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A visit to Battleship New Jersey


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For years I've wanted to tour Battleship New Jersey, which is permanently docked at Camden New Jersey. Since I'd probably feel guilty taking a day off to do a solo tour, I figured it would make a good outing with my wife and two grandsons. It was every bit as fascinating as I thought it would be. On a bit of a sad note, although we went on a nice Saturday in June, there were very few visitors. It makes me wonder about its long-term viability.

The New Jersey served in WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Gulf War. Nearly everything about it intrigues me - how something so complex was designed without the aid of computers, how it was constructed, how all the different systems operated independently but also as a whole, and how it could be decommissioned and mothballed, only to be recommissioned and brought to life again (several times). I also can only wonder how something so single-purposely built can be adapted to use as a museum. I'd love to know just how they adapted the mechanical systems for it's new use. It had to be a gargantuan task just to figure out what goes where, what controls what, how to isolate unneeded water, waste and power systems, etc.

Anyone within driving distance of Camden should consider a visit. You won't be disappointed. There's also a Battleship North Carolina, docked in Wilmington, for anyone in that area.

This fall, I think I'll make a visit to the Intrepid in New York.

I have some pictures on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joe.hancaviz/m ... 360&type=3

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I agree that our battleships are simple amazing. I have been on the USS Alabama several times and have even spent a few nights on it with the Boy Scouts over the years. The USS Alabama is in Mobile AL. They allow scouting groups to spend the night and the entire ship is open for exploring during your stay. You sleep in the "racks" that the crew of ship used.

They also have a submarine that served from WWII up to the 1960's at the same location.

The Alabama has been in several movies over the years it has been a museum.

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Ah, yes they are complex systems. Like Scott, it was the Alabama for me, just last January. A really neat way to spend the day exploring. Gotta watch those overheads though. Walked off with more than one bump!

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This was the first and last "boat" I was ever on! Well maybe I have spent some time on smaller craft.

I was in the Army crossing the Pacific, guarded by Marines while the Merchant Marines ran the boat. They stopped at every island and dumped us off at Inchon, Korea.

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I had a bunk in the bow of the USS Radiant for two 10-day shifts, doing bush work up at the head of an inlet called Indian Arm.

The Radiant is a wooden-hulled minesweeper built in 1941. She is almost 100 ft long and only 20 feet wide midships. What made me pick top bunk in the bow for the best sleeping spot? It truly was.

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This spring my wife and I decided to take a couple of days and visit Charleston, SC. While there we had to take in Patriots Point where we got to see the Clamagore, a sub built at the end of WWII, the USS Laffey (2) built and served in WWII after the first Laffey sunk at Guadalcanal in November 1942, and we got to see the USS Yorktown (CV10) that was built and served in WWII after CV5 was sunk at the battle of Midway in 1942.

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My Dad was on:

Marine Carp (Liberty Ship)

Marine Raven (Liberty Ship)

Marine "Etc's" (Numerous.. he tried to write them down.. and lost track)

USAHS Emily H.M. Weder (hospital Ship)

USAHS Frances Slanger (hospital Ship)

Queen Elizabeth (1) (Never 'in convoy')

Queen Mary (1) (Again, never in 'convoy').Both the "Queens" were in Navy drab and were too fast for U-Boats to hit..

Ports of call: Liverpool, Southampton, Le Havre France, Oran, Algeria, Manila Phillipines.. Halifax NS, Charleston SC, NYC, Boston, Virginia Beach VA...

Numerous troop ships, Army Hospital Ships.. he was a medic in the 609th Medical Hospital Ship Platoon, US Army, attached to Army Transport Command/Services Command and at the mercy of the 'port commander' where ever he ended up.. NYC, Halifax, Le Havre France, San Pedro, CA, Manila, Oran, Liverpool, etc.. The guy was an 'Army medic guy on 'ships' with either 'fresh troops', POWs and our wounded... (T.Sgt)

Join the Army and 'see the world' via the Merchant Marine.. Odd..

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My local WW2 'ship' shrine is USS Massachusetts, Fall River, MA. She's sitting there with the "Lionfish' WW sub, USS Joseph P Kennedy (Grr) and some other very cool stuff including a Higgins boat and a PT-Boat.

The other shrine is USS Constitution (Boston) and the USS Cassin-Young (veteran of a kamikaze attack during invasion of Okinawa.

Old Ironsides is 'the shrine' of the USN and indeed.. 'please visit'..

The Cassin-Young is extraordinary .. especially if you get on the bow and look-back... very narrow... very very narrow and if you use your imagination, the Battle of Okinawa (and the associated voracious Kamikaze attacks that ensued) come back... over 3,000 of our guys died "offshore'.. (never mind the poor bastards on Okinawa.. of which my Uncle Ed was one who got wounded after 31 days of hell. (1/5/1 USMC).

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Yes, Uncle Eddie was 'in' the Palau group on Peleliu Island... He was a rifle-squad leader (1/5/1) Got his guys (AND their 37mm field piece) ashore (Orange Beach) under mortar, cannon and MG fire, hit the edge of the airfield.. repulsed a Jap counter-attack (13? tanks) afternoon of day1, actually had one over-run their position, bore-sighted one of them personally. (Japanense troops were 'lashed" onto the tanks and running behind them). Night 'hand-to-hand' attacks in their positions first nite, then an absolutely insane 'dash across the airfield' rush to attack the 'airport buildings' at the NE end of the airfield the next morning. Made it. 9 more days of 'cleaning-out' the opponents until he was 'hit' on Day 10 and 'off to Noumea' for recovery. Bronze Star/Purple Heart. And as I like to say, "No Flak Jackets, no night-vision.. Just M-1, Thompson MG, Grenades and 'training'.

Then, another 31 days during an exercise known as "Okinawa". Wounded again during a massive Japanese counter-offensive on May 4. DI (Korean Conflict). Eddie died one AM getting up to take a leak in his house. 1987. He went straight to Marine Corps heaven and bypassed the 'malarkey' of the nursing home circuit and all the other associated bull*It.

When they landed on Peleliu, his squad got kind of 'f'd' up on the beach with fear due to massive mayhem going on around them and kind of froze. He stood up and told them we either die here or 'in there'... Eddie of course suffered from PTSD for the duration of his life afterwards. Nightmares of mortars, cannons, night time attacks and such. He was a bartender at a local Vets club and after he died, a guy he had barred from the club for being a jerk tried to re-gain access. The new bartender told the guy, "Not until Eddie Amaral says so.. OK?" :)

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Photo of Eddie getting Bronze Star, probably on Pavuvu Island .. ? The officer is Maj Gen Roy Geiger, USMC, the commander of the "Cactus Airforce" on Guadalcanal. This was the only photo of the entire 'story' I ever knew as a kid. Thanks to the internet, I found images of Ed in a foxhole on Peleliu (day 1), with his squad (That TV Series, "Victory at Sea', and a photo of him on Talasea (Guadalcanal area). Thanks to the guy who wrote the book "The Old Breed" and HBO "The Pacific" and other stuff.. I learned minute details.

Realize that Uncle Ed never spoke of this stuff AT ALL to us kids. All he did was act normal. ... I knew Peleliu was 'bad', but I did not know 'how really, really, really bad' it was. Oddly, his kid brother Joe Amaral (Seabees) actually participating in the Peleliu operation and got to link up with him on the beach.. "He was standing there with no shirt on, a Thompson MG slung on his shoulder and eatin a can of peaches.. " Dad and his 3 brothers were always telling 'war stories'.. Most were not of combat.. just the funny parts... When it came to anything related to combat, they did not linger on it and it usually ended with them sort of softly saying, 'those poor bastards.. '.

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