The aircraft carrier, USS Lexington, is retired near Corpus Christi, about 20 miles from Redfish Bay RV Resort, which presented a great opportunity for a tour. This decorated ship served our country for almost 50 years, beginning in the Pacific during World War II, and concluding its service in the Persian Gulf. It was one of the primary targets of the Japanese on December 7, 1941, but had just departed Pearl Harbor two days prior to the surprise Japanese attack. It saw tremendous action in the Pacific—almost all the famous battles—including the ferocious battle at Okinawa, Japan, where my father was seriously wounded.
Jim and Ginny accompanied us on the self-guided tour, which began at 9:30 AM and ended some six hours later. We began on the hangar deck with a brief orientation, then climbed to the flight deck, aka flattop, where various attack, fighter, and trainer aircraft were showcased. It’s amazing how large aircraft carriers appear, but how small the “runway” really is when you’re there. Imagine trying to land on one at night in rolling seas! We returned to the hangar deck for two IMAX movies, one of which was about the development and production of the Boeing 787, and the other was of an international air war training exercise in Nevada, featuring various fighters, refuelers, and other US Air Force aircraft—it should be shown in the classroom as a “must see” to help build patriotism among out young citizens! We concluded the day with the Foc’sle tour and tours of the lower decks. These tours were of the officers’ and junior officers’ quarters, a Pearl Harbor exhibit, anchor equipment, ready rooms and combat information center, the captain’s cabin, engine room, sick bay, dental clinic, crew’s galley, mine exhibit, and Chapel.
This was an exhausting tour, involving a lot of walking and climbing—almost too much for these old legs. We retired for the evening to watch our favorite Friday night programs on the Discovery channel.