We left Florida Monday morning and ventured up I-95 to Charleston, SC. Our trip was uneventful, other than seeing three different men peeing on the side of the road while going through Georgia. Perhaps the state should put up a rest area on that short 105 mile stretch through that state!! And if you have a four-door vehicle, open both doors and stand in the middle….just a thought!
After getting set up in our campground, we were excited to visit historic downtown Charleston. Unfortunately, we arrived the day after Easter, when many families were on Spring Break. It was a traffic nightmare! After driving around for over an hour, finding parking lot after parking lot, full, we just gave up. And then spent another hour in bumper to bumper traffic to go 15 miles to back to our campground. We were both very frazzled and disappointed!
After taking the dog for a long walk to calm our nerves, we turned on the news, and the lead story was coverage of a meeting going on in Charleston to try to improve visitors experiences to the city! We both laughed at the irony. They are trying to figure out what to do about the traffic jams and the lack of parking. Hopefully they will come up with a solution.
Today we got up early to beat the traffic and head over to Mount Pleasant, SC to see Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum. Unlike yesterday, today we had an awesome experience! If you are in the area, we would strongly recommend spending time visiting this place. Patriots Point is home of the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-10), Destroyer Laffey (DD-724), Submarine Clamagore (SS-343), Medal of Honor Museum and The Vietnam Experience Exhibit. Admission is $20, and you can easily spend all day touring everything. We spent about 5 hours, and could easily have taken more time to read all the exhibit signs.
Here is a view of all three in the water.
The USS Yorktown Aircraft Carrier was commissioned on April 15, 1943 and fought in many historic battles in World War II. She was converted to an antisubmarine carrier in the 1950’s and served in that capacity in the Vietnam War. In addition, the carrier recovered the Apollo 8 astronauts and their capsule after they returned to Earth. The carrier is very impressive in size at 888 feet in length.
The self-guided tour allows access to many areas of the carrier, giving you a good idea of what life was like on board. During WWII, 3,088 enlisted men along with 380 officers served on duty. They had 90 planes on board between the flight deck and the hangar, which is just below the deck.
The tour provided access to all levels on the carrier. There is an extensive medical and dental area.
The enlisted crew did not have much privacy, as they had a bunk and a small locker.
The carrier had their own bakery, and they had several recipes on display, including this one to make 10,000 chocolate chip cookies!
The Destroyer Laffey seemed rather tiny next to the Yorktown Carrier, although it is still 376 feet long. The Laffey was involved in the D-Day landing of Allied troops in Normandy. Just four months later it was out fighting in the Pacific. On April 16, 1945, the Laffey was bombed by the Japanese and several kamikaze planes. 32 men were killed and the ship sustained heavy damage. Yet the crew of 336 continued fighting and shot down their attackers. The destroyer earned the nickname “The Ship that Would Not Die.” This is a view of the Laffey from the deck of the carrier.
The front gun mount on the Laffey was the area struck by the bombs. It was rebuilt and now they show a short, but sobering film about the attack and the men who were working inside the mount. As with the Yorktown, you can view many levels and rooms.
The Laffey contained this very interesting US Navy QH-50D Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter (DASH) from 1966. Many people commented on this “old school” style drone. Drones have certainly come a long way in design and technology!
The submarine Clamagore was commissioned in 1945, near the end of WWII. This diesel-powered sub remained in service until 1975.
The sub in not for someone afraid of confined spaces! There are a lot of small spaces to navigate through.
Torpedo room and bunks for the men assigned to this detail.
Patriots Point also has an area on land entitled The Vietnam Experience, to show what life was like during the Tet Offensive on a US Navy Advanced Tactical Support Base and a US Marine Corps Artillery Firebase. It was a very moving exhibit.
This was truly a wonderful display of military history. We want to thank everyone who has served our country in the military including some of our family and friends.
Quote of the day: “When I lost my rifle, the Army charged me 85 dollars. That is why in the Navy the Captain goes down with the ship.” – Dick Gregory