On June 8, the Airborne and Special Operations Museum took an evening to thank those who are integral to the running of ASOM. The evening opened with a selection of patriotic songs performed by the Campbellton Youth Chorus, an affiliate of the Cumberland Oratorio Singers, and led by choir director Donna Jo Mangus.
Gifts distributed by Sgt. 1st Class Chuck Brandon to ASOM volunteers included gold name badges for those who have been in service to the museum for over 10 years and silver name badges for those in service over five years. Those in service for less than five years received certificates of appreciation.
The longest serving volunteer at ASOM, Anne Howland, originally hails from Germany and is a widow to a former member of Special Forces. She has volunteered at the museum for 17 years, lending a hand before the museums official opening date on Aug. 16, 2000. Prior to the opening, she helped set up the museum archival library and recruit volunteers.
Many of the volunteers are also former service members, including Ron Maury, a retired sergeant first class from the 1st Infantry Division and Vietnam War veteran. Maury said the best thing about volunteering at ASOM is meeting visitors from around the world.
This sentiment was echoed by 98-year-old Ed Stever, a World War II veteran who served in the U.S. Army Airforce with the 20th Air Force Squadron. Stever said the reason he chooses to spend his time at ASOM is simple.
“I have nothing else better to do,” he said.
However, when pressed about what part of the experience he enjoys most, Stever’s response was much like Maury’s.
“I love to talk to people from all over the world. I’ve talked to senators, I have talked to four star generals and lots of prominent people, so many I can’t remember,” Stever explained.