Bargain destination in South Dakota
SOUTH DAKOTA MEMORIAL - SIOUX FALLS
Battleship X of the Plains
happened to those great massive battleships of WWII? Eached named for
one of the states, with their turrets of 16 ince guns extending American
sea power across the world, after defeating the forces of the axis powers.
Some are docked as sea museums in ports around the country from Mobile
to Rhode Island - one still remains in mothballs in the mouth of the
Sacramento River awaiting a recall to service. Many got chopped up into
scrap metal. One of the great naval ships, actually the most decorated
of the war got planted on the great plains in the heart of America.
USS South Dakota, number 57 of the U.S. Battleship fleet, the first of
four of its class which included the Indiana, Massachussettes and
Alabama, served in every major naval campaign of the Second World War.
Launched from the shipyard in Camden, New Jersesy on June 7, 1941, six
months to the day before the attack on Pearl Harbor which cost the sinking
of the previous generation of sea juggernauts like the Arizona, the South
Dakota (officially BB57) was instrumental in defending the USS Enterprise
aircraft carrier during the Battle of Santa Cruz in the early days of
the Pacific campaign. A Japanese dive bomber dropped a 500 pound bomb
on the ship’s turret battery. The modern armor plate deflected
the bomb blast but a shard of searing shrapnel hit the ships commander,
Captain Gatch. Asked why he didn’t duck, in one of the war’s
more rye quotes, Gatch responded, “I considered it beneath the
of a captain of an American Battleship to flop for a Japanese bomb”.
The USS South Dakota’s most prominent notoriety came
from the battle of Guadalcanal when the Japanese twice reported to have
sunk it. Reports of her demise were premature, but to allow the enemy
to believe the loss of an American war ship on the seas, the Navy command
referred to her in communications as “Battleship X”. She
later participated in the forced sinking of the Japanese battleship,
the Kirishima, and stood sentry in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surreneder
was signed on the Missouri.
the USS South Dakota was due to be scrapped in 1962, the citizens of
her namesake state banded together to save Battleship X. The ship was
dismantled and most of it became scrap iron, but several parts
of the ship traveled to Sioux Falls, where they form the Battleship South
Dakota Memorial. The remaining parts of the ship are planted in the ground
in a park, forming the shape they would have held in the sea, with an
overall length of 680 feet and a beam of 108 feet. Two of the three main
gun battery turret guns of 16 inch cannon barrels (just stubs embedded
in cement not the actual turrets), and 5 inch guns guard the central
museum building with war memorabilia and artifacts of the ships’ history.
The museum was expanded in 2009 with additional exhibits. The ship’s
great anchor, propeller, mast and conning tower hatch complete the memorial
display, surrounded by a low wall of concrete in battleship gray in the
shape of the ship’s hull.
Battlleship South Dakota Memorial museum, located in Sherman Park at
the intersection of Kiwanis Avenue and 12th Street (Highway 42) in Sioux
Falls, is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day with the outside display
exhibits and park site open all year. Admission is free so its certainly
worth a stop for
any World War II military history buff trekking across the prairie plains,
or just to let the kids climb on the big ship parts. © Bargain
review of Battleship
Memorial or find best travel and hotel deals in Sioux
Falls on TripAdvisor
articles are copyrighted and the sole property of Bargain Travel
WLEV, LLC. and may not be copied or reprinted without permission. Photos
courtesy Sioux Falls CVB.
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