COOLIDGE — When Disabled American Veterans Chapter 36 relocated last year, the members didn’t forsake their old site along San Carlos Park. That building is now the DAV Military Museum, which officially opened to the public on May 8.

“What they’ve done is heart rending,” said Coolidge DAV Cmdr. Ronnie Smith. “All gave some, and some gave all. When I was in Vietnam, a lot of the guys didn’t make it back. That’s why we do what we do.”

According to Smith, part of the idea behind the museum at 320 W. Central Ave. is to help educate students about American military historic and what veterans experienced.

“Freedom is not free,” Smith said. “They don’t know what everybody had to go through in order to obtain that freedom, so we thought that would be a good thing to start a museum.”

Smith credits Dale and Bonnie Schoenberger for putting the museum together and noted that city officials were very supportive in conceiving the idea.

“It’s always a pleasure to partner with the DAV here,” said Mayor Jon Thompson. “They’ve done quite a bit for Coolidge, the veterans and the people they serve. It’s a very humbling experience to walk through there and see the things these gentlemen have done for their country and their families.”

The museum collection contains over 200 pieces, including hand-painted models, uniforms, historic memorabilia such as food rations and artwork by area veteran Palmer Miller.

Miller, who was inducted into the Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame, attended the museum’s opening and offered his best wishes.

“This work has come from the heart,” Miller said. “Thank you for allowing me to put my artwork up here and honor our veterans and military.”

Admission to the museum is free. The museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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Aaron Dorman is the Casa Grande reporter at PinalCentral, covering government, schools, business and more. He can be reached at adorman@pinalcentral.com.

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