Foundation supports volunteer efforts at AMC Museum

Terry Yeary walks with his son Bentley, 6, near aircraft at the Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover AIr Force Base,. Delaware State News photo by Marc Clery

DOVER — Among the news releases and newsletters that came across the editor’s desk recently were two related to the Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover Air Force Base.

The first was an advance of the Veterans Day event planned for Saturday.
The other was a 2017 Annual Campaign piece from the Air Mobility Command Museum Foundation.

A line in the letter from Foundation President Don Sloan caught my eye:

“The Museum staff and the Foundation have always been in complete agreement that the AMC Museum, quite frankly, would simply be a ramp with some hardware without the dedication, selflessness and hard work of our volunteers,” he wrote.

There are 150 volunteers at the museum. They’re largely retired military folks who enjoy the camaraderie and opportunity to share their knowledge, experiences and passion for military aircraft, especially the planes they flew or maintained.

The museum is the state’s most visited free attraction.

“We just can’t say enough about our volunteers,” said Col. Sloan, who retired from the U.S. Air Force Reserves. “From our surveys, we found most people find out about the museum from someone who told them how great the museum is. That’s a direct result of how good our volunteers are. They show people a good time because they enjoy doing what they’re doing.

“That spreads and people go back home and tell their neighbors and friends, and they bring their families in when they come in from out of town.”

AMC Museum Foundation President Don Sloan, left, and Lt. General Bill Welser, a former 436th Wing commander at Dover Air Force Base, converse at last fall’s 30th anniversary celebration of the AMC Museum.

Museum operations are funded by the government, but the effort is boosted by donations from the foundation.

“One example might be that those shortages could cause our restoration volunteers to be ready to work, but not have the appropriate tools, hardware or other miscellaneous ‘stuff’ to keep ’em restoring,” said Col. Sloan. “Those shortages might be caused by budgetary constraints, complicated procurement processes, or simply a short-notice requirement. We’re happy to step in — it’s what we do.”

Col. Sloan said the foundation is a private organization that supports the museum with funds used to restore and maintain aircraft, care for artifacts, build new exhibits, develop new programs and support volunteers. The Foundation also funds some positions, including a restoration chief.

“The government gives a lot of money to the museum, but the odds and ends are what we end up doing,” said Col. Sloan.

Last year’s foundation donations totaled $80,000.

“That’s in direct support to the museum,” said Col. Sloan.

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The AMC Museum houses more than 30 aircraft, and it is the only museum in the nation dedicated to cargo and refueling planes.

In the coming year, the museum will add a C-119B cargo plane and KB-50 refueling plane to the collection.

The C-119B has a great backstory. The “Flying Boxcar” air dropped mobile bridge sections to Marines during the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir in Korea in 1950.

Instead of a fate of scrap metal, the C-119B was rescued from the Mojave Desert.

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The AMC Museum will open at 9 a.m. Saturday and seating for the Veterans Day ceremony will begin at 9:50 a.m.

The ceremony will begin at 10:50 a.m. with a film and opening remarks, followed by posting of the colors.

The guest speaker will be Retired U.S. Army Colonel Bob Leicht.

Readers of the Delaware State News will recall feature stories last fall on the AMC Museum’s centerpiece plane, a C-47A that dropped paratroopers into France on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Col. Leicht has spent countless hours authenticating the plane dubbed the “Turf and Sport Special.”

The ceremony will also feature the Dover Air Force Base Honor Guard and the Milford Community Band.

First-time visitors, or those who have not been there in years, are reminded that the museum entrance is off Del. 9 and does not require access into the base.

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After the ceremony, several of the museum’s outside planes will be open until 2:30 p.m.

While out there, check out the Aircraft Benches and the names on the benches. Often, the inscribed names on the associated plaques are made to honor a loved one who served.

“The neatest part is that you get a chance to put a tale or story along with the name on the website,” said Col. Sloan. “That’s pretty satisfying to give people that outlet.”

A good example is the message from donor Lorraine Dion about her father, Edward B. Goodman Jr.

“My story is that my father, MSgt Edward B. Goodman, was stationed at DAFB from 1964 until his retirement in 1969,” she wrote. “He was part of the 95th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. He was a Crew Chief and an electrician for the F-106 Delta Dart. The AMC Museum was the 95th FIS hangar.

“Occasionally, when my sister, brother and I were with my mom on base at the commissary or base exchange, we were able to swing by and visit my dad on the flight line at ‘his’ hangar. I will always treasure these memories.”

Reach editor Andrew West at awest@newszap.com

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