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Posted by Eric Esses on May 6th 2015
On an unseasonably balmy spring day this year, we took our kids to a hulk of naval history known as Battleship Texas. Moored in the Houston Ship Channel ever since it was put out of commission in 1950s, the Battleship Texas is a local attraction that draws thousands upon thousands of visitors from all over the world each year.
Built in 1910, the Battleship Texas was the most advanced naval ship of its time with massive guns that could hurl a 1500 pound shell over 12 miles. Soon however it was out gunned and out-further by larger ships. Nevertheless, the Battleship Texas is a distinguished pioneer and a patriot. Pioneer because it was the first ever US aircraft carrier and launcher when that concept was just germinating in the minds of military planners. Patriot because the Battleship Texas served her country in the Great War – as WWI was known at the time.
As it was about to be decommissioned and scrapped, America's belated entry into WWII saved the ship's life, just as it went on save the lives of countless American and Allied soldiers in key battles of the world wide conflagration. In fact, the Battleship Texas served in the Mediterranean, fought the Nazis in the English Channel, gave cover to D-Day landing craft and soldiers and went on to fight the Japanese at Iwo Jima and beyond.
The true heroes of the Battleship Texas were, of course, the sailors and soldiers that fought. Not only did they have to face down the fear of naval warfare over the course of years, they also had to live and carry out their dangerous -- as well as mundane work -- in crowded conditions and often in extreme heat. Although the ship in WWI sailed with hundreds of men on board, during WWII over 1800 sailors called her home. As the staff at the Battleship Texas explained, “When a man didn't have a bunk, he slept on a hammock that was hung in an uncomfortable arc anywhere a couple of free hooks welded to the ceiling for that purpose were available.”
The visit was exceptionally interesting for the adults in our party as well as the children who enjoyed playing "anti-aircraft gunner” on the gunner’s seats as they moved the huge weapons up towards the blue sky.
Luckily, thanks to the brave men of the Battleship Texas and those servicemen and women who have since followed to safeguard the nation we could give the kids the "all clear" signal and move the "troops" off to Kemah"s Boardwalk and famous wooden roller coaster.
To learn more or plan a visit to Battleship Texas, visit the Battleship Texas website.