Friends and Family:
This past Saturday, the crew came together in our first crew appreciation event since the beginning of the pandemic. It was an opportunity to share stories, shed tears, and recognize the extraordinary accomplishments of volunteers and staff that bring the Battleship IOWA alive daily.
From the stage, I peered into the audience of several hundred crew members and families and was touched by their generosity, smiles, and incredible dedication to save and preserve the ship for future generations. As I looked around the fantail event space, it was emotional to see the sheer diversity and dedication of proud Americans – youth to seniors, veterans, and civilians, politically left and right – all committed to Battleship IOWA and the National Museum of the Surface Navy.
Crew members stand to be recognized for ten years of service to the ship.
It was an opportunity for me to catch up with several volunteers, including a young Jack and his father Dave McCandless, who began their volunteer stint with the ship in Richmond, CA. They continue to be proud volunteers from several hundred miles away through virtual projects.
Born in 1999, Jack volunteered to help save the ship when he was twelve years old, and the father / son pair showed up every weekend until the ship moved. When I saw Jack on Saturday night, I was beside myself: I remember him as a 12-year-old, not a successful 22-year-old who works on space programs.
If you are interested in learning more about this dynamic young man (and see him proudly wearing his IOWA hat), there was an article in Popular Mechanics in 2018 highlighting his work with drones.
The previous day, I was reflecting with father and son Canfield (David and Jonathan) about how Jonathan (and the rest of David’s adult children) have grown into incredible adults. They are now in the Navy and are fully grown, yet I remember them as the dedicated youth in Richmond that would do anything for their ship.
In the Canfield case, the entire family enlisted as volunteers early and both parents (David and Tanya) are passionate and dedicated staff members. We shared laughs about the memories of the family in pictures and the various projects they have taken on over the years.
Today, the younger kids volunteer to assist Tanya in a variety of roles, including sending acknowledgement letters to our incredible supporter base from hundreds of miles away.
These are only two such stories in the past day that were shared with me. I can think of several more the past week including enlistments, health challenges, celebrations, and inspirational stories of being a part of an incredible and magical community aboard the IOWA.
Each person has a story… a story of overcoming adversity, generosity, growth, commitment, passion, and purpose. Each member of our board(s) and crew stepped forward and volunteered to be a part of something greater themselves and in most cases received limited recognition for their contributions. I thank each of you for your commitment and dedication to our organization and believing in the crew to lead the way with both the Battleship IOWA and the National Museum of the Surface Navy. Your support matters!
As the organization matures and years of operation are behind us, life evolves. We learn new lessons and become changed people, hopefully for the better.
I have made life friends who have become family because of this incredible journey and more recently I have learned to voice my deepest feelings for each of them. In very simple terms, life is precious, and I have chosen to live it in the best way possible.
As we enter our 11th year of operation, we are beginning to see some of our staff members rotate into new roles as they approach the next stages in their development. We continue our evolution to the National Museum of the Surface Navy in the coming years, and we will experience exciting success, a variety of challenges, and an ever-evolving life.
Your generosity, commitment, and support have changed more lives than we can count. You have made a difference in the lives of youth, veterans, seniors, community members, and fellow Americans. Your generosity and consistency have inspired me to be better in all that I do and to share your incredible story with others.
My deepest appreciation to each of you for being an inspiration to one other, our crew, and one other. I am proud to call each of you a friend.
President & CEO
P.S. A couple of weeks ago, we celebrated the ten year anniversary of the day we opened Battleship IOWA as a museum in the Port of Los Angeles. We held a panel discussion in which Mike Getscher, David Canfield, Sue Schmidt, and I reminisced about the early days in Suisun Bay and Richmond. We recorded that discussion. Part 1 is out this week; Part 2 will be available next week.
Click the photo below to access the episode or find it wherever you get your podcasts.