Preservation continues on anniversary for USS Hornet, museum

A large American flag hangs from the flight deck of the USS Hornet during Fourth of July festivities in Alameda, Calif., Monday, July 4, 2011. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
November 16, 2013 3:32:20 PM PST
Veterans will gather aboard the USS Hornet on Saturday to mark the 70th anniversary of the aircraft carrier's commissioning and the USS Hornet Museum's 15th anniversary.

Saturday's event is part of the museum's monthly "Living Ship Days" program at the USS Hornet museum at 707 W. Hornet Ave. on Pier 3 at 11 a.m.

An exhibit titled "Hornet: Reflection Through Time," will also be on display with a timeline showing all the ships that bore the Hornet's name starting from the 1700s, Hornet Museum CEO Randall Ramian said.

The exhibit, which will be up through the first week of December, will also provide specific information on the current ship, he said.

The museum will hold a 1 p.m. panel discussion with veterans from World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars and those who helped turn the carrier into a museum.

Other speakers include those aboard during the Apollo 11 and 12 lunar landing missions in 1969, when the USS Hornet served as the prime recovery ship.

The ship was commissioned, or placed on active service, as a carrier for the U.S. Navy in 1943.

Sam Duncan was aboard the USS Hornet in 1943 after joining the U.S. Navy when he was 24 years old as a first class petty officer.

Duncan was a radar technician who was on the ship as it traveled for 15 months through various battles across the Pacific Ocean.

He also experienced his first typhoon on the ship where the crew lost three destroyers and about 900 men, Duncan said.

Duncan said the typhoon lasted eight hours and while on board he thought, "I hope I get through this thing."

Waves were between 60 to 75 feet high with winds at up to 100 knots, he said.

During the ship's second typhoon, Duncan said he had to climb up a ladder outside of the ship during the storm because he had to fix an antenna for the ship's SK radar.

"By the time I got down I was soaking wet from head to toe," he said.

Duncan, now a resident of Tucson, Ariz., will be one the panelists at Saturday's afternoon event.

The Hornet was reclassified as an attack carrier in 1952 then became an anti-submarine warfare support aircraft carrier in 1958.

It was finally decommissioned when it was placed at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Wash. in 1970.

During the early 1990s the USS Hornet was brought to the San Francisco Bay at the Alameda Naval Air Station.

The USS Hornet became a national landmark in 1991 and state landmark in 1999.

Community members secured funding to preserve the ship and the USS Hornet Museum opened its doors in 1998, Ramian said.

The museum has continued to renovate the ship to maintain its appearance from when it was decommissioned, Ramian said.

"The ship itself is an artifact. We want to be true to what the ship looked like," Ramian said.

A gala to raise money for the USS Hornet Museum's educational programs is also scheduled on Saturday at 6 p.m.

The evening event will include remarks by guest speaker Dick Gordon, a former astronaut on Apollo 12.

Ramian has served as CEO of the museum since 2009 and said the USS Hornet is one of the five remaining World War II aircraft carrier museums throughout the country.

As the museum reaches its 15th anniversary, Ramian said one of the obstacles his staff has faced is staying relevant to the public and securing finances.

The museum offers a program that allows students to go on board to apply lessons learned in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.


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