USS Missouri Gun Barrel Arrives at destination **Update May 5**
It's official: USS Missouri gun barrel at new home
- Ceremony marks event during Fort Miles living history weekend
Lewes — It would be hard to find an object in Sussex County history that has been treated with more fanfare than the historic USS Missouri gun barrel.
The cannon was welcomed April 16 to Sussex with a big ceremony on The Circle in Georgetown, but that was only a precursor to its unveiling April 28 during the eighth annual Fort Miles Historical Association living history weekend.
The gun barrel, which weighs more than 116 tons and is 66 feet long, was salvaged from the USS Missouri, the battleship on whose deck the Japanese signed the surrender that ended World War II on Sept. 2, 1945. The gun is similar to a pair that guarded the entrance to Delaware Bay in Fort Miles during the war. All Fort Miles guns were removed after the war and sold for scrap metal.
Wray honors five who went beyond call of duty
• Terry McGovern, vice president of the Coast Defense Study Group, who put the association on the gun barrel trail and also donated $1,000.
• Jim Poyner who identified the eight guns at St. Julien's Creek and found gun barrel 371 from the USS Missouri. Three USS Missouri gun barrels, four USS New Jersey and one USS Iowa gun barrel were identified.
The Missouri barrels have all found new homes, and Wray said the association is making an effort to find homes for the remaining five barrels before they are scrapped.
• Nick Carter of Lewes who chaired the committee that raised $115,000 to cover costs to transport the gun.
• Charles Salkin, director of Delaware State Parks, who signed the agreement with the U.S. Navy to allow Delaware to own the gun.
• Dan Clark of Lockwood Brothers in Hampton, Va., who headed the effort to lift and load the gun from Virginia to Lewes.
Among the visitors were three veterans who were stationed aboard the USS Missouri: Walter Saunders of Newport News, Va.; Roy LaFontaine of Milford; and Bob Saupee.
“With thousands of visitors to Fort Miles each year, having such an important and exciting artifact is only going to make Fort Miles and Cape Henlopen State Park a more attractive destination for Delawareans and visitors alike,” said DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara. “It wouldn’t have happened without the hard work by the Fort Miles Historical Association, the Save the Missouri Gun Fund-Raising Committee, and the major and individual donors whose contributions brought the gun here. We thank them all for their dedication.”
The gun on the USS Missouri was discovered in a naval yard in Norfolk, destined to become scrap, until the Fort Miles Historical Association requested it, launching a fund-raising effort to move the gun to Delaware.
The cost of getting the 16-inch gun barrel to Delaware was $113,500. Funds were raised through private donations and several key grants, including grants from the G.M. Foundation and the Sussex County Council. The state Department of Economic Development’s Division of Tourism also contributed, as did almost 100 individuals.
The barrel was donated to DNREC’s Division of Parks and Recreation by the U.S. Naval Systems Command by way of a joint plan written by the association and Delaware State Parks.
“The Fort Miles Historical Association is extremely proud and honored to be able to partner with Delaware State Parks in bringing the Missouri barrel 371 to Cape Henlopen State Park,” said Gary Wray, association president. “The barrel will become the centerpiece to our Fort Miles Museum, which when completed, will be the best World War II museum inside a WWII facility in the United States.”
All money was raised by the association and a fund-raising committee chaired by Nick Carter of Lewes, a 1970 Naval Academy graduate who served in the US Navy for two tours in Vietnam and was the founder of the Delaware chapter of the Naval Academy Alumni Association.
The association is acquiring four pieces to complete the gun display; it could be another two years before the 16-inch gun barrel display is completed. It joins eight other guns currently located at Fort Miles.
Volunteers will unveil historic gun barrel
Museum tours, World War II re-enactors part of event
CapeGazette, April 24
By Ron MacArthur
Hard-working volunteers will pop the champagne bottle cork this weekend to officially welcome the USS Missouri gun barrel to Fort Miles in Cape Henlopen State Park. Toasts are only part of an unveiling ceremony taking place this Saturday, April 28, and Sunday, April 29. Museum tours and more than 70 re-enactors are scheduled to highlight the weekend dedicated to World War II.
The 66-foot, 120-ton gun barrel was moved into the park last week, but it will take at least another two years before four remaining pieces are in place and the gun display is completed as the centerpiece for the World War II museum in Battery 519 at Fort Miles.
The move by barge and rail from Norfolk, Va., to Lewes attracted attention across the Delmarva Peninsula. Fort Miles Historical Association volunteers, officials from the state park and other dignitaries will unveil the gun at 1 p.m., April 28 as part of a weekend of events at Fort Miles. At 3 p.m., a wall of honor ceremony will take place inside the museum to honor the 25 families who have purchased memorial pavers to help with construction of the museum.
Gary Wray, president of the Fort Miles Historical Association, said more than 40 pavers have been sold already to help with costs associated with renovating the 16-inch Missouri gun, which is similar to two guns at Fort Miles placed in bunkers to protect the Delaware Bay during World War II.
Wray will present five awards to volunteers who played key roles in getting the gun to Fort Miles. Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Collin O'Mara is scheduled to attend and speak. He said plans are for a rendition to be on display to show the public what the gun emplacement will look like when it's completed.
Additional pieces – including a 50-ton girder, 50-ton slider and 10-ton yoke – will be transported from Naval Support Facility in Dahlgren, Va. “But it won't be such an elaborate task because the pieces can be trucked,” Wray said.
Museum tours for $3 will take place from 10 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., April 28 beginning at a new north entrance.
Another highlight of the weekend will be more than 70 World War II re-enactors, including Grossdeutschland re-enactors who portray the life of a common German soldier. Re-enactors will be at the site from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., April 28, and many will remain for part of the day April 29 starting at 10 a.m.
Wray said the museum is about 60 percent complete. “Right now we have a museum with a small 'm,' but we are aiming for a museum with a capital 'M.' We will have the best World War II museum in the country inside an actual World War II facility,” he said. Last year, volunteers led 6,000 tours of the museum. Twenty trained docents lead tours of the museum housed in the massive bunker.
He said volunteers have done so much work that the anticipated cost to complete the museum and gun project has already been cut in half to about $1.5 million. He said volunteers worked 2,000 hours just last month.
The museum complex includes barracks, artillery pieces and coastal artillery towers. The heart of the complex is located in Battery 519, the bomb-proof subterranean casement deep inside the Great Dune.
For the past 10 years, Fort Miles Historical Association volunteers have been working with the Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation to preserve and restore these key elements of Fort Miles.
The cantonment area and Battery 519 have been rescued from steady deterioration and are being returned to their original appearance.
Work is now under way on the conversion of Battery 519 to serve as an indoor military museum.
- For video of Big Gun's trip, please go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C29CtaHgT64&feature=player_embedded
Moving a big piece of history
Cannon journeys 170 miles by road, water, and rail
Cape Gazette April 23, 2012
Lewes — Moving a 120-ton, 66-foot-long gun barrel more than 170 miles is a project that requires substantial planning.
Gary Wray, president of the Fort Miles Historical Association, said the U.S. Navy owned the barrel and told the association if they wanted it, it had to be removed from navy property before the end of February.
“They had already sprayed orange paint marks on it every 8 inches because they were getting ready to cut it up,” Wray said.
But before the Navy would release the barrel, officials required the association to submit two plans – one detailing logistics of moving it to Delaware, the other detailing paying for the move and for future maintenance.
Wray said he had developed the logistical plan years ago and working with Jim Hall, Delaware’s director of cultural affairs, in one day, plans were written and sent to the navy via the internet.
The Navy approved the plans. Wray said the association asked the Navy if they could have until September 2012 to take the barrel.
“But they wouldn’t do that. They said we had to have it off the ground by February or they were going to scrap it,” he said.
So, on March 7, a 375-ton crane owned by Hampton, Va.-based Lockwood Brothers Inc., picked the barrel up from the U.S. Navy’s salvage yard at St. Juliens Creek, Va.
To get it off Navy property, the barrel was placed onto a 96-wheeled, 12-axle flatbed vehicle, an hydraulic platform trailer, and moved about two miles to a site near Old Dominion power plant in Chesapeake, Va.
About a month later, on April 3, the barrel was placed aboard a Bay Coast Railroad barge and floated across the Chesapeake Bay to Cape Charles, Va., where Norfolk Southern Trainlines took over.
The barrel was pulled to Harrington, Delaware’s railroad switchyard, where the Norfolk Southern train is turned to put it on a track for Georgetown and Lewes.
The track change was needed so that Delaware Coast Line Railroad could handle the barrel.
After an April 16 program in Georgetown in observance of the event, the barrel continued moving.
On April 17, Delaware Coast Line’s freshly painted locomotive pulled the barrel into Lewes, stopping for a while on tracks behind Lewes Public Library.
During the stop, train operators used a rail spur to reconfigure the train. The gun barrel was placed in front of a flatcar and caboose, and the locomotive pushed the train.
Dan Clark, Lockwood Brothers project manager, said the train reconfiguration was planned. “They didn’t want the combined weight of the barrel and engine on the swing bridge,” Clark said.
The barrel arrived at Cape Henlopen Drive about 1 p.m., April 17.
Then, on April 18, about 8 a.m., work began to move the barrel from the railcar to the hydraulic platform trailer.
Clarke said a hydraulic slide system was used to push the barrel, a little at a time, from the train bed to the adjacent trailer.
Only 1.3 miles were left from the barrel’s entrance into Cape Henlopen State Park, its temporary placement near Fort Miles Historic Museum and its permanent place in Delaware as a piece of history having international significance.
Wray said the barrel’s trip cost $115,000. He said in about two years, Phase 2 of the gun project would begin. He said the association has obtained four remaining pieces needed to complete a static display. The pieces, called a girder, slider, yoke and breechblock, have been identified, marked and are on hold in a navy shipyard. He said a train wouldn’t be needed to transport those parts because they’ll fit in a truck.
“When we’re finished it will be the last static display of a 16-inch, Mark VII gun in the world,” he said.
Wray said the gun’s final placement has not yet been determined.
VIDEO: USS Missouri gun barrel arrives in Lewes
Lewes — The USS Missouri gun barrel destined for Fort Miles in Cape Henlopen State Park made the trip from Georgetown to Lewes April 17. The gun barrel is to be offloaded from the train April 18 for the final leg of its journey.
NEXT STOP IS FORT MILES
Cape Gazette April 17
RON MACARTHUR PHOTO
ROY ANSTEAD, A WORLD WAR II VETERAN from Ocean View, said he couldn't wait to make the trip to see the USS Missouri gun barrel in Georgetown. He joined hundreds of veterans during an April 16 ceremony to welcome the historic gun to Sussex County as it heads by rail to its new home at Fort Miles in Cape Henlopen State Park. Anstead served below the water on the submarine Hackleback during the war.
See more coverage in the Friday, April 20 edition
Cape Gazette, April 13, 2012
Years ahead will prove cannon's value
Another important block in the foundation of the growing historical tourism of Delaware's Cape Region is sitting on a railroad car in Georgetown awaiting final delivery to the Fort Miles complex in Cape Henlopen State Park. The last 16-inch-diameter cannon from the fabled battleship USS Missouri is making an historic journey from a shipyard near Norfolk to Lewes to take its place as part of the Fort Miles Military Museum.
This is not the first time 16-inch cannons have come into the area by railroad. When Fort Miles was constructed as one of the world's most advanced coastal fortifications in the midst of World War II, several 16-inch cannons were brought in by rail to take their place as the largest guns in the bunkers protecting the bay entrance.
Although those cannons are said to have rattled windows in the Lewes and Rehoboth Beach communities when they were test fired, they were never deployed in actual battle. By the time they were in place and ready, the war was coming to an end. They were eventually removed by the military after the fort was decommissioned.
The cannon barrel coming to Fort Miles isn't one of those that was deployed here, but more importantly, was one of those from the deck of the Missouri under which the Japanese surrendered in 1945.
The cannon on its way crossed the mouth of Chesapeake Bay last week on a tugboat-rail system that has been in service since 1885, one of only two in the U.S. When it comes through Lewes in the next few weeks, it will cross the canal on one of the nation's only man-powered, turning railroad bridges. This history runs deep!
Between the $110,000 raised to transport the cannon to Lewes, and the cost of getting the cannon set in place at the museum, the Fort Miles Historical Association will have nearly half a million dollars in the cannon project.
The allure of the cannon as part of the rich history of our region, which already attracts so many people and contributes significantly to our tourism economy, will only strengthen in the years and decades ahead and prove the value of this initiative.
Cape Gazette editorials are considered and written by members of the Cape Gazette editorial board which includes Dennis Forney, publisher; Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor; Laura Ritter, news editor; and Jen Ellingsworth, arts and entertainment editor.
Sussex to roll out red, white and blue for historic gun
Massive barrel from USS Missouri nearing new home at Fort Miles
Georgetown — The historic gun barrel from the USS Missouri is just a few miles from its new home at Fort Miles in Cape Henlopen State Park.
But before it gets to Lewes, Sussex County is rolling out the red carpet to celebrate its arrival during a ceremony from 2 to 4 p.m. Monday, April 16, in Georgetown. Actually the carpet should be red, white and blue as organizers plan to distribute more than 500 American flags at the event.
A veterans' parade is scheduled following the ceremony on The Circle leading the crowd to the gun barrel on a railcar off South Railroad Avenue near the Georgetown Post Office.
Among the speakers is Jack Stempick, president of the USS Missouri Association, and several World War II veterans, including retired Col. Newt Tyndall of Georgetown who flew the lead B-29 over the USS Missouri during the 1945 surrender ceremony.
Sussex Tech Band Director Harvey Bullock will also talk about a recent trip to Hawaii made by the band where they played standing on the deck of the USS Missouri museum ship at Pearl Harbor.
The event is sponsored by the Fort Miles Historical Association, Southern Delaware Tourism and the Greater Georgetown Chamber of Commerce.
The 66-foot-long, 120-ton gun barrel attracted attention as it made its way through the Delmarva Peninsula from Cape Charles, Va., after crossing the Chesapeake Bay via a rail barge from the Norfolk, Va., area.
It was switched from the Norfolk Southern line to the Delaware Coast Line Railroad in Harrington for its rail trip to Georgetown before it is transported to Lewes.
“As long as Mother Nature cooperates, this is shaping up to be the kind of event we all hoped it would be – a chance to not only welcome this important piece of history to our area, but also an opportunity to once again recognize and honor our nation’s veterans,” said James Diehl, media relations manager for Southern Delaware Tourism. “We have an impressive group of speakers scheduled, and an overall wonderful day planned for everyone.”
The gun barrel, saved from the scrap yard by the Fort Miles Historical Association, was among those on the USS Missouri, one of the most famous battleships in naval history. On Sept. 2, 1945, a contingent from Japan landed on the USS Missouri in the middle of Tokyo Bay to surrender to the Allies. The Japanese delegation walked past several of the enormous cannons that had battered the mainland for weeks on end, finally meeting with Gen. Douglas MacArthur and other Allied leaders on the deck of the celebrated vessel.
“All of us at the Fort Miles Historical Association are excited that this barrel from one of history’s most storied battleships will be on permanent display at our facility,” said Gary Wray, president of the association. “We’ve been working for some time to acquire this piece of the Missouri, and we plan to welcome it home in grand fashion in April.”
A fund-raising committee, under the leadership of Nick Carter of Lewes, raised more than $100,000 for the transportation of the gun to the park.
The 16-inch gun is the same type manufactured and installed at Fort Miles to safeguard Delaware River passage to industrial and fuel depots during World War II. Fort Miles' guns were sold for scrap following the war.
Ceremony starts on The Circle
On The Circle at 2 p.m., former Sussex County Register of Wills and veteran Greg Fuller will sing the National Anthem, followed by a flyover of a Russian YAK9 fighter from Andrews Air Force Base. Georgetown Middle School students will sing “God Bless America.”
Following the one-hour ceremony, the Sussex Technical High School Band and motorcyclists from American Legion Post 28 in Oak Orchard will lead a group of veterans from The Circle on a five-block march to the gun barrel.
More than 500 American flags have been obtained for the event and organizers of the event encourage members of the public to pay tribute to local veterans during the parade. Veterans are also invited to participate in the march.
“We want as much red, white and blue as possible flying around as our veterans make their trek to the railroad tracks,” Diehl said. “This type of event will never happen again, so it’s really a once-in-a-lifetime chance to honor them in this way.”
Following a brief gathering, and photo opportunities at the barrel site, the event will conclude with a reception at the Georgetown Volunteer Fire Department, Diehl said.
World War II reenactors, Civil Air Patrol aircraft, military vehicles and others will also be a part of the event, to be broadcast live on the internet at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/sdt-l-mighty-mo.
Limited transportation options are available on a first-come, first-serve basis to veterans who cannot walk in the parade to the gun site.
Live period music will be provided on The Circle beginning at 1 p.m. and all roads within a one- block radius of the town center, as well as along the parade route, will be closed beginning at 1:30 p.m.
“The event has become a little bigger than we first planned,” Diehl said. “But the community has really gotten behind it.”
Another ceremony is planned for Saturday, April 28, when the gun barrel is officially welcomed to its new home in Cape Henlopen State Park as a showcase piece for a planned World War II museum.
Historic USS Missouri gun barrel arrives in Sussex
After months of planning, the USS Missouri gun barrel has arrived in Sussex County on its way to Fort Miles in Cape Henlopen State Park. Sussex County plans a ceremony to welcome the gun and honor veterans from 2 to 4 p.m. Monday, April 16, on The Circle and at the gun barrel site in Georgetown.
See more information in the Friday, April 13 edition of the Cape Gazette.
Historic USS Missouri gun moving ahead of schedule
Website, GPS tracking system keep track of trip via rails
The trip by rail of the 16-inch gun from the USS Missouri headed for Fort Miles in Cape Henlopen State Park is moving ahead of schedule. As of 3 p.m. April 5, the train hauling the massive gun was spotted in Seaford heading north to a switching yard in Harrington.
Officials say it will be in Harrington for a few days before being transferred to the Delaware Coast Line. Once it leaves Harrington, the train will head east and then south to reach Georgetown.
The rail car with the gun is expected to arrive in Georgetown Monday, April 9, or Tuesday, April 10, said Gary Wray, president of the Fort Miles Historical Society, where it be uncoupled and sit for nearly week in anticipation of a Monday, April 16 welcoming ceremony.
A website has been set up to follow the train's path by GPS tracking: go to http://home.comcast.net/~denniskarol/BigGUN.htm to view progress.
Bill Duveneck, Sussex County Amateur Radio Emergency Service emergency coordinator, placed the tracker on the gun prior to its crossing of the Chesapeake Bay on a rail barge from the Little Creek railroad terminal near Norfolk, Va.
The crossing was made April 3 to Cape Charles, Va., where the Bay Coast Railroad train took the rail car and headed north at 5:30 a.m. April 4. In Pocomoke City, Md., the gun barrel was switched to a Norfolk Southern train for its journey to Georgetown via Harrington to allow enough time for a Monday, April 16 welcoming ceremony in Georgetown.
The massive 116-ton gun is similar to one used during World War II at Fort Miles.
On March 8, a crew from Lockwood Brothers Inc. of Hampton, Va., used a 365-ton crane to lift the 116-ton barrel onto a trailer for a two-mile trip from St. Juliens Creek at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard through Portsmouth, Va., and Chesapeake, Va., to the the Old Dominion power station railroad yard.
According to Wray, the crane crew then lifted the 68-foot barrel onto a railroad car for a short trip to the Little Creek railroad terminal. The Little Creek terminal is the location of the former Little Creek-Cape Charles Ferry, which provided a link to the Eastern Shore of Virginia from the 1930s to 1964 when the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel was opened.
The next stage of the journey was a 26-mile tow across the Chesapeake Bay on a Bay Coast Railroad car float. The tugboat-rail system, started in 1885, is one of only two still operating in the nation.
Wray said an official welcoming ceremony has been scheduled in Georgetown at 2 p.m., Monday, April 16, and an unveiling ceremony in the park will take place at 1 p.m., Saturday, April 28.
The gun barrel is steeped in history as one of three remaining large guns from the USS Missouri, the ship aboard which the Japanese formally surrendered on Sept. 2, 1945, to end World War II. One of the most famous battleships in naval history, the USS Missouri provided firepower during the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and later in Korea and Desert Storm.
The Fort Miles Historical Association raised $110,000 to cover transportation costs of the gun from Norfolk to Lewes.
The gun will become a key part of the Fort Miles Military Museum, a long-term effort to develop a World War II museum within the hidden battery at Cape Henlopen State Park. The USS Missouri cannon - the same size gun that protected the entrance to the Delaware Bay during the war years - will greet visitors to the museum.
USS Missouri barrel moves closer to new home
Historic endeavor will bring 16-inch gun back to Fort Miles
Lewes — The much-anticipated 16-inch gun barrel from the USS Missouri has taken the first steps on its journey to Cape Henlopen State Park's Fort Miles. The endeavor is surrounded by more history than most even realize.
On March 8, a crew from Lockwood Brothers Inc. of Hampton, Va., used a 365-ton crane to lift the 116-ton barrel onto a trailer for a two-mile trip from St. Juliens Creek at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard through Portsmouth, Va., and Chesapeake, Va., to the the Old Dominion power station railroad yard.
According to Gary Wray, president of the Fort Miles Historical Association, in about a month, the crane crew will return to the site and lift the 68-foot barrel onto a railroad car for a short trip to the Little Creek railroad terminal. The Little Creek terminal is the location of the former Little Creek-Cape Charles Ferry, which provided a link to the Eastern Shore of Virginia from the 1930s to 1964 when the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel was opened.
The next stage of the journey is a historical event in itself as the gun barrel is towed 26 miles across the Chesapeake Bay on a Bay Coast Railroad car float. The tugboat-rail system, started in 1885, is one of only two still operating in the nation.
The barrel will be off-loaded in Cape Charles, Va., to begin the next phase of its journey on the rails up the coast to Sussex County and eventually to its new home at Cape Henlopen State Park at the Fort Miles gunpark. A banner on the cannon will recognize the G.M. Foundation as a major donor to the campaign to save the gun from being scrapped. More than $110,000 was raised to cover costs of moving the massive gun barrel through an effort chaired by Nick Carter of Lewes.
Wray said an official welcoming ceremony has been scheduled in Georgetown at 2 p.m., Monday, April 16, and an unveiling ceremony in the park will take place at 1 p.m., Saturday, April 28. But the work doesn't stop there.
Wray estimates $250,000 will be needed for the second display phase, which he said would take 12 to 18 months. Those funds will be used to sand, refinish and paint the cannon, then restore the carriage components to complete the display.
The Fort Miles Military Museum project is an ongoing, long-term effort to develop a World War II museum within the hidden battery at Cape Henlopen State Park. The USS Missouri cannon - the same size gun that protected the entrance to the Delaware Bay during the war years - will greet visitors to the museum.
The gun barrel is steeped in history as one of three remaining large guns from the USS Missouri, the ship aboard which the Japanese formally surrendered on Sept. 2, 1945, to end World War II.
“It’s the actual barrel the Japanese had to walk by to surrender,” Wray said.
One of the most famous battleships in naval history, the USS Missouri provided firepower during the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and later in Korea and Desert Storm.
Another Missouri gun barrel will be headed to Arizona, and a third is scheduled to be shipped to the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge near Cape Charles, the location of a facility similar to Fort Miles.
Arrival of big gun to be celebrated April 16 in Georgetown
On Sept. 2, 1945, a contingent from the Empire of Japan landed on the U.S.S. Missouri, which was resting in the middle of Tokyo Bay, to officially surrender to the Allies. It was the moment that ended the grandest war history has ever known, finally bringing peace to a troubled and war-weary world.
The Japanese delegation walked stoically that day past several of the enormous cannons that had battered the mainland for weeks on end, finally meeting with Gen. Douglas MacArthur and other Allied leaders on the deck of the celebrated vessel.
Now, after months of hard work and an enormous fundraising effort, one of the Missouri’s main 16-inch barrels is finally making its way across the Chesapeake Bay and much of the Delmarva Peninsula, where it will soon be on permanent display at Delaware’s Fort Miles historic area in Lewes.
The addition of the 66-foot-long, approximately 120-ton cannon will add to what will one day be one of the nation’s finest World War II museums, and the largest inside an actual wartime facility.
“All of us at the Fort Miles Historical Association (FMHA) are excited that this barrel from one of history’s most storied battleships will be on permanent display at our facility,” said Gary Wray, president of FMHA. “We’ve been working for some time to acquire this piece of the Missouri, and we plan to welcome it home in grand fashion in April.”
Through a collaborative effort between Southern Delaware Tourism, the FMHA and the Greater Georgetown Chamber of Commerce, the arrival of this important piece of history is being celebrated on the afternoon of Monday, April 16, with a special ceremony in Georgetown.
Beginning at 2 p.m., the roads within a one block radius of the town’s historic Circle will be closed for the remainder of the afternoon. Events currently being planned include remarks by several veterans and dignitaries, a “veterans march,” photo opportunities with the historic cannon and a flyover of World War II-era aircraft.
“April 16 will be a wonderful opportunity to not only witness a larger than life piece of our nation’s history, but also provide an opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to some of the men and women who were actually in uniform during that time,” said James Diehl, media relations manager for Southern Delaware Tourism. “It’s important to note that this opportunity will never happen again, as sadly not many tangible items from this time in history remain.”
More information on the event will be distributed to the public in the next few weeks as details of the day are worked out.
For more information, call Southern Delaware Tourism at 302-856-1818 or go to www.visitsoutherndelaware.com.
USS Missouri cannon secured for Fort Miles
Gun to arrive in Lewes mid-April
In mid-April, residents of Lewes will be treated to an amazing sight as an original 68-footlong, 116-ton gun barrel from the USS Missouri (BB-63) arrives at Cape Henlopen State Park.
The historic naval cannon, one of the last remaining icons from World War II, will be brought from Norfolk, Va. by barge, then travel via rail from Cape Charles, Va., north through Delaware to Lewes. A celebratory stop is planned along the way in Georgetown Monday, April 16.
A banner on the cannon will recognize the GM Foundation as a major donor to the campaign to save the gun from being scrapped. The cannon will be off -icially unveiled at Cape Henlopen State Park Saturday, April 28.“ We have so many people to thank for making this possible, starting with Nick Carter, who chaired our campaign” said Gary Wray, president of the Fort Miles Historical Association.
According to Wray, more than 100 individual donors contributed over $41,600 toward the effort. Another $ 25,000 was donated by the GM Foundation, $10,000 from Sussex County Council, $5,000 from M&T Bank and $30,000 by the Crystal Trust. Combined with other donations, some $120,000 was generated to secure and transport the cannon. Now, Wray said, the campaign is moving on to Phase II - securing the funds needed to mount and display the cannon at the new Fort Miles Military Museum. Carter has agreed to continue to chair this second phase as well, he said, with assistance from his wife, Laurie.
During a trip to the Dahlgren Naval Weapons Station in Dahlgren, Va. in late January, Wray and Jim Hall, chief of cultural resources for Delaware’s Division of Parks and Recreation, found all the parts needed to construct an effective display for the cannon.
Scattered across an expanse of fields, Wray and Hall identified a World War II yoke, slider, girder and other necessary pieces to create a static display. “They were just as they had been left there by the Navy, more than 30 years ago,” Wray said.
Wray estimates that $ 250,000 will be needed for the second display phase, which he anticipates taking 12 to 18 months while master planning for the military museum takes place.
Those funds will be used to sand, refinish and paint the cannon, then painstakingly restore the carriage components.
The Fort Miles Military Museum is an ongoing, long-term project to develop a World War II museum within the massive, hidden battery at Cape Henlopen State Park. The USS Missouri cannon, which is the same size that protected the entrance to the Delaware Bay, will greet visitors to the museum. The USS Missouri provided coverage to U.S. troops during the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa and hosted the formal Japanese surrender ceremonies in Tokyo Bay in September 1945, bringing an end to World War II.
As they boarded the ship for the ceremonies, the Japanese delegation walked beneath barrel 371, which will soon find a permanent home in Lewes.
A HISTORIC NAVAL CANNON, one of the last remaining icons from World War II, will be brought from Norfolk, Va., by barge, then travel via rail from Cape Charles, Va., north through Delaware to Lewes. It will arrive in Lewes Saturday, April 28.
Historic Gun to arrive in Lewes April
Fort Miles to house the last static display of a 16- inch gun in the world.
The storied gun will arrive in the Lewes area in mid-April. A welcoming ceremony is scheduled for Monday, April 16, at the Circle in Georgetown. The gun will then travel by rail to Cape Henlopen State Park where it will be unveiled ar a ceremony at 1 pm on April 28.
For more information pleas visit www.savemissgun.org
September 8, 2011 post:
Lewes to receive USS Missouri gun barrel
Projects needs $ 80,000
By Henry J. Evans Jr.
It’s only a matter of time and money before one of the original 16- inch gun barrels from the Bat-tleship USS Missouri has a permanent home in Cape Henlopen State Park.
“ It’s always been our goal to have a 16- inch gun,” said Gary Wray at the Aug. 8 meeting of Lewes Mayor and City Council.
The gun barrel is 66 feet long and weighs 136 tons. It required 670 pounds of powder to fire a 2,240- pound projectile up to 25 miles.
Wray, president of Fort Miles Historical Association, gave the panel a detailed update on the organization’s plans to bring one of the historical guns to Sussex County.
Wray said for years, the association has worked with the U. S.Navy to acquire one of the gun barrels, but it wasn’t until May that the Navy was willing to part with one.
The association would add the new gun to its collection of an 8-inch and a 12- inch gun.
The 16- inch gun is similar to two that were in the fort’s Battery Smith during World War II.
Fort Miles Museum is on its way to becoming the only location housing displays of all three guns.
Wray said the collection would be further enticement for those interested in World War II history to visit the museum, perhaps bolstering its count of more than 10,000 visitors a year.
The Navy kept the barrels because one ship, the USS Wisconsin, was still in service and naval officials thought it might be needed.
Wray said the historical association nearly missed its opportunity to obtain barrel Mark- 7 No.371. The gun barrel is one of nine aboard the Missouri when representatives of the Empire of Japan came aboard in September 1945 to sign documents of unconditional surrender, ending World War II.
The Missouri was rebarreled in 1955, and the barrels that had been aboard her were declared surplus by the Navy and stored.
But, Wray said, it wasn’t until last year that the Navy declared the barrels scrap, and 16 stored in Hawthorn, Nev., were cut up.
Of the last eight barrels, two from the USS Missouri are stored at St. Julian’s Creek Annex, which is part of Norfolk Naval Shipyard. Wray said the state of Arizona has applied for one, and Lewes will take the other.
“Our big issue now is raising money,” Wray said about the estimated $100,000 needed to ship the barrel by barge and by rail to Cape Henlopen State Park.
He said fundraising to pay for the move is critical, and so far they have more than $ 20,000.
Wray said a representative from Cranemaster in Richmond, Va., will visit Lewes to determine how best to lift the massive bareel from a rail car and, probably using a cradle, walk it 1.5 miles into the state park, where it would be displayed opposite the Biden Center.
Wray said the association’s long- range plan is to install the barrel – complete with its carriage and breech – to make it the last static display of a 16- inch gun in the world. He said it would take about two years to complete construction of the display.
Wray said the Navy has given the historical association until September 2012 to pick up the barrel.
“ People know they’re a part of history, and once they’re gone, they’re gone,” he said.
The USS Missouri was launched Jan. 29, 1944, and commissioned June 11, 1944, assigned to the Pacific Third Fleet.
The Missouri was part of the force that carried out bombing raids over Tokyo and provided firepower in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. During the war’s final month, the Missouri served as Admiral William “Bull” Halsey’s flagship.
In 1955, the Missouri was decommissioned and mothballed at the Puget Sound Naval Ship-yard in Bremerton, Wash.
In 1986, the battleship was recommissioned after extensive modernization and refurbishment.
The Missouri was deployed to the Persian Gulf in 1991, where it fired its 16- inch guns and launched Tomahawk missiles against Iraqi positions during Operation Desert Storm. The battleship’s final mission occurred Dec. 7, 1991, when it led a contingent of ships into Pearl Harbor as part of a commemoration marking the 50th anniversary of the Japanese attack.
In 1992, the Missouri was de-commissioned for the second time.
In August 1996, the Navy selected the nonprofit USS Missouri Memorial Association as caretaker for the battleship and Pearl Harbor as its permanent home. On May 4, 1998, the Navy officially transferred the Missouri’s care to the association.
For additional information about the Fort Miles Historical Association, go to www. fortmilesha. org.