The North Coast Veterans Memorial and Museum just may be one of the best-
kept secrets in Northwest Ohio. “We’ve got so much stuff, you’ve just got to see it,” said Gary Cooper, who is in his eighth year as president of the North Coast Veterans Memorial and Museum Society.
The museum, located at 411 N. Main St. in Gibsonburg, has an amazing array of military items on display from the Civil War, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and the current war in Iraq.
“The organization (North Coast Veterans Memorial and Museum Society) has been in existence since 1999, and the museum used the cell block in the bottom floor of the old county jail,” Cooper said. “When they built a new jail, they left one cell block as it was and they allowed us to use that for about a year.
“We made a deal with Gibsonburg for the building we’re in now and we’ve been in that building for about six years.”
The museum has more than 1,000 items on display, including plaques honoring the more than 500 men and women who have served in the military from the Gibsonburg school district.
Cooper, 69, who served in the U.S. Army and later retired from the Army National Guard in 1983, said the society had accumulated “a fair amount of stuff” over the years but didn’t have anywhere to display it.
“I knew a lot of people and had some connections, and we came up with the building,” Cooper said. “We started off with just the items that we (Northcoast Veterans) owned, then people just started donating stuff left and right. Some of the stuff is on loan, but the majority of it was donated.”
The museum’s curator is Rex Postlethwait.
“He travels around to schools and sets up displays,” Cooper said. “He’s a real military historian, and he’s a 20-year Air Force guy.”
Among the items on display at the museum are military uniforms and equipment, including three still-working Army Jeeps - a 1946 and a 1952 Jeep built in Toledo and a 1968 Ford-built Army Jeep. Two of the Jeeps have mounted 30-caliber machine guns.
The museum also features a Civil War-era horse saddle and assorted weapons, as well as a picture, discharge papers and medals of a Gibsonburg man who fought in the Civil War.
Outside, the museum has on display an M42 Duster Army tank that was used in World War II and the Korean War. There is also an F22 Fighter Jet mounted on a 20-foot pedestal outside the memorial.
The museum is open year-round every Monday from 5:30-8 p.m. It is also open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Veterans Day, Memorial Day and on other holidays, as well as for special events. Special group tours are available, and there is no admission fee.
“Anytime anyone wants to come through, we have three or four people who can open it up,” Cooper said. “It’s free and we do take donations, and that’s what we survive on. That’s how we pay the bills. Just call me and we’ll get it open. We do that a lot for veterans and older people who have served. We like to have them come in and see what we’ve got. We’ll have bus tours come in and senior groups come in from nursing homes.”
For more information call Cooper at 419-332-4812 or Postlethwait at 419-332-5912.