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Picture of the day - March 17, 2006

The USS North Carolina

The USS North Carolina
Some 230 years after our great nation burst free from the shackles of tyranny, the United States of America still stands tall and proud in a troubled world, her citizens enjoying a level of freedom and economic prosperity that is unmatched anywhere else on the planet. But throughout our history this freedom and prosperity that we so cherish has occasionally been threatened by despots and rogue nations.

Our iron will and military might have served us well in times of trouble, including the Second World War when the U.S. and our allies had to stand up against the ruthless evil of Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Emperor Hirohito and their followers. Our side won the long, hard-fought two-front war, and as a result the world is a much better place than it would have been otherwise.

More so than in any other armed conflict, American sea power was the primary key to victory - especially in the Pacific. And one of the most heavily used and most successful assets in our naval arsenal was the USS North Carolina and her tireless crew.

On April 9, 1941, the USS North Carolina became the first of the Navy's modern battleships to be commissioned. Her performance during the fitting out and testing stages was so impressive that she earned the nickname "Showboat", a moniker that would ring true all throughout the war.

The North Carolina successfully landed marines on the islands of Guadalcanal and Tulagi, then went on to screen for the USS Enterprise and USS Saratoga as they completed some of the most important missions of the war. At the same time she was bombarding enemy positions on several Pacific islands, downing Japanese aircraft by the hundreds and blowing enemy submarines out of the water. The USS North Carolina was easily the workhorse of the Pacific campaign!

At one point, a direct hit by a torpedo ripped an 18 x 32 foot hole in her side, but instead of sinking, after 5 minutes of counter-flooding she resumed her duties of screening her assigned aircraft carrier! This amazing ship and her crew never stopped until the mission was complete.

The North Carolina finished up her World War II duties by bombarding the Japanese islands, patrolling Tokyo Bay and returning home to the U.S. loaded down with sailors and passengers from Okinawa. Her stellar performance under virtually non-stop heavy fire during the Pacific campaign earned the North Carolina 15 battle stars, the most awarded any battleship during the entire war.

The USS North Carolina was decommissioned on June 27, 1947 and struck from the Navy List on June 1, 1960. This most decorated battleship of World War II was then transferred to the people of North Carolina on September 6, 1961. On April 29th of the following year she was dedicated at Wilmington as a memorial to all North Carolinians who paid the ultimate sacrifice during World War II.

Like the nation and ideals she fought so hard to protect, "Showboat" still stands tall and proud in Wilmington's Cape Fear River, serving as a museum and treasured memorial to the World War II soldiers, sailors and marines who never made it back to the Tar Heel state.

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