March 29 (Vietnam Veterans Day), SINHG members visited the USS Yorktown, CV 10 (CV refers to ‘carrier vessel’ a ship that was originally designated as an aircraft carrier rather than modified to be one. 10 means it was the 10th one commissioned. There are 67 designated CV’s, the last being the John F. Kennedy commissioned in 1968).
We had a behind-the-scenes tour of the forecastle where 1,800 feet of anchor chain are hoisted into the ship. Our tour guide was fantastic—she knew not only the nuts and bolts of the ship, she also knew the history of the people and events associated with the Yorktown. Her stories about the crew were amazing, extending beyond their wartime experiences to what they did throughout their lives.
We then headed for the Hanger Deck to learn about the aircraft, which were painted for the pilots and crew who flew them—like Butch O’Hare and others.
On the Flight deck our guide answered many of our questions while describing flight operations in which steam-driven catapults launch the planes and wire cables are used to ‘catch’ landing aircraft. Unsurprisingly, the #3 most dangerous job in the world is working on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier!
Our last stop was the Medal of Honor Museum aboard the USS Yorktown. Our guide made this very personal, describing the feats of the youngest award winner, 12-year old Willie Johnston, a drummer boy during the Civil War, as well as the exploits of the only US President who was similarly honored, Teddy Roosevelt.
All of us were intrigued by the stories and the sights. We didn’t see the whole ship due to limited time, but we were free to roam around and visit the bridge and berthing compartments as well as the separate USS Laffey (Destroyer) and the USS Clamagore (submarine). The new exhibition, ‘Vietnam War Experience’ was also open for viewing.
By morning’s end, our appreciation of Patriots Point had grown dramatically, as we learned about the men and women who fought aboard this ship during World War II as well as the years leading up to her decommissioning in 1970.
Trip participant Bill Bane added: Our trip leader, Lynn Baker, served aboard the USS Intrepid (CV 11). His personal naval experience and commentary added a much to our enjoyment of this tour.
-Submitted by Lynn Baker