Military History Sights
With two military bases surrounding the greater Tacoma region, there’s a fairly decent chance you'll run across a few soldiers or airmen while wandering about town. Military buffs can bone up on their history at museums offered by each base.
Take exit 120 from I-5, 16 miles south of Tacoma, to the Fort Lewis Military Museum (253/967-7206, noon–4 p.m. Wed.–Sun., free) located in a 1918 Swiss-style building originally used as a Salvation Army center. The museum emphasizes Northwest military history, including displays of the dress uniforms from various eras, the history of the I Corps, and such oddities as Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf’s Jeep (he was base commander here in the early 1980s). Obtain a pass at the visitors office on the east side of the freeway near the main gate.
Another military collection is the McChord Air Museum (253/982-2485, noon–4 p.m. Tues.–Sun., closed holidays, free), one mile east on exit 125. The museum contains several aircraft, flying gear, uniforms, and other Air Force memorabilia from the 1930s through the 1960s. However, you'll need an Air Force buddy to get you in—visitors aren't allowed in unescorted.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition