Military Heritage Museum
Fishermen's Village
1200 West Retta Esplanade, Unit 48
Punta Gorda, Florida 33950
Mon - Sat: 10am to 6pm
Sun: noon to 5pm
Admission is free

22 March 2008 - Meet the military museum’s honorary chair Tuesday

Those of us connected to the Museum felt quite honored a couple of months ago, when Sean O’Keefe agreed to be our honorary chair.  Among many other positions, he served as the tenth Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Comptroller and Chief Financial Officer of the Department of Defense, and Secretary of the Navy. He also served on the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations staff was Staff Director of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. O'Keefe was presented with the Distinguished Public Service Award in 1993 by President Bush and Secretary Cheney.

O’Keefe will be in town this week, and we’re holding a reception for him in the Museum, on Tuesday, the 25th, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.  At 4:30, he’ll share some anecdotes of his life while he held some of those positions.  This is free and open to the public, so please come and see what makes this man so special.

And we’d like to meet you! The Museum is looking for a few good men … and women. We’d love to have some additional assistance.  You don’t have to be a veteran – just willing to help with showing off our Museum as a guide, or reorganizing our exhibit displays, or arranging new displays, or helping to catalogue artifacts, or lots of other things! If you’re at all interested, give me a call at 575-9002, and we’ll see how we might put your talents to use.

The move into Fishermen’s Village has proven to be a worthwhile venture and is the reason why we need more volunteers. From December through February, 19,071 people walked through our doors. These visitors were from every one of our United States and Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Poland, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, Philippines, Russia, Puerto Rico, England and Canada.

It’s not unusual for our local visitors to return to donate artifacts. But a non-local man was so impressed with our Museum that he mailed an artifact to us when he returned to his home in Wisconsin.  The donated item is a WWII Japanese military transit (a surveying tool) in its original backpack carrying case, which was found by a sailor on an overrun installation on the island of Mindanao in 1944.

1944 is during the period we’re celebrating with our evening of fun, “I’ll Be Seeing You:  A Tribute to the USO.” It’s not too late to sign up, and I’m going to remind you about this until you do! In case you missed the news before, this will be held on Saturday, April 12, at the Cultural Center of Charlotte County in Port Charlotte.  Tickets are $75, which includes dinner, a USO-style show performed by Valerie Sneade and Turning Leaf Productions, and beer and wine.  (A cash bar will be available for liquor.) You can even write $56.81 of that ticket price off as a charitable contribution.  The show will pay tribute to the Andrews Sisters, Bob Hope, Danny Kay, and Frank Sinatra, among others. So go to and click on “News from the Front” or call 575-9002 for more details.

Writing of details, the architectural renderings of the new museum we will construct at the Charlotte County Airport (many of which can be seen at, have included, from the first rendering, a group of flag poles with flags from the various branches of the United States armed services.  First of all, military flags have to be in a proper order, which was debated among the members of the Museum’s building committee. (Does the Marine flag come first or the Navy?)  According to many sources that follow the Department of Defense Directive 1005.8, “Order of Precedence of Members of Armed Forces of the United States When in Formations,” the order is as follows:  Army, Marine, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard.

And yes, there’s the Coast Guard.  Is it officially one of the armed services?  As I’ve been speaking to various groups about the new museum and showing our renderings, that question has come up a lot. According to, “The legal basis for the Coast Guard is Title 14 of the United States Code, which states: ‘The Coast Guard as established January 28, 1915, shall be a military service and a branch of the armed forces of the United States at all times.’ Upon the declaration of war or when the President directs, the Coast Guard operates under the authority of the Department of the Navy. The Coast Guard later moved to the Department of Transportation in 1967, and on February 25, 2003 it became part of the Department of Homeland Security.”  And the Coast Guard is listed as one of the armed forces on the website of the Department of Defense,  (Next major discussion:  the Merchant Marines!)

Kim Lovejoy is the executive director of the Military Heritage & Aviation Museum, located in Fishermen’s Village in Punta Gorda. As of April 1, the Museum’s hours will be 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. For information about the Museum, call 941-575-9002.