For 60 years, the museum has helped preserve military history for future generations.
SOUTH EL MONTE, Calif. (KABC) -- The pandemic has made it tough for local museums, and on top of that, the American Military Museum in South El Monte also recently had to deal with a fire.
Craig Michelson's father, an officer in World War II, started the museum nearly 60 years ago. It now has more than 180 displays - from military choppers to rare buses and a full collection of WWII tanks.
"A lot of the veterans will come through, they will bring their kids, they will have their grandkids, and they will go 'Oh, I served on this tank, this was the truck I drove,' and it brings back a lot of memories," Michelson said.
That's why Michelson is breathing a major sigh of relief. Just last week, he almost lost everything when a fire broke out on the neighboring property. He credits firefighters for saving him from heartbreak.
"There was absolutely no damage," said Michelson. "I just love L.A. County. They stepped up and did a wonderful job."
A close call after an already difficult year, shut down due to COVID. Now the museum is back open Saturdays and Sundays. The support has been overwhelming, which allows the museum to keep going.
"Cause once you lose history that's it!" Michelson said.