“In the Belly of the Dragon: Life and Death in I-Corps” New Exhibit at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum

Half of all combat deaths in Vietnam occurred in I-Corps, the five northern most provinces of South Vietnam. An exhibit featuring this significant part of the Vietnam War is currently on display Wisconsin Veterans Museum in Madison, Wisconsin. The exhibit features rare photos, letters, and diaries, along with significant equipment and collections. Each part of the exhibit emphasizes the personal stories of Wisconsin veterans who served in I-Corps.

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“In the Belly of the Dragon” opened at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum in Madison, Wisc. in September 2007 and will remain on exhibit until March 2008.

I-Corps covered the area where North Vietnamese troops crossed into South Vietnam. As Northern forces increased in this area, the presence of U.S. forces also expanded. I-Corps areas like Hue, Danang, Khe Sanh, Hamburger Hill, the A Shau Valley and My Lai all become known to Americans through the morning papers and the nightly news.

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Unlike many exhibits about Vietnam, “In the Belly of the Dragon” uses artifacts that tell the personal stories of soldiers who actually fought in in the I-Corps region of Vietnam.

“In the Belly of the Dragon” will be on exhibit until March 2008. The Wisconsin Veterans Museum is a free public educational activity of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs and is located at 30 W. Mifflin St., across the street from the State Capitol. The Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (year round) and Sunday (April through September) from noon to 4 p.m. The Museum’s Research Center is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and by appointment. For more information contact Charlotte Deleste or Laura Kocum at 608-264-7663, or go to http://museum.dva.state.wi.us.

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Most artifacts, photo and diary or letter excerpts included in the exhibit came from Wisconsin veterans.

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A poignant display features a mountain of effects from a Wisconsin chaplain who administered to soldiers in the I-Corps combat zone.

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An innovative hands-on display invites visitors to use handsets to eaves-drop on a Special Forces extraction. Sounds in the exhibit gallery give a chilling sense of the immediacy to withdraw troops while under fire.

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A full-scale reproduction of a squad’s bunker proves to be one of the most popular features of the exhibit. Actual veterans of the I-Corps campaign contributed their memories and expertise to recreate a “typical” bunker.

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Ultra-rare hand-penned propaganda pieces that were removed by an I-Corps veteran are featured in the exhibit as well.

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Wisconsin Veteran Museum Curator Bill Brewster conceived and implemented this tribute to I-Corps veterans. For more information on the Veterans Museum and its programs, log on to http://museum.dva.state.wi.us

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