The USS Lexington is fondly called Lady Lex around Corpus Christi, Texas. She served valiantly in WWII and served a total of 48 years. The Japanese kept broadcasting her sinking, never true. She became known as the ghost ship that came back to life.
Here she sits in the harbor.
She was attacked by two kamikazes. One was shot down, the other hit her island, did huge damage, killed 47 and wounded 123 men. The kamikazes were a desperate measure by the Japanese. They recruited young men do die for their country and offered the great honor of wearing a head band (hackamachi) used by respected feudal samurai. Kamikaze means Divine Wind, a wind god said to have repelled a Mongol fleet heading toward Japan in 1281.
The Japanese distributed these flyers to demoralize the men. You can barely read at the top, The bearer is entitled to honorable treatment as prescribed by the Geneva Convention.
This is a very personal museum. Many letters described the attack and the subsequent sadness of burying their friends at sea.
One survivor sent in his dog tags and a piece of shrapnel from the “Zeke” they shot down.
The four self guided tours take you all over the ship and while I walked I had this sense of deja vu as though I’d seen this ship before. I could see men running through the hatch doors;
water oozing up though the hatches as the ship flounders in flood mode.
I see the men running, as the horrible piercing sirens go off and some sailor struggles to turn off these valves. I was running all of those WWII movies through my brain only to learn later that indeed, the Lex had been used in several movies.
Sailors slept in hammocks like this, only 18 inches from each other.
A later refurbishment gave much improved sleeping arrangements, but the men who used them referred to them as coffins.
An old swabbie looked like this.
And a modern swabbie we recognize.
If you like models, there were rooms full of them, every size, every ship and plane.
I preferred pictures and paintings of ships.
Here is the Lex going through the Panama Canal with planes like toys littering her deck.
As you walk into a room, a sensor starts a recording and in this spot I heard Roosevelt sadly delineate the number of ships wounded and sunk at Pearl Harbor. The casualties in men. It was about 300 men and 316 ships, if memory serves me.
You can see the fear and dread in these young faces as they prepare for battle.
And, the wonderful moments of relief and joy at liberty.
Other duties than war.
It was cold and windy and we viewed the deck last. Three football teams could play on this deck at the same time.
The island, the control tower, is the highest part of the ship which from bottom to top is 19 stories high.
I climbed into this wheel well and Jim took my picture.
I liked the painted personality of the Skyhawk, the plane I crawled into.
The navigation room, again gave me that deja vu. The compass on the right, with the huge compensating ball-magnets keep the compass functioning. So, I got to massage the navigator’s balls, as they are called.
The life rafts are now reversible, so no matter what side they fall on you can get in. But, it isn’t water proof. Brr, that’s cold.
There was so much to see here. We spent four and one-half hours on the ship. Pricey, we thought, at $11.95 each, senior price, plus $3.50 for parking. We also ate a delicious cafeteria style lunch on board. But, they also show two major movies wearing 3-D glasses that were absolutely stupendous and worth the price of the ticket on their own. So, go see the Lex if it is the only thing you have time for.
Thanks for the tour!