Brunswick Naval Museum to open for Veterans Day

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BRUNSWICK — The town is getting a new museum this Veterans Day.

The Brunswick Naval Museum and Memorial Gardens will open for the first time Wednesday, Nov. 11, with an exhibit about the history of the former U.S. Navy air station.

The museum is a registered nonprofit, supported primarily by volunteers. It is in the former base chapel at 179 Admiral Fitch Ave.

Museum President John Briley said volunteers have been working on the exhibit since May in whatever time they could spare.

“It’s been demanding at times, but it’s been fun,” he said Tuesday.

To preview the opening, the museum has put out a promotional video on YouTube, narrated by Don Carrigan of WCSH6, that highlights significant moments in the base’s history.

Constructed in 1942-1943 during World War II, the base trained more than 3,000 British airmen to aid the war effort, the video states.

During the Cold War, planes from Brunswick were deployed to NATO bases all over the world and, in the 1990s, the base deployed aircraft to conflict zones in the Middle East.

The opening exhibit will feature a flight simulator that will allow visitors to “fly” all three types of aircraft historically stationed at the base: a Corsair, a P-2 Neptune, and a P-3 Orion. There is an example of the final plane, the P-3, permanently on display on the lawn east of the museum.

Museum organizers hope to also move the P-2 Neptune, now sitting at the entrance to Brunswick Landing off Bath Road, to the site near the P-3. They also plan to eventually obtain a Corsair.

Briley said the flight simulator is a “pretty special opportunity,” because the software allows former pilots to input their personal markings on the virtual plane.

“He’ll be able to represent his squadron, his planes,” Briley said.

The software was developed with grant support from the Reny Charitable Foundation, he said.

Other funding came from the Brunswick Development Corp., according to a museum press release.

On Veterans Day, “I hope (visitors) walk away with a good idea of the importance and significance of the patrols that were run out of the Naval Air Station here,” Briley said.

Briley, a Navy veteran who was stationed at Pearl Harbor in WWII, said it’s important not to lose the military heritage of the area.

He wants people to learn and remember how the base helped the “development of Brunswick, and how Brunswick helped the operations at the base.”

The exhibit will be open from 1-4 p.m. Nov. 11, and is free and open to the public.

Walter Wuthmann can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow Walter on Twitter: @wwuthmann.

A memorial garden at the Brunswick Naval Museum, which opens its first exhibit Nov. 11.

Brunswick/Harpswell reporter for The Forecaster. Bowdoin College grad, San Francisco Bay Area native. Follow for municipal, school, community, and environmental news from the Midcoast.