THE NEXT CHAPTER IN THE HISTORY OF OUR SHIP
On April 16th, 2001, the 57th anniversary of the ships christening, the USS WISCONSIN and the National Maritime Center-Nauticus celebrated their Grand Re-Opening. Participating in this grand re-opening were Richard Conti, Nauticus Director, Paul Fraim, Mayor of Norfolk, RADM Christopher Cole, Commander Navy Regional Mid-Atlantic, Mary Mosier, Captain, USN (RET), Operations Manager for Hampton Roads Naval Museum and over 400 crewmembers, friends and family.
Monday morning started with a parade from City Hall, down Main Street, to Nauticus. Nothing was going to stop her former crew, they came with canes, wheelchairs and assisted by family members. They marched with their heads held high and a big smile on their face. They were going to see their MAGNIFICENT LADY. Among our marchers was
Jerry Blesch, Captain USN (RET) who recommissioned the Wisconsin in 1988. Mayor Fraim and RADM Cole delivered very short speeches before the doors to Nauticus opened.
Prior to this event, on Sunday morning after a buffet breakfast and an Easter Service, we shuttled to Nauticus to Dedicate a plaque on behalf of the Wisconsin Association. This plaque is dedicated to the memory of all sailors and Marines who served in this proud and historic warship. It is to be placed, if possible, aboard the ship. At the present time, it is on display at Nauticus, at the foot of the bridge leading to the Wisconsin.
Association members were then allowed to preview all of Nauticus’ displays pertaining to the Wisconsin. Among the many displays is “City at Sea” with three movie screens depicting Life aboard the Wisconsin. They continually show short clips and still photos of crewmembers from the three eras that the ship was in service. You had to hear the “Wow!, that’s me” “I know him” “That’s what’s his name” . If you want to relive your time aboard the ship, this is a “Must See”. There were many other exhibits, Battlescope, Battleship X, etc. just to mention a few. The Nauticus team has done a tremendous job in recreating our time aboard our ship. WELL DONE! Nauticus.
By 1PM the bridge was opened to us. We walked her decks once more. She is beautiful and massive and powerful. We walked from bow to stern and back again, several times, just remembering and telling sea stories. Hampton Roads Naval Museum has to be commended for all their efforts in preserving the history of our ship. We met a few of the docents, some who were former crewmembers, all have a very good knowledge of the history of the ship.
For those of you who could not attend this celebration. I hope the following pictures will give you a feeling of being there. The first 106 photos were taken by Lil and Dom Menta.
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