians. It has items and interpretation of the air campaign, featuring the South Carolina "Swamp Fox" Air National Guard F16A fighter squadron; the ground campaign featuring the S.C. Army National Guard and Fort Jackson; and a general overview of the conflict.
Among the items on display will be equipment used by South Carolina soldiers and airmen, and Iraqi military items brought home by them.
Kristina Dunn Johnson said the Gulf War has been overshadowed because of its brevity in relation to the present wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"These items have been in our collection and largely forgotten about," she said. "And many soldiers participated in both the Gulf War and the war on terror and have donated items from both. Hopefully, this exhibit will get other veterans to think of items they have as museum objects."
The exhibit is free with regular museum admission.
Founded in 1896, the S.C. Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum is the oldest museum in the Columbia area. The museum focuses on South Carolina's military history from the Revolutionary War to the present.