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WWII Heroes Gather for Final Reunion Aboard USS Yorktown

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On March 19, 1945, the USS Franklin (CV-13) was hit by two Japanese bombs, igniting aircraft that were armed, triggering a gasoline vapor explosion that devastated the Hangar Bay and killing more than 800 sailors and wounding nearly 500.

On March 19, 1945, the USS Franklin (CV-13) was hit by two Japanese bombs, igniting aircraft that were armed, triggering a gasoline vapor explosion that devastated the Hangar Bay and killing more than 800 sailors and wounding nearly 500.

On Friday, May 17, the surviving crewmembers of the USS Franklin (CV-13) gathered for their final reunion at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum.

The USS Franklin participated in Pacific Theater operations during WWII and was in service from 1944-1945.  She is, perhaps, best known for an attack that took place on March 19, 1945, when two Japanese bombs struck the ship shortly before dawn.  The bombs hit at the heart of the ship – igniting aircraft that were armed and triggering a gasoline vapor explosion that devastated the Hangar Bay.  A recent count by a Franklin historian and researcher raised the total to over 800 killed and nearly 500 wounded.

Following this attack, the USS Franklin earned the designation as the most heavily damaged U.S. aircraft carrier to survive WWII.  Today, she and her crew remain the most decorated in Navy history – earning two Medals of Honor, 19 Navy Crosses, 22 Silver Stars, and 1,100 Purple Hearts.

On May 17, 21 of the remaining crewmembers of the USS Franklin – all WWII veterans – gathered with their families for one last time aboard the USS Yorktown.  In honor of this historic reunion, Patriots Point hosted a series of events and educational programs throughout the day to allow the public an opportunity to speak with and hear from these heroes.

“We were delighted to welcome the USS Franklin’s decorated and heroic crew to Patriots Point for their final reunion,” said Patriots Point Executive Director Mac Burdette. “WWII veterans are the heart and soul of the “Greatest Generation” and these men set the standard. We were honored to host a full day of events and programs to honor their service – and to give our visitors a chance to meet these brave men who served.”

130517_CV-13_Reunion_040The morning began with a very special welcome for the veterans. Approximately 75 active duty Navy Sailors from the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command joined Coast Guardsmen from Coast Guard Sector Charleston to line the pier and render a special salute.  The Franklin veterans were then escorted down the pier by Medal of Honor recipient MG James E. Livingston and Joint Base Charleston Deputy Commander CAPT Tom Bailey.

The Franklin veterans then participated in a memorial service to honor their crewmembers who passed away during the Japanese attack on March 19, as well as those who have passed since that time.  Following the program’s conclusion, the veterans took part in a special educational symposium, where they shared their personal experiences from WWII.

Their visit to Patriots Point concluded with a private lunch aboard the USS Yorktown and tour of ‘The Fighting Lady,’ an Essex-Class carrier like their own ship.

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