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USS Midway Museum

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The USS Midway Museum partnered with Anchor Audio at the end of 2023 to design state-of-the-art sound systems including wired and wireless microphones, weatherproof coverings, mixing consoles, and speakers for use while onboard the museum.

The systems support marketing and military special events, education programs, and the docent corps during tours and other experiences. 

Providing clear, adequate audio for Midway events that range from 25 to 2,500 people is difficult, especially in settings both indoor and outdoor. The salt air can also be very hard on electronic equipment.

“One of our biggest challenges is maintaining the audio equipment that is so important to delivering our launch and recovery docent talks for Midway visitors,” said Tom Caughlan, Midway’s docent training manager. “Anchor Audio not only provided us with quality sound equipment, but also maintains and repairs the systems they’ve provided. It’s a tremendous help for our docents.”

“Craig and I connected on resolving a simple product problem and it turned into a big project where we worked in tandem to address varying organizational needs,” said Glenn Busse, vice president of sales and marketing for Anchor Audio. “The best part was engaging directly with the Midway team is learning how they interface with visitors and deal with various crowd sizes and environments. They do amazing work every day.” 

An industry innovator and leader in all-in-one, battery-powered public announcement systems, Anchor Audio produces the highest quality portable sound systems made in the United States.

“Our guests are our first priority,” said Cheryl Carlson, Midway’s director of special events, “These systems will provide better onboard experiences for those attending Midway patriot-themed events as well as military commands holding onboard ceremonies. It’s really incredible to have such high-quality systems for our daily use.” 

Established in 1973, the San Diego-based manufacturer offers a full complement of wireless technologies for every sound application. Their product line serves more than 2,000 school districts, all branches of the military, government organizations, private businesses, and houses of worship. 

For the third consecutive year, Hologic, Inc. has renewed its partnership commitment to the USS Midway Museum’s education department as the naming rights sponsor of Midway University classroom #3. Hologic’s philanthropy supports the development of Midway’s STEM education onboard and distance learning field trip programs, and it provides scholarships to attend these onboard and distance learning experiences for more than 1,000 students from Title 1 schools and underserved communities.

As a global medical technology leader that champions the health of women, their families and their communities, Hologic develops devices for diagnostics, gynecologic surgery, and medical imaging. The company supports Midway’s educational efforts because it champions STEM education and innovation.

“Innovation makes it possible for Hologic to realize our purpose of enabling healthier lives everywhere, every day, and we’re proud to join forces with Midway to cultivate the innovators of tomorrow,” says Dru Greenhalgh in San Diego, chair of Hologic’s corporate philanthropy committee and vice president and assistant general counsel for diagnostic solutions at the company.

Hologic has nearly 1,200 employees in San Diego, where its largest facility is located, out of more than 7,000 workers worldwide. This local team specializes in molecular diagnostic tests for detection of cervical cancer, sexually transmitted infections, vaginosis, and other conditions that disproportionately affect women. The San Diego workforce also develops and manufactures tests that screen for respiratory infections, preterm labor, infections related to organ transplants, and assays for detection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Hologic’s market-leading technologies also include the world’s first commercial system for 3D mammography, which has become the gold standard for breast cancer screening, and surgical products for uterine fibroids and abnormal uterine bleeding.

Since 2020, the company has further increased its impact through the Hologic Global Women’s Health Index, which represents the views of almost all the world’s women aged 15 and older, and efforts to reduce racial, income and other disparities in healthcare through its Project Health Equity initiative.

In 2024, Southwest Airlines celebrates its 10th anniversary as the official airline of the USS Midway Museum. In addition, since 2014, Southwest Airlines has also partnered with Midway to develop and maintain the Southwest Airlines Flight Academy Lab, which is an integral component of Midway’s education program. The airline is also a proud sponsor of Midway’s patriotic-themed special public events including Legacy Week, the July 4th viewing party, and the Veterans Day celebration.

Sharing a commitment to the San Diego community, Southwest Airlines and Midway work together to deliver memorable experiences that inspire, educate, and entertain museum visitors. In the Southwest Airlines Flight Academy Lab, students, scout troops, and youth programs learn the principles of flight on state-of-the-art flight simulators through Midway education programs like Operation Wing Scout, modeled after the original 1940s Girl Scouts program. And true to Southwest Airlines’ commitment to community, more than 120 Southwest Airlines employees volunteered on Midway earlier this year washing planes, repairing damage on the flight and hangar decks, and cleaning Midway exhibits and spaces.

“Southwest is dedicated to championing causes that matter most to the cities we serve which is why we are so proud to support the USS Midway Museum,” shared Kayla Valencia, Southwest Airlines’ corporate responsibility regional manager. “With strong patriotic roots and a clear desire to inspire and educate future generations, Midway has been an incredible partner for the past 10 years. We congratulate them on the big anniversary and look forward to the next 20 years of community impact.”

“Midway and Southwest Airlines are completely aligned in our objectives for guest experience, education, community outreach and commitment to service,” said Craig Fisher, Midway’s director of partnership marketing. “Southwest Airlines is a great example of civility and corporate caring.”

Southwest Airlines strives to be a globally trusted citizen by fostering authentic relationships that empower communities to thrive. The carrier leverages a unique legacy and mission to serve communities around the world by focusing on three principles: loving people, building resilience, and living responsibly. To learn more about how Southwest brings these principles to life, visit southwest.com/citizenship. 

A social media post from former USS Midway sailor, Genel Ruiz, was recently shared on the Midway Sailor Facebook page. Genel served with the carrier’s weapons department in 1985. This reflection of his time on Midway is worth sharing.

I miss that time. I miss the boys. I miss our princess of the 7th Fleet, CV-41. I miss seeing the crew running about ensuring that she looked and performed to her best. I miss the soda runs, the “you fly, I buy” run. I miss the red light that would give that glow in the darkness and the gentle rolling as she cut through the dark waters. Never once thinking that anything could ever happen to me or the crew. Rocking me to sleep even as the air wing did night ops. The whoosh of the cats, the thunder of the wire being caught. All comforting sounds. Weird huh? The things that make you feel safe and comforted. I even miss getting chewed out by my chief.

Former USS Midway sailor, Genel Ruiz

I miss our host nation and that old city, Yokosuka. The nation that would eventually grant me a most beautiful daughter and lovely wife. And although we are no longer together, I miss the lessons she taught me. Instilling in me a profound respect for that island nation.

Many years have passed since that time. But the memory remains as new as if I just left. The memory stings and hurts while making me feel grateful to have them. It hurts and feels good all at the same time. I will never forget. Not even if I wanted to. And I pray that memory will serve me well so that I will never forget. The boys, the ship, the nation and its people. All that happened to me then helped make me what I am today. The boys, the ship and that nation.

Every so often, I make it a point to take a moment to raise a glass, light a cigar and play the songs and look at the photos that make the memories more clear. A little more painful. A little more sweet.

Here’s to the boys, the ship and the nation. Kampai!

USS Midway, CV-41, 1985

While the USS Midway Museum proudly boasts more than 700 volunteers, the time and the talents they bring to the ship are never taken for granted. In 2023, these incredible individuals donated more than 260,000 volunteer hours and continue to be a primary reason why Midway remains the # 1 thing to do in San Diego per Tripadvisor.

“One of our favorite things about the museum is the docents that volunteer their time to talk to the guests,” said Laurie R. from Edmonton, Canada. “On this recent visit, I got to spend time speaking to a gentleman who spent time as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, and my sons spent a long time talking to a fellow who served during World War II. It is nice to get to thank them for their service and hear stories that you wouldn’t hear from anyone else.”

In the thankful spirit of our recent visitor from Canada, let’s all give a high-five to our Volunteers of the Month for the first quarter of 2024.

Alice Robles, Guest Services – January 2024

Alice Robles is a true people person. For her, it’s all about the guest experience and she makes sure that every Midway visitor is treated as if they are the most important individual on the ship.

 A volunteer since 2022, the former elementary school teacher, has tallied more than 250 hours. For the guest services team, her skills as a teacher and listener are readily apparent. She’s admired for bringing the highest level of professionalism to her interactions with guests, as well as staff.

“She is always smiling,” said Ken Heilman, Midway’s guest services manager. “Her enthusiasm is infectious. She always wants to know where she can help and be of service. She is here teaching as well as learning”

As a recent volunteer for the museum’s outreach team, she also helps spread the Midway Magic beyond the ship’s mooring lines.

“Alice embodies the spirit of Midway and consistently showcases an exceptional volunteer spirit in all her endeavors to promote Midway,” said Paulette Mello, Midway’s outreach coordinator. “Her excellent guest interactions both on and off the ship are truly appreciated, and we are delighted to have her as part of the team.” 

Although Alice never served in the military, she is no stranger to the Navy. She spent four years as a member of the board of directors for the Santa Barbara Navy League supporting a number of adopted naval and Marine Corps commands, including the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76).

Alice extends her passion for helping other people in the community as a volunteer for Special Olympics, Braille Institute, Santa Barbara Old Spanish Days and the Carpinteria Avocado Festival. 

Jose Castillo, Group Projects – February 2024

If you need something done, there’s only one person to call – Jose Castillo.

In the less than two years that Jose has been part of the Midway family, he has already amassed nearly 1,000 volunteer hours. Since 2023, Jose has been assisting with the management of group projects.

Over the past year, Midway has welcomed more than 150 groups from the military, corporations, schools, churches and social groups that have supported the museum with more than 3,000 volunteers. Although not glamorous, those volunteers have provided Midway with valuable services that range from sweeping the pier in front of the ship and detailing the guest tour routes, to taking out the trash and chipping away old paint. These groups have assisted Midway in just about every way imaginable.

Once on site, Jose coordinates the entire effort from meeting the volunteers on the pier early in the morning, providing them with instructions on the work they will perform, and monitoring their progress. He even prepares and presents the individual award letters of appreciation to every participant. 

Jose thrives on hard work. A retired boatswain mate, he served and deployed all over the world with the US Navy from 1974-1994. Following his retirement, he then spent the next 21 years as a Department of Defense police officer providing security for local naval bases.“

“Jose enjoys giving back to his community as a volunteer,” said Steve Suslik, Midway’s volunteer coordinator and safety operations specialist. “Whether he is assisting a guest or helping a fellow volunteer, he is respectful and goes above and beyond what is expected. His refreshing attitude is an example to his coworkers and fellow volunteers.”

Toney Herlevick, Air Wing and Docent – March 2024

Toney Herlevick has faith. He’s part of a small group of volunteers that started restoring historic military aircraft at Hangar 805 on Naval Air Station North Island prior to the San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum Association actually being granted the USS Midway. Starting his volunteerism in 2001, he not only believed in the concept of the museum, but even before the ship arrived, he knew that one day it would become a reality.

Through his dedicated efforts, Midway had four restored aircraft ready when the carrier was finally towed into San Diego Bay three years later in 2004. 

As a docent, Toney contributes significantly to the museum. This was most recently demonstrated when the island was closed for maintenance and preservation. To help fill the void due to the temporary loss of the popular island tour, he suggested opening the E2-C Hawkeye, allowing guests to enter the aircraft and actually sit in the aircrewmen seats.

Toney, who has nearly 9,000 volunteer hours, also developed the training outline for the docents to describe the mission and importance of the E-2 to visitors. The exhibit has been very popular.

“Tony is a great docent,” said Jim Reily, Midway’s director of docent programs. “He’s engaging and highly motivated, and truly committed to the guest experience.”

A U.S. Army veteran, Toney was a technician on the Nike missile, a surface-to-air missile system that was operational into the 1960s. He later went on to be an electronics technician civil servant, teaching avionic systems with E-2C squadrons based on the West Coast. As a civil servant, he has plenty of sea time, having been on board several aircraft carriers including the USS Midway.

For those interested in becoming a USS Midway Museum volunteer, more information along with the volunteer application can be found here.

Mum Bett was born into slavery in colonial New York in the mid-1740s. She and her sister were given to her owner’s daughter years later and moved to Massachusetts. While unable to read or write, it is believed that she often heard her new owner, a wealthy judge from Sheffield, speak about the Sheffield Declaration. 

Approved in 1773, the declaration stated that “mankind in a state of nature are equal, free, and independent of each other, and have a right to the undisturbed enjoyment of their lives, their liberty and property.” Language of a similar sentiment would later not only be used in the U.S. Declaration of Independence, but also in the Massachusetts Constitution in 1780. 

Desiring her own freedom, she would later turn to a prominent attorney, Theodore Sedgwick, who had actually assisted in drafting the Sheffield Declaration, asking his help to gain her freedom. Sedgwick took the case and argued that the language as written in the Massachusetts Constitution prohibited enslavement. The case was won, and in 1783, Massachusetts outlawed slavery in the state. Mum Bett, who would change her name to Elizabeth Freeman, would live nearly another 40 years as a free person before dying at age 85 in 1829.

At the USS Midway Museum’s 10th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. commemoration celebration, guest speaker, Brig. Gen. James Ryans, commanding general of Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, drew a parallel between events in Massachusetts more than 230 years ago and Dr. King’s fight for social justice and civil rights in the 1960s.

“Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would write the same argument in his Letter from Birmingham Jail,” said the general of the letter Dr. King wrote in April 1963. “For me, what that means is, that the constitution, that I have sworn to protect and defend, enables the argument of freedom and equality. Some of the most famous abolitionists that we know in our history, eventually came to that conclusion, which is, we’re not fighting against the constitution, we’re fighting to help ourselves as a nation realize and live up to the values we have stated in the constitution, and that is the argument in which we get to our freedom.”

Brig. Gen. Ryans spoke these poignant words before more than 100 guests at the celebration dinner, presented by Midway’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, held on the carrier’s hangar deck.

“When I think about Dr. King’s life, I sum it up in three keywords that exemplify the lessons I learned from his actions: courage, hope, and love,” said the general, who has served in the Marines for more than 35 years including multiple combat tours. “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his followers exhibited a courage that I can only hope to live up to.”

Brig. Gen. James Ryans, commanding general of Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, addresses the audience at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration on Midway.

Along with honoring the life and society-changing accomplishments of Dr. King at the dinner, Midway also presented its annual Bridge Builder Award to Dr. John E. Warren, the publisher of the Voice & Viewpoint, and the Outstanding Community Service Award to Leonard Thompson, the president of M.A.N.D.A.T.E. Records.

The Bridge Builder Award recognizes individuals and organizations that exemplify the core values of the museum, which include community service and working to improve relationships, understanding, cooperation and inclusion among various ethnic communities. The Outstanding Community Service Award distinguishes those who are deeply involved in a variety of community outreach programs in San Diego.

Community Service Award recipient, Leonard Thompson, president and CEO of M.A.N.D.A.T.E. Records, and Voice & Viewpoint publisher, Dr. John Warren, who received the Bridge Builder Award.

“I can’t find all of the words to thank you,” said Dr. Warren, who has been publishing the Voice & Viewpoint for nearly 40 years. “I’m humbled. There are awards, and then there are awards. But this is something that is special to me. My heart is truly warmed by this outpouring.”

There are dozens of reasons why any business should have a premier website – brand awareness, marketing, visibility, credibility, sales and the list goes on. For most companies, a website is a place to “connect” with a potential customer, have them “consider” their product, and ultimately “convert” a purchase.

How successful a website is at optimizing these “3 Cs” depends on a number of key and important factors, including how visually aesthetically is the website, how engaging is the content, how easy is it to navigate, and is it fast.

A website’s ability to enhance a business relies heavily on its design – how it looks, or the front end, and how well it operates, or the back end. Both must work in perfect harmony if it’s to have the best chance of cutting through the noise of competitor websites.

Sounds easy, right?!

After more than a year of development, Midway launched its updated and refreshed website with not only the goal of maximizing the “3 Cs,” but, as a non-profit museum, informing visitors to the site of its educational significance as well as how the museum has become an integral part of the San Diego community.

“Our website is a giant picture window into the soul of the museum,” said David Koontz, Midway’s marketing director. “We wanted the updated website to present Midway as it truly is, an incredibly interactive and unique experience that is engaging, inspiring, educational and fun. It was important to us that the agency we selected for this project didn’t just understand Midway as a brand, but what it signifies as America’s Living Symbol of Freedom.”

After an extensive search and the review nearly of a dozen proposals, Midway ultimately turned to Departure, a multidisciplinary marketing and creative agency based in San Diego.

“Our clients range from pharmaceuticals, life sciences and medical devices to pizza chains and wine makers,” said Emily Rex, co-founder of Departure. “Very few, however, carry the halo of national and historical significance that the Midway does. To touch something like that, and to think for one moment that what you do may carry forward into history, is truly a once-in-a-lifetime feeling.”

While the response to Midway’s previous website was consistently positive, the new design ensures Midway’s site is not only a creative trendsetter, but fully functional and upgradeable  well into the future. The new site also eliminates the behind-the-scenes issues that progressively plagued the old website.

“The new website not only provides Midway with a much-needed digital facelift, but with the newly redesigned back end, will be more stable technically and give more power to our inhouse web administrators and designers to modify and keep our content fresh and relevant,” said Shawn Granen, Midway’s director of IT. “The modernization will provide a more seamless browsing experience for our guests.”

The effort included the creative redesign of the website’s homepage, as well as the hundreds of various landing pages within the site. It also involved a minor branding refresh that appropriately emphasizes the interactive and engaging nature of the Midway experience. The new website also has an improved content management system that will better support modern web framework, making it easier to coordinate content creation and publishing workflows. The project even included an extensive multi-day photo shoot to develop new images and video that has invigorated the consumer-facing appearance of the website.

The complexities were immense and Departure’s web developers spent hundreds of hours building the new site.

“Ensuring that every element aligned with the expectations while also adhering to industry standards and best practices required careful coordination and meticulous attention to detail,” said Leslie Ribbler, Departure’s project manager for the development of the new website. “The USS Midway Museum is such a historic icon and a beloved San Diego destination, it is an honor to be part of its future.”

As with the launch of any new website, there will always be a break-in period to work out any issues that arise. However, the new site has set a new standard to take Midway well into the future and provide an outstanding user experience.

“Considering the complexity of the project, we’re very happy and satisfied with the result,” said Art Brashaw, Departure’s co-founder. “Being able to positively impact the public’s knowledge and perceptions of a truly historic national icon was very intriguing. On an emotional level, it was about elevating the values this ship truly embodies – love of country, patriotic duty, camaraderie, professionalism, ethics, pride in our national achievements and Constitutional ideals. Freedom is the theme that guided everything we did for the Midway brand.”

The USS Midway Museum has a secret weapon that quietly extends the museum’s reputation as one of San Diego’s most beloved community symbols. The Midway speakers bureau launched shortly after the museum opened, and it was created to spread the word about Midway and the Navy by providing community organizations with live in-person presentations. It’s only been in the last dozen years, however, that its impact has been felt extensively throughout Southern California.

“It was dormant, only giving about four to six talks a year,” said Dick Walker, the Midway volunteer who took over the leadership of the speakers bureau 14 years ago. “I felt that we needed to train more speakers and provide a wider variety of talks, and continue to add new talks so we would be requested to return.”

The group now has 23 active speakers, all volunteers. Since 2010, the speakers bureau has given more than 700 presentations before a combined audience estimated to be more than 30,000 people.

“I think by showcasing a very professional group of speakers that represent a professional extension of the museum enhances Midway’s standing in the community,” said Dick, a retired Navy pilot who has more than 6,300 volunteer hours. “The bureau provides a personal face to the museum’s marketing efforts because we are coming to them.”

Midway docent Brian Bulter speaks to a group at the Casa de las Campanas senior living center.

The audiences for the speakers bureau has evolved over the years. Initially it was limited to military service groups and specialty clubs like Rotary and Kawanis. The bureau’s outreach has broadened significantly and now connects with organizations that range from corporate groups, law enforcement teams and senior centers to teachers associations and schools. In 2023, more than 2,500 people with more than 100 organizations received presentations.

“I believe that the speaker’s program outreach taps into some of the markets that are hard to reach,” said Steve Walker, a member of the bureau since 2016 and a volunteer docent for 13 years. “What other program serves a last minute cancellation the day before a downtown San Diego annual corporate meeting? The North American Dairy Farmers were so grateful and pleased to have us present on short notice to over 200 members. They treated us like rock stars.”

The speakers bureau has more than a dozen different presentations, which allows them to make repeat visits to the same organization. The more popular presentations given center on the Midway story, the Battle of Midway and the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

“It’s an honor representing our great team out in the community,” said Chris Day, a member of the speakers bureau for five years and a docent since 2014. “Not everyone can come aboard Midway and much of our audience is not entirely mobile. We get to take the USS Midway to them. I feel pride in having been part of our Navy, and honored to be able to continue to serve in a different way.”

While all of the speaking engagements are enriching experiences, each member of the group has their favorites.

While all of the speaking engagements are enriching experiences, each member of the group has their favorites.

“I’d say one of our most favorite stops has been annually at the Walt Whitman Elementary School in Clairemont,” said nine year docent Brian Bulter, who joined the speakers bureau with Steve Walker in 2016. “We go on Veterans Day week. The first and second graders learn not so much about the Midway, but instead about the military service in general. I still recall the huge smiles when the kids try on Steve’s flight helmets and receive their junior pilot wings.”

Fred Shatsky with new friends following a presentation.

Although COVID put a halt to in-person presentations for the speakers bureau for about a year, it opened a new door that is still in place today. During the pandemic, Dick began reaching out to organizations that the group had presented to previously offering virtual presentations.

“Many of our speakers learned how to use Zoom,” said Dick, who actually served on Midway as the flag lieutenant on the staff of Carrier Division One in 1964. “We began giving talks to Rotary clubs in Wyoming, Colorado, Florida and Hawaii.”

In 2021, the speakers bureau made more than 50 virtual presentations. While they still do several Zoom presentations annually, most of the presentations are back to being in person.

“Most organizations really appreciate that a Midway speaker has taken the time to come to their site and give a talk,” said Dick, who accumulated more than 4,500 flight hours and 500 aircraft carrier landings during his 21-year naval career. “The senior retirement homes cannot say enough about how much a speaker means to their folks and nothing is better than having a real live person come to a Rotary breakfast at 7 a.m. and represent the museum. I am proud to be a part of this great crew.”

“I like to ask people, where else can someone my age be relevant in the lives of people from age three to 103, other than as a Midway volunteer,” said Brian, who served in the Navy from 1968-1970. “Perhaps this is especially true when we bring the Midway to life through the speakers bureau.”

Information on Midway’s speakers bureau can be found here