by Cal Applebee
After a seven-year effort to build a museum to honor the more than 20% of the area residents who are veterans, the Oregon Coast Military Museum opened its doors in Florence, Oregon, on July 4, 2015. Intended to honor all eras of military heritage and all disciplines of military service, it is a small museum in comparison to other military museums around the country. The 3,000-square-foot display space is filled with life-sized dioramas depicting scenes from WWI to Vietnam, plus a scaled diorama of a US military convoy driving through an Iraqi village. The life-sized dioramas were created by a museum supporter, Judy Murphy, who brought her theater background talents to the project.
Founded by several members of the Oregon Central Coast Military Vehicle Group, an MVPA affiliate, the museum displays several vehicles, including one half of a Jeep (a slat grille) that was created by club member Jim May with parts from his own inventory as well as donated parts from Ron Fitzpatrick Jeep Parts in Central Point, Oregon, and Willys Restorations in Toledo, Oregon.The driver’s-side only specimen is a huge hit with youth and adults alike as they don period uniforms for that perfect photo-op sitting in the OD jeep set against a giant US Flag mural.
The Museum also owns a full Jeep, a 1946 CJ2A donated by supporter Melba Reinke and restored by her late husband, club member Bob Reinke in tribute to his years of service in the Strategic Air Command from 1957 through 1964. While not on display in the museum, this Jeep does duty in parades, car shows and air shows throughout Oregon to promote the museum. It will soon be a part of a traveling museum display.
A very early production Ford GPW is currently on loan from Gene Small of Albany, Oregon. Restored by Small and close friend Dave Carter, this Jeep’s features, among others, include the Ford script on the rear panel, GPW body on transitional frame, and is one of only four factory 12-volt radio jeeps stationed at California’s Camp Young Desert Training Center in 1942 when General George S. Patton served as its first base commander.
While small by museum standards, this facility is jam-packed with artifacts, mementos, and experiences all in an effort to serve the Museum’s mission “To Honor our Veterans by Educating Our Public.” In addition to a small gift shop, the Museum also features a theater showing military documentaries, a USO Canteen, and a lending library.
Situated on Kingwood Street adjacent to the Florence Municipal Airport, the Museum is open Thursday through Saturday 10-4. Be sure to visit this treasure when you’re traveling the Oregon coast. You can learn more about the museum, membership, donating, and supporting by visiting www.oregoncoastmilitarymuseum.com.
For more information:
Oregon Coast Military Museum
2145 Kingwood St, Florence, OR 97439
Central Coast Military Vehicle Group
Mike Powter; firstname.lastname@example.org
Eugene, OR; (541) 235-7020
Cal Applebee; email@example.com
Florence, OR; (541) 999-6456
Meeting: 2nd Saturday of the month, 10:30 am, contact president for location.