The Village of Palmetto Bay hosted an active adult trip to the Miami Military Museum in southern Miami-Dade County on Thursday, February 24.
The tour for 17 adults 55 and older was via i-Bus from Perrine Community House at 900 Perrine Ave. at the museum, located at 12460 SW 152 St.
Marsha Matson, a member of the village council, was present and said she enjoyed the visit.
“Some of the residents who went are veterans,” council member Matson said. “There is a special focus in the museum, but they cover all the wars and skirmishes and their connection to South Florida and the people of Miami. It’s just a great museum.
She says she has visited it before with family members who are veterans and they enjoyed it.
“It was fantastic then, and it’s even better now,” Matson said. “They have more exhibits and a little theater where they showed a great video. They have more contributions from people who have been involved. I really love him so much.
The museum structure was built during World War II as the headquarters of Naval Air Station Richmond, which had three hangars large enough to accommodate airships, but was used for airships in search of submarines Nazis threatening the coasts of Florida.
During the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis, it was the CIA’s JM-WAVE station, the headquarters of the freedom fighters of the anti-Castro exile Cuban community. It was the site of the US Army Reserve Center during the Vietnam War, and from 1985 to 1992 the US Marine Corps Reserve Center was located there. The Marine Anti-Tank TOW Missile Company departed from there to fight in Desert Storm. In 2018, restoration work on the building began.
Thomas Gammon, a retired Air Force Lt. Col., is currently an education specialist for the museum. He led the tour of the exhibits and coordinated the trip with Saylin Paez, Village Events and Programs Supervisor.
“From all I could tell, they were very impressed with what they heard and what they saw,” Lt. Col. Gammon said. “We started by giving them a presentation on air power and the museum, then we gave them a tour of the building. They were able to visit the WWII Gallery, the Vietnam Gallery, the Desert Storm Gallery, the Korean War Gallery. Each of them had their own memories of what was going on in their lives during those particular wars. It was as fun for us to hear from them as it was for them to hear from us. Many people don’t know this museum exists.
The museum’s executive director is Anthony D. Atwood, PhD, a Miami native and retired Navy Chief Warrant Officer 3 with a BA from the University of Miami, and an MA and Ph.D. from Florida International University. Dr. Atwood focused his presentation on A State of War, Florida in WWII. The museum is something he has stood for for decades, despite the difficulties.
“It’s extremely important,” Dr. Atwood said. “This project has been going on for 20 years.
They thought I was crazy for wanting to move a building and do all of this, but we’re finally doing it all.
Near the museum are the Gold Coast Railroad Museum, Zoo Miami, and several military installations.
The Miami Military Museum’s collection is still being added to and is scheduled to officially open in the fall. For more information, visit www.miamimilitarymuseum.org/.
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