What do a retired nurse and a former commercial real estate attorney have in common? They are both passionate volunteers for the USS Midway Museum. Oh, and they just happen to be married to each other too.

For Bill and Nan O’Hara, they quickly figured out that the only thing better than becoming part of the Midway family individually, was to do it as a couple. Following their retirements in 2017, they joined the museum’s team of more than 800 volunteers the next year.

Bill is a former Navy machinist mate who served on the USS Duluth (LPD-6).

“I had completed a recent assignment with an investment trust and decided that my run in the corporate world was done,” said Bill, a native of East Lansing, Mich., who was a Navy machinist mate on the USS Duluth (LPD-6) from 1965-1970. “I was encouraged by Midway docent Harry Heggie, who volunteered with me at the time with the senior volunteers with the California Highway Patrol, to take a look at the USS Midway Museum. It’s now the best job I ever had.”

“My husband Bill told me about the safety and docent groups,” said Nan, who spent nearly 40 years as a pediatric nurse at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. “It sounded both interesting and challenging.”

Married now for seven years, both Bill and Nan weren’t satisfied with volunteering for only one department at the museum. Both lend their talents and enthusiasm to the docent corps as well as to the safety and outreach teams. Bill has also spent time assisting the curatorial department.

“Meeting people from all over the world and working with children gives me purpose and a way to learn about many cultures,” said Nan, a Bedford, Ind. native, who earned her nursing degree from the Indiana University School of Nursing. I also enjoy learning about the veterans and hearing their stories. It is an honor to be part of this group. I love it.”

“I get a sense of being useful to others as well as being part of a family of folks engaged in the specific purpose of growing and sustaining this priceless treasure of America’s Living Symbol of Freedom to a world that, in my estimation, has no idea of the prices paid and being paid for their continued freedoms,” said Bill, who received law degrees at both the Thomas Jefferson School of Law and Golden Gate University School of Law.

Even before joining Midway, they both felt that civic involvement, especially as a volunteer, helps make the community better for everyone.

“It keeps us involved with a purpose in this life,” said Nan, who has more than 1,300 volunteer hours on Midway. “It also gives an added awareness of what makes San Diego so great.”

While both enjoy giving back to their community by volunteering on Midway, the rewards they receive when they connect with visitors on the ship continues to be priceless.

“I love the stories guests bring with them to the ship, and with some encouragement, begin to share stories of their time spent in the military,” said Bill, who has amassed more than 2,000 volunteer hours over the last five years. “It’s the gleam in the eye of a youngster as they work to earn their junior pilot wings and get the first understanding that this could be an answer to a dream about their future.”

Nan spent 37 years as a pediatric nurse.

Bill and Nan’s experiences are perfect examples of the satisfaction you get when volunteering for Midway, whether you’ve had prior military experience or not. While Nan never served in the armed forces, her time on Midway has helped her develop a tremendous appreciation for those who have worn the uniform of the nation.

“This experience has opened my eyes to the hard work performed by our military for our country,” said Nan, who relocated to San Diego several years ago. “It makes me grateful for what freedom has given me. The history of the Midway and all branches, no matter what their job was or is, comes down to teamwork. This continues when we volunteer. I’m thankful for the opportunity be part of the Midway Magic.”

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