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Preserving the past

Camp Murray Guard museum a historical gem

Found on an old World War II trench coat. /J.M. Simpson

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A sense of pride pervades the Washington National Guard Museum.

"We hope this museum instills in each and every individual who comes in here a sense of pride in the Washington National Guard," said Bill Markley, a volunteer and Army veteran. "We have something to be very proud of here; this place is a gem."

Often referred to as "The Arsenal," the museum is located in Building #2 on Camp Murray.

"This is the oldest building here," said Mike Liebel, another volunteer and Army veteran.

It is also a most immaculate structure.

Visitors walk into a well lit, large and historically rich environment.

"This is part of our job, to collect and represent the past to the present in an appealing manner," said Markley as he walked past a display of the Guard's Medal of Honor winners.

The museum's exhibits cover a timeline from the formation of the Washington Territorial Militia in 1855 to current combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"When visitors come here, they learn that the Guard has earned its stripes," explained Liebel.

From a Gatling gun and cannon  to uniforms and equipment from various time periods, the museum's exhibits offer a glimpse of the past. New displays are being created and established while existing exhibits are regularly updated.

"This museum is a step to getting public perception away from the stereotype that the Guard is less than the Soldiers who serve on active duty.  We are their equals,"  Liebel said.

Both Markley and Liebel said that their work in the museum is more than just a way for them to utilize their time.

"I enjoy coming here and working," continued Liebel. "Both of us have become very attached to this place."

Of concern to museum personnel is the need for more volunteer help.

"There is a ton of work to be done here," said Liebel.  "We could use volunteers to help us sort through the items that are donated to us."

The museum is open Wednesdays and the first Saturday of the month from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and by appointment.  Admission is free.

"I truly hope that this museum instills in each and every person in the Washington National Guard a sense of pride for serving - that we all have something to be very proud of."

For more information about the museum, call (253) 512-7834 or visit

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