By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
Yukon’s Veterans Museum is back open for business.
Closed since mid-March after local and statewide COVID-19 disaster declarations, museum volunteers reopened the doors at 11 a.m. Wednesday, May 6.
“When the City of Yukon told us to shut down, we shut down … we didn’t let anybody in here,” said Lt. Col. (ret.) Rick Cacini, founder and curator of the Yukon Veterans Museum. “Our local veterans like to visit other veterans at a place like this that has historic artifacts and brings back memories of their past.
“Veterans who’ve come in have said we’re one of the bright spots of the state because we’re a place for them to come sit down, talk and have coffee.”
Local and state “shelter in place” orders – prompted by concerns about the coronavirus outbreak – has kept most veterans at home for two months.
Since September 2016, the Yukon Veterans Museum has occupied a 4,100 square-foot space inside the American Legion Building at 1010 W Main.
The museum features many displays, including battlefield gear, flags, historic photographs, uniforms, helmets, weapons, newspaper and magazine articles, and military documents.
“Our weapons display is one of the best – if not the best – in the state,” Cacini said.
Another highlight is a T-37 ejector seat from Randolph Air Force Base, Texas.
“Kids loves to get in the seat and take pictures,” Cacini said. “Veterans who are pilots get in the seat and remember how it felt – very uncomfortable. These seats aren’t made for comfort, they’re made for safety and security!”
A Vietnam-era communications site is another favorite for museum visitors. The radio, first used by the CIA, was passed on to Special Forces “A” Team operating in North Vietnam to send intel back to U.S. forces.
Military artifacts featured in the Yukon Veterans Museum have been donated by individuals, families and veterans of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marines.
GLAD TO BE BACK
A steady stream of U.S. military service members and other residents returned this week to the Yukon Veterans Museum.
“Veterans like to be with veterans,” Cacini said. “If you ever put your life on the line, life means much more to you. That’s why us veterans do a lot for other veterans – and for our community.
“And we seek those individuals who need help, with housing, transportation, VA benefits, or other services. We help veterans. That’s what we do.”
The Yukon Veterans Museum’s regular hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Appointments are available outside those hours.
The museum hosts a service day for Veterans Administration benefits from 9 a.m. to noon one Saturday each month.
Cacini also is the City of Yukon’s point of contact to provide all hearing-impaired residents – including veterans – with caption call phones at no cost. Call 517-1901 for details.
The Yukon Veterans Museum was founded in July 2013. For the first three years, the museum was housed on the top floor of the now-closed Yukon Museum and Arts Center (Old Central School), 601 Oak.
Yukon Veterans Museum officers are: President Rick Cacini, Vice President Eddie “Mac” McFadden, Secretary Jack Stewart, Treasurer Jerry Stafford, Historian/Chaplain Jenny Crane, Director of Artifacts Jerry Icenhower, Trustee Jack Hinton, Trustee Tom Thomas, and Trustee Ron Edmonson.
For more information about the Yukon Veterans Museum, call Cacini at 517-1901, Stafford at 388-8845 or Icenhower at 514-6794.