Sigh…

A great Veteran’s weekend! Fun’s over, now it’s back to reality… Dammit…

Great time at the National Museum of the Pacific War at Fredricksburg, TX.

It was even more special in that Rich, one of my readers, actually gave myself and Juvat (blogger at Chant du Depart) the six hour tour!

Rich was the educational director for a number of years, and we got a lot of the back stories that went with the exhibits.

However, there was a bit of a problem… You see Rich is retired Army, I’m retired Navy, and Juvat is retired Air Force…

So there were a number of, how can I say this, interesting, side conversations over the course of the day. I’m proud to say that Juvat only shot his watch off twice, though (Ex-fighter pilot)… 🙂

Seriously, this is one museum you should go see, if you possibly can. Rather than just WWII, they actually go back to the turn of the century, and the lead up to the war. Lots of visuals, some not real pretty, but accurate. Great use of videos, video tables, and fantastic displays! They also do live action recreations a couple of times a year!!!

Since we were ‘walking, we’re walking’, I didn’t get a lot of pictures, but there are many very moving displays and videos available. Being a sailor, I had to go with the PT boat, though…

Boat-309 is the only restored World War II combat veteran Higgins class PT boat on public display in the United States today. It actually served in the Med, and fired over 100 torpedoes in combat, and was credited with sinking five enemy ships. She was also responsible for the capture of an Italian MAS (PT equivalent) boat. PT-309 was nicknamed “Oh Frankie” following a meeting between the boat’s first skipper, Wayne Barber, and Frank Sinatra at a night club in New York City just prior to her departure for the European Theater.

With the assistance of PT Boats, Inc., PT-309 was located in Greenport, New York operating as a charter fishing boat. She was purchased in 1994 by the Admiral Nimitz Foundation for the museum. She sailed under her own power from New York to Galveston, Texas, a 45 day journey.

After nearly three years of dedicated work by a volunteer crew that included Seabees from the Houston area, the PT-309 has been almost completely restored. More than a quarter of the boat’s original planking was replaced. She was “commissioned” in the Texas Navy in 1998. Members of the SeaBee unit were present in uniform for the event.

Stern, and you can see the decking work going on…

Looking forward, Port forward torpedo rack is empty, aft is a MK-13 torpedo.

Mid-ships port side twin 50 mount

Forward 20mm mount, and forward hatch to the crew quarters.

TBM Avenger, one of three or four airplanes in the museum. This is what George H.W. Bush was shot down in.

And Togo’s study. Built as an exact duplicate in Japan, then taken apart, and reassembled in the Japanese Peace Garden in the museum.

And a video of a TBM flying… Big and noisy, but they got the job done, more than once!!!

 

Thanks Rich and Juvat, truly a great time! 🙂

Then I took a speed run down to Alpine, TX to meet with another author, a former Marine sniper and retired LEO, and do some looking around in that area, since I hadn’t been down there since the late 60s. Good times, and actually saw a NEW Colt Cobra in the wild. Sadly I didn’t have the spare coin to buy it… Dammit…

Then a ‘lovely’ six hour drive home in misting rain… So I’m sorry if folks didn’t get many comments out of me, but I didn’t even turn a computer on till I got home.


Comments

Sigh… — 17 Comments

  1. My hat is off to those who went into combat in a wooden boat that was packed with high explosives and aviation gasoline.

    A modern incarnation of wooden ships and iron men.

  2. How many PT Boats had 40mm guns mounted to the deck? I recall that JFK had one mounted forward on PT 109, but aft? Were there any comments about that from the museum staff?

    • Some PT boats were armed with a 37mm AT gun, like found in the Stuart tank, and then later 37mm autocannon like those found in the Aircobra. Mounted on the forward deck next to the crew hatch, where the 20mm is shown on the above boat.

      The Bofors 40mm was just a smidge too big and heavy to mount on the PT, which is why the aircraft cannon was ‘selected’ by the crews.

      Gee, how unusual that the crews would up-arm their vessels. (The Constitution, rated at 44 guns, probably had around 50-60 at one time.)

  3. Sounds like an awesome place shared by good guys.
    Love your license plate, by the way.
    Waiting patiently for the next book, not!
    (Been too long since I got to give you a hug in person.)

  4. What always got me about PTs was that the throttles were manually controlled by a guy in the engine room.

    Granted, he went on to be skipper of the Love Boat… 😉

  5. John- Amen!!!

    LL?Andrew- Not really, they researched it and that was what it had on it at the end of the war… Probably (my guess), up gunned at some point to handle the German E-boats and Italian boats. Wartime pic here- http://www.navsource.org/archives/12/05309.htm you can see what looks like the 40 Bofors aft.

    PE- Yep, she’s on my list to see! And maybe even ride 🙂

    Rev- You’re welcome!

    SoCal- I pulled my data from http://www.navsource.org/archives/12/05309.htm

    Fargo- It is, and there is a big section on the women who served too!

    Brig- WOrking on it 🙂

    Drang- LOL, yeah and PO1 Borgnine ended up as McHale… 🙂

  6. Well dang – I passed right by this place summer 2016 when I drove up thru central Texas from San Antonio. Guess I’ll have to go back! I did take in a great little museum in Bronte at Fort Chadbourne – great gun collection, very knowledgeable and hospitable director. Worth the trip!

  7. Hey Old NFO;

    I can actually shed some light on the upgunning, this started in the pacific against the heavily armed Japanese supply boats. The PT boats were tasked with interdicting the Japanese supply boats during the Solomon campaigns and the running battles were legendary.

  8. Sounds like a place I’ll have to put on the bucket list.

    Thanks for the pix of the PT. Those were great boats, and I heard many stories about them from my Dad.

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