Thursday, April 14, 2022

Midway marvels: historic wartime vessel engages visitors in San Diego

Interested visitors come and go on the top deck of the USS Midway.



Actor Tom Cruise in "Top Gun." Press promotion
shots were made aboard USS Enterprise, not
Midway as many people think. Cruise posed for
 photos on San Diego's waterfront where Midway
now resides and is a popular tourist attraction. 

STUNNING MIDWAY MUSEUM TELLS TALES OF WAR, HEROISM, HONOR,  VICTORY AT SEA


STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS

PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER



THE USS MIDWAY MUSEUM in San Diego is a unique testimony to the power of military might, brilliant design and the dedication of hundreds of people devoted to the concept of service to country. Midway Museum is both an enormous floating ship and a fascinating museum. The famous aircraft carrier -- named for the Battle of Midway -- is a carefully curated collection of more than 60 exhibits. Hospital, cafeteria, quarters, rooms where battle strategy was discussed.... you'll even have an opportunity to "chat" with the captain in an "animatronics" exhibit, in one of the museum's many interesting chambers.


Bruce Keller in the cockpit of a Midway plane.
 This one allows visitors to sit inside.

Bruce Keller, aka "Keller" and Christene "Cookie"
Meyers enjoy a day on the top deck of Midway.










We climbed aboard recently in my husband's hometown, with guests from Britain. We four had a wonderful time on this historic, fascinating "fighting machine" as we explored exhibits, walked through cabins and viewed 29 carefully restored aircraft.

THE FAMOUS Battle of Midway -- in June of 1942 of World War II -- turned the tide of war between the United States and Japan. Although Midway was
built in a record 17 months, she missed World War II by a week, commissioned on Sept. 10, 1945. So while she was not in the battle for which she is named, she played a crucial part in other actions, particularly Operation Desert Storm.

Jazzercise dancers exercise in celebration in a fundraiser
to fight breast cancer on Midway. The ship is beloved by its port.

HERE'S WHAT we learned of that:
On Jan. 17, 1991, aircraft from Carrier Air Wing 5 launched from the flight deck of Midway in a combat air campaign against Iraq, preparing the battlefield for a coalition of nations’ counter-invasion and the liberation of Kuwait. This was in response to the surprise attack and seizure of the small, oil-rich kingdom by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s military.  
Midway's career was officially nearing the end. The rapid collapse of communism after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 rendered the Cold War moot, and the Midway -- after nearly 50 years of service -- was slated for decommissioning. But the aging carrier didn't fade away. On Oct. 2, she cast off from Yokosuka, Japan, bound for the Persian Gulf.
She arrived Nov. 1 to relieve the USS Independence to watch over oil fields. With military action likely, the Midway was joined by USS Ranger and USS Theodore Roosevelt battlegroups. Despite her age, the Midway remained the flagship for the rest of the Gulf conflict. She was decommissioned in San Diego and remained in storage in Bremerton, Washington until 2003 when she was donated to the San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum organization. It opened as the USS Midway Museum in June 2004. Bravo, Midway.

The Midway from the sea strikes a handsome pose.
MANY GROUPS and organizations  visit Midway. Music groups are regularly scheduled to play on her top deck; a community band serenaded us with patriotic tunes and Sousa marches the day we visited. Movies are shown from time to time, including the film "Midway" and of course, "Top Gun," starring Tom Cruise. My Jazzercise group celebrated the 50th birthday of Jazzercise aboard Midway, with a thousand of us dancing to celebrate  the ship and our exercise program's fight for a cancer cure.
"The Kiss" can be seen from San
Diego's embarcadero near Midway. 
Yorkshire visitors Sue and
John Speight enjoyed a day
on San Diego's waterfront
and especially their Midway
and Star of India visits.
HIGHLIGHTS of our recent visit: a walking tour through the officers' quarters, and a contrasting look at the much smaller and more cramped enlisted men's bunks.  Our friends -- who also visited nearby Star of India with us --  took the elevator down to the galley and infirmary area and pronounced it fascinating. "We were impressed with the realistic food display and layout of the galley," said Sue Speight. Added husband John, "It's amazing how they churned out hundreds of meals for the sailors in such limited space." The two found the compact infirmary "incredibly well equipped to be able to deal with all the ailments and emergencies they encountered."
One of San Diego's most famous artworks -- "The Kiss" statue -- is very near Midway and worth a short walk to view. It's inspired by the famous WWII photo shot in Times Square of a sailor and nurse hugging in jubilation at war's end.  
More information: www.midway.org; sdmaritime.org
 

Plan to take visitors or family for an educational yet fun
outing at the San Diego Natural History Museum, a whale
of a time is guaranteed. (Here, a
 replica of an extinct  
megalodon shark which once lived here, awaits your view.)  
UP NEXT:
The San Diego Natural History Museum in the captivating city's beautiful Balboa Park, is an educational yet fun place, a wonderful family outing.  It was founded in 1874 as the San Diego Society of Natural History and is the second oldest scientific institution west of the Mississippi, the oldest in Southern California. From the life of native peoples, to vegetation, minerals and, dinosaurs, visitors will find it an interesting place to spend a few hours. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for a fresh spin on nature, travel, the arts and more: www.whereiscookie.com

sdnat.org




2 comments:

  1. La Jolla Military ManApril 15, 2022 at 9:55 AM

    We are so fortunate to have this splendid ship in harbor here. We visit each year and always learn something new. Thanks for sharing with the world!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Encinitas SailorsApril 17, 2022 at 3:57 PM

    We took visitors from Japan -- which was an interesting experience -- given WWII and all its implications. But thankfully our countries have an alliance now as do we with these lovely people, who enjoyed the museum immensely. Thanks for an informative article and nice photo spread.

    ReplyDelete