Battleship IOWA Tours: You Never Know Who You’ll Meet

Battleship IOWA is full of inspiring surprises. When our tour guides arrive to the ship every morning, they never know who they’ll encounter during the day. And while each guest is special, every so often, one stands out.

IOWA volunteer Christ Malburg had such an encounter. He shared it with us recently. He says it shows what it means to be an IOWA tour guide.



“You’re an IOWA crew member, sir?” A smile big as the blue sky above spread across that parchment face. 

“What gave me away?”

“Your IOWA hat, sir. That vintage, faded wool and the hand-sewn white letters. We don’t sell them in the gift shop. At least not like yours.”

“Machinist mate,” and he stuck out his hand. “Spent two years aboard this ship during the war. Same hat. Meet the family.”

There were eight of them—sons, daughters, granddaughters. 

“I’d like to show the kids where I worked—down in Emergency Propulsion. Would that be possible?”

“Ah, well, I said, “that’s quite a way down toward the bottom of the hull.” I hadn’t the foggiest where it was. But there was one person who did know. Still, I looked them over and scanned their shoes. Not a flip-flop among them. 

“Hey, Dave,” I said to my buddy as he passed us, “I’d like you to meet someone.” I introduced Dave Way, ship’s curator. 

“They’d like to see Emergency Propulsion—where this gentleman worked back in the day.”

Dave’s gaze focused like a laser on the hat. Then he quickly scanned everyone’s shoes. Steel ladders murder flip-flops. And just like that, my shipmate stepped up and made a dream come true for an IOWA veteran and his family. “I have the key,” Dave said. “It’ll open most every space on this ship. Between the two of us we should be able to find your duty station.”

This once-in-a-lifetime tour took the next three hours. I saw places I’d never seen before on IOWA. Our newest shipmate gave a non-stop recital about the men he once knew who worked in the spaces we passed. He told stories of where in the world IOWA was at the time. Dave and I asked as many questions as the family. They had three cell phones recording all this. Dave requested the video for IOWA’s archives.

By the time we arrived topside we had accomplished IOWA’s present-day mission. We renewed the relationship one veteran still has for his ship and its departed crew. Our machinist mate was the star that day and Dave Way was his co-star. Together they demonstrated how IOWA’s bond of service spans the ages. That’s what IOWA brings to its visitors, volunteers, and those who donate the money that breathes life into the dream that keeps IOWA afloat.



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