Cubs spend night on USS Yorktown

Published 10:14 am Thursday, May 11, 2017

By Dr. Georgia Taylor

Special to the Enterprise

Almost 100 members of Cub Scout Pack 574, sponsored by the First United Methodist Church of Mocksville, recently walked in the steps of our country’s heroes while participating in the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum’s camping program aboard the historic World War II aircraft carrier USS Yorktown in Charleston Harbor.

Some traveled on the FUMC bus driven by Lloyd Robinson, while the rest drove individually to tour the Charleston area.

They met to board the “Fighting Lady” at 6 p.m .on Friday, April 21. Tour guides explained safety guidelines and rules before dividing females and males to report to separate berthing quarters.

Females were escorted to the JO (Junior Officers’) bunkroom where they found spacious bunk beds and individual lockers.

Boys climbed to Gallery Two where they were greeted with three-deep beds suspended by chains – the actual berthing quarters for seamen serving during World War II.

Friday night, scouts and their families were treated to a symposium sponsored by the Patriot’s Point Institute of History, Science and Technology titled “Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things”. The presentation was in honor of the 75th anniversary of the raid on Tokyo and featured James M. Scott, author of Target Tokyo.

Scouts learned about the 16 bombers known as the “Doolittle Raiders” and the details of one of the greatest stories of WWII. Author James Scott called the Doolittle Raid, “America’s answer to Pearl Harbor.” Pack 574 also heard from Martin Crouch, son of LTC Horace “Sally” Crouch. LTC Crouch was a member of the Doolittle Raiders serving as navigator/bombardier of Crew 10. Scouts and their families left that evening with a deep appreciation for the service of these men during WWII.

Saturday morning dawned sunny and bright as campers were awakened by reveille at 6. Scouts were served a hot breakfast and ate just as the sailors did in the mess hall. At 8 a.m., Pack 574 boarded the Spirit of Charleston and took a scenic ride across Charleston Harbor to Fort Sumter National Monument.  Campers got to explore the grounds where the Civil War began. Scouts and siblings helped to raise the flag at Ft. Sumter and were able to explore the grounds and see cannons, batteries, the parade grounds, the indoor museum and gift shop. The group enjoyed a relaxing boat ride back to the USS Yorktown where they posed for a group photo.

Families then had the opportunity to spend some time exploring all of the Patriots Point exhibits on their own. Many chose to step back in time to learn about the Vietnam War in the museum’s new interactive, Vietnam Experience.

Others climbed aboard the unsinkable WWII destroyer, USS Laffey.

Some even squeezed their way through the Cold War submarine USS Clamagore.

They enjoyed a bagged lunch sitting beneath the wing of a B-25 Mitchell bomber in a hangar bay aboard the USS Yorktown.

Webelos scout, Jeremiah Shaffer said, “I liked seeing all the older planes and learning about their history.”

Evening activities included self-guided tours of the hangar bays, engine room, mess deck, dental and doctor’s offices and the brig of the USS Yorktown.

As scouts and their families climbed to the flight deck, they toured the map room and the ready room.  They could even take a seat in an officer’s chair on the bridge. They posed for pictures alongside impressive aircraft with Charleston Harbor as a backdrop. Taps played at 11 p.m. to signal the day’s end.   

On Sunday morning, everyone readied for departure and again enjoyed a breakfast in the mess hall. At 9 a.m., there was a special tour for those still on board.

Webelos den leader, Ryan Osborne, said, “Open Cockpit Sundays allowed Scouts to sit in some of the aircraft that have defended our nation giving them a birds-eye view of our military history.”

Scouts and their families were able to sit in a TF-9J Cougar, S3B Viking jet, SH3G Sea King Helicopter, and a F/A 18A Hornet Jet on the hangar deck. Children and adults were thrilled at this opportunity.

When asked to reflect upon their trip, Webelos Scout Nixon Strickland and his brother, Wolf Scout Jonas talked about the sleeping conditions, close quarters, and meager breakfast.  “Why would anyone want join the military?” they asked. Their father, Nick Strickland, told them, “Soldiers know that they are giving up all the comforts we enjoy to go and fight for our comforts and freedom that we enjoy every day.”

After contemplating that, Nixon replied, “That’s sad and brave at the same time.  I’m going to tell Paw Paw thank you the next time I see him.” (Their grandfather served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War. )

This trip was a milestone in the scouting experience for Pack 574. Scouts and their families gained a deeper appreciation for sacrifices that soldiers made on our behalf.