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CEO Update 3 September 2021

Friends and Supporters:

Today (September 2nd) my thoughts are surrounding the seventy-sixth anniversary of the end of WWII aboard the Battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay. My connection to the USS Iowa began twenty-one years ago when I visited USS Missouri with my grandfather, as he mourned the loss of his wife of fifty-nine years. He was a plank owner aboard the USS Missouri in 1943 and served as a Water Tender First Class through the end of the war in 1945. He watched the Japanese surrender aboard the decks of “his ship.”

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to meet several veterans who were present on September 2, 1945 and heard their stories about persevering through the most devastating war in history.

After the loss of his wife (my grandmother), my grandfather wanted to do one thing: return to “his ship.” At the time, I had relatively little knowledge of the Navy and no idea that it would change my life forever. Boarding his ship with him, seeing the smile return to his face and the healing effects the visit had for a grieving 82-year-old man was transformational. In the simplest words, he became an 18-year old sailor again, complete with stories and memories of himself as a younger man. Within a week, my grandfather became one of my closest friends and I was blessed to experience several reunions, December 7th memorials, and the Battleship IOWA with him.

Over the years, I have asked myself what makes these experiences so transformational and impactful. What does this phenomenon mean to our country and each of us individually? Why have I dedicated my life to telling the story of the Surface Navy through the Battleship IOWA and LA Fleet Week? Why has my family put up with me being away for countless days and weeks to carry this mission forward? I realized the answer is relatively simple, but unfortunately not very well known by Americans.

Our Surface Navy began in 1775 to ensure freedom of the seas. The United States is a maritime nation that is reliant on commerce and trade to sustain its way of life. Every citizen in the United States, regardless of their political preference, is impacted by the Surface Navy’s ability to keep our sea lanes open so that commerce and trade can reach our ports. The vehicles we drive, the goods and services we purchase, the innovation revolution that employs us, and so much more is directly connected to our Surface Navy’s consistent guardianship of the safe passages of merchandise across our oceans. This protection occurs because of the dedicated service of our men and women in the Surface Navy aboard ships that sail freely across the oceans of the world. This concept is what my grandfather stood for and believed in, and it is what I passionately believe in.

Our rotation to the National Museum of the Surface Navy at the Battleship IOWA in the largest port complex in the United States (Los Angeles) is not coincidental. We are surrounded by infrastructure and facilities that play significant roles in keeping each of our daily lives free and sustainable. Through this lens we came to the realization that there is truly no better place for the National Museum of the Surface Navy and LA Fleet Week to educate Americans on the important role of our U.S. Navy in our way of life and the future of our nation.

Please donate today to support our efforts in educating the public on the importance of freedom of the seas and our Surface Navy. Click below to donate!

As we continue our transition to open the National Museum of the Surface Navy aboard the Battleship IOWA in 2025, we are planning each step and project strategically. These individual steps and projects are implemented as resources permit and most recently, they include the promotion of Jenny Sova to Chief of Staff. Her responsibilities are primarily focused on supporting the executive team in the day-to-day functioning of the organization. This promotion has allowed me to focus more of my efforts on building relationships, meeting with donors and supporters, and asking for investments to bring alive the National Museum of the Surface Navy.

Unfortunately, like all endeavors in life, we are occasionally faced with challenges that we must overcome. After twenty years of involvement in the Battleship IOWA, I have seen more than my fair share and we have overcome all of them. While I am happy for her I am sad to announce that Joleen Deatherage, our Vice President of Development & Marketing, has accepted a role as executive director of an arts museum. Although she has accepted a full-time executive position elsewhere she is honored to become a member of our volunteer crew and has committed to remaining engaged as a supporter. 

Personally, I am proud of what she has accomplished, her leadership and formation of the development team, and for becoming an executive director in an area she is truly passionate about. While these changes are difficult, the promotion of Jenny Sova to Chief of Staff has allowed me to temporarily fill the vacancy left by Joleen and further execute on our capital campaign strategy. In addition, we are in the process of filling the role of Major Donor Relations and Stewardship Officer to work with our donors, boards, and leadership to engage and involve investors in the museum and mission.

The leadership team is working on a longer-term project plan that will be focused on the continued modification of our organizational infrastructure to accommodate the opening of the National Museum in 2025. We have already accomplished several projects related to the museum and we continue to accelerate the process as investments are made.

Next week, we celebrate ten years since the Navy called us and informed our organization that they were donating the ship to us. Statistically about thirty percent of businesses will survive until their tenth year in business and I must imagine that it is an even smaller percentage of them that are expanding to a national scope.

As we commemorate this landmark (and thirteen years since the formation of this organization), we celebrate your support of the museum over this decade with the opening of Vicky’s Doghouse, offering outdoor dining on the newly refurbished fantail.

Vicky’s is presented by the Navy Supply Corps Foundation, with additional support from Fast Lane Transportation, Bragg Crane, and the committed and dedicated efforts by the crew of the Battleship IOWA.

In celebration of ten years and your support, please join us between September 7th and September 30th to enjoy a donor and supporter discount of 20% at Vicky’s Doghouse

Simply tell Vicky’s crew that you love Vicky and are a donor and supporter. The food is great and the view is awesome! 
Join us in watching freedom of the seas in action at the Port of Los Angeles aboard the Battleship IOWA.

In closing, thank you for your support. I look forward to seeing you onboard. Please let me know what our crew can do to make your experience more impactful.

My best wishes for a safe and blessed Labor Day weekend.

Jonathan Williams
President and CEO

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