Orlando Sentinal: The National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum would like to get memorabilia from the Navy SEALs' operation to kill Osama bin Laden.
"I caught the president's remarks Sunday night," said Michael R. Howard, the museum boss and a retired Navy SEAL, "and I had an immediate gut feeling that our SEALs did the operation."
"I was elated," Howard said, "but not surprised because I know they have the skills and will put in the effort to get it done. I was proud that it was our guys, that our guys were the ones to serve justice.
"Wheels are already turning to see what we can get," Howard said. "Hopefully, we'll get some artifacts quickly. The timing is good because we'll be moving into our new building soon, which will be a great place to showcase the skills of the nation's SEAL warriors."
The museum at 3300 N. A1A on North Hutchinson Island in Fort Pierce is in the middle of a project to add an 8,400-square-foot expansion to the 5,000-square-foot facility. SEAL is an acronym for Sea, Air and Land while UDT stands for Underwater Demolition Teams.
Construction on the $800,000 expansion began in March and should be completed by June, Howard said. Offices and some temporary exhibits should be open by September, with permanent exhibits to come later.
"Of course, a lot of the material from the raid is classified," Howard said, "but we'll display what we can. I expect we should be able to get weapons, uniforms and photos that were taken. We'd also like to get information such as messages and documents related to the operation. We have a research library at the museum, but with the new building, we'll have a lot more space for the things we don't exhibit but keep in our archives for preservation."
Howard said the museum's phone "has been ringing off the hook and I've been getting a steady stream of emails, mostly just saying congratulations or 'good job' or 'thank you, SEALs' because we're kind of a conduit between people and the SEAL community.
"In the back of everybody's minds is the idea that this [the war on terror] isn't over, but this is a huge step forward in defeating the terrorists." Howard said the museum staff is considering a special event to note the SEALs' role in the operation.
"We may have a special day or we may tie it to Memorial Day," he said, "since it's coming up at the end of the month." Memorial Day is May 30.