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richthrash

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Review for Home Port Alliance for the USS New Jersey, Inc., Camden, NJ, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

I’ve been a volunteer on the Battleship since 2001. My first volunteer day was my birthday, Monday, April 30th, a day when I told the boss I needed a mental health day and off I went to the ship. On my first day I met some really great people like Admiral Thomas Seigenthaler, Bob Walters and Jack Shaw. I spent part of that day chipping water damaged floor tiles off the deck on the mess decks and the other part removing masking paper from passageways that had just been painted. After just one visit I was hooked, and here I am now, 15 years later, with over 500 volunteer days under my belt!

My first few visits to the ship were spent painting, cleaning and helping get areas ready for the public. Then one day I heard about a group of volunteers led by a guy named Bruce Williams who were focusing on restoring the bright work on the ship. Bright work in navy jargon means brass fixtures of all sizes and shapes and when a ship is in commission the crew keeps the bright work shining as a matter of pride in their ship. For most enlisted guys who served on the ship it would have been busy work or perhaps extra duty, but for me and my fellow volunteers it was a chance to carry on the tradition and keep the brass shining for all that visit her to see. When it comes to brass the battleship is a target rich environment, there is brass everywhere, and keeping it shining is a full time job.

Today the majority of my volunteer days are Saturdays where I work with about a dozen or so dedicated fellow members of the ships Brass Team to keep the bright work shining. Like me, most of the gang has been there from the beginning, we have a great group to work with. Over the years I’ve been involved in numerous special projects and through donations I’ve helped: establish the ships memorial kiosk, which lists information about the ships former crew members; procure the token machine and commemorative tokens that are part of our highly successful fund raising Wishing Well onboard; and most recently donating funds and labor to help get the ships whistle to work after being silent since 1990. Check out a video at http://www.courierpostonline.com/videos/news/local/south-jersey/2016/10/18/92390888/. I’m just an old Army guy who has fallen in a big way for an old Navy Battleship, and I’ll continue to make the 320 mile round trip from Virginia on Saturdays to work with my fellow Brass Team members to keep her looking good as long as I am able.

If you live in the area, have some free time on Saturdays, and don’t mind getting your hands dirty, I encourage you to come down and spend a day or two with us, we can use all the help we can get. If you live further away (don’t forget I make the drive from Reston, VA) and can’t join us in person, then please consider joining us in another way. You can become a member at various levels; or you can make a tax deductible cash donation to help us raise money to replace the teak decking on the ship, even buying items from the ships store helps support the ship. Information on how you can help can be found on the Battleships official website. I too have a website that I started in 2001 where I've posted photos of the various restoration projects I’ve been involved with, if you want to take a look go to www.ussnewjersey.com. We are so fortunate to have the Navy’s most decorated battleship open to the public right here in Camden, NJ, thanks in advance for any support you can provide to help us with her ongoing maintenance and restoration efforts.

Role:  Volunteer