[heading] by JENNIFER FRANKES | photo by Robert Genat [/heading]

Visitors to the USS Midway Museum are sure to be impressed by the sheer size of the aircraft carrier itself, as well as the dozens of exhibits, activities and tours that are available onboard. According to Laurie Switzer, Director of Volunteer Programs for the USS Midway Museum, another impressive aspect of the museum is the volunteer corps, a dedicated group of men and women who assist the staff in sharing the story of the USS Midway and those who served aboard the carrier during its 50-year commission. “The volunteer corps is integral to the general operations and continued success of the museum. Some departments are run almost exclusively by volunteers,” declared Switzer.

As stated by Switzer, the USS Midway Museum seeks volunteers to help preserve the legacy of those who serve, inspire future generations and educate, as well as entertain, more than one million visitors a year. The environment onboard the USS Midway has been described as having “Midway Magic” and the volunteers strive to keep the magic alive for each and every visitor. “The phrase ‘Midway Magic’ began showing up in the USS Midway cruise books in the 1960s. It is believed to be a crew slogan – a rallying cry for those onboard,” explained Switzer.

In 2011, volunteers contributed over 200,000 hours, which is comparable to over 104 full-time staff members. Currently, over 600 volunteers participate on a monthly basis. “Out of those 600 volunteers, over 100 are from North County,” said Switzer.

USS Midway Museum volunteers receive benefits such as parking privileges and café and gift shop discounts, but Switzer stated that most volunteers cite giving back to the community as their motivation for participating. “There is also strong camaraderie among the volunteers, as well as a sense of pride in what the USS Midway represents and what has been accomplished,” revealed Switzer.

For more information about how to become a volunteer at the USS Midway Museum, please visit www.midway.org.