Airbase Arizona - Commemorative Air Force

Your Guides Through History – New Blog Series “Meet the Docents”

There is a lot to see at the Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum.  How you experience the museum is up to you. You can either roam about on your own, look at what we have to offer and ask questions as you have them, or you can take a guided tour with one of our friendly, knowledgeable docents.  What is a docent you ask?  They are your own personal tour guide through history and through the museum.  They have real life experiences and stories to go along with our exhibits that you wouldn’t hear unless you decided on the guided tour option. One other interesting fact:  they are all volunteers!  They do not get a paycheck for their work. They believe that it is essential to continue to educate our guests on this important part of our history and are passionate about what they do.

Throughout the year you will get a chance to meet our docents and get to know more about them before you even walk through our doors.  You might find you have a connection with one of them before your trip in.  Go ahead and request a guided tour with them.

Series #1: Banker, Garrett and Verret

Meet John Banker
John is originally from New Jersey and has been with the museum for two years. He lives in the Phoenix area with his wife, Carol, of fifty years!  They met on a blind date and eloped.  They have three children – John III, who is former Air Force (like dad), daughter, Anne, and another son, Will. We sat down with John to find out a little more about him:

Q: Why did you join the Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum and become a docent?
A: It’s pretty simple – I like airplanes.  I like to meet people and talk about history.  Relating to history with our visitors is FUN!

Q: What is your favorite part of being a docent?
A: Meeting the people.  My favorite moment is when a high school student came in and asked why the nose art on the bombers was a scantily clad woman in “those poses.” I explained that the average age of the crews in WWII was 19.  I asked her if she knew any boys that were 18 or 19. When she responded that she did, I asked her ‘what do you think they think about?’  She looked at me and just said ‘never mind.’ I chose the B-25 for my picture because of this story.

Q: Do you have a military connection?
A: Yes. I am a retired Air Force E-8 with 23 years of active duty. I was an aircraft hydraulic specialist.

Meet Mike Garrett
Mike came to us from the Museum of Flight in Seattle and has been with the museum for two years.  He was born and raised in Northern Virginia and then lived in Southern California and Seattle.   As an avid road cyclist, Mike rides up to 9,000 miles per year. In 2004 he rode 3,000 miles cross-country in 25 days. Mike and his wife Thayer have been married for 30 years and they have three children, Britlyn (27), Andrew (25), and Kelly (21). They spend the winters in Phoenix and the summers in Seattle.     We sat down with Mike to find out a little more about him:

Q: Why did you join the Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum and become a docent?
A: Joined to share my passion for aviation by being a docent as a Flight Load Master on the B-25 and B-17.  I am also a docent at the Museum of Flight in Seattle. I love to interact with people of all ages and share my passion of aviation, especially aviation history.

Q: What is your favorite part of being a docent?
A: I love showing people around the B-25 and B-17.  It is great to start with 4 or 5 people and end up with 15 or 20 as everyone wants to listen about the history of the planes.  My favorite moment was meeting a B-25 pilot who was visiting with his family.  I asked him if he wanted to sign the bomb bay door and he was so honored and his family was thrilled.  It was a special moment!

Q: Do you have a military connection?
A: I have a connection through my 36-year career as an engineer at McDonnell Douglas and Boeing.  I worked on the USAF KC-10 tanker during flight testing out of Yuma, Arizona, and Edwards Air Force Base in California.  I spent a lot of time developing the refueling boom and hose/drogue systems.  I also was part of a team that took the KC-10 to England for a flight demonstration with the RAF.

Q: Do you do anything else at the museum besides being a docent?
A: I am also a Flight Load Master and did my first two-week tour on the B-25 this summer in Canada.

Meet Dave Verret
Dave was a docent at the Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii for many years before coming to the Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum where he’s been for a year and a half. Originally from Lake Charles, Louisiana, Dave is married to wife, Tuyet (pronounced Too Yeet).  We sat down with Dave to find out a little more about him:

Q: Why did you join the Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum and become a docent?
A: I like aviation history and telling stories about the aircraft, the men and women who flew and built them. Keeps that history alive.

Q: What is your favorite part of being a docent?
A: My favorite part is telling human interest stories about the aircraft.  Aircraft, ships, etc., are just machines.  Wingspans, engines, etc. mean little compared to the men and women who flew these machines. My favorite docent moment comes at the end of a tour or at the end of some time together with our guests.  A handshake, a smile, tells me that our guests have learned something new, something they can relate to.  If they can do that, my goal of keeping history alive has been realized.

Q: Do you have a military connection?
A: I was an E-7 Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force as well as an Air Traffic Controller Technician, and later Paralegal Technician. I have received the Outstanding NCO of the Year, Andersen AFB, Guam in 1975 and the Reserve Paralegal of the Year in 1990.

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