“Welcome aboard the Intrepid!” This is how I greet the many visitors to the Intrepid Sea, Air/Space Museum, which is located at West 46th Street & 12th Avenue, and is a spectacular floating historical landmark that combines education, inspiration and fun.
I have been working as a volunteer, as a greeter, and now as an exhibit guide on this great old ship since May 2009. I am not a former service member but many volunteers are, and they have the best stories.
For instance, Gerry Stone, who is a retired aircraft carrier sailor, states that each time he steps onboard he feels like he’s 18 years old again; or Louis Grasso (his ID tag says ‘Tin Can Sailor’) who has real life knowledge, pride and affection for his naval service of 40 years ago; or Sam Folsom (USMC retired). The 85+ year-old fighter pilot in WW II and Korea also was a test pilot after the wars and flew more than 60 types of aircraft. Sam is a brave man, not just for his military service but he also rides his bicycle through Manhattan to get to and from the Intrepid.
The vintage aircraft on the flight deck can be considered the crown jewels of this museum. They embody a lethal elegance and the determination to achieve victory. The panoramic view of Manhattan and the Hudson River from the flight deck are thought provoking and inspiring. When visiting the Intrepid don’t hesitate to ask a volunteer, tour guide or staff members any questions about the exhibits.
On the newly reconstructed park-like Pier 86 you walk through our submarine ‘Growler,’ whose 2 cruise missiles once each carried a 1-megaton nuclear warhead, and then you can walk through the supersonic ‘Concorde.’ Who cannot remember seeing (and hearing!) the SST takeoff from JFK when you were on the sand at Rockaway Beach?
With limited public funding, admissions and sponsors The Intrepid Museum is a self-sufficient and hardworking organization, which has established foundations that benefit fallen and wounded service members and their families and survivors. The foundations are The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, The Fisher House Foundation and The Intrepid Relief Fund. Bob Barker of ‘The Price is Right’ recently donated $3 million to these foundations.
The Intrepid was commissioned in 1943, decommissioned in 1974 and became a museum in1982. The Intrepid just turned 66 years old this past August but this ‘Ghost Ship” (this is how the Japanese referred to her because they believed she had been sunk a few times) is being reborn from a 2 year $115 million makeover with first class educational exhibits, movie theatre, flight simulator rides in the Exploreum, corporate meeting and banquet/ party facilities but, best of all, a professional and enthusiastic staff that can convey a living history.
I would like to mention two things I have learned while volunteering; never refer to a Navy ship as a “boat” around a retired Navy person and, there’s no such thing as a former Marine!
To learn more contact www.intrepidmuseum.org