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National News / Travel

Tuesday, 9 September, 2014 9:13 PM

The USS Midway Museum is a must-see on your next visit to San Diego

PHOTO BY GLORIA RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

The USS Midway was America's longest-serving aircraft carrier of the 20th century, from 1945 to 1992.

 

 

by Gloria Rzucidlo
gloria@americajr.com

 

 

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SAN DIEGO -- My family and I visited the U.S.S. Midway, a naval aviation museum, located at the Navy Pier in downtown San Diego. We first saw the A-4 Skyhawk parked on the hangar deck. This aircraft is designed as a nuclear bomber. There was also a navy flight simulator ride on this deck.

We walked into the Legend Cafe and Gift Shop, which houses lots of cups, glasses, keychains and t-shirts along with newspapers from December 8, 1941 with the headlines "War is Declared." They even had a miniature sculpture of "unconditional surrender." This is the famous kissing sailor on VJ Day (Victory over Japan).

We heard a loud buzzing sound in the gift shop and they told us it was workers remodeling some offices upstairs.

On the flight deck, we saw a 25-man life raft with emergency equipment. In this cylinder, was the life raft, two oars, bailing bucket, signal mirror, flashlight, signal whistle, 25 blankets, 25 containers of water, utility knife, survival fishing kit, sea dye marker, first aid kit, motion sickness tablets and 25 packages of food. The cylinder is about four feet long and two-and-a-half feet deep.

On the roof top deck, we saw the RA-5 Vigilante. This massive aircraft was developed as a supersonic nuclear bomber and its excellent performance made it a worthy reconnaissance aircraft. A "canoe" is attached to the belly which contains cameras, infrared sensors, electronic surveillance devices, side-looking radar and defensive electronic jammers. Vigilantes served during the Vietnam War. The weight is 79,588 pounds and the maximum speed is 1,600 mph. The Vigilante is on loan from Pensacola, Florida.

The HUP Retriever Utility helicopter was also on the roof top deck. This helicopter entered service in 1949 and its general purpose was to transport and rescue. It operated from carriers and other ships. Powered by the same engine which drove the Sherman tank in World War II, the HUP is notable for having the pilot's seat on the left, unlike other helicopters. The crew includes two to four passengers. The gross weight is 5,750 pounds and the maximum speed is 105 mph.

Inside the ship, we saw the sleeping quarters which I thought was larger than I expected. Next to it was a living room area with a couch, chairs, table and lamp. Next, I saw the Chief of Staff state room. He is the Senior Officer, in other words, the Captain. He manages daily activities of the flag staff. The kitchen is located next door.

The War Room was interesting. It is where the flag staff work and maintain the strategic picture of the region where the U.S.S. Midway operated in 1991. Operation Desert Storm was analyzed here using sliding map panels. Other ships and aircraft send signals to the U.S.S. Midway and the radar screen is part of the naval technical data system which forms a 360 degree picture. Then, they determine if the other objects are friend, unknown or hostile aircraft, surface ship or subsurface. There is 3,000 miles of copper wire on the ship.

There are 13,500 meals a day served in the Galley. The ship holds 4,500 sailors. The only entertainment not the ship was food. There was no tv or social media back then.

The lower deck was called City at Sea, which includes the chow line, ward room, laundry, galley, sick bay, post office and CPO Mess hall. We talked to Charlie who was the head cook for two years then. He said they made 1,000 - 1,500 bread loaves a day. The chow lines were open 23 hours a day. Officers had their own galley and cooks.

Sailors get their haircut every ten days. They also had haircut standards to meet. The washing machines handled 4,752 pounds of dry laundry every hour.

On our way out, there was a Coke display and we got our own personalized name on a Coke can.

That day it was a beautiful sunny day in San Diego, as always I'm sure, but I would definitely recommend to see this magnificent ship. I can only imagine what it was like to be on board back in the day.

For more information or to purchase tickets for the USS Midway Museum, visit www.midway.org. The USS Midway Museum is located at 910 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with the last admission at 4 p.m. Closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Tickets are $20 for adults, $17 for seniors, $15 for students, $10 for retired military or youth (ages 6-12) and free for Children under five. Discounts are offered for tickets purchased online.

Related Stories: U.S.S. IOWA is now open for tours at its new, permanent home in San Pedro; 'Diana: Legacy of A Princess' is now on display on the historic Queen Mary; Cunard's Queen Elizabeth to make Royal Visit to Queen Mary in Long Beach on March 12

 

 

PHOTO BY JEROME RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Approximately 200,000 sailors served aboard the carrier, known for several naval aviation breakthroughs as well as several humanitarian missions.

 

PHOTO BY GLORIA RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

AmericaJR.com's Jason and Jerome Rzucidlo getting ready to board the ship.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Entrance to the Midway Museum

 

PHOTO BY JEROME RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

First, you will pick up your audio tour listening device

 

PHOTO BY GLORIA RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

The Navy's most effective dive bomber of World War II was the SBD Dauntless.

 

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