Caitlyn and Colleen assist the Collections Department
This past July, a group of high school students earned service hours by volunteering behind-the-scenes at the Museum. Most of the students came from local high schools, but we also had two students participate who were visiting from overseas – one from Puerto Rico and one all the way from France! The students helped a different Museum department each day of the week, and got hands-on experience working with everything from artifact donation records to oral history interviews.
The National WWII Museum announces a new opportunity to earn high school service hours this summer!
During the month of July, we are offering high school students the opportunity to work with our Education, Research, Membership, Collections and Volunteer Services departments. Some opportunities include helping to catalog the Collections library, recording WWII veterans’ service information and sharing artifacts with guests. This year we will also be reading the graphic novel Maus as part of our summer high school book club.
If you are a high school student aged 16 or above and interested in more information contact:
Recently, our President & CEO, Dr. Nick Mueller, honored 11 volunteers who have made a special contribution to the Museum. These members of the “Volunteer Hall of Fame” have each contributed over 5,000 hours of service through the Museum’s volunteer department.
In his remarks, Dr. Mueller observed just how important our volunteers are to the day-to-day operation of the Museum, especially as we continue to expand. These Hall of Famers in particular have been incredibly generous with their time and energy – altogether, they have totaled over 85,000 hours of volunteer service! There are currently plans to create a permanent display in our new building honoring their service, but until then, keep your eye out for these special volunteers with their gold Hall of Fame pins. We couldn’t do it without them!
On September 25, 1942, upon the recommendation of the U.S. War Manpower Commission, Commissioner of Education John W. Studebaker announced the launch of a nationwide initiative ‘designed to mobilize secondary school students for more effective preparation and participation in wartime service.’ This voluntary organization, aimed at the country’s more-than-six-million students attending some of its over-28,000 high schools, was called the High School Victory Corps and was conceived to prepare young Americans for service ‘in the armed forces tomorrow through learning in the classroom today.’
More than a patriotic or extracurricular service group, the High School Victory Corps program emphasized an entirely supplemental war-time education, complete with its own uniform, insignia, physical fitness regimen and command structure. In order to participate in the High School Victory Corps, students – both male and female – were required to enroll in a war-effort class (such as first-aid, marksmanship or navigation), pass a physical fitness inspection and volunteer in at least one extracurricular wartime activity. For their uniform, Victory Corps members were issued service caps embroidered with the Corps insignia and service patches indicating the focus of their wartime course work. Physical fitness, through sports and military drill, was considered a special focus of the program as draft officials at the time were alarmed by the growing number of recent enlistments declared unfit. National leadership of the High School Victory Corps was entrusted to its National Policy Committee headed by Captain “Fast” Eddie Rickenbacker, a WWI fighter ace and Medal of Honor recipient.
The High School Victory Corps program proved extremely popular during the two years of its existence, with a wealth of pamphlets and instructional policy guide books being produced and issued to schools and teachers. The High School Victory Corps program was also groundbreaking for its time by allowing participation from both white and African-American students a full decade before public school desegregation.
Today, The National WWII Museum honors the contributions made by the High School Victory Corps through its Victory Corps young volunteer program, which takes the wartime program as its namesake and seeks to continue its seventy-year-old mission of service and education with the students of today’s generation.
Post by Collin Makamson, Red Ball Express Coordinator at The National WWII Museum
This August, the first class of the Victory Corps – The National WWII Museum’s newest teen volunteer program – brought their inaugural season to a close. Throughout the summer, members of the Victory Corps offered select artifact handling opportunities and fun interactive activities to Museum guests each Saturday. Named after a WWII-era student organization, the Museum’s pilot class of Victory Corps volunteers was an immediate success, receiving recognition from both guests and staff alike and, more importantly, engaging and involving young people with a passion for service and learning.
In recognition of their hard work, the members of the Victory Corps were rewarded at the completion of their term of service with a behind-the-scenes tour of one of the Museum’s warehouses. Here Victory Corps volunteers enjoyed full access to some of the Museum’s most unique assets and mugged happily for the camera.
While the summer Victory Corps season has concluded, the Museum is happy to announce that the Victory Corps program will be continued throughout the 2012 – 2013 school year.
If you know a middle or high-school student with a passion for volunteering and World War II history, have them apply for membership with the Victory Corps! Space for applicants is limited and competitive, so do not delay — apply with the Victory Corps today!
Our dedicated crew of PT-305 volunteers have been hard at work on this major restoration process this summer. Here are a few updates from them on their progress.
July 18, 2012
Doc is sanding a splice on one of the 80 foot deck pieces.
The last few weeks of hard work paid off with laughter this Saturday as 10 volunteers wrangled one 80 foot board onto the deck of PT-305 to make sure it was long enough. Laughing the whole time, the crew bent the board around the back of the boat, into the wood shop and curved up onto the deck. The original top layer of deck consisted of two inch wide mahogany planks in the longest lengths available at the time. This resulted in butt joints, where the flat ends of the boards are pushed together in the same manner as a wood floor in a home. The last eight weeks have seen the completion of fore peak structure from the chine up and the final installation of all remaining deck and side hull ribs.
Frank’s crew, after finishing the work on the stem, have been working hard to finish fitting the remaining side hull ribs. These ribs need to be fitted into the side of the boat before the covering board is installed. The reason this task has taken weeks to complete is due to the lack of good blueprints for the foreword section of PT-305. The volunteer marine engineers have been working on developing the curvature of the foreword ribs by following the survey of the original hull curvature. Because of this complication, Frank has had to fit each rib blank to the boat as its built. This means installing and removing the same pieces multiple times to make slight adjustments until they are properly fit. Now that these ribs are installed the covering board can be installed on the deck. (more…)
Since June, guests may have noticed a few new sights, sounds and even smells within the Museum’s exhibits. The group responsible for the addition of these new tactile and sensory components to the Museum experience are also the newest faces of the Museum volunteering family: the student Victory Corps.
The Victory Corps program was developed in the spring by the Education Department as a new weekend volunteering opportunity for area students, ages 13 – 17. Named for a WWII-era high school program designed to mobilize students and encourage war-time preparedness, today’s Victory Corps volunteers man stations strategically placed throughout the Museum’s exhibits, offering visitors the chance to handle select artifacts and further explore WWII history.
In the Home Front gallery, for example, guests can feel what it was like to have their future put in the hands of a lottery system by participating in a mock draft, while in the D-Day landing exhibit guests get a chance to experience some of the smells of the battlefield likely encountered by American servicemen from a selection of glass test tubes. Victory Corps volunteers also staff a Hands-On Activity Table, where young visitors can color propaganda posters, build cardboard Higgins boats, and even mold “seed bombs” for some fun guerilla gardening.
Victory Corps members are dedicated to the Museum’s mission, to furthering their own education, and to befriending other teens with similar interests. Volunteers receive special training in artifact handling and presentation, behind-the-scenes tours of the Museum’s storage vaults, as well as chances to collaborate with Education Department staff in creating new hands-on experiences for Museum guests.
Come see the Victory Corps in action this Saturday at The National WWII Museum!
Museum President and CEO, Dr. Nick Mueller and Museum volunteer, Grace Hogan
Grace O’Connor Hogan was 15 years old when her only brother Joe left New Orleans to serve in the Marine Corps. She can still recall being anxious as she told Joe goodbye before he shipped out to the Pacific in 1944. Despite reassurances from her father that everything was going to be alright, Grace was still afraid something was going to happen to her big brother. Thankfully, Joe did come back to his family after his service, living in New Orleans until his death in 2000.
Grace is very proud of her brother and of all United States Marines. She shows it by volunteering at the Museum, which she has done almost since the day it opened. Last week, Grace was honored as the being the 2nd volunteer in Museum history to contribute 10,000 hours of service to the Museum (the equivalent of 5 years of full-time employment). The first volunteer to reach this significant mark was WWII vet, Tom Blakey.
“I am so glad to be a part of a place that will make sure that Joe and all the boys who served during World War II will never be forgotten,” Grace said.
Grace helps the curatorial staff organize and catalog historical documents and artifacts in the archives and collections. Some of those artifacts are very dear to her — such as Joe’s combat boots, which are displayed in the Museum’s D-Days of the Pacific exhibit. Prior to volunteering at the Museum, she had a long career as a medical technician and was the youngest person to ever graduate from Loyola University at 17 years old.
Of the more than 3 million visitors who have crossed the threshold of The National WWII Museum since June 6, 2000, a large number of them have had the pleasure of meeting affable volunteer, Thomas Blakey. The Museum regularly receives thank you notes from students, groups and visitors who have had the opportunity to visit with Tom during their time at the Museum, usually letting us know it was the highlight of their day.
Blakey, whose volunteer service predates the opening of the Museum, is a combat veteran paratrooper with the U.S. Army Double A, “All American, 82ndAirborne.” He jumped on the morning of June 6, 1944 behind Nazi lines at Normandy, France. His combat service was from France to Holland, including action in the surprise German offensive in the Ardennes Forest, the Battle of the Bulge.
Always quick with a greeting, a story or a joke, Tom is one of about 20 WWII vets who volunteers at the Museum. This first-hand interaction is invaluable for our visitors (and our staff!)
Mr. Blakey is also an active member of the Museum’s Speakers Bureau, traveling across the region to speak with schools, senior centers, community centers and other groups on his experiences. In 2010, he was recognized as the first Museum volunteer to pass the 10,000 hours mark.
The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world - why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today - so that all generations will understand the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn.