Armed Forces History Museum in Largo Closing January 29

As a nation, we recently marked the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Those interested in history and those who are touched by the solemnity of this recent anniversary will get a lot out of a visit to the Armed Forces History Museum in Largo, not far from Tampa, FL.

Inside the WWII room featuring models from the movie Tora, Tora, Tora

Inside the WWII room featuring models from the movie Tora, Tora, Tora

Closing sadly later this month, the museum has memorabilia from just about every military action from the last 100+ years. In fact, this collection is the largest of its kind in the Southeast!

Of special note is a room depicting America’s entrance into World War II. Film buffs will remember the movie Tora Tora Tora. The museum has the models that were used in the film and the large room features a projection screen with snippets from the film in addition to a central area where the models reside. Overhead Japanese zeros can be seen in addition to a giant mock ship representing the fleet that attacked Pearl Harbor.

The French city scene realistically depicts the scars left because of war

The French city scene realistically depicts the scars left because of war

What impressed me the most was the incredible attention to detail about each historical era’s vignette. For example, the building that shows a bombed Parisian block has an almost a Disney-esque quality to it. The creators of this museum intended to transport visitors to the locations, not just to slap historical items in cases, though there are many well-preserved artifacts to be seen.

Visitors can browse at their leisure, taking in the pride of American service with opportunities for reflective contemplation, too, at the all-too-real effects of war.

The museum’s founder, John J. Piazza, passed away October 3, 2016, and the expense of continuing the museum has proved too cumbersome for the family. As such, the collection will be returned to those who have provided items on loan, with the remaining collection to be sold off.

FACT: A dedicated Marine Veteran, Mr. Piazza started the Injured Warriors Fund of Florida, and was Chairman of the Department of Florida Marine Corps League Scholarship Fund.

The Armed Forces History Museum opened on August 16, 2008 and has faithfully recognized and honored generations of Americans who sacrificed so much more than their share, including their very own lives.

Hands-on fun inside a M-60 Patton training turret, a US Army tank from the 1960s-70s.

Hands-on fun inside a M-60 Patton training turret, a US Army tank from the 1960s-70s.

Guests can enjoy dioramas representing different eras of military conflicts complete with authentic vehicles such as jeeps, tanks, and even an ambulance. In addition, visitors can scrutinize glass cases filled with weapons, reconnaissance equipment, letters, vintage magazines and more.

You won’t want to miss this gem of a museum. Plan your trip now before their doors close at 4 p.m. January 29, 2017.

There are a variety of ticket options:

Adults: $17.95
Seniors: $14.95
Kids (4-12 years): $9.95
Teens (13-17 years):  $12.95
College Students w/ID:  $12.95
Veterans: $14.95
AAA Members: $15.25
Retired military (20 years+): Free
Active military: Free
3 Years & under: Free

An add-on adventure is a ride in the M8 Armored Car from 1943. For an additional fee, you can get up in this WWII and Korean War-era vehicle that was used for high-speed mobility. On the first lap of the track you’ll see why speed is one of its most noted assets!

The Armed Forces History Museum is located at: 2050 34th Way North, Largo, FL 33771 or call (727) 539-8371 for additional information. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday: 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. (They’re closed Mondays and major holidays.)

Visit them online at: http://armedforcesmuseum.com/.