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UMGC Alumni AssociationHistory Degree Leads Combat Veteran to New Career at Military Museums in Hawaii

Joshua Bailey ’21 officially retired from the U.S. Army in 2015 after spending 20 years serving as a 19D Delta Calvary scout. During his time in the U.S. Army, he was deployed for a total of 33 months in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A few years later he decided to pursue a new venture to finish his bachelor’s degree at University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) while working as a civilian for the military in Europe. That degree in history—along with a resume class he took—has led to an unexpected new career.

Earlier this year, Bailey moved from Germany to the island of Oahu, Hawaii, to begin work with the U.S. Army Center of Military History (CMH) as a museum specialist for training, education and outreach. He works with a five-person team assigned to two Army museums: the Tropic Lighting Museum on Schofield Barracks and U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. 

“I get to interact with the visitors and just talk about history,” Bailey explained. “I speak for 20 to 30 minutes about Schofield Barracks, Wheeler Army Airfield, and the 25th Infantry Division including Medal of Honor recipients."

He noted that one Medal of Honor recipient, Colonel Lewis Millett, is frequently highlighted.

“Millett fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, and he is one of the only U.S. Army colonels to be court martialed for desertion,” Bailey said. “When President Roosevelt announced that the U.S. would not join World War II, [Millett] joined the Canadian Army so he could fight in Europe. Once the U.S. Army joined World War II after Pearl Harbor, Millett rejoined the U.S. Army.”

Visits by university students and other school groups have ramped up Bailey’s learning about the collection at the Tropic Lighting Museum. Schofield Barracks was established in 1908 as a base for the Army’s mobile defense of Pearl Harbor and the rest of Oahu.

When honor students from Pennsylvania State University’s Presidential Leadership Academy visited the museum recently, Bailey led the tour.

“They approached the museum and said, ‘We have a tour coming out, we're hitting up all the military bases,’” Bailey said. “During their trip here, they saw the Pearl Harbor and the Aviation Museum. I gave them a tour on the history of Schofield and Wheeler, talking about some of the leadership through the history of the base and through the division.”

Bailey has also welcomed teachers from a local elementary school. He looks forward to future partnerships with secondary schools and colleges, especially after The Hawaii Museum, which is closed for renovations, reopens in February.

Bailey’s interest in majoring in history at UMGC followed his service as a non-commissioned officer for the 2nd Cavalry Regiment Reed Museum in Vilseck, Germany. His coursework included two classes taught by Associate Professor of History Michael Mulvey.

“UMGC Europe classrooms are unlike any other because of students like Josh who, as a veteran, brought global experiences and nuanced perspectives to conversations about recent world history,” said Mulvey. Bailey was in Mulvey’s World History 1 and 2 courses.

During Bailey’s last semester at UMGC, he participated in a one-credit resume class that led him to the job ad for CMH. The ad was his backdrop as he learned to create a resume and sort out the steps in the job application process. As the class finished, Bailey went ahead and applied for the job.

He landed the position. His history degree, strong job application and military service dovetailed nicely with the role.

“I am proud of my time and my service in the Army,” Bailey said. “While many days were long, it is was my time in the Army that molded me into who I am today.”

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