Montana Military Museum highlights WWII victory in the Pacific - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Montana Military Museum highlights WWII victory in the Pacific

Posted: Jan 26, 2018 12:21 PM Updated:

HELENA - The Montana Military Museum has new display recognizing the state's contribution to an early victory in the Pacific theater during World War II.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the battle of Sanananda where soldiers of Montana's 163rd Infantry Regiment battled the Japanese in the jungles of New Guinea.

The 163rd was made up of 1,700 men, including nearly 200 members of Montana's Indian tribes. Their victory at the battle in 1943 is recognized as the first major land victory against the Japanese.

The 163rd also served as one of the initial occupation forces in Japan before being sent home in 1946.

"They came back and became business people, and legislators, and teachers; they ran farms and ranches and continued on with their life," Montana Military Museum director Raymond Read said.

"Who'd have thought that a group of plowboys and cowboys and ranchers from Montana would have been winning the first battle against the Japanese land forces in the Pacific theater?" Read added.

The museum, which is located on the Fort Harrison complex just west of Helena, is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m .on Thursdays and also by appointment. Tours may be arranged for other days upon request by calling Read at 406-458-9847.  

Photo ID is required to access Fort Harrison grounds.

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