On March 10th, 2015 I left Oceanside headed to San Diego for my first visit aboard the USS Midway; my first on any military vessel–and I was excited! The 55 minute train ride was nice, so much easier than driving. *If ever travelling in southern California I recommend taking advantage of the train and trolleys in the area, you’ll arrive at your destination stress free; navigating the shoestring freeways along with every other S. Californian commuter can be a white knuckle experience if you don’t drive in these conditions regularly.
After meeting with and visiting with my friend and escort–a Vietnam veteran–we headed towards the Harbor. I’ve been to downtown San Diego many times and have seen her [Midway] from a distance just as many, but there’s nothing like the first time, coming upon this mammoth, floating fortress of freedom. When I was taking it all in and was able to see her for what she was, I was rather dumbfounded–It’s no wonder Taiwan has dubbed their newest battleship “The carrier killer.“–They’re a force to be reckoned with. (I thought this after only seeing her port side).
She took on a life of her own. The moment you cross her threshold it’s no longer just a ship; you can almost feel control being handed over to the ol gal. She most definitely commands respect and you know it the second you enter her bowels. Everything changes. The sights, the smell, and especially the sound– characteristic of a carrier. Metal shifting, creaking like a house when it settles onto its foundation. Whistles give warning to incoming messages piped through the ship, the clamor of people going about their business of tourism. Something tells me it would be a different sound I’d hear if aboard a real working ship.
The Flight Deck:
This is where all the action happens, and everybody knows it! The majority of the people were here either following along with the recorded tour or taking in the sights on their own. Walking from the Bow of the boat where we entered the flight deck to the stern didn’t seem that long to me. I told my friend it seemed smaller than I imagined it would and thought that it was the people and planes on display that made it seem smaller…until I got to the end and turned around and couldn’t see the bow of the boat. I had cause to reconsider my first opinion.
Bob Hope & Unconditional Surrender:
The view of the port side of the ship I mentioned in the beginning was across Tuna Harbor, it also the Island home of 2 memorials and a restaurant! Just before the entrance to the seaside restaurant visitors are greeted with the Bob Hope Memorial. Bob spent a lot of his time working for the NCO traveling to the European and Pacific theaters of WWII bringing a bit of America and lots of laughs to our forward deployed troops. The boost in moral given by those with the ability to use their public platform in order to give back to our troops is not only priceless, it’s a noble act; they led by example. My hats go off to these men and women, both in the past and currently. I extend my personal gratitude for your service to our country.
The most prominent of them is the statue depicting the Sailor kissing the Nurse in Times Square following the unconditional surrender of Japan at the end of WWII. Frozen in time is a larger than life replica that will forever symbolize that fateful day. There’s only one thing I noticed that was not historically correct and it was the bouquet of flowers shes clutching in her right hand. (If you click on the image, you can zoom in to see the bouquet). The unromantic myth is, the two were strangers, she was on her way to dental school when a tipsy, elated Sailor grabbed her arm and swooped in for a kiss, and the image don’t show is her slapping him before huffing off to class. I think the romantic version will continue to endure history; as it should. Controversy surrounding the two strangers identity followed the image for years, and to be honest I don’t know if the real couple was ever found. People claiming to be the couple just to have their 15 minutes of fame have been stepping forward since that warm August day in 1945. I suppose it will be one of the mysteries to follow our history forever.
In the End:
My first visit to the USS Midway museum in San Diego California is one I’ll remember for a long time. I wasn’t able to see everything, I suggest careful planning and good walking shoes if you plan to make the trip. I’ll be a more productive tourist the next time I go, which will be in the near future. Please enjoy more images from my visit via the slide show below. Be sure to click on it to launch them in their best view. I’ve got many more that will be showing up here soon. This collection should give you a good idea of everything I spoke of here. Enjoy! And thank you for reading this and following my blog, you all are an inspiration . If there are any questions, comments or observations you have, I’d love to hear from you.