Chevron Richmond volunteers lend a hand at the Red Oak Victory

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Chevron Richmond volunteers lend a hand at the Red Oak Victory
All photos by Kathy Chouteau.

By Kathy Chouteau

The SS Red Oak Victory received some much-needed assistance ahead of its Mother’s Day Breakfast from several crews of Chevron Richmond employees recently.

The volunteer effort was particularly special for this group: It was organized by Chevron Richmond’s Veterans Employee Network, which works to connect and provide resources for the many veterans who work at the company.

Volunteers included Gregg Bernardo, Contract Safety and U.S. Marine Corps veteran; Jason Christenson, Process Engineering; Aurora Garcia, Payroll Department; Shawn Mahmood, Utilities Division and U.S. Army veteran; Eva Ma; and Will Rainford, who performs routine maintenance at the company. They hoisted and set-up chairs at soon-to-be breakfast tables throughout the ship and loaded boxes of food through hallways, tight doorways and down stairwells into their rightful preparatory spots.

They made up one of four overall groups of six people each to volunteer on the Red Oak Victory over the course of two days.

While aboard the ship, the group met Stan Buck, a retired welder who worked in Chevron Richmond’s Boiler Shop and is now part of the all-volunteer crew who help keep the Red Oak Victory afloat.

Mahmood said his colleagues jumped at the opportunity to help out on the ship.

“All shifts were full and there was a waitlist as well,” he said. A Point Richmond resident who was visiting the ship for the first time, he added, “We want to be a good neighbor here.”

But it wasn’t all work for the volunteers that day. The Red Oak Victory kicked off the work session with an up-close-and-personal tour of the ship given by volunteer crew member Kim Abbott. Highlights of his tour included the ship’s decks and the captain’s quarters, which looked like it was frozen in time. An added highlight? Resident Ospreys, Rosie and Richmond—who made their nest in a crane adjacent to the Red Oak Victory—had a starring role during the ship’s tour and currently are keeping two eggs safe and warm.

Garcia, a lifelong Richmond resident, said that touring and volunteering on the Red Oak Victory was “so cool.” She added, “I didn’t even know this ship was here in Richmond and we’re taking care of it…I’m going to bring my kid—he’s going to love it—and my husband too. He’s going to love it too.”

Mahmood called the Red Oak Victory a “relic of history” and said preserving it is important.

 “This ship was American built…and we’re coming up on Memorial Day, so obviously during WWII, a lot of people served and lost their lives to protect this country and what it stands for today,” he said.

The Red Oak Victory is located at 1337 Canal Blvd., Berth 5, in Richmond and welcomes volunteers. To learn more about the ship, volunteering or its seasonal pancake breakfasts, click here. Learn more about Chevron Richmond here.