A couple of weeks ago, we traveled to Texas to visit family and friends whom we have not seen since we left for Cyprus last year. Even though I grew up in the outskirts of the Houston metropolitan area, I never really got to see Houston until I moved away. I think I had to know what I was missing to have an interest in some of Texas’ quirky and yet pretty cool history.
We have visited a few attractions in the past, but with young ones, we know that we are always limited on time or their interests in the subject. However, we recently stumbled upon a new favorite game, Battleship, in our household. Piano Man had the opportunity to play the game at a friend/neighbor’s house, and he was instantly hooked.
Let me tell you that there was a huge learning curve to understanding the strategy of the game because I have never ever played this game before. As a child, I always thought this game looked slow and boring; but surprisingly, I enjoyed playing it even when Piano Man beat me.
While visiting family, Prof and I thought it would be fun to visit another attraction/site around Houston to get to know my old town a little better. It took some time to decide which site to visit, until Prof mentioned seeing a real battleship, Battleship Texas (BB-35). When Piano Man heard this, he yelled a resounding, “Yesssssss!”
When we parked, you could see from afar the massive 34,000 ton (full-load), 573 feet (175 m) design of the ship. It’s quite an impressive view. According to Wikipedia, Battleship Texas accomplished several historical firsts:
– first US Navy vessel to house a permanently assigned contingent of US Marines
– first US battleship to mount anti-aircraft guns
– first US ship to control gunfire with directors and rangekeeprs (aka future analong forerunner to modern-day computers)
– first US battleship to launch aircraft from a catapult Turret 3
– first to receive the CXAM-1 version of CXAM production radar in U.S. Navy
– first US battleship to become permanent museum ship
– first battleship declared to be a U.S. National Historic Landmark
But after reading Texas Parks and Wildlife’s brochure, I learned some other pretty cool things. For one, the Battleship Texas landed at Iwo Jima, where the iconic American flag was lifted up on the second day of battle. The battleship also supported the invasion in Okinawa, the largest amphibious assault and highest number of casualties in the Pacific during World War II. While some would argue that more U.S. soldiers died on the European front (when doing a comparison strictly by numbers) than compared to the Pacific front, I distinctly remember when one of my professors in college talked about the horrifically high percentage rates at which Americans died in the Pacific. In addition to supporting the war on the Pacific front, Battleship Texas also supported the war in the Atlantic and North Africa.
Now, if that wasn’t enough to sell you on the idea to check out this famously historical museum ship, then knowing that you can walk around and touch a piece of history should be enough to go. I know that standing on the same same deck floor where our American soldiers fought for our freedom was enough for me to go.
(Photo Above: Piano Man wanted to take a photo in this cut out stand-in of a naval solider. He looks quite dashing in a uniform.)
(Photos Above and Right: Once we walked onboard Battleship Texas, Piano Man wanted to sit on the 3”/50 caliber gun. So did Linus, I think.)
(Photo Above: If you want to know what it feels like to sit behind one of these, here you go…)
(Photo Above: Now, I am not entirely sure which type of weapon this is. If someone knows, please educate me on this one.)
(Photo Above: 14″/45 caliber guns aboard USS Texas. It doesn’t look that intimidating in the photo, but the barrel is huge! I don’t think anyone would want to be next to this weapon when it is fired.)
(Photo Above: Prof and Piano Man next to the barrel. It gives you a little perspective, doesn’t it?)
(Photo Above: In case you weren’t sure which way to go…)
(Photo Above: Here we go…down, down, down.)
(Photo Above: One of the corridors below deck.)
(Photo Above: The bakery room located next to several large casings.)
(Photo Above: Bakery room’s interior.)
(Photos Above: First Lieutenant’s Office and Kitchen.)
(Photos Above: Latrine and Door.)
(Photo Above: Bunk beds.)
(Photo Above: Linus adding a little mischief onboard Battleship Texas.)
(Photo Above: When I asked the another family to take a photo us, I heard a deep Texas southern accent. I haven’t heard that kind of accent in such a long time, and it felt nice to hear and see some southern hospitality.)