See the war museum quietly tucked away in Kaka'ako

Published On: Nov 22 2013 04:48:00 PM HST

Chances are, unless you're a veteran or family of a veteran, you may have never heard of the Home of the Brave museum.

This treasure trove of history has been around for 22 years telling the story of war by those who know it best.

Click here to watch Jill Kuramoto's report.

"When people ask me, 'What is your favorite item in the museum?'  It's really difficult.  I would say, 'The photos and the memories that we have from the World War II veterans,'" said Home of the Brave president Glen Tomlinson.

Here at Home of the Brave headquarters, you'll find a lot of that -- first-hand accounts of World War II.

"Each one of these has a fantastic story.  This fella here, Emmit Howell, he comes every year," said Tomlinson.  "He's a Marine Corps pilot in World War II and he was actually Eisenhower's pilot after World War II."

It's not just the war heroes on display, but the regular GI Joes.

"Real-life superheroes.  Some stories better than any Hollywood movie.  Unbelievable," said Tomlinson.

Every item in this museum was donated by veterans and their families.  Each one unique is its own way.

"We had Larry Laytey.  He's a World War II veteran," said Tomlinson.  "Used to come on the tour for years.  And he'd always say, 'Glen, where's your Japanese rifle?'"

"Six months ago, sadly, I got a call from Larry's son," continued Tomlinson.  "He said dad passed away, but I want to read you something.  His last will and testament -- '...and to the Home of the Brave, I bequeath my World War II rifle.'  And I quote, and dad wrote, 'Now tell Glen he's got a real museum.'"

Creating this museum has been a labor of love for Tomlinson.  Although not enlisted himself, he has military in his blood.

"I grew up hearing the war stories from my dad's older brother Uncle Tommy and my grandfather," said Tomlinson.  "My wife's father was a tanker in Luzon, Philippines at the end of World War II and her mom was a Rosie the Riveter.  She actually worked for Boeing Aircraft."

A living, breathing museum.  Visitors here are encouraged to touch and immerse themselves in the 1940s.

Tomlinson says he doesn't own what he collects.  He says the families are welcome to take anything back at any time.  But, that rarely happens.

"We get a call about two years ago.  My dad passed away.  Oh I'm sorry to hear that," said Tomlinson.  "He was a good friend, he'd come on the tour every year.  We're coming to get grandpa's stuff.  Come and get it.  Well, the kids come over here and they go on the tour and they go, 'Oh my gosh, I could never take it from here.'"

Sadly, Tomlinson is running out of space with these war veterans dying at a rapid pace.

"I think our veterans are really grateful to see that people are keeping their story alive," said Tomlinson.

The goal now is to keep the stories alive, not only for this generation, but for future generations.

"We always say a grateful nation remembers your service," said Tomlinson.  "We also say remember we remain the Land of the Free as long as we remain the Home of the Brave."

For safety and security reasons, KITV agreed not to broadcast the address of the museum.  The only way to see the museum is to book a tour for yourself.

Click here for the website and call them at 396-8112.


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