A Visit to the Military Museum of North Florida

Green Cove Springs, FL – On my way home from St Augustine, I decided to drop by the Military Museum of North Florida in Green Cove Springs. It’s a small, but enthusiastically run museum just off of Florida Highway 16 next to the Reynolds Airpark airport and the Reynolds Industrial Park. The location is important because Reynolds Airpark used to be Naval Air Station Green Cove Springs, Benjamin Lee Field. A training field during World War 2, pilots were trained to fly the F6F Hellcat and operate from aircraft carriers at Lee Field.

The museum is currently a work in progress, with a number of the exhibits being rearranged to better present their material. Even though it’s located on the site of a former World War 2 Navy base, it doesn’t focus on a single service branch or war, it instead covers all services and most all of the United States’ wars. The museum has artifacts and items including vehicles, aircraft engines, uniforms, equipment, weapons, maps, photos, and flags. Among the vehicles in their collection are two I’d never seen before: a LARC-LX and an MQM-33. The LARC-LX, at almost 63 feet long, 20 feet high, and 27 feet wide is a massive four-wheel drive amphibious lighter; it looks like a cross between an amphibious assault vehicle and a large industrial dump truck. The MQM-33 is a post-World War 2 era propeller driven target drone.

 

The Military Museum of North Florida

 

One of the first things you see after you enter the museum is this Pratt & Whitney R 2800 engine from an F6F Hellcat that crashed at Lee Field (the pilot survived)

 

One of the items in the Military Museum of North Florida’s collection: a World War I 8mm Hotchkiss machine gun

 

Some of the uniforms and equipment in the Military Museum of North Florida’s collection include this French canteen, sewing kit, and helmet from World War I

 

Some of the items in the Military Museum of North Florida’s collection this silver service from the USS Wisconsin (BB-64)

 

One of the items in the Military Museum of North Florida’s collection: Imperial Japanese Navy ship’s binoculars

 

This Korean War era CW transmitter is among the communications equipment in the Military Museum of North Florida’s collection

 

Among the communications equipment in the Military Museum of North Florida’s collection is this pair of Korean War era AN/PRC-6 handie talkies

 

One of the items in the Military Museum of North Florida’s collection: a North Vietnamese hand crank generator, used to power radio equipment

 

A post-World War 2 MQM-33 target drone inside the Military Museum of North Florida

 

An M42 Duster twin 40mm self-propelled gun, part of the Military Museum of North Florida’s collection of vehicles

 

An M561 “Gama Goat,” one of the vehicles in the Military Museum of North Florida’s collection

 

The Military Museum has a number of jeeps in its collection, including these two M151A2 (left) and M170 (right)

 

An M247 Mule, one of the vehicles in the Military Museum of North Florida’s collection

 

An M37 Weapons Carrier, one of the vehicles in the Military Museum of North Florida’s collection

 

In front of the museum is a massive LARC-LX (Lighter, Amphibious Resupply, Cargo) – an almost 63 ft long, 20 ft high, and 27 ft wide amphibious four-wheel drive vehicle
In front of the museum is a massive LARC-LX (Lighter, Amphibious Resupply, Cargo) – an almost 63 ft long, 20 ft high, and 27 ft wide amphibious four-wheel drive vehicle
In front of the museum is a massive LARC-LX (Lighter, Amphibious Resupply, Cargo) – an almost 63 ft long, 20 ft high, and 27 ft wide amphibious four-wheel drive vehicle

 

When I visited, I was lucky enough to meet the museum’s Executive Director Chris Mayer, a Battle of Britain survivor and retired Royal Marine, who gave a couple and I a tour of the museum. If you visit and he’s there, definitely take the time to listen to him talk about the Battle of Britain and his experiences.

The museum is a 501c3 organization and is staffed solely by volunteers like Mr. Mayer. The admission is free, but please consider making a donation or become a Friend of the Museum (there are applications in their brochures at the museum and I have a handful of them), it will help them continue to improve and operate the museum. You can also find out more about the museum via their Facebook page.

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