With the Arizona Military Museum tucked away in Papago Park, it’s easy to forget it’s there. It’s also easy to forget the history that’s represented there, which is exactly what the museum is trying to prevent.
The Arizona National Guard Historical Society celebrated the museum’s 25th anniversary on Saturday and honored a volunteers who have built and maintained the museum over the years.
Historical Society President Joe Abodeely said the museum attracts a couple thousand people a year, and is run by the volunteers on the society board. “This is all a labor of love,” he said.
The museum opened in 1981 to preserve the military history in Arizona. Saturday’s ceremony honored many of the original founders: Curtis Jennings, Jay Brasher, Tom Ross, John L. Johnson, Al French and John Smith.
The museum’s theme is “Lest We Forget,” which is an important message, Abodeely said.
The Phoenix criminal lawyer is also a retired colonel who led a combat platoon in Vietnam in 1968.
“I saw how easy it is for the public to forget what they did for their country,” he said. “They risk their lives and the public forgets their service.”
The museum features artifacts dating to the days of the conquistadors who treaded across the Arizona desert.
The displays are filled with historical uniforms, weapons and flags.
One of the most popular items is the Vietnam-era helicopter that is open for visitors to explore.
“There’s so much history of Arizona, and we need to preserve that,” said historical society board member Harry Hensell, who served 33 years in the military.
Arizona Military Museum
When: Open Saturdays and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Inside the Papago Park Military Reservation, 5636 E. McDowell Road
Admission: Free, but donations are accepted.
Information: (602) 267-2676