NEVADA, Texas -- If you find yourself driving on County Road 590 in Nevada, Texas looking for a military museum, don't worry --you're not lost.
"Usually, the first impression people when they get here is, 'What is this? Some guy's house?'" volunteer and Marine Connor McLeod said. "We kind of designed it that way on purpose so the surprise of what's actually inside is a unique experience. It's been described as Snoopy's dog house. There's quite a bit of stuff in here that's all hidden inside."
Turns out, the Military Heritage Collection is a treasure trove of combat history going back as far as the Civil War and all the way to today's current conflicts.
It's free to visit.
"We do have some unique items that were donated to us. From the United Kingdom, we have some uniforms that are very rare from the Queen's Life Guard unit, sometimes called the Coldstream Guards. We have a copy of the surrender papers from the Japanese that were donated from a gentleman who sat on the Missouri, actually watching the Japanese signing at World War II," McLeod explained.
The place is completely operated by unpaid volunteers.
"There's basically four of us out here that spend most of our time here. We're all veterans," McLeod said.
Every single item in the museum is donated. In fact, they have received so much memorabilia they need more room.
"We have about 7,200 square feet of space, most of which is taken up with everything we can possibly put in it," McLeod said. "We have close to 1,500 uniforms that are back in a storage unit. We try to rotate it as much as we can, so every time someone shows up it's not the same thing."
Last week, the collection proudly accepted Colonel Dorsie Page, Jr's Purple Heart, awarded to a Marine who served two tours in Vietnam and flying over 400 combat missions.
And McLeod says, that's not all, "Colonel Thorsness, whose uniform you see behind us here, he donated his uniforms to the museum. He's a Medal of Honor recipient from Vietnam."
Colonel Theo Thorsness, who served in the Air Force, got that Medal of Honor for an air engagement on April 19, 1967. Two weeks later, he was shot down and spent six years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam.
"Unknown to us, we also had two other Medal of Honor recipients that were here. It was quite a turn out we weren't expecting."
So, if you drive up, expect to be blown away. In fact, if you've ever dreamed of driving a tank, they'll let you drive theirs.
"If you want to donate some money to the museum, for a nominal fee, we'll actually put you in one of the tanks, teach you how to drive it, let you take it out, and drive it around."
Now that's pretty sweet!