So the one thing that I sometimes forget working in the biotech industry here is that San Diego is a military town. Practically from its founding, it has had an important military presence. And it still does today– there are several busy and important Navy and Marine bases here in town.
This past weekend, while the Beloved’s folks were visiting, we came across an absolute jewel of a museum that both educates and inspires – The USS Midway Museum.
The Midway (CV-41) is an aircraft carrier that exemplified the change in naval strength from battleships to aircraft carriers in the second half of the 20th century. Completed at the end of the Second World War in 1945, the Midway and its crew served nearly 50 years – from the post-war years, to Korea, Vietnam and as well as in Operation Desert Storm.
It was decommissioned in 1992 and now serves as a museum that shows what life was like aboard one of these “cities at sea” (let me tell you: it’s cramped) in the 1940s and through the oncoming decades – highlighting crew quarters, mess halls, sick bays, etc and the enormous operational complexity of keeping such an endeavor "ship-shape".
The museum also has aircraft of the last fifty years in its hangar deck and on its flight deck, highlighting the multitude of training aircraft, fighters, torpedo bombers and helicopters that have operated from its deck.
The audio tour is the best that I’d ever experienced in any museum and I highly recommend it. In addition, the Midway is also staffed by volunteers (docents, I guess you’d call them) who had served on her or other Midway-class vessels. It was a thrill and an honor to speak with these vets about their time served and hear their real-life stories.
(One of my favorite parts was that from the deck you had a great view of the two carriers that are currently in port, the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76))
I’ve never served in the military, but have always had a respect for the difficult and occasionally monumental tasks they are asked to make routine. The Midway highlights one facet of that endeavor and does a great job of integrating the technical and the personal – and it has gone to the top of my “must-see” list for anyone coming to San Diego.