If you happen to find yourself in southern Texas, one stop that is not to be missed is the USS Lexington! Located in Corpus Christi Bay, this WWII aircraft carrier was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2003, and has been turned into a first-rate museum of all things WWII.
While seeing action in WWII, the Lexington served in several campaigns in the Pacific Theatre. This Lexington (CV-16, Lexington #5) is nicknamed The Blue Ghost. Her nickname came from the fact that she was painted a solid, dark blue, instead of in a camouflaging pattern. This was demoralizing to the Japanese – since she was so heavily armored, she didn’t need to hide; they couldn’t sink her anyways. The Japanese said that they would sink her in the evening, and she would be right back in the morning, hence the name the Blue Ghost.
Inside there are some commercialized areas like a food court and the gift shop. You could peek in on a F-18 Blue Angels restoration project, or take a turn at the Virtual Combat stations; glorified video games where you can take turns being a Corsair pilot, anti-aircraft gunner, or try to land your jet on an aircraft carrier (this was one of my boys’ favorite stops – probably because we don’t do much ‘video game’ stuff). And lots of WWII related exhibits!
Another favorite was the Pearl Harbor diorama (below); it was made up of a huge table that had the layout of the island and the locations of our ships when the Japanese attacked. It was great for the boys to be able to see the entire layout, and how the morning played out, all on one display (much bigger than a tiny map in a textbook! – made it much easier for them to image the events of Pearl Harbor. (that is one trip that I would LOVE to take – a cruise to Hawaii and to visit Pearl Harbor!-as if I’m not spoiled enough already! ROFL!) My guys also really enjoyed the movie theatre that is in the carrier – it is very similar to an iMax. The movie is called Red Flag, and is about a man’s dream of being an F-15 fighter pilot (like his grandfather) at a fighter training facility – Nellis AFB. The movie chronicles his experience at Nellis during the Red Flag training, and the missions they undertook, which includes airmen from other countries also.
The Lexington has 5 self-guided tours at this time (they are continually working on opening up new areas of the ship). You can purchase a detailed self-guide book at the gift shop, or just use the brochure that they give you upon entering the museum (which is what my guys did). The ship is a great destination for all ages, and a must-do when you visit southern Texas!
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