By Steve Markman
It would be difficult for any major museum, or other major public attraction for that matter, to function without an army of dedicated volunteers. The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base just outside of Dayton, Ohio, is no exception. While visitors will see staff members just about everywhere they venture in the Museum’s four massive buildings, just about all of them are volunteers. From the Information Desk at the entrance to docents stationed at most of the exhibits, and others throughout the complex, most staff that a visitor will see are volunteers.
Members of Jewish War Veterans Post 587 always have supported the Museum. Currently, six members serve in various roles throughout the complex, which is the largest military museum in the world.
Three members volunteer in the Holocaust exhibit: Ira Segalewitz, Henry Guggenheimer, and Joe Bettman. Ira and Henry are Holocaust survivors and routinely tell of their personal experiences from this sad era to large groups of school children. Both also are Army veterans of the Korean War. Joe Bettman has visited two former concentration camps and relates his thoughts of this experience to Museum visitors.
Leslie Buerke and Bert Cream serve as docents in different galleries throughout the Museum. They study about the aircraft and artifacts in their areas and are ready to answer the m ost-often asked questions from the public (Getting stumped usually results in their researching the question to be better prepared for the next time). Bert always is ready to answer technical questions based on this thirty-six years experience in military aviation R&D. Their duties also include watching for any problems visitors may have and providing assistance or calling in professional staff as needed.
Steve Markman, former Post 587 Commander and now Dept of Ohio Commander, volunteers in the Restoration Division. He works out of sight of the public, helping to prepare aircraft for display. For over ten years, Steve has been restoring the historic Memphis Belle. The Memphis Belle was the first U.S. Army Air Forces heavy bomber to return to the U.S. after completing 25 missions over Europe. (The Memphis Belle will go on public display in May of 2018.)
A seventh member, Felix Weil, who escaped Europe on the Kindertransport, also volunteered as a docent, but recently left the area to be closer to family.
Volume 71. Number 3. Fall 2017