Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum – The Retired Mensch

Image courtesy of Paul Brustowicz

It’s not hard to find something to do in Charleston when company comes to town. What is hard is deciding on where to go and what to see. Fortunately the latest guest at the Mensch house was a Marine who served in Vietnam. Patriots Point here we come. Down I-26, over the Ravenel Bridge and $5 later we were in the parking lot at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum. Mrs. Mensch had discovered a two-for-one Groupon which made treating cousin Frank to a tour a no-brainer.

There is plenty to see and tour at Patriot’s Point: the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, the submarine Clamagore, the destroyer class USS Laffey, a Vietnam Support base exhibit and a cold war submarine Memorial. Our time was limited so we opted for the self-guided tours on the Yorktown and the Vietnam exhibit.

A snowbird volunteer named Al greeted us on the hangar deck with a “Semper Fi” and Cousin Frank smiled for the first time all day. It was a Jethro Gibbs moment. Al explained the self-guided tour, handed us the flyer with the admonition to follow the yellow arrows and we were off to Hangar Bays #1 and #2.

There were the F4F Wildcat jet, F6F Hellcat, F-9 Cougar and other fighter aircraft on display. We opted not to take the flight simulator ride after seeing it in action. We needed to keep our lunch under control.

Over in Hanger Bay #3 was the Jimmy Doolittle display and a B-25 bomber hanging over the Sticky Fingers Smokehouse Express snack bar. We got a kick out of the Doolittle display when we read the front page of the San Francisco newspaper: there was a front page story way on the bottom about the Brooklyn Dodgers winning eight in a row. For a couple of Brooklyn natives, that was a hoot!

We followed Tour #3 yellow arrows up to the flight deck through the pilot’s ready room, air operations room, air traffic control room, and combat information center and emerged on the flight deck. What a marvelous day in Charleston, blue sky, temps in the 50’s and slight breeze. We were better off in the sun. We wandered from plane to plane. Here’s the link to all the aircraft at the USS Yorktown:

To see the Corsair, Intruder and Skyhawk and helicopters on the flight deck was great.

Image courtesy of Paul Brustowicz

After wandering on the flight deck, we made our way to the chart room, pilot house, captain’s bridge. It is a wonder to see the Admiral’s Bridge and Sea Cabin on level 5. We passed the radar rooms on our way to hangar deck to end our tour.

We made a brief stop at the USS Laffey to read the plaque and moved on to the Vietnam Experience Exhibit. Cousin Frank thought he was back in Southeast Asia at this exhibit.

From the brown water navy, to the latrines and helicopters, cousin Frank applauded the authenticity of the exhibit. The Mensch applauded cousin Frank’s service to his country.