Posted on December 29, 2023

Arizona Military Museum Closes After Founder Told Tour: ‘Eventually They Will Replace Me With Some Gay, Black, Woman Woke Jew’

MacKenzie Tatananni, Daily Mail, December 29, 2023

A Vietnam War veteran has been ousted from the military museum he curated for decades after suggesting he would be replaced by ‘some gay, black, woman, woke Jew.’

Joe Abodeely, 80, spent half his life overseeing the Arizona Military Museum which was a personal passion for the Army veteran who served in the Vietnam War – his own uniform was even on display.

But for more than four months, the museum has been closed to the public, and the nonprofit overseeing it no longer has state support.

Arizona National Guard Brigadier General John Conley sent Abodeely a letter in February expressing concern about statements the senior made during a tour.

‘Eventually they will replace me with some gay, Black, woman, woke Jew who will ruin the place,’ Abodeely said, according to the letter obtained by the Arizona Republic.

He was alleged to have called ‘all Americans’ stupid and ‘told the members of the tour group that they knew nothing of the realities of the Vietnam era because they were too young, brainwashed, stupid, duped, uneducated, or uncaring.’

The 86-year-old museum is run by the Arizona National Guard Historical Society, a nonprofit that Abodeely led for decades, and sits on military property.

Following the incident, the state’s Department of Emergency and Military Affairs ordered Abodeely to attend two hours of diversity, equity and inclusion training. He obliged.

Major General Kerry Muehlenbeck, the adjutant general of the guard in Arizona, also wanted to meet with him.

But the offensive language didn’t stop there, despite Abodeely attaining a certificate of completion for the course. In an interview, he remarked that a museum mannequin with a ‘hand on its hip’ represented gay soldiers.

A day later, Abodeely issued an apology, attributing his erratic behavior to the combined stress of undergoing tests for cancer and the museum fiasco.

‘I’m arrogant, and I know that,’ the 80-year-old said. ‘I am somewhat egotistical, but I care about other people. I care about other things. I care about my nation, my state and I care about the museum.’

Abodeely’s remarks during the tour are at odds with posts on the museum’s Facebook page where he condemned racists and spoke out about division in the country.

‘It is not about economics, or politics, or ideology, or the haves vs. the have nots – it is clearly about RACE,’ he wrote of the motivations behind the January 6 siege of the Capitol.

‘Those people are simply ignorant, despicable racists; and their actions have brought the race issue to the forefront. It took a racist President and supporters to do it.’

In an interview, he claimed he was being pushed out due to a personal vendetta held by Muehlenbeck, a claim that her spokesperson denied.

Mike Snozek, a U.S. Army and National Guard veteran, was on the board of the Arizona National Guard Historical Society for more than a dozen years before the turmoil.

He said Abodeely misrepresented Muehlenbeck’s views about the museum to the board and the public.

Snozek said he was acting at the request of the majority of board members when he called a meeting last summer and they voted him in as the new leader to replace Abodeely.

Abodeely, in turn, held that the vote was illegitimate and named his own new board.

The guard forbade him from interacting with guests at the museum, but spokesperson Captain Erin Hannigan said he continued to use ‘unprofessional language.’

‘In turn, the Adjutant General lost confidence in Mr. Abodeely’s ability to interact professionally, and respectfully with members of the public,’ she said.

While Snozek expressed understanding for why Abodeely wouldn’t want to part with the museum, he added: ‘There’s a way to conduct oneself and a way not to conduct oneself, and we have rules, and we follow them.

‘And there’s what’s socially acceptable and there’s what’s absolutely not socially acceptable.’

In an effort to preserve the museum in its current location, Snozek volunteered to step down if Abodeely would, too. But the Vietnam vet, who served as a deputy county attorney and a criminal defense lawyer later in his life, refused.

Muehlenbeck ultimately announced her decision to sever state ties with the group on November 17.

Now, the nonprofit must provide her with a written plan for the removal of its property from the museum by December 18, according to a spokesperson.

The spokesperson added that the Arizona National Guard plans to find a new group to run the museum and reopen it.