THE WWII Museum in New Orleans.
We are fortunate to live in this great city for so many reasons. New Orleans offers a blend of cultures and flavors that is very uniquely ours. Our music and cuisine continues to thrive and grow. You can hear and taste New Orleans food and music in all continents.
New Orleans has a newer, but just as great and wonderful feature which is the World War II Museum, if you have not gone do so. Believe me, it is a fantastic experience, one you owe to your fathers, uncles, aunts and grandfathers who serve in WWII in order to preserve freedom for all of us.
The late Stephen Ambrose left us with a great gift which is the complex of buildings that houses the personal history told by those who lived it and the mementos of what is now known as the greatest generation. Make no mistake, the Museum will make you feel part of something big and important and you will feel the weight of what happened to the world in the European and Pacific War Theaters.
I had the honor of first visiting the museum several years ago with a War II Pacific Theater Veteran for the Leyte Philippines conflict why has since passed away. His story was gripping, human and horrific. He survived the terrible fight and had not told his story until he recorded it for the Museum.
Today, the museum continuous the laborious restoration of many of the war reminders; volunteers spend countless hours daily preserving history for our children as well as for future generations. Museum volunteers are men and women from all walks of life who contribute their time and effort to the preservation and restoration of these artifacts.
NOLA.com had a wonderful article today concerning the restoration of a rare WWII patrol boat. The boat known as PT 305 was built at the Higgins Industries plant near City Park in 1943. The PT 305 was built an old-fashioned wooden speedboat but bigger, two stories high to be exact. The boat is similar the one commanded by President John F. Kennedy and to the one used in the 60’s TV series “McHale’s Navy.” This specific boat is only one of the many restored at the museum facility.
According to NOLA.com: The significance of the PT 305 is that – in the 21st century, PT boats are extremely rare. There were only 199 Higgins PT boats built in the first place. Harris says that after World War II, it was too expensive to bring most back from the distant reaches of the Pacific, so they were burned. But the Navy brought PT 305 back from Europe and sold it as surplus in New York. Apropos of a New Orleans-built vessel, it spent part of its long work life in the oyster business. Torpedoes were PT boats’ main weapons. An ominous black torpedo rests on a platform near PT 305. During my visit, it was coated with a fine layer of fallen sawdust. Someone wrote “LSU ROCKS” in the powder.
PT 305 is a masterpiece of fine woodcraft and a fascinating piece of historical sculpture. As I watched, three volunteers performed choreographed carpentry as they employed a 4-foot, custom-made sander to simultaneous smooth several of the exposed ribs on the bow of the boat. They joked that the task couldn’t be accomplished by computer. PT 305 was not deployed to repel the Japanese Navy. It was sent to the Mediterranean, where its crew destroyed at least two Nazi boats.
The National World War II Museum is located at 945 Magazine St. Call 504.528.1944. Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission: $22 adults; $19seniors; $13 students and military. Free admission for WWII veterans.