By Airman 1st Class Alexis Christian
21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Her love for aircraft started at a young age, beginning with the love her father felt and shared toward the planes he saw in the military. From there her infatuation bloomed as she attended air shows she saw with her father, her then husband, and now with her children.
When she retired two years ago from interior decorating, she had no idea what she wanted to do with her time. By chance, one newspaper brought her to a new stage in her life.
“I saw an advertisement in the Gazette saying that the base museum was looking for volunteers and I was looking for something to do,” said Linda Yapez, Edward J. Peterson Air and Space Museum docent. “I love planes, always have, so I thought it would be a great fit.”
When she came in for the job, she was handed a book with information on every artifact in the museum, Yapez said. The book wasn’t the only way she learned about the pieces in the museum.
“I learn a lot from the other docents here, most of them are former military,” said Yapez. “Almost all of them worked on some of the equipment or the aircraft we have on display.”
Yapez is one of the few museum docents who’s not a veteran. Her father, ex-husband, and one of her sons were in the military, but Yapez says she simply has a love for the military and the history around it.
“Our mission is to educate the civilian public and our Airmen on what we do,” said Gail Whalen, Edward J. Peterson Air and Space Museum director. “The Heritage Program was created so we could celebrate important events in Air Force history. Here at Peterson we try to connect our mission to stories about the Airmen on our base, like Lt. Edward J. Peterson and Staff Sgt. Jose Mark Aragon.”
After following around the other docents in the beginning and learning their stories from the time they worked with different equipment, she said she’s now able to share their memories with other visitors during her tours.
“I love getting to share the stories and information about all the stuff here,” said Yapez. “More than that, I love that continue to learn about it.
On our slower days we will sit around and I get to hear more stories from the other docents.”
During the summers the museum usually runs a little low on available docents, said Yapez. Sometimes it’s all hands on deck and they will be out in the airpark and hangers giving tours all day.
“Our volunteers fulfill manpower needs at the museum,” said Whalen. “Frankly, without the volunteers we’d just have an airpark. It’s one thing to look at a website, but getting to physically walk around our grounds, you can really see the impact of the Air Force.”
To be a docent at the museum, you do not have to be retired or a veteran.
“It doesn’t matter if you know anything about any of the exhibits,” said Yapez. “They will teach you everything you need to know.”
Though the museum has special volunteer groups for projects, its real need comes in the form of daily volunteers as docents to help with the tours, says Whalen.
“We get up to 20,000 visitors a year,” said Whalen. “The museum needs daily volunteers to help us provide regularly scheduled hours for visitors. We need volunteers that can provide long-term commitment.”
Volunteers should be fit enough to walk the 6-acre airpark and museum complex, be good public speakers, and enjoy meeting all kinds of people, says Whalen.
“I always tell people to come out here and volunteer,” said Yapez. “It’s so much fun.”
To volunteer, contact the museum staff at 21SW.MU@us.af.mil and provide contact information, including a valid email address.