Five former sailors who served on the battleship USS Nevada will join two Nevada State Museums in marking the 100th anniversary of the battleship’s commissioning at local ceremonies Feb. 10 and 11. Surviving crewmen from the ship’s WWII service will celebrate the centennial by riding on railroad cars representative of the period—the way most every sailor or soldier who went to serve arrived for duty.
The veterans, families and Junior ROTC units will first visit the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Boulder City at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. They will tour the locomotives and railroad cars from the Jackass & Western Railroad from the Nevada Test Site and then ride the historic train to Railroad Pass.
Thursday’s event at the Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas, marks an unusual opportunity for the group to see how the museum tells its WWII stories and incorporates artifacts from the ship, known as BB-36. Veterans will bring their own rare artifacts to donate to the museum and will assemble in the museum’s special events room for a question and answer period with students about the historic events they survived.
The USS Nevada was among seven battleships attacked in Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941. Three Nevada officers and 47 crew were killed in the attack. The ship was repaired in Bremerton, Wash., and sent back to service, providing gunfire protection in Normandy and supporting several campaigns in the Pacific and Atlantic. It was intentionally sunk after 32 years at sea.
A magnesium box, made by Basic Magnesium of Henderson and famous for carrying 2,300 silver coins given to the survivors of the attack on the USS Nevada, is on special loan to the Las Vegas museum, along with the ship’s wheel and bell, and a pennant damaged in the attack. A silver coin distributed to the crewman is expected to be donated to the museum by one of the veterans.
The WWII era Halsey Saddle is also on loan to the museum and on display in Las Vegas from the U. S. Naval Academy Museum through April.
“The Halsey Saddle was handcrafted in Reno in 1945 to raise funds to support the troops. It was intended for Admiral William Halsey to use on a horse during the Japanese surrender,” said Peter Barton, division administrator for the Nevada Division of Museums and History.
The museum visits are part of several Southern Nevada observances commemorating the events that drew the U.S. into WWII. Among them, veterans will share in the debut of a new documentary film about the ship by military historian Chuck Pride.
The special events are free and open to the public, and space is limited. Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas, is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday through Monday at 309 S. Valley View Blvd. Nevada State Railroad Museum, Boulder City is at 600 Yucca St. For more information contact Dennis McBride at Dennis.McBride@nevadaculture.org, (702) 486-5205 in Las Vegas or Randy Hees at firstname.lastname@example.org at 486-5933 in Boulder City.