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Navy veteran and USS Lexington tour guide encourages others to stay active

'I wasn't ready to sit back and watch soap operas'
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Posted at 4:22 PM, Jan 25, 2022

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — There are probably at least one million stories told about the historic WWII aircraft carrier USS Lexington, now a museum.

But, arguably, the most vivid stories are being told by a seasoned and comical US Navy veteran.

"I'm a sailor, this (the deck of the USS Lexington littered with classic fighter jets) is just a lot of clutter to me," joked Bill Miller, a 16-year ship tour guide and Vietnam War veteran.

After completing two honorable tours of duty, one with the Navy and the other with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), Miller knew he could not spend most of his leisure time at home.

"I wasn't ready to sit back and watch soap operas," quipped Miller.

He had many more years of service in him, so he inquired about and ended up taking a volunteer job at the USS Lexington, nicknamed the Blue Ghost. Miller has a story about how Japan tried four times unsuccessfully to sink her during World War II.

"They called up and said 'We sank USS Lexington,' " he said. "And we had to come back a couple of days later and said, 'Oh. My bad, she's still here.'"

Miller believes volunteering keeps his sanity in check; He joked that his wife agrees.

"It's helped me and my wife's mental health, because I was gone quite a bit (on active duty), and she ran the house," he said. "And when I was retired full-time, it was like 'Oh God.' "

He also believes it's good medicine for fellow veterans who struggle with day-to-day life after service.

"A lot of times, as veterans that retire and leave the military and miss it or have PTSD or say they don't have another direction to focus to, this gives them focus," he said.

Being aboard the Lex is a way for veterans to find a home away from home, and be comfortable among their peers.

"They are able to come back and spend time in a place that they are familiar with and that they love and that they care about," said USS Lexington volunteer coordinator Debbie Cooper.

Cooper said the Lex is always looking for volunteers, whether they seerved in the milarty or not, to join the crew. All you have to do is fill out an online application.

Along with the standard tours, Miller also conducts paranormal tours aboard the Lex.

He reports that the ghosts are harmless — but they do have a pesky side to them.

"I've had some (ghosts) mess with me, and I just got so tired of them, I just said 'Knock that stuff off' and it would quit," Miller said.