Monday, December 6, 2010

USA - USS South Dakota Memorial

When they scrapped "Old Nameless" in 1962, Sioux Falls couldn't get the whole battleship into landlocked South Dakota. So they salvaged what parts they could, poured a foot-high concrete outline onto the ground in Sherman Park along the banks of the Big Sioux River, and combined the pieces into a minimalist pseudo-replica.

The USS South Dakota was in every major battle and the most decorated ship of WWII from 1942-45. It brought down 32 Japanese planes and was the first ship to fire on the Japanese home islands! She was officially numbered BB57, also known as "Battleship X," and her state designation was as the South Dakota.

The anchor, the ship's bell, a massive propeller, and other components are placed around the park within the outline. There is an original 16-inch gun (weighing 94 tons), suitable for shelling the towns of eastern South Dakota, and the actual flag mast. The outline is 680 feet in length.

The bridge contains a gift shop, where at one time a visitor could purchase a commission as an admiral in the South Dakota navy (latest report is that admiralties are no longer available). A short video about the Navy is shown. An extension was added in 2001 to house an expanded museum, though this further mars the illusion that a battleship is rising out of the plains.

Every other year, alumni of the battleship South Dakota gather on its deck/lawn for a reunion of heroes and their familes....

The card has a nice stamp of Mother Teresa on it.

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