Touring the Intrepid: Student Veterans Hosts Virtual Tour
Cameron University’s Student Veterans of America (SVA) chapter hosted a live, virtual tour of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum Complex on the Hudson River in New York at 4:30 p.m., March 29, in the MCC Ballroom as a part of Academic Festival X: American Identities in the 21st Century.
Museum Educator for Access Programs Charlotte Martin provided a tour to the audience via Skype of the aircraft carrier launched in 1943 and used by the United States during World War II, the Cold War and the Vietnam War.
Martin said the institution uses these programs to reach out to those who can’t see the museum in person, whether it’s because they are disabled or unable to make the trip for other reasons.
“Our mission here at the museum is to promote the awareness and understanding of history, science and service in order to honor our heroes, educate the public and inspire,” she said.
Between 1943 and 1974, about 50,000 people served on the USS Intrepid.
She said the museum tour is about more than just seeing artifacts on the ship.
“We have some cool stuff here,” she said, “but it’s also about telling stories of the people who lived and worked and served on this ship.”
Martin started on the flight deck, where more than two dozen restored aircraft are displayed.
“We have this wide range of aircraft here,” she said, “and part of the reason we have that is because we have this amazing aircraft restoration team at this museum.”
Then she moved on to the hangar deck and the third deck, where she said museum visitors really get the chance to hear about individual stories because it’s where the crew members lived.
“Intrepid was unsual for how long it served, which is amazing for us as a museum,” she said, “because we can cover so much time and there are so many crew member stories that we’ve been able to collect.”
Here she showed the viewers primary sources like clothing, patches for specific crew jobs, calendars, planners and one of her own favorite items — liberty cuffs.
Martin explained that the crew would sew a patch with something that represented them, like dragons or sharks, on the inside of their sleeves since they could not personalize their uniforms.
“When they were on the ship or doing official duties representing the ship, they could keep their cuffs down. Everything looks totally normal. Then when they get off the ship, they could roll up the sleeves and show some of their personality.”
CU SVA faculty adviser Jason Poudrier met Martin through one of her colleagues and worked with her to do the museum’s first-ever virtual tour at the Norman Veterans Center in Oklahoma.
Poudrier thought a tour through the museum would align perfectly with the SVA’s purpose, which is to increase the entire student body’s knowledge about veterans.
“It’s [the SVA’s mission] not just to serve other veterans,” he said, “but to help educate others about veterans and what their experiences are.”
Poudrier said the tour fell under the festival subtheme “America’s Place in the World.”
“Looking at the different missions that it served with World War II and Vietnam and for its tenure that Charlotte Martin shared with us,” he said, “it was a part of the battle of winning World War II — that represents America’s place as a world leader and world power.”
As a veteran, Poudrier said the tour made him reflect on his own time in the military.
“When I was overseas, there was the mission, and there were the people who brought life to the mission. You have to find ways to entertain yourselves.
“I loved how she highlighted the good experiences along with the bad and how the soldiers found positive ways to keep the morale up while they were going through the painful experiences of war.”
Poudrier will moderate a “Diversity in the Military” festival discussion panel with veterans who received their U.S. citizenship through military service from 4-5 p.m., April 17, in the CETES Conference Center.
For more information about Academic Festival X events, visit www.cameron.edu/festivalx/calendar-of-events.
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