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.

Comments are closed.