Do you know anything about Battleships? And no I am not talking about the movie where aliens attach the pacific and a group of navy guys go all kamikaze on the aliens using an old battleship. I'm talking about the big ships that the US Navy produced and kicked A*s with for over fifty years. Battleships are no longer used-but kept in good condition just in case...
On Memorial day we visited the Battleship Iowa. It's now permanently docked as a museum in San Pedro, California. It's close to the Queen Mary and if you want to see both in one day you can get a discount.
There were long lines, which we hate, but eventually you clear the line and get to go aboard.
Here's a view from the deck:
This ship is called the "Battleship of Presidents" because it was home for a couple of our Presidents for short time periods. President Roosevelt travelled to the Tehran Conference in 1943. It took a bit of ingenuity to get him safely across the Atlantic without the press or the Germans finding out. In the middle of a war you don't want anyone to know the President is on a boat. They snuck him past all the U-boats and made it safely to Tehran.
Because President Roosevelt was in a wheelchair, they had to make a few changes in order for him to be on board. These ships are not wheelchair friendly. The doorway in the Admirals cabin were cut away and a bathtub was added-check out the rubber duckies:
On board we were blessed to have met Bob De Spain. Bob served on the Iowa and was also on the USS Hoel. While on the Hoel he was part of the Battle of Leyte Gulf. That's the big battle that happened in the Philippines. (Famous battle-turned the tide in WWII). Bob said that the Hoel was severally damaged and he spent three days in the water waiting for rescue. Can you imagine? THREE days- in the water. In the pacific. Sharks and fire and your friends dying around you? Those men are heroes. The people who have died for our freedom-that's what we celebrate and remember on memorial day.
That's why I said we were blessed to have met Bob. And we were. I feel blessed to have known someone who put his life at risk for my freedom. I have felt that way my entire life. My father put his life at risk for us. My grandfather did as well.
Those heroes from WWII are getting older and we're missing out on the chance to sit down and talk to someone about history. Having a first person account or visiting a site will bring history alive for you. It's so interesting and fascinating talking to someone who can tell you what happened from their perspective.
After talking to Bob we finished touring the Iowa. We sat on the Captain's chair, we pushed buttons on the bridge. We sat on a couple of tomahawk missile carriers. (Missiles not there). We're not stupid. =)
Here's a picture of the side guns:
Not a great picture (sorry-used my cell phone that day).
I highly recommend visiting the Iowa if you get a chance.