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Volunteers needed on the USS Lexington

USS Lexington Museum on the Bay volunteer coordinator Debbie Cooper shares a laugh with volunteer Bob Perry. Staff Photo

The USS Lexington wants you! Corpus Christi’s beloved Museum on the Bay has volunteer opportunities with which everyone can get on board. Museum operation along with ship maintenance take a huge human effort, driving a continual need for volunteers in all capacities.

“Whatever a person’s interests may be, we have many different options where a person’s talents can be used," said Debbie Cooper, the museum’s volunteer coordinator. “Most of our volunteers have a great interest in history and sharing their knowledge with others, but we also have people who give of their talents working on the ship, preserving and maintaining exhibits and doing basic maintenance.”

Volunteers are asked to donate at least 10 hours a month, but Cooper said some people volunteer annually, working one of the many events hosted on board the ship during the year. About 30 Winter Texans volunteer seasonally as well.

Currently, about 150 volunteers work on the “Blue Ghost,” a nickname the Japanese bestowed on the aircraft carrier during World War II for its ghostly ability to unexpectedly turn up near their ships. Today, the Navy's most storied carrier glows blue at night in honor of its wartime exploits.

Volunteer Joe Carmen is a former USS Lexington crew member. A resident of Arkansas, he travels to Corpus Christi once a year to volunteer because, he said, he “just wants to check on the ol’ girl.”

Volunteers from teenagers and older are welcome. The eldest volunteer just turned 93, Cooper said. People with physical limitations are also welcome. A military background is not necessary, she emphasized.

“While our volunteers like the opportunity to give back to the community, I think they stay on with us because working on the ship is a lot of fun," Cooper said. "There is a great camaraderie amongst our group of volunteers. We have some folks who have been with us for 20 years — since the ship first opened as a museum.”

The best part of being a volunteer on the ship is getting to work with the other volunteers, longtime volunteer Bob Perry said.

“I volunteer once a week, and, when I am here, I get a big shot of love from the other volunteers and the crew," Perry told Corpus Christi Business News. "It's great to be so appreciated and work with such nice people.”

For more information on how you can volunteer, either email Cooper at or call her at 361-888-4873 ext 302. The museum is located at 2914 N. Shoreline Blvd.


Volunteers receive training and are provided with a nifty USS Lexington ball cap and shirt. After a certain number of hours are accrued, volunteers receive passes to bring guests on board as well as discounts at the ship store and mess deck. Volunteers are also feted at appreciation events and awards ceremonies.


To become a volunteer, call, email or stop by the ship at 2914 N. Shoreline Blvd. and ask for volunteer coordinator Debbie Cooper. She will provide an application, which requires three references. Once the application has been accepted, volunteers go through a brief orientation. The level of training depends on which position the volunteer chooses. Anyone working in any of the youth programs also will take Safe Camp youth protection class. For more information, email or call 361-888-4873 ext 302.


• Cart driver: Greet visitors and drive the cart that provides transportation for visitors up and down the pier

• Tour station: Learn a section of the ship’s five-tour routes (training provided) and answer visitors’ questions during their self-guided tours around the ship

• Tour guide: Host guided group tours of the entire ship, providing exhibit information along the way

• Education helper: Present educational information in one of the four programs offered (training provided); student visitors range from kindergarden to high school

• Maintenance: Paint, weld, sandblast, clean decks, janitorial work, wash airplanes, etc.; some specialty work requires a license

• Youth overnight program: Assist participating groups in navigating the ship, conduct tours, set up chairs, coffee, etc., for group activities

• Ship military library: Assist patrons in finding books that correspond with their research topic, answer visitor questions about the ship

• Special events: Greet and welcome visitors, direct guests around ship, conduct tours (might involve evening and/or daytime hours)

• Ship store: Fold and place merchandise on shelves for sale, inventory shipments and other retail duties

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