April 29, 2017
Hi, I’m Joe, and I volunteer at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center every Saturday and Sunday.
I am the type of person that simply must have something to do to stay busy. This was not a problem in my early years because of World War II. I enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps (which later became the Air Force) on Dec. 8, 1942 and spent the next 27 years serving in the military. I completed pilot training and was sent to the 357th Fighter Group stationed at Leiston, England, where I flew the P-51 Mustang fighter plane. I flew 27 combat missions over Germany escorting the heavy bombers. I was so fortunate to not only fly the Mustang, but I was also assigned to one of the hottest outfits in Europe with such notable people as Kit Carson, who shot down 23 German aircrafts, Bud Anderson with 17 to his credit, Chuck Yeager, Johnny England and Pete Peterson. All in all, 42 aces in 14 months of combat.
After retiring from the Air Force, I worked with my son in the building trade business until 2014 when I retired and moved to Hawaii. I still needed something to keep me busy. A newfound friend told me that two of his friends volunteered at the visitor center at Pearl Harbor. It sounded interesting to me, and I knew I could contribute my knowledge and experience to this opportunity. So here we are today.
I feel strongly that all of us who work at the visitor center in Pearl Harbor, whether volunteers or paid employees, have the responsibility to do what’s necessary to make our visitors feel welcomed and appreciated. To our foreign visitors, we are the face of America; and to the Americans, we represent their government in action. This is the way I conduct myself when I am volunteering at the donation desk. To our visitors, from the smallest child up, I do my best to act as a friend, ask where they are from, discuss their homeland if I have been there (I have been to around 60 foreign nations) and in general let them know that I am interested and appreciate their visit. Recently I engaged in a conversation with a lady from Mission, Texas. I was born in Mission. The next day I volunteered, I met a man from Arispe, Iowa just 19 miles from my boyhood home and where I lived when World War II started. Needless to say, I have great conversations with many people every day from all around the world.
The work at the visitor center not only fulfills all of my dreams but I find it fascinating to be able to meet and talk with people from every corner of the world. They share with me their experiences, and I do the same. I also help to raise donations that aid in the restoration of the Arizona Memorial for Pacific Historic Parks. I look forward to volunteering at the visitor center for many more years to come.