In March 2003, the Museum of Military History started life in a tent at the Vietnam
Veterans Traveling Memorial Wall in St. Cloud, Florida. Vietnam Veteran, Mr. Jerry
Kervin and his brother Jim, along with another Vietnam Vet, Dave Roberts, had an
idea that they should ask the manager of the Osceola Square Mall in Kissimmee,
Florida if they could use a store front in the mall to permanently display items that
had been donated and loaned by members of Vietnam Veterans Association (VVA),
Osceola County Chapter 755. The three charter members called their display, the
"Veterans Tribute" at the time.
In April 2003, the "Veterans Tribute" opened in the mall, Unit #70. The "Veterans Tribute" was initiated by the two Kervin brothers and staffed by volunteers from VVA Chapter 755. The "Veterans Tribute" began with donated uniforms, manuals, unit patches, keepsakes and memorabilia and was open 12 noon to 6 pm Thursday thru Sunday each week. In March 2004, the "Veterans Tribute" was moved to unit #80, which was at the main entrance to the mall. While there, the decision was made to separate the "Veterans Tribute" from VVA Chapter 755. At that time Jerry and Jim Kervin, along with Mr. Frank Clark, began the required paperwork to get the "Veterans Tribute" incorporated.
In April 2004, the first organizational meeting of what was to become the "Veterans Tribute and Museum" was held in the space formerly occupied by Morrison's Cafeteria. An election of officers was held and the by-laws and mission statements were enacted. Officers elected were Jim Kervin, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Jerry Kervin, Vice Chairman, Mike Goode, Secretary and Frank Clark, Treasurer. John Della Costa, Dave Conboy, Ron Zak, Tony C. and Harry DeMaria were elected to the Board of Directors. Within three days after this first meeting, incorporation papers were filed with the State of Florida.
On June 30, 2004, the incorporation documents and Employer Identification Number were issued by the state of Florida. At this time, the "Veterans Tribute and Museum" of Osceola County, Inc., filed for non-profit status as a Veterans Organization and not for profit status as 501(c)19 from the IRS. On September 30, 2004, they received the Determination Letter from the IRS with designation as a 501(c)19 Veterans Organization (with deductability) with an effective date of June 30, 2004. The search for support, funding and a new permanent home for the museum really began at this time.
As more people discovered and visited the museum the material donations continued and space within the store front became a problem. The Osceola County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) were approached with the idea that a permanent location outside of the mall be found and dedicated as a museum. This site would provide tourists and residents alike with a place that would tell the story of the sacrifices that our military's men and women have made ensuring the freedom and liberties that all American citizens enjoy today. The museum would not only tell their stories, but also provide an opportunity to educate the public. The BOCC agreed that they would assist us in this project in 2004.
Over the next few years and a couple of moves within the mall, an Executive Director was hired to bring the museum up to standards in the area of displays and control of inventory.
Internship programs with Valencia College and Workforce Central Florida have been developed and now support the museum. High school volunteer programs from Osceola County schools are now in place, providing training and volunteer hours to our county's students. Our curator, Scott Carmean, is a 30 year veteran of the U.S. Navy and a historian with degrees in history and public history from City University of Seattle, Washington, Pensacola State College and the University of West Florida.
The museum of Military History opened its doors to the public on Saturday, March 31, 2012, following a ceremony to dedicate the museum to veterans, those heroes lost in battle and to Osceola County.