OCMM in the MVPA
The Oregon Coast Military Museum opened its doors in Florence, on the Oregon coast, on July 4th, 2015, after a seven-year effort by locals to build a museum to honor the more-than 20% of Florence-area residents who are Veterans. 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 typical Iraqi village depicting a US military convoy traveling through. The life-sized dioramas were created by a supporter, Judy Murphy, who brought talent to the project from her background in theater.
Founded by several members of the Oregon Central Coast Military Vehicle Group, an MVPA affiliate, it does not display very many vintage military vehicles – although there is one half-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 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 itself, this Jeep does duty in parades and at car shows and air shows throughout Oregon to promote the museum itself, soon to be a part of a Traveling Museum display.
A Very Early Production Ford GPW is on loan currently from Gene Small of Albany, Oregon. Restored by Small and close friend Dave Carter, this jeep’s features, among others, include 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 small 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 site when you’re traveling the Oregon coast, as well as learn more about membership, donating and supporting by visiting our website: www.oregoncoastmilitarymuseum.com.