Don Smith, CEO and chairman of the Board of Directors for the Museum of Military History in Kissimmee, was recently announced as a “Veteran of Influence in Central Florida” by the Orlando Business Journal.
The OBJ noted that “we honor military veterans who have made a significant achievement in their careers in the past year, have a strong record of innovation or outstanding performance in their work, and are actively involved in our community.”
Smith certainly fits the description. He is dedicated to the mission of the Military Museum to provide the opportunity for others to learn about the military experience, to recognize those who have served, and to continually deliver the message that “freedom is not free.”
Smith started out as a volunteer at the Museum of Military History in 2003 becoming chairman of the board in 2011.
He led the museum as it grew from a retail space in Osceola Square Mall to opening in its current location in 2012. Smith is a full-time volunteer, generously giving 40 to 60 hours weekly to the Museum – and doing so for the past eight years.
The museum has displays beginning with the Revolutionary War up through today’s conflicts. There are uniforms, weapons, a motorcycle from World War II and so many very interesting artifacts.
As a 17-year-old, high school dropout, Smith began his 30-year career with Navy in 1959 as a gunner’s mate. He served during the Cuban Missile crisis in 1962, off the coast of Vietnam from 1972-75, as well as in Japan, and as a recruit company commander and instructor. He retired in 1990 as a CWO4.
The official recognition was Sept. 20, during the 2019 Veterans of Influence Awards Luncheon to be at the Grand Cypress Hotel in Orlando. In addition to Smith, 16 additional veterans from throughout Central Florida were recognized.
The Museum of Military History is located at 5210 W. U.S. Highway 192, Kissimmee. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.