In 1975, Cmdr. Vern Jumper helped manage the rescue of more than 3,000 Vietnamese refugees who were flown onto the USS Midway during the fall of Saigon. Forty-four years later, Jumper still serves on the Midway. The aircraft carrier is a San Diego tourist attraction and Jumper — who worked on the ship as an air traffic controller, otherwise known as an air boss — is one of nearly 500 volunteer docents, most of whom are vets.
Veterans Day is November 11, but you can meet vets like Jumper volunteering year-round at museums, monuments and historical sites across the country. Here are six places where you can talk with vets, learn from them and tell them, “Thanks."
Camden, New Jersey
The battleship USS New Jersey fought in some of World War II's fiercest Pacific battles, from the assault on the Marshall Islands to the battle of Okinawa, and it later saw action in Korea and Vietnam. Since 2001, the massive ship — it's nearly three football fields long — has been open to visitors. Popular attractions include the “Steam to Speed” Engineering Tour, which takes visitors through the engine room, and the Fire Power Tour, which focuses on how weapons were launched and tracked. You can even climb inside a 16-inch gun turret. Veterans will guide you through the vessel, share stories and answer questions (John Quinesso, a WWII Navy veteran, is in the Captain's Cabin every Thursday morning).