The Texas Parks and Wildlife employees from the management to the restoration and support team to the overnight staff are all willing to assist anyone with anything they need and are always polite and appreciative. And the volunteers always put their heart and soul into the restoration of the Battleship Texas. As for the visitors, I’ve never met a more wonderful and diverse group of people from Great Britain, Poland, Germany, Canada, Australia and all across the United States. The visitors are respectful and interested in the history. All together these things make the Battleship Texas one of the nicest places.
I was escorting a veteran who served on the Battleship Texas back onto the ship as part of his “bucket list.” Visitors noticed the man and asked if he was a veteran. I asked him if he minded if I introduced him to the visitors and as all WWII veterans act, he said, “Sure, but I don’t see what the fuss is all about.” These women shook his hand, some cried upon meeting him, and everyone wanted a picture taken with him. I was amazed at how appreciative they were for his service.
On another occasion, I provided a tour for a man and his son whose father served on the Battleship Texas. The archivists were able to pull records about his father and I found out he was on one of the 3-inch anti-aircraft gun crews. I was able to show his son and grandson what he did during battle stations and his son teared up just listening and looking at one of the guns knowing his dad might have been there before him.
Another time a WWII veteran came aboard to visit. I was painting one of the turrets at the time and he walked up to me and thanked me for my service! I immediately stopped painting and said, “No sir, thank YOU for YOUR service. If it were not for men like you, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to be here doing this now.”
Providing tours for kids is also extremely satisfying. After seeing that the enlisted men slept in bunks or hammocks, had only a small locker to store everything they owned, and seeing the crew “head” and showers, they can’t believe men lived like that. It provides an opportunity to explain the Great Depression to them and putting what their lives were like during that time into perspective.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife employees are exceptional people. Never a day has gone by where I came aboard the ship and wasn’t greeted nicely by all who work there. Each and every one will bend over backwards to answer our questions or help if there is a problem.
Finally, being able to inform visitors of the history, to narrow the discussions to what their interests are from crew life to the guns to the battles to specific stories is a real pleasure and they are always appreciative.