Trails and Tales - Our Year on the Road travel blog

Submarine USS Drum

Tight fit!

 

USS Drum

Battleship USS Alabama

 

 

 

USS Alabama anti-aircraft gun

 

 

 

 

 

Skydiver

 


Wow! Today was so sunshiney and warm that I had to break out the toenail polish and go back to sandals. Whoohoo! The breeze off the Gulf was a nice touch, too. This is what we were craving!

This is Veteran's Day, a time to honor all those who have served and sacrificed for our country and the freedoms we treasure. As the saying goes, "Freedom is not free." For Gary and I, this year's celebration was a unique, lump-in-the-throat kind of day.

We began by driving Battleship Parkway to Battleship Memorial Park on the bay at Mobile. Long before reaching the park entrance, we were impressed with the huge, docked ship and the array of memorabilia on the nearby grounds. As we pulled in, we passed rows and rows of US flags on the Field of Valor.

Our tour started in the Aircraft Pavilion. This building housed fighter planes, helicopters, drones, uniforms, etc. The aircraft with fold-away wings really caught my eye. And just imagine trying to land a plane on a pitching, rolling ship in the ocean!

Next up, the submarine USS Drum awaited just outside the Pavilion. USS Drum earned 12 Battle Stars in World War II and carried a crew of 7 officers and 65 enlisted. Previous tours of other naval vessels did not prepare me for the tight quarters of this submarine. We entered through the hatch in the forward torpedo room and toured all the nooks and crannies, exiting from the aft torpedo room. If Gary had been a half inch taller, he would have had to crouch the whole time. I just cannot imagine being in the depths of the ocean sealed in that craft. We enjoyed talking with a veteran/volunteer who had served on this type sub. Not many of these subs remain as they were sold to other countries or scrapped.

The USS Alabama was our main event of the day. She is 680 feet in length with a beam of 108 feet 2 inches and could weigh up to 45,000 tons under battle conditions. In World War II, the Alabama typically had a crew of 2500. She earned 9 Battle Stars and shot down 22 enemy planes. Maximum armor thickness is a whopping 18" and there are 130,000 horses under the hood-so to speak! Gary and I decided, at the outset, that we were going to see all there was to see and did all three tours: we toured below decks in the stern-the crew's living quarters, galley, bakery, brig, barbershop and laundry; we toured below decks in the forward part-the engine room, radio room, sick bay, post office, Marine Corps quarters and the turret all the way to the bowels; we toured the main and upper decks and the main guns, anti-aircraft guns, and bridge. We went as low as we could go and as high as we could go, all on those steep, skinny ladders. Not bad for two people with bad joints; we'll be breaking out the arthritis meds tonight! Just as we finished our third tour, we saw folks gathering on the deck and were treated to sky divers making their jumps bearing flags representing the MIAs, Navy, and USA, part of the Veteran's Day ceremonies. If what we were privileged to see today doesn't fill one's heart with appreciation and thanksgiving, I don't know what would. May God Bless America and all the men and women who serve!

Gary and I creaked and hobbled back to the Jeep and drove back to the motorhome for our Osteo BiFlex and ibuprofen. Note: If today's photos are skewed or contain a finger, just chalk it up to bright sun on an LCD screen or me swinging from a ladder.



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