By EMILY RAMSEY
NEW PRESIDENT: General Tom Mancino, interim president of the Military History Museum, stands with World War I and II artifacts in one of the exhibit rooms at the museum, which has been renamed the Military History Center.
EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers
Changes are coming to the Military History Museum, 112 N. Main St., in Broken Arrow in the form of a name change and a broadening of its scope.
The museum will now be known as the Military History Center.
“The new name reflects the expansion of ideas and where we want to take the center,” says Gen-eral Tom Mancino, who was recently named interim president. “A museum is oftentimes a place people visit once and never return. We want to be a facility that draws people back and educates them.”
That educational effort includes taking the center’s programs into schools, VA hospitals and assisted living facilities. Mancino would also like to begin offering a location in the center where veterans and their family members can inquire regarding their benefits.
Beginning with the 2015-16 school year, Broken Arrow Public Schools students in grades 10-12 can enroll in the Air Force National Defense Cadet Corps program, an elective course that promotes leadership, personal responsibility, service to the community and nation, and air and space instruction.
The program will be led by a commissioned officer and noncommissioned officer and resembles the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) but is fully funded by Broken Ar-row Public Schools.
The curriculum will be comprised of 40 percent aerospace science, 40 percent leadership educa-tion and 20 percent physical fitness. In addition to classroom instruction, students are able to participate in field trips to military bases, aerospace facilities and aviation museums. Other aspects of the cadet experience include community service, drill competitions, honorary academic groups and more.
Also for the upcoming school year, the Freshman Academy will offer a new military history class and at the High School a course on the history of war.
Mancino hopes to see the center provide resources and speakers to these two new offerings.
“The military history that is found in textbooks and that comes out of the mouth of veterans can be quite different from each other,” says Mancino. “Bringing veterans into the classroom gives students the opportunity to access their stories.”
The 6,400-square-foot military history museum features more than 2,000 artifacts starting with the American Revolution. The museum was founded in 1989 by retired Air Force Colonel Robert Powell, who passed away in April.
Powell, who spent 27 years in the military, used his museum to honor veterans and to help indi-viduals understand the high price of freedom. Powell collected military artifacts for more than 60 years. Those artifacts and ones that have been donated are what’s currently on display.
The museum’s first display was in 2000 when Powell was approached by Memorial High School’s principal at the time, John McGinnis.
When the museum left the school in 2006, Powell moved to 6953 S. 66th E. Ave., in Tulsa, be-fore its move to Broken Arrow in 2013.
Clarence Oliver, long-time superintendent of Broken Arrow schools, first got Mancino involved in helping with the museum when Powell needed help moving the museum to Broken Arrow.
Mancino spent 39 years in the National Guard including three years in active duty in Afghanistan before retiring.
“I love to see the guests and especially the veterans come to visit the museum and see and hear the memories they have as they look over old newspaper articles, uniforms and other items,” Mancino says.