Volunteer Stories



Jim Nerison joined the US Navy on November 2, 1942, at the age of 17. After boot camp in San Diego and additional training in Rhode Island, he arrived in New Orleans to train with Ron 22 on Lake Pontchartrain. Nerison’s detailed written account of his time on PT-305 (in the Museum’s collection), from his beginnings as a Seaman Recruit to his discharge as First Class Torpedoman, Petty Officer, includes descriptions of combat, shore-leave hijinks, and impromptu modifications to the vessel—including the addition of portholes salvaged from damaged yachts in the South of France.


Joseph Brannan credits a rabbit’s foot for his good luck on PT-305, on which he served in the Mediterranean, under commanding officer Allan Purdy, beginning in December 1944—the time period on which PT-305’s restoration is based. Along with his lucky rabbit’s foot he carried with him a 35mm camera throughout his service, documenting the daily life of PT-305’s crew in the nearly 200 photographs, which he has shared with the Museum to assist in the restoration effort.


Part of the second crew of PT-304, Jack Madden arrived aboard in December of 1944 and finished the war on PT-304. He was on board for four of the boat's six kills. After the war, he went to Siena College on the GI bill to study accounting. He earned his MBA at the same school, going onto work as an accountant for GMAC. His love of learning continued later in life, when he attended St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry for a masters in Theology.



Currently the Museum’s senior curator and restorations manager, Tom began working at The National D-Day Museum in October 2000, shortly after it opened. He has held a number ofpositions over the past 15 years, supervising the growth of the collections as the Museum transformed into The National WWII Museum. A US Army veteran, he received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio and a master’s degree from Texas Tech University. Tom started his museum career at the Texas Transportation Museum in San Antonio.

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A project historian for the PT-305 restoration, Joshua has been working with the Museum’s Higgins restoration volunteers since 2003, starting with the crew during the restoration of the Museum’s Landing Craft Personnel (Large) boat. While working on the LCP(L) and PT-305, Josh earned a bachelor’s degree in history at Louisiana State University and a master’s degree in history at the University of New Orleans.


A project historian for the PT-305 restoration, Kali has been a volunteer on the project since January 2011. Kali joined the restoration project while completing a master’s degree in history at the University of New Orleans.



George is PT-305's lead volunteer, and has been involved in the Museum and its Higgins collection since the Museum's LCVP ("Higgins boat" landing craft) was built in 1995. He has a lifelong interest in boats, particularly racing boats.


This student of Museum founder Stephen Ambrose is the author of the definitive book on Higgins: Andrew Jackson Higgins and the Boats that Won World War II. In addition to his work locating plans, salvaging parts, and helping to restore PT-305, he also helped to build the Museum’s replica LCVP in 1995.


A full-time naval architect, Mark has used his free time to volunteer on PT-305 ever since he first spotted the project when walking past the Museum on the way to his offices nearby. His knowledge of naval engineering and modern safety standards and his experience working closely with the Coast Guard has proved invaluable in the process of marrying authentic restoration with modern safety standards.

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The Museum offers its sincere thanks to the many volunteers who donated over 120,000 hours to the restoration of PT-305. Thank you for your unwavering loyalty and dedication.

Restoration Volunteers
  • Chuck Armbruster
  • Ray Asprion
  • Robert Bateman
  • George Benedetto
  • Larry Beron
  • Dean Bickerton
  • William Blackwell
  • Jim Bordelon
  • Jacques Bourdreaux
  • Robert Breaker
  • Fred Briand
  • Harold Buchler Sr. *  
  • Harold Buchler Jr.
  • Jim Buchler
  • Conrad Buchler
  • Don Cacamo
  • Jody Cantrelle
  • Eugene Capriotti
  • David Carambat
  • Rusty Carpenter
  • Dale Casey
  • Don Clausing
  • David Clement
  • Frank Curry
  • Edward Daroca
  • Ralph Del Rio
  • Tim Divincenti
  • Jimmy Dubuisson *  
  • Mark Duerr
  • John Estes
  • Rome Evans
  • Dave Finney
  • Stan Francis
  • Pat Galiano
  • Dan Gay
  • Nick Giambelluca *
  • Keith Gravette
  • Clifford Grout
  • Ellen Grout
  • John Grout
  • Lester Guarino
  • Jeffrey Helmsteader
  • Bruce Harris
  • Malcolm Hartman
  • Rick Heyd
  • Robert Johnson
  • Alex Kessler
  • Karen Kersting
  • Rick Klein
  • John Kohl
  • Frank Korosi
  • Stephen Kramer
  • Mark Laiche
  • Louis Lanaux
  • Dale Lebrun
  • James Letten
  • James Letten Jr.
  • Linda Littleton
  • Don Luparello
  • Ron Maranto *
  • Bob Marye
  • Josh McClure
  • Robert Maggio
  • Joey Madere
  • Kali Martin
  • Mark Masor
  • Jeremy Miller
  • Katherine Miller
  • Dewight Montz
  • David Montz
  • Jeffrey Montz
  • Stephanie Arabie
  • Nathan Mumphrey
  • Paul Nelson
  • Henrik Pontoppidan
  • Trygve Reid
  • Stephen Renfro
  • Nick Rightor
  • Chet Robinson
  • Brian Salathe
  • Josh Schick
  • Sue Schick
  • Rick Schwab
  • Erin Shedd
  • Cameron Smith
  • Kelly Smith
  • Norman Smith
  • Randy Smith
  • Riley Smith
  • Jeffrey Smoyer
  • Barry Statia
  • Robert Stengl
  • Jerry Strahan
  • Jane Swaffield
  • Randy Theriot
  • Russell Trahan
  • Al Trevino
  • Bill Tria
  • George Van Zandt
  • Bob Wade
  • Jack Wade
  • Richard Warren *
  • Earl Whitemore
  • David Williams
  • Earl Williams

 WWII Veteran
* deceased