CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – There are probably at least a million stories told about the historic World War II aircraft carrier USS Lexington, now a museum.
But, arguably, the most vivid stories are told by a seasoned, comedic US Navy veteran.
“I’m a sailor, this (the deck of the USS Lexington littered with classic fighter jets) is just a mess to me,” joked Bill Miller, a 16-year-old tour guide and Vietnam War veteran.
After completing two honorable tours of service, one with the Navy and the other with the Navy Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS)Miller knew he couldn’t spend most of his free time at home.
“I wasn’t ready to sit down and watch soap operas,” Miller joked.
He still had many years of service left in him, so he inquired and ended up taking a volunteer job at the USS Lexington, nicknamed the Blue Ghost. Miller recounts how Japan made four unsuccessful attempts to sink her during World War II.
“They called and said ‘We sank the USS Lexington,'” he said. “And we had to come back a few days later and be like, ‘Oh. Damn, she’s still here.'”
Miller believes volunteering keeps his mental health in check; He joked that his wife agreed.
“It helped my mental health and my wife’s because I was a bit away (on active duty) and she ran the house,” he said. “And when I retired full-time, it was like, ‘Oh my God.'”
He also thinks it’s good medicine for other veterans who are struggling with day-to-day life after service.
“A lot of times as veterans retiring and leaving the military and missing it or suffering from PTSD or saying they have no other direction to focus on, it gives them focus,” did he declare.
Being aboard the Lex is a way for veterans to find a home away from home and feel comfortable among their peers.
“They can come back and hang out somewhere they know, love and care about,” said Debbie Cooper, USS Lexington volunteer coordinator.
Cooper said the Lex is always looking for volunteers, whether they’ve served in the military or not, to join the crew. All you gotta do is complete an online application.
Along with the standard tours, Miller also runs paranormal tours aboard the Lex.
He reports that ghosts are harmless – but they have a pesky side.
“I’ve had (ghosting) issues with me, and I’m so sick of them, I just said ‘Stop that thing’ and it would stop,” Miller said.