I really enjoyed my recent trip to Norfolk, Va. What a lot of tunnels and bridges one has to cross to get there! What really caught my eye in town was the USS Wisconsin. The decommissioned battleship is now an extension of the amazing Nauticus museum and open for tours. I didn’t have much time before my talk, but I got to do a quick walk-through of the ship. (First, there’s a short film that gives a history of the ship. It’s well worth the six minutes.)
The ship itself is incredibly impressive when you stand on the bow and look back the length of the battleship. You’ll notice that the entire deck is covered in teak planks … glad it’s not my job to oil them!
Because the Wisconsin was at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, it brought back some memories of my grandfather, Frank, who also witnessed those battles. He served in the Navy aboard a cruiser, I believe it was the Leo. So I can only imagine he saw the Wisconsin in action all those years ago and may have listened to those massive guns firing.
The ship was used as recently as the Persian Gulf war, but it does seem “old” when one looks more closely. It’s certainly very bare bones even in terms of the officers’ quarters. There were a couple of vets there who had served aboard the ship, and I wish I’d had more time to chat with them. Maybe next time I’m in Norfolk!