Tuesday Trip Report: USS Yorktown at Patriot’s Point

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For some reason I have felt like these few hours back in December onboard the USS Yorktown (the retired Aircraft Carrier moored at Patriot’s Point in Mt. Pleasant) has been hanging over my head – the “trip report” I keep meaning to post so that I can get back to my plan of filling in all these weeks when we’re actually home with trip reports from our year in England.  Then I go on jaunts here and there and still don’t get back to the Yorktown.  So here you go – a few fun pictures from the “Homeschooling” Day I spent with Patience and Gabriel onboard the USS Yorktown on December 7, 2012 (Pearl Harbor Day, in case someone reading this didn’t catch the import of the “day that will live in infamy.”)

We arrived bright and early (for us) at 10am on the cold, windy pier for a brief lesson on brackish water and the coming together of the mouths of many rivers which forms the tidal basin here in Charleston.  We learned about erosion and talked about certain wildlife found in these waters due to its “brackishness.”

Then it was on to the USS Yorktown, CV-10, for a salinity lesson and some time spent with sea creatures.  She was one of the 24 Essex-class Carriers built during WWII in response to the bombing at Pearl Harbor.  Originally, she was to be christened Bon Homme Richard, but was renamed in the shipyard after CV-5, the USS Yorktown, which was lost at the Battle of Midway in June 1942.  This USS Yorktown arrived in July, 1943, to Pearl Harbor, from whence she departed a month later to commence two years of campaigns in the Pacific Theater.  Decommissioned shortly after WWII, she was later brought back into service for Vietnam and even participated in recovery during the Apollo 8 mission.  She also appeared in a few movies – Tora! Tora! Tora! and The Philadelphia Experiment.



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Next we moved outside and across to an old Destroyer (USS Laffey, DD-724) moored at the same pier.  We had a tour of it along with a great history lesson concerning WWII.

the Destroyer, seen from afar

the Destroyer, seen from afar

up by the gun mounts on the Destroyer

up by the gun mounts on the Destroyer


on our way over to the ship tour

on our way over to the ship tour

Here’s a quick history of the USS Laffey.  Interestingly enough, the USS Yorktown is home to a “Medal of Honor” Recipient Museum (I highly recommend touring it when you have time to read everything!), and the USS Laffey was named after a Civil War Medal of Honor Recipient.  This is the second USS Laffey, and you will read about the first and second ships in this brief write-up from the Patriot’s Point website:

“Both ships were named in honor of Seaman Bartlett Laffey, a Civil War Medal of Honor recipient.

The second LAFFEY was built as an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer by Bath Iron Works (Maine). Commissioned February 8, 1944, LAFFEY supported the D-Day landings at Normandy on June 6, 1944. Late that summer, LAFFEY transferred to the Pacific Theater to join the US offensive against Japan. While operating off Okinawa on April 16, 1945, LAFFEY was attacked by 22 Japanese bombers and kamikaze (suicide) aircraft. Five kamikazes and three bombs struck her, and two bombs scored near misses to kill 31 and wound 71 of the 336-man crew. LAFFEY shot down 11 of the attacking aircraft and saved the damaged ship. LAFFEY’s heroic crew earned her the nickname: “The Ship That Would Not Die.” LAFFEY was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation and earned five battle stars for service during World War II.

LAFFEY was repaired and was present (as a support ship) for the atomic bomb test at Bikini Atoll in 1946 (Operation Crossroads). On June 30, 1947, LAFFEY was decommissioned and placed in the reserve fleet. Re-commissioned in 1951, Laffey earned two battle stars during the Korean War. LAFFEY underwent FRAM II (Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization) conversion in 1962 and served in the Atlantic fleet until decommissioned in 1975. LAFFEY, the only surviving Sumner-class destroyer in North America, was added to the Patriots Point fleet in 1981, and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986. ”

There was an AWESOME reenactment of the attack on April 16, put together by the History Channel and shown in its entirety onboard the ship.  It’s from their show called “Dogfights.”  Here’s a brief clip from the episode:


Here’s another History Channel clip from one of their “Hero Ships” episodes:


Flag at Half-staff for Pearl Harbor Day

Flag at Half-staff for Pearl Harbor Day

Looking up at the USS Yorktown

Looking up at the USS Yorktown (Patience and Gabriel on the bench)

IMG_3690So that’s about it.  We didn’t really “tour” the aircraft carrier in its entirety because we are saving that for a future visit.  If you’ve never been to Patriot’s Point and live out here in SC, I highly recommend it for a living history lesson on, particularly, Medal of Honor Recipients and WWII.  Having lived in Pearl Harbor for three years, literally viewing Battleship Row from my backyard, I can accurately compare this to all the learning opportunities found there (the Pacific Aviation Museum, the USS Arizona, the USS Missouri) and want to persuade you to make good use of these national treasures right here on the Mainland.  My dad was substitute teaching on December 7 this past year (the day of this visit to the Yorktown), and he said the percentage of his students who knew the significance of December 7 was abysmal.  I just read that a poll was taken in 1991 that found fewer than half of the high school students asked could tell you about the importance of that date.  Twenty years later – and it was about 1 in 30 in my dad’s classrooms.  Pathetic.  I could go on and on about the gaps I had in my knowledge when I graduated from high school – for one thing, I knew next to nothing about human life from conception to birth, and the things I knew about world history were sketchy at best – but I can at least say I knew about December 7, 1941.  Make sure your kids know, too.  WWII wasn’t just some footnote in American history — the world changed forever because of the way the war was fought and “won” and the atrocities that occurred all over Europe and in the Pacific.  Remember.

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