Every Texan loves a good trip to the coast. Be it the beaches or the entertainment, the coastal communities are filled with life and interesting things to do. Amongst those typically we think of the restaurants, shopping and fishing or recreation boats, however a much larger boat might peak your interest on your next trip if you are traveling to the Corpus Christi area.
The USS Lexington was originally commissioned in 1943. She was a decorated ship which set records in naval aviation and was considered to be the oldest working carrier when she was retired in 1991. She served a brave service, even taking part in World War 2 where she was a part of the Fifth Fleet at Pearl Harbor.
In her time of service it was said that she was sunk time and time again, yet she would reemerge and return to battle earning the name “The Blue Ghost”. She was a fierce opposition during the war and seemed to be unable to be stopped as over her time in service she was the home of many brave airmen which accounted for some 472 enemy aircrafts being destroyed by air and more than 475 on the ground.
She and her crew through strategic placement and maneuvers additionally sank or destroyed 300,000 tons of enemy cargo while damaging an addition 600,000 tons. She turned to her own guns to shoot down an additional 15 planes.
Tried and tested she continued to press on.
Following the War she had a brief reprieve from combat and was decommissioned for almost 10 years because being reactivated as a military ship. She would never see the action she did one had again, however she would serve as a figure for the military as they would bring her off shore in Formosa, Laos and Cuba. Her size would intimidate even without guns blazing. She would move once again in 1962 to Florida and become a part of the training operations.
Her flight deck of 910 feet, and her ability to move at 30 knots for thousands of miles made the USS Lexington one of the biggest and best that the US had to offer. She could house up to 3,000 brave men and women while also providing a 20 bed surgical and medical facility, 2 dentists, a library of over 40,000 books and a food service division which on any typical day might prepare over 600 pounds of meet and 97 dozen eggs. She was something special to say the least.
After being decommissioned the USS Lexington arrived in Corpus Christi in 1992. It was a direct result of private fundraising and community support as the Lexington would become a world class museum to educate civilians about the functions of a war ship but also tell her stories. No government has ever been received even to this day for the ship but instead admission fees, special programs and grants have been used to fund all of the continued upkeep and improvements.
Now placed just off of the North Beach in Corpus Christi the floating museum of the past welcomes guests to come and enter her hull, explore her decks and crawl through some of the passages. There is a great pride which comes from a visit to the USS Lexington and hearing her stories.
Over 8 million people have risen to the challenge of browsing her many exhibits and with continued visitations the experience of the Lexington only increases. A 3D theater along with numerous special films throughout the ship explain the story of the USS Lexington and her impact. A cell phone tour allow you to dig deeper within each room and learn about the people which once would have stood within. You can stand behind the wheel of the Lexington and feel what it would have been to look out upon the open seas, stroll the flight deck and see some of the many aircrafts which once might have used this ship as their launching pad for war and so much more.
The USS Lexington is more than just a relic of the past, it is a piece of the future of Corpus Christi. And no visit to Corpus would be complete without seeing her in all of her glory.