Ask a Veteran
These Museum staffers and volunteers once served their country in the armed forces. Now they serve in a different way.
- By Rebecca Maksel
- AirSpaceMag.com, November 10, 2011
Inspired by his father and brothers, Sergeant Frankie Bunn joined the Army in 1986, originally serving in the Field Artillery Branch based in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He spent several years at a variety of bases in the U.S. and in Germany, before eventually relocating to the Washington, D.C. metro area.
It was while he was assigned to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 2005 that he changed his focus. After seeing wounded soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, Bunn realized the importance of diet to recovering veterans, and became a nutrition care specialist. “Seeing my comrades come back hurt from the war—that was very painful,” he recalls. “I hadn’t necessarily served with them, but once you put on that green, we’re all one.”
In 2008 he joined the Washington D.C. National Guard, where he still serves. One of his favorite tours was in 2009, when his unit deployed to Jamaica on a humanitarian mission to build a health clinic. “When the kids saw the clinic for the first time,” he says, “you could see a special look in their eyes.”
Bunn is part of the Office of Protection Services, which he views as a natural extension of his military work. “In the military you put on a uniform and fight for your country,” he says, “and as a federal employee, you’re still serving your country.”
To Bunn, one of the best things about working at the Museum is the chance to meet Tuskegee airmen, who visit the Museum regularly for book signings and to give lectures. Bunn feels a connection with the airmen, since he spent time at Fort Rucker, in Alabama. “I’ve done a lot of reading about them,” he says, “and they were phenomenal. It’s always a thrill to see one of them come through the Museum.”
Bunn is also a member of the Smithsonian Institution Honor Guard, an organization formed in 2003 by the director of the Office of Protection Services. The ceremonial guard is present at funerals of deceased Smithsonian staff, and at other events.
“Everyone has a purpose,” says Bunn, “whether they know what it is or not. Everyone can do something for the good of all people.”
Sergeant Bunn is photographed in the Tuskegee Airman Exhibit in the Barron Hilton Pioneers of Flight Gallery, in the Museum on the National Mall.