Veteran’s Memorial Museum Completes Phase One of New Addition

April 6, 2023

On Monday, April 3rd at 11 a.m. the Jones County Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting at the Veteran’s Memorial Museum in Laurel in celebration of their new pavilion.

During the event, Larry Callahan, of the Veteran’s Memorial Museum, explained that the museum had received some funding to complete repairs to the building’s roof and to build a new pavilion. The pavilion will serve as a place to have covered seating during the museum’s annual Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day events.

Veteran’s Memorial Museum founder and WWII veteran Mr. Jimmy Bass explained that the structure will be completed in three stages and that Monday’s event marked the completion of the first stage. The pavilion, which will eventually be enclosed and house some of the museum’s growing collections, was started earlier this year and completed over the course of about two months. Bass thanked the many people who were involved in bringing the museum to life and in sustaining it. “We have the best volunteers in the world,” he said. “We use every penny wisely. We don’t waste one penny.”

After the ribbon cutting ceremony, members of the community were invited to tour the museum and hear some of the many amazing stories about the museum’s collections.

Board member Richard Odum recalled that in 1985 he was working at a bank when Jimmy Bass approached him with the idea of starting a small, store-front veteran’s museum.

Odum thought that it was a good idea, but really became committed to the idea when he discovered that Bass had a link to his father, Harris “HB” Odum.

HB Odum served in WWII as a naval aviation machinist 1st Class on board the USS Randolph. On March 11, 1945, a kamikaze pilot flew into the ship striking it on the starboard side just below the flight deck. Twenty-seven men, including HB Odum, were killed in the attack. Richard Odum was just over a year old at the time.

Twenty years later, he was working in a bank, and talking to Jimmy Bass about World War II when Bass revealed something to him that shocked him. “He said, ‘I was anchored off the port quarter of the Randolph. I saw the whole thing,’” That’s when Odum knew he was destined to be a part of Bass’s big project.

Over the years, he has developed a special bond with Bass and has worked hard to establish and grow the museum that Bass envisioned all those years ago.

“He’s just a special person. He’s meant an awful lot to me,” Odum said.

Today the museum houses a wide range of artifacts donated by veterans, local families, and other museums and non-profit organizations part of that collection includes photos of HB Odum, letters sent to Odum’s family after his passing, and the USS Randolph yearbook.

The museum is free and open to the public Wednesday- Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. More information about the museum can be found at where donations can be made online via PayPal. Donations can also be made in-person at the museum.

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The City of Laurel, established as a lumber town in 1882, is conveniently situated approximately two hours from larger destination cities such as Jackson, Biloxi, New Orleans, and Mobile. In recent years, the city has become a destination all its own thanks, in part, to its starring role in HGTV’s popular “Hometown” series. As Laurel, and interest in it, continues to grow, we are committed to providing the resources necessary to help all of our residents and businesses reach their full potential.
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