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Displaced Military Museum Gets New Home to Preserve State’s History

Casey Hudson just happened to be watching a local television newscast when the station – Detroit’s WDIV – reported a story about the Detroit Arsenal of Democracy Museum losing its space on the city of Warren’s Department of Public Works property.

After watching the story Hudson, who had never heard of the museum until that moment, decided museum officials deserved a new space, and he knew just where.

That’s why Hudson, the vice president of operations for Detroit-based International Hardcoat, offered the museum some 22,000 square feet of its facility.

IHC, owned by Koucar Management, is a defense contractor with its facility on Glendale St. in Detroit, near Interstate 96 and the Southfield Freeway.

ICH is leasing 10,000 square feet of its main facility an another 10,000 square feet in an outer building to give the museum enough space to store its vintage vehicle fleet — historic trucks, Jeeps, military cars and armored vehicles — and create a variety of interactive exhibits.

“I think their mission is important,” Hudson said. “Our company does defense work, so it’s a really good tie-in. They needed the support and we have the space.

“I think it’s very important to remember why we have the freedoms we have, and the men and, in this case, the equipment that made it possible,” Hudson added.

John Lind, director of the Detroit Arsenal of Democracy Museum, hopes landing at the IHC facility is the final stop on what has been a bit of a rolling journey.

It was supposed to be a different journey. In 2017, officials reached an agreement with the city of Warren to build a new museum at Veterans Memorial Park, less than a mile away from the former home of the U.S. Army’s Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant.

The Warren City Council approved the agreement in February 2017. But when the pandemic hit, the project hit the skids.

“The timing of everything was just bad,” Warren Communications Director Clarissa Cayton told The Warren Weekly. “Had covid not occurred, (Lind) probably would have been able to get his footing and get the monies that he needed for his nonprofit to have a place. That’s what we want him to have, a museum, but our storage is not a museum.”

The museum had been given the space in Warren to store its vehicles – it has other venues in St. Clair Shores, Shelby Township, Croswell and Memphis – but when the city needed the space for its own newer, larger vehicles, the museum had to go looking.

That’s when IHC came calling with its offer – IHC is leasing its space to the museum for $1 – to provide the facilities.

“It was an act of God, to be honest,” said Lind, who has served in the guard for the U.S. Marines, Navy and Air Force and who is currently a U.S. Army contractor. “There were other folks who reached out … (but) this was the deal that piqued my interest. It’s the ‘Detroit’ arsenal and museum, and it should be in Detroit. It only makes sense.

“This isn’t your normal, run-of-the-mill collecting coins or postage stamps,” he added, smiling. “It makes perfect sense to join forces with people who appreciate what we do.”

As Hudson pointed out, the main interest for IHC and Koucar Management is to help Lind and the museum preserve some history.

Devin Pacheco, Koucar’s digital marketing director, told The Warren Weekly the company “fully” supports the military.

“We’re looking to help however we can,” Pacheco told the paper. “We want to help the community in preserving some of the history of not only the vehicles, but also the military’s efforts. Koucar Management has roots in military equipment production, so this feels like a natural fit in preserving history.”

That’s exactly what they’ll be doing. Lind said the museum currently boasts a fleet of some 50 vehicles, with the hopes of expanding it over the next five years.

But the museum also owns an interesting collection of artifacts – “Some to-die-for, one of-a-kind artifacts” — which Lind has in storage. Many of them are in what Lind called the “northern fleet” – Shelby Township, Croswell, Memphis – and those, he said, “are the real rarities.”

Once the outer building at IHC is cleared and cleaned – sometime this spring, Hudson said – it will be used to create displays from all of that.

“We’re going to bring it all down and put it in that building so people get a chance to see it all,” Lind said. “We try to develop exhibits to tell a story, to get people involved. I want to develop a learning center where people can come in and they can learn the stuff they’re not taught.

“When I went through school, we all had job experience and skill centers … we don’t have that any more.”

Phil Hagan, who works with Lind, said the interactivity of the museum’s exhibits will make it unique.

“That’s one of the big differences I’ve found,” Hagan said. “In most of the museums I’ve been to, the displays are static. You see them in a display, but nothing moves.”

Lind’s grand plan includes a lot of teaching, including a variety of classes and instruction on how to drive a vehicle with a manual transmission.

“Once we get that building up and established … you could basically come here and spend the better part of a day. It’ll be really cool.”

Lind believes it’s only right to have the military vehicle museum in Detroit (volunteer opportunities and more information are available at, given the rich military history enjoyed by the city and the state.

In addition to the Detroit Arsenal in Warren and a variety of other National Guard offices and facilities, Michigan has long been home to military installations, including the currently active Selfridge Air National Guard base in Macomb County.

And, according to the Michigan Military Heritage Museum (, Michigan has a long history of military service:

  • Michigan was garrisoned by troops from France, England, and Spain.
  • The Michigan National Guard was called upon to serve in the Spanish-American War
  • Michigan became the “arsenal of democracy” producing more than a third of all war material in World War II.
  • This was followed by Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Desert Storm and the Cold War.

“Seventy percent of everything a war-fighter touches, uses or wears is either built or researched and developed right here,” Lind said. “These are the most creative people in the world.”

He’s happy to have a place he believes honors “those who came before us … They built the vehicles to win a war.” It is, Lind contends, about providing continual education so “these children don’t forget what it was all about, how we started off and where we’re at now.”

“We’ll be here,” Lind said. “We’re putting our eggs in one basket, and we want to be here. It works out well.”

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