Anything But Ordinary: Joe Yukna, Cape Cod Military Museum

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Each month we talk to someone with an unusual job or who runs a unique business. This month, meet Joe Yukna, who, along with some military veterans, is working to gather exhibits for Cape Cod Military Museum.

How did the idea for this museum come about?

 I, along with Korean War veteran Jerry Ellis, are co-founders of the museum. I am a civilian, but worked as a Department of Defense Police Officer on Camp Edwards. When I was there most of the World War II buildings were still standing, or leaning, as many were in near ruins. I used to wonder what went on here. This curiosity led to a bit of knowledge and the information was the impetus for the founding of the museum. The Cape Cod Military Museum originally was going to be given two barracks and six acres on Camp Edwards, which was an open base at the time in August 2001. Then Sept. 11 occurred and the base shut down public access. That really knocked us for a loop. The museum does not have a building of its own…yet!

What do you do in the meantime? 

We put on displays in various historical societies on the Cape, most importantly, the Bourne Historical Society. They have been an umbrella organization for us and graciously store some of our collection. 

What are the future plans? 

We have been working on getting a building of our own but the cost of a site plan has been prohibitive.  We got our 501C3 status a couple of years ago. We are all volunteers. We were putting on displays and I did informational historical photo lectures on some of the military activities and units that have ties to the  Cape. COVID 19 put the kibosh on that activity for a few years, but may have opened the door for CCMM. We now hope to go into a vacant store in a shopping center. We recently have been offered a Vietnam era landing craft; the hope is to raise funds to purchase,  restore, and at the 80th anniversary of D-Day, land re-enactors on a Cape beach. It is sort of a cart before the horse situation, but it is an amazing offer. 

What are some unknown facts/stories regarding Cape Cod and the U.S. military? 

During World War II, Cape Cod was home for the Engineer Amphibious Training Command, amphibious tactics were experimented with and perfected so that units that trained here landed in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France and over 75 combat landing in the Pacific Theater of Operations. Camp Edwards was headquarters to the Anti-Aircraft Artillery Training Command, over 42 AAA Battalions trained on Camp Edwards and various ranges all over the Cape. A pilot attacked three U-boats in one day out of Otis Airfield. We lost one WASP pilot who was pulling a target sleeve for AAA training when her plane crashed shortly after take off. In 1944 the Navy took over Otis field and trained whole carrier groups here. 

What’s the best part of your job?

My favorite part of my volunteer job is educating the public on the wondrous happening that occurred on peaceful,  quaint Cape Cod.

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