Tom Herskowitz, a docent at the USS Midway Museum, is the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) Volunteer of the Month for October 2020. He was nominated by Laurie Switzer, the Director of Volunteer Programs at the Midway.
While there are numerous volunteer opportunities on-board the Midway, many of the volunteers who have served in the military (and many who have not) enjoy putting on the iconic “yellow hat” to be guides and history-tellers on-board. Tom is no different. He shares fascinating tales of his days as a Naval Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) with 200 combat missions in Vietnam, as well as his experiences as a Top Gun graduate.
Laurie describes Tom as “giving, proactive, and thoughtful.” Tom stands out because of his ability to see what needs to be done and his willingness to do it! A great example of this is what Tom has been doing during the COVID-19 pandemic. When the museum’s operations were shut down, Tom took upon himself to make sure the volunteers stayed connected. He figured out a way to keep communication flowing and also to keep providing continuing education for the curators, Library Team, and Docent Corps. To sustain morale and support for various volunteer teams, Tom has been facilitating Zoom sessions, which he started at the very beginning of the pandemic. These debriefs allow those volunteers who have not yet been able to return to their duty stations the opportunity to remain in contact with their fellow team members. Tom has guided hundreds of volunteers—many of whom are uneasy with technology—in using Zoom for meetings and for socializing. A fellow volunteer, Paul Ward says, “This service, provided by Tom, was a key component in volunteers being able to remain supportive of the museum’s continued mission and vision, as well as being a way for the members of the ‘Midway family’ to remain supportive of each other. So many of us plan on and look forward to these scheduled times during our ‘shore leave.’” Many of the volunteers have been seeking camaraderie during the lock-down and Tom has been that conduit on behalf of the Midway.
Throughout his life, Tom has been a true adventurer. A few of his adrenaline-packed adventures include helicopter-skiing Mt. Cook in New Zealand, white water rafting the headwaters of the Nile River in Uganda, and hiking to the summit of Mount Meru in Tanzania with his son. Tom also has a deep rooted passion for giving back, and served as a missionary in Uganda for two years.
Midway guests love to hear Tom’s amazing life stories and to learn about the USS Midway and our country’s history. Thank you, Tom, for your tremendous contribution to the USS Midway Museum, as well as to the San Diego and beyond!