COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The National Infantry Museum celebrated a milestone by welcoming its 2,500,000th visitor Friday, July 28.
The Whicher family – dad Larry, mom Natalie, daughter and son-in-law Christina and John Reinold and grandchildren Amy, Malachi and Chett – were greeted with the news as they entered the museum after their son's graduation from basic training on Inouye Field.
The family is from Russellville, Arkansas.
"We were completely shocked, but pleasantly surprised," Larry Whicher told museum staff standing by for the celebration. "We're so proud of Alex, and this is just the capstone to the whole event."
Pvt. Alexander Riley Whicher, a member of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, had the honor of serving as one of two team leaders in the so-called Super Squad at graduation, which demonstrates the various roles of the members of an Infantry squad.
After a brief visit with his family, he'll be heading to Airborne School and ultimately to Fort Bragg for Special Forces assessment and selection.
While a lot of new Soldiers are glad to see training come to a close, Pvt. Whicher is ready for more. "I can't wait for Airborne School," he said. "I just love the challenge of it all."
Museum staff presented the family with a certificate, free passes to the Giant Screen Theater and DownRange Combat Simulators, a free lunch in the Fife and Drum restaurant and bags filled with National Infantry Museum souvenirs.
The museum opened in June 2009 and welcomed its 1,000,000th visitor in 2012.
In August 2016, the museum was named the #1 Best Free Museum in USA Today's Readers' Choice Awards.
The museum is the #1 attraction in Columbus on TripAdvisor with ratings that exceed most attractions statewide.