Saturday, April 1, 2017

Checking out the USS Alabama, tanks, planes and memorials at Battleship Memorial Park.


Although I hadn't planned to spend much time in Alabama, I didn't want to completely blaze through the state.   So even though I wasn't camping, I decided to take a small detour and check out the USS Alabama battleship at the Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile, AL back in december.

If you've been following me on this blog or youtube, you might have surmised I am more clenchfisted than scrooge, so this stop was actually pretty nice for me.  You can pay to take the tour (15 bucks I think) of the ship, but it only costs 2 bucks to enter the park and roam around looking.

Ceremonial Gun outside visitor center.
In the visitor center, you can find bathrooms, and there is a whole area just ahead of the battleship with picnic tables, pavillions and grills.   You almost forget that it is an actual park.  If you have a furry friend, he isn't allowed on the tours, but they do provide kennels and water for your pets.

Kennels, there is a water hose.
 It was crazy humid here, and I went in the winter, I can't imagine what Alabama must be like in the grips of summer.  I felt like I was breathing through a sock like a bellows and I'm from a pretty wet area myself. 
The ship is so huge, this is all i could fit in the shot!
It would definitely be better to actually go on the ship as it is a self guided tour, but I didnt mind.   If you never seen a battleship in person, it is impressive just to look upon.  And massive.  It astounds me no end just how massive ships can be on the water, it almost seems limitless.   Its like someone took a skyscraper and knocked it over on its side.  I can't even conceive how the massive guns must sound when they fire.  I wonder if they ever fire off blanks or something.  I might break open the wallet a little further for that experience.

Its fun to see some of the nick names given to the vehicles.


The battle ship itself is not all there is to see in this park either.   For your $2, you can walk around and check out tons and tons of tanks, artillery guns, and an actual bomber, an MRBM, fighter planes (that have seen better days mind), helicopters, you name it.

Look at the tiny door :D


The aircraft were in pretty bad shape, not sure if just disrepair or war damage?
This plane looked to be in the best shape, I think it could still even operate.  Check out the artwork.
There is also a submarine that is propped up on the ground.   Its a part of the battle ship but you can check out the outside pretty close up from the park.    There is also a giant aircraft hanger, but access from outside the tour area is a no go, which was disappointing to me because it appeared you could go in at first, but the doors are all blocked off.


I'm not a military expert of fanatic, i must admit, but i still get a lot of enjoyment from looking at the marvels mankind can make when driven to destruction (or protection, given your viewpoint).  


I thought this little tank looked awesome with 2 barrels up front.
Since I dont know much about these machines, I don't have much to say about each one, or hell even name them, but hope you enjoy the pictures and video I took of my visit there.  Maybe you can tell me more about them in the comments or identify them for me (some had plaques, but not all did).

Neat up close look at the cockpit.

I will say that my favorite things to see were the MRBM (Medium Range Ballistic Missle)  and the bomber.  You can actually stick your head up inside the missile as the engine has been removed (its there underneath if you want to check it out too).  You can see the gears and chains that I assume actuate the fins that guide it to its target.


The bomber was interesting to me.   It clearly had some work done to it for appearance sake.   The skin of the thing was painted black and it almost looked like it was made of black tinfoil, I don't know if thats how they actually were constructed originally.   The bomber had decals (or painted on) bombs near the cockpit, representing bombs it dropped on the enemy.  There was a lot of them.


Almost in a strange sorta contrast to all the firepower and killing machines, the place has several beautifully made memorials dedicated to the Vietnam, Korean war, and the middle eastern wars (on terror).   I was also pleasantly surprised to see sculptures and plaques dedicated to dogs who fought and died in service.


The Vietnam memorial was especially lovely, yet saddening at the same time.  Even the very large noisy family that walked up behind me quieted here, it had that kind of impact.  There is a statue of a soldier standing between 2 marble slabs atop bamboo.

There is a particularly potent quote from a Vietnam vet across from the names of those local men who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the war.  I'll type it out just to make it easier to see than the picture.   I highly recommend spending a day at this park, and check out my youtube video to get a better look at everything.

I think this is a good point to end on.
"Vietnam - War/Pain/Sorrow/Mystery/Jungle/Swamp/Mountains/Hot.
Vietnam means something - different but the same - to all of us.
Vietnam has a lasting effect of one sort or another on all Americans.
Vietnam can only be understood by those of us who where there --
--And we don't understand it."

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