The birthplace of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the historic Little Rock Arsenal, houses the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History.
Category: Worth the Drive

Arkansas military museums

Arkansas Air Museum
Drake Field, U.S. 71, Fayetteville,

Arkansas National Guard Museum
Camp Robinson, Sixth Street and Missouri Avenue, North Little Rock,

Jacksonville Museum of Military History
100 Veterans Circle, Jacksonville,

Museum of Veterans and Military History
4290 S. School Ave., Vilonia,

Wings of Honor Museum
70 Beacon Road, Walnut Ridge,

MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History

503 E. Ninth St., Little Rock

Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-
Saturday; 1-5 p.m. Sunday

(501) 376-4602

MacArthur Museum honors Arkansas’ military history

A World War II jeep looking ready to roll into action greets visitors to Little Rock’s MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History.

A World War II jeep is on display at the MacArthur

Housed in the landmark building where the legendary Gen. Douglas MacArthur was born in 1880, the attraction’s exhibits explore the many roles of Arkansans in America’s military conflicts going back to the 19th century.

As Memorial Day approaches on May 27, the museum’s goals include honoring the numerous Arkansans who’ve died while serving their country. Displays in 11 galleries on two floors extend from the Civil War through both world wars, Korea and Vietnam to this century’s conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

One of the most compelling exhibits, printed on cloth and hanging from floor to ceiling, lists the names of the nearly 600 Arkansans who lost their lives in the Vietnam War. They are printed in alphabetical order, beginning with John Wayne Acosta.

“I have seen visitors looking carefully at the list of the dead, trying to find the name of a family member or friend,” says Stephan McAteer, the museum’s executive director. “It has real personal meaning to them.”

Stories of valor lie behind other exhibits, including those in the Medal of Honor Gallery. Among the 26 native Arkansans who received the nation’s highest military salute, Fayetteville-born Marine Corps Cpl. John Henry Pruitt stands out as the state’s only recipient of two such medals.

Pruitt was honored by both the Army and the Navy, as his exhibit explains, while serving with the American Expeditionary Force at Blanc Mount Ridge in France. He “singlehandedly attacked two German machine-gun positions and captured 40 prisoners nearby, but was killed soon afterward by shell fire while on sniper duty. He died on his 20th birthday,” — Oct. 4, 1918, little more than a month before the war ended.

The birthplace of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the
historic Little Rock Arsenal, houses the MacArthur Museum
of Arkansas Military History.

Nearby in MacArthur Park stands the Arkansas Korean War Veterans Memorial. Maintained by the museum, it records the names of 461

Arkansans who died in the Korean conflict from 1950 to 1953. One of them, Cpl. Gilbert G. Collier of Tichnor in Arkansas County, is pictured in the museum.

McAteer says that museum visitors usually fall into one of three categories: “One is those interested in the history of the Arsenal Building, especially during the Civil War. A second is those interested in Douglas MacArthur. Third are those interested in Arkansas military history in general. Those interests do often overlap.”

After MacArthur’s birth in what is now the museum building on Jan. 26, 1880, he was baptized in Little Rock’s Christ Episcopal Church. Three months later, he left the city when his Army father was transferred to another post. As an adult, he called himself a Virginian.

The museum’s theater shows a 22-minute video on MacArthur’s life and career. An exhibit chronicles his only return to Little Rock, in March 1952, a year after he had been relieved of command in the Far East by President Harry S. Truman.

A museum photo shows World War II soldiers
from Arkansas playing with children.

One museum source of pride is its collection of more than 4,600 World War II photographs originally taken for a news service. They can be viewed selectively in binders at the museum or in their entirety on the website