Doctor to volunteer: Fixing people to fixing planes

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Faith Barron
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

A family arrives at the parking lot, anxious to see what the museum offers. Walking along the tarmac, they are in awe of the pieces of history that were brought to life and are now on display.

Hiding in a back hangar, where no patron sees or visits, is a shop full of volunteers who eagerly await a new project to get their wrenches on.

Among the humble workers "Doc" stands, with a gentle spirit and kindness in his eyes. Given the nickname for serving his community in the medical profession, Dr. Timothy O'Donnell is a retired internist turned restoration volunteer at the Air Mobility Command Museum. 

Soon after retiring from an impressive 37 year career, O'Donnell was looking for something new and turned to a place where he spent his pastime. 

Years ago, the Newark native would drive from his home in northern Delaware to beaches in Southern Delaware nearly every summer. Stopping along the way at the AMC Museum, O'Donnell enjoyed the airplanes brought back to life with his wife and two children. 

"When you retire, there's an entire blank canvas," explained O'Donnell. "I went online and saw there were volunteer opportunities. It seemed like a great way to enjoy my retirement."

O'Donnell currently invests two days of his week helping to restore aircraft at the museum, channelling his passion for helping others into giving back to the community.

"He brings many things but the one that sticks out in my mind is inspiration," said Johnny Taylor, AMC Museum directory. "For anyone that wants to volunteer their time but hesitates because of their lack of experience or background, he is an inspiration to those individuals." 

Lack of experience has only added to O"Donnell's enjoyment of being a museum volunteer.

"The enjoyment of learning something new [and] associating with a good group of people adds to the experience," said O'Donnell. "I am doing this because it's enjoyable. I was content to sweep the floor if that's what needed to be done."

Many of O'Donnells teammates share his sentiments and appreciate the passion and work ethic he brings from his profession. 

The AMC Museum operates mainly with the help of volunteers like O'Donnell and his team. 

“[It is] hard to describe the museum volunteer team, but I have always used the phrase that they are the ‘heartbeat of the museum’ and without their loyal service the museum could not operate,” said Taylor.

If you or someone you know, is interested in volunteering their time at the AMC Museum, please call 302-677-5938 or visit