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Preserve Their Story

Volunteers play a crucial role in helping us preserve the story of WWII in the Pacific. They are the backbone of the museum. 


Volunteer of the Year

This page is dedicated to our volunteers who go above and beyond every year to help the museum and foundation. Learn about the volunteer of the year and what motivates them to work so hard for free.

We at the museum appreciate all of our volunteers beyond words for all the work they do for us. Without our volunteers this museum would not be what it is today.

 

2016 Volunteer of the Year

Larry Rabalais

 

 Larry started volunteering in 2003 after moving to Fredericksburg. Larry is always willing to do whatever is needed to complete the task at hand. His most recent project, and no doubt the largest in his volunteering career was leading the great team of volunteers as they reconstructed our Higgins Boat. You can see their work during our WWII Pacific Combat Program on set weekends as the Army uses it to storm the beaches. 

 

Q&A

1. Why did you start volunteering at the museum?

I have always had a deep interest in WW 2. My Dad was in the Combat Engineers in Europe (after his stint building Higgins boats in N.O. I had read everything re WW 2 I could, and have a significant WW 2 library. Then in 2003 we made the decision to move to F'burg, Floyd Cox advertised a class he was going to do for anyone wanting to be an Oral Historian. I was intrigued by the idea of personally interviewing the vets myself so I attended and began a long history of doing Oral Histories all over the Hill Country. From there I got into cooking for the re enactors then artifact reconstructing.

 

2. What is your favorite part of volunteering at the museum?

Favorite part is challenge of  rebuilding a badly deterioted artifact from the War period into something as close as possible to its original appearance and if possible, utility. This included everything form gun parts, 40 mm shells on the PT boat, Navy 5" gun shells, Nambu machine gun parts, the Admirals gig, especially the trailor for the Rex float plane, the Jap 105 mm gun wood wheels, and of course the Higgins boat, my most challenging.

 

2015 Voluneer of the Year

Robert "Bob" LeClercq

Bob started coming to the museum in 1994 while putting together reunions for veterans of the USS Samuel B. Roberts. He lost his brother on the USS Samuel B. Roberts during the battle of Leyte Gulf during WWII. Over the years Bob made friends with ADM Chuck Grojean who was then CEO of the Admiral Nimitz Foundation. One day after lunch Bob asked ADM Grojean what a $10,000 donation could do for the renovation of the Nimitz Museum. Having only $5,000, Bob raised the rest and the result is the USS Samuel B. Roberts Gazebo in our Memorial Courtyard.

Bob continued to support the museum and when he lost his wife in 2014 he began coming up from San Antonio and volunteering 2 – 3 days a week at the museum.

When Bob was asked what he liked most about volunteering he said, “I like meeting people from all over the world who come here. Most of those people have something they want to say to somebody about a family member who served and they know nothing about. I can relate to those people.”

 

 

2014 Volunteer of the Year

Bob Grinslade

 Bob started volunteering in 2011 helping out with small projects around the Pacific Combat Zone. When Bob retired he started taking on more roles in other departments. Bob started working with the museums oral history team, gallery attendant program, golf tournament, and marketing department. In 2014 Bob logged 456 hours for the museum. Director of Marketing Brandon Vinyard had this to say when asked about Bob’s role. “I like many other departments here are a department of one person. Bob has been a great help in distributing marketing materials, and in a way keeps me on track with getting them out. Bob is always in the hall knocking on every office door asking what he can do for anyone and always walks away with something on his list”.

 

Q&A

1. Why did you start volunteering at the museum?

I started volunteering because I was enthralled with the history of the war and felt those coming in to visit the museum should have the best experience they could to understand this major time in the country's history with all the sacrifices made by all the soldiers and citizens to win the conflict. 

 

2. What is your favorite part of volunteering at the museum?

My favorite part of volunteering is meeting all the people that visit the museum and enhancing their experience while learning about the war.  The looks on their faces is very telling when you mention something they did not know, or learn that a particular artifact is actually from the war.  Many of the visitors think the artifacts are reproductions and not real.   I want everyone I contact to leave feeling that have benefited by their visit and will tell others to come and see what we have to offer. 

 

 

2013 Volunteer of the Year

Jim Heupel

 Jim has been volunteering for 9 years at the National Musuem of the Pacific War. In 2013 Jim logged 333 hours of volunteering. He is a very talented photographer with his own company J Heupel Photography. Jim takes photos of our living history program mainly and other events if we need him.

Jim is a huge help to our living history program and is the left hand of our Living History Director Marvin Schroeder, helping him with ammo stock, loading ammo into magazines, and distributing that ammo to our volunteers for the show.

Jim is a valued assest to our team and we appreciate all that he does for this museum.

 

Q&A

1. Why did you start volunteering at the museum?

       First visited the museum in the late 1970's with Ron Woelhoff, became a donor while still on active duty with the Air Force, continuing into retirement. As a Vietnam veteran, I saw the importance of telling the story of WWII in the Pacific Theater. On active duty, I've been to Midway, and I've spent literally months on temporary duty in Hawaii, Okinawa and the Philippines--while stationed in Japan as the chief trial judge for the Pacific. What better place to tell the story than Fredericksburg, home of Chester Nimitiz.

 

2. What is your favorite part of volunteering at the museum?

     My favorite part is the response of those attending the Living History Programs: awe in the eyes of children; gratitude in the eyes of those who have served in the military; and a new found idea and appreciation from spouses, adult children, friends and relatives for what those combatants went through--whether was WWII or later. The sound, the smoke, the smell brings a reality than movies (and photos) cannot impart.


Experience the human story of WWII in the Pacific Theater told through 55,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, over 900 artifacts, and audio/visual displays.


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