The Jimmy Doolittle Air and Space Museum Foundation and Travis Heritage Center have an extremely interesting and wide variety of collections. Our weapons, engines, aircraft nose art, models, original photographs, aviation sculptures, military coins and uniforms are a delight to any craftsmen’s or artisans’ eye. The following represents an example of our holdings:
Photography: Travis Heritage Collection
Travis Heritage Collection
Created by Colleen Britton, the Travis Heritage Collection consists of six color photographs designed to celebrate the dedication, self-sacrifice, and service given over the years in our behalf by the men and women of Travis Air Force Base. Modeled from the book, A History of Travis Air Force Base 1943-1996, by Dr. Gary Leiser, the history of the base was divided into six chapters. Military uniforms, artifacts, memorabilia, and historic photographs carefully arranged tell the story of each period of base history. A short written narrative accompanies each photograph to identify the objects and their significance.
The six photographs in the Travis Heritage Collection offer a glimpse into the past, and rekindle memories and pride in a job well done. They invite and encourage viewers to discover more about the people, times, and events which shaped our history and continue to shape our future.
Travis Heritage Collection
- Fairfield-Suisun Army Air Base, The Early Years: 1943-1949
- Early SAC Period and Jet Age: 1949-1965
- Vietnam Era: 1965-1975
- Post War Period: 1976-1983
- Last Decade of Twenty Second Air Force: 1983-1993
- Beginning of the Fifteenth Air Force Era: 1993-1996
Sculpture: Ed’s Final Flight
“Ed’s Final Flight” by Ray Carrinton
In the spring of 1999, Mr. Ray Carrington, one of the most well-know metal sculptors on the West Coast, approached Curator Gary Leiser with the idea of donating several of his works of art to the Travis Heritage Center.
As president of the non-profit Carrington Foundation for Public Art, he was especially interested in providing art for public places. In addition, he had a strong interest in aviation, because he had served as an intelligence officer in the Air Force at Travis - so he wanted to do something at the base. After several discussions, he generously offered to donate two large metal sculptures designed for display out of doors.
The smaller of the two, entitled “Ed’s Final Flight,” is a generic “aerospace vehicle” symbolic of the spirit of flight and the exploration of the heavens (Ed, by the way, was the name of the actual welder). Painted bright orange on a black pedestal, it stands about six feet high and weighs several hundred pounds.
The larger, called “One Kid in a Hundred,” is a giant paper airplane. It is about twelve feet high and weighs more than half a ton. “Ed’s Flight” is on exhibit inside the museum. “One Kid in a Hundred” is in the back storage area. Both pieces should one day grace an outdoor sculpture garden.
Mr. Carrington was born in Dunsmuir, California in 1930. He graduated from UC Berkeley in forestry. After serving in the Air Force and working throughout the lumber industry, he earned his teaching credentials at UC Davis and subsequently taught advanced mathematics for 35 years at Vacaville High School. He is currently a resident of Fairfield.
In his art, he works with materials varying from thin wire to heavy beams. Abstract, representational, inventive, often whimsical, and original, his work has been shown in galleries across the US for 32 years. The Travis Heritage Center is delighted to have two examples of his work.
Military Coins: 600 Coin Collection
General Charles T. “Tony” Robertson Jr.
General Charles T. “Tony” Robertson Jr. donated his 600-piece coin collection to the Travis Heritage Center where it is handsomely exhibited near the Gift Shop. Tony Robertson was commander in chief, U.S. Transportation Command, and commander, Air Mobility Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill. He retired effective December 1, 2001.
Military Challenge Coins
Military Challenge Coins are an unofficial element of military culture. The true origins of these coins are shrouded in legend...
During World War I, an American fighter pilot was shot down over “no-mans land.” He used a coin with the insignia of his squadron to identify himself to French soldiers intent on shooting him as a suspected saboteur. Thereafter members of his squadron carried their coins at all times. Soon a ritual challenge began. If anyone struck their coin on a hard surface, such as a bar, all others in attendance had to respond in kind. Anyone not having their coin had to buy a round of drinks. If everyone had their coin, the challenger bought the round.
Variations developed in WW II. In the Philippine Islands, a force composed of Philippine, American, British, Australian, and others used the classic guerrilla tactic of striking hard and disappearing in the jungle before Japanese forces could react. In order to make contact between unknown guerrilla bands, they adopted the expedient method of filing a large one-peso coin flat on one side and stamping it with their unit emblem. This allowed them to carry a means of identification that would be overlooked if they were searched.
In Vietnam the challenge tradition took a dangerous turn. Members of elite army units always carried one round of ammunition with them just in case. As sometimes happens with traditions this one got a little out of hand. Instead of carrying a rifle or pistol cartridge in their pocket when they visited a hootch (bar) some wise guy carried a larger .50 caliber machine gun round. It wasn't long before 20 mm, 40 mm, and even 105 mm cannon shells were carried to these gatherings. Common sense prevailed and challenge coins replaced live ordinance.
Today, challenge coins are a symbol of pride that military members carry, not for personal identification, but to identify themselves as part of a team. Soldiers and airmen from numerous countries have taken up the challenge. One of the ways to make new friends when deployed to distant lands is to trade coins. People strive for the most unusual coins and carrying the coins of another unit or nation is acceptable as long as they can show their connection with that organization.
Uniforms: Military Uniform Collection
Travis Heritage Center Military Uniform Exhibit
The Jimmy Doolittle Air and Space Museum Foundation and the Travis Heritage Center are exceptionally proud of its extensive military uniform exhibits. Authentic uniforms from WWI to the space exploration; from pilots to medics to WASPs are displayed.