Story by: Judd Barczak
Though from the outside, the North Florida Military Museum seems like nothing more than a small bunker just off state road 16. Though the land that this building is on and the Reynolds Industrial Park in general has much more to its story than what we see today.
With Jacksonville’s vast military community, the Military Museum of North Florida is doing their best to offer a place where anyone can learn about the military history of the United States free of charge. With exhibits ranging from the Revolutionary War, to Operation Desert Storm there is something for every interest.
Where the museum now operates was once the site of the Lee Field Naval Air Station, which is known for training notable pilots such as the “father of marine corps aviation” general Roy Geiger, Ed McMahon, John F. Kennedy’s older brother Joe Kennedy, and the Black Sheep Squadron pilots. The Lee Air Station was also the home to the US Navy reserve fleets affectionately referred to as the “Mothball Fleets.”
Though the Naval reserve fleet no longer calls Lee Field its home, that doesn’t mean that the history that they have created left with them. The rich history that filled the skies above still lives on inside that same small bunker. With part of their mission statement being to “honor every branch of the military and those who fought for our country,” the historic nature of the site the museum is built on is symbolic and fitting.
The museum has done everything in its power to keep information of our military past open and available to the public. With everything from free admission, to hosting reenactments of different battles. The museum staff are continuing to honor the history and spirit of the airfield that used to reside in their place.