There is the old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, but according to retired veteran Frank Kocman, Jr., sometimes a subject is worth 10,000 words, and that is part of the mission of The Museum of the American G.I. Opened in 2001 by Brent and Leisha Mullins and Emmett Fox to preserve the legacy of those who fought in war, the museum is designed to be a living history tool for younger generations. Believing that schools are not presenting history in a way that is fascinating and draws children in, and wanting to create a local connection to wars that seem distant, the founders established the museum at 1303 Cherokee Street in College Station as a place for veterans to share personal history and create a living, local connection to history. The museum serves as a repository of equipment, uniforms and memories of American Servicemen.
In addition to putting a local face on the history of war, the Museum of the American G.I. has created a network for area veterans. Open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the museum is important to veterans in part because it preserves articles significant to military history. The museum also connects the personal experience of local veterans with the many events written about in history books.
The museum’s collection includes armored vehicles, artillery and 20th century weapons of war, uniforms and artifacts. It is also home to one of the nation’s most complete libraries of technical and training manuals for military vehicles and weapons.
The Brazos Valley is one of the top regions in the nation for veterans because of Texas A&M University and the Corps of Cadets military history. Many veterans returned to civilian life after experiencing combat and witnessing brutality that few people can relate to without having served in World War II or Vietnam. Many veterans came back from the war and kept their experiences to themselves feeling as if they could not relate to those who hadn’t served. Because of the Museum of the American G.I., those veterans have both a place to connect to others who know the experience of service and war and also to share those experiences so the next generations can learn from what has gone before.
Veterans Day Celebration
Will Bring History to Life
The Museum of the American G.I. will be hosting a Veterans Day Celebration, November 5 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission and parking is free, though donations to support the museum are welcome.
“The Museum of the American G.I. wants to make history intriguing to people of all ages,” says retired veteran Frank Kocman, Jr. “This celebration is meant to make all people excited and interested in history. There will be historic artifacts that have been restored to their original state and will be doing live re-enactments of actual battles from World War II.
“The celebration will be very family oriented in order to cultivate a spirit of interest and learning within the hearts of youngsters and to encourage older veterans to talk about their experience. The day will be free and all are welcome to attend. Hotdogs, hamburgers, and drinks will be available, and the Brazos Valley Bombers are setting up their UPA kids park for the children to play on. There will also be several veteran authors there such as Daniel Flores and Bill Buchanan to talk with about their books and their personal experiences.”
The event will be held at 19124 Highway 6 South, just past Santa’s Wonderland in College Station. Country music artist and Gulf War veteran Jeffrey Charles will perform from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.magicstx.org or call (979) 739-4037.
The Museum of the American G.I. is a non-profit organization and accepts donations in support of its mission.