I love it when a great warship is preserved rather than scrapped, used for target practice, or sunk as an artificial reef. Such ships (and more importantly, their crew) should be honored, not discarded.
We arrived into San Diego on the Sapphire Princess the day after our Catalina Island excursion, and it was with great delight that I found we were within easy walking distance of the great USS Midway, which served in the United States Navy from just eight days after the formal surrender of Japan aboard the USS Missouri until its decommissioning nearly 47 years later, in April of 1992. During that time, USS Midway operated in the Korean and Vietnam theaters of conflict and participated in the First Gulf War. Indeed, it was the USS Midway that served as the backdrop for the now famous photos of Huey helicopters being shoved over the side of the ship to allow South Vietnamese Major Buang-Ly, his wife, and their five children to land in his two-seat Cessna O-1 Bird Dog during the final rout of South Vietnam.
USS Midway’s final major deployment was in support of Operation Fiery Vigil. Operation Fiery Vigil was 20,000 Americans evacuated from Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval Station in the aftermath of the devastating eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines.
Now, about the ship itself. First of all, this thing is huge. And what’s really amazing is the realization — as you’re standing on the massive four-acre flight deck or wandering through the cavernous hangar deck below — that is ship is far smaller than the modern supercarrier, and was deemed too small a ship for F-14 Tomcat operations.
But, then, a picture is worth a thousand words, so here they are: