The USS Midway Museum will celebrate Veterans Day, Nov. 11, with tours, flybys, a parade and other activities for the whole family at San Diego’s Navy Pier. In addition to honoring past and present veterans and active military personnel, the USS Midway is also a celebrated veteran. This U.S. Navy aircraft carrier served from September 1945 until she was decommissioned in 1992. With a career that has spanned from post-World War II through Vietnam and into the first Persian Gulf War, she has earned the distinction of being one of the longest-serving naval aircraft carriers in U.S. history.
The museum opens to the public at 10 a.m. followed by the Veterans Day Parade at 11 a.m. From 1 to 4 p.m., the Salute to Service Festival offers family friendly activities aboard ship and on the pier. Veterans and active military personnel and their families will receive free admission when they present a military ID at the check-in booth. Live entertainment and free food will be available throughout the afternoon. Children’s activities including face-painting and balloon animals are also part of the festivities.
Volunteers are on hand to answer questions about the massive ship which is 1,001 feet long or the length of three football fields. The USS Midway currently is accommodating 29 restored aircraft on deck representing planes from World War II, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam, and Desert Storm. Some of the planes are open for visitors to climb into the cockpit. There are also 60 exhibits ranging from life aboard an aircraft carrier, lessons on nautical knot-tying, visiting sick bay, to the nerve center for the Navy air operations during Desert Storm. Two flight simulators give visitors a feel for what it is like to take off and land aboard an aircraft carrier.
The USS Midway was named after a decisive victory won by the Allied forces in the Pacific on Midway Island during World War II. The number 41 is painted on her side because she was the 41st carrier built in the U.S. She weighs 70,000 tons and is 20 stories high. She had a crew of 4,500 men and used four galleys or kitchens to serve more than 13,000 meals every day.
During the USS Midway Museum celebration on Veterans Day, visitors will have the opportunity to participate in the San Diego Blood Bank’s blood drive that will be set up from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Navy Pier. Donors will also receive free admission to the museum for the day. The blood drive is a reminder that the USS Midway was not just a warship, but also on call for humanitarian missions. She helped evacuate South Vietnamese off the Vietnam coast in 1975. She was sent to the Philippines in 1991 to deliver emergency supplies when Mount Pinatubo erupted. While there, she rescued members of the American military who were stranded.
After a distinguished career of 47 years with 225,000 total crew members, the USS Midway was decommissioned. It took 12 years for San Diego citizens, lawyers, city and Navy officials, and environmentalists to successfully bring her to San Diego. She was turned into a museum that opened in June 2004 and has had over 4 million guests to date. The USS Midway Museum has a lot to celebrate on Veterans Day, welcoming visitors and military personnel, past and present, to San Diego’s Navy Pier.
By Cynthia Collins
USS Midway Museum – Veterans Day Schedule
NBC San Diego Salute to Service Festival
Top Photo Credit: Ray Bouknight – Creativecommons Flickr License
Inset Photo Credit: