A California group is trying to raise interest and money to turn the U.S.S. Iowa battleship into a memorial and museum. One Iowan who served on the ship likes the idea.
Wayne Nichols was born in State Center and grew up in Valeria. He joined the navy at age 17 and after serving on a couple of other smaller vessels, was transferred to the Iowa in 1945. Nichols was proud to serve on the namesake of his home state.
The Iowa is now docked at Mare Island in California where the group called the Historic Ships Memorial at Pacific Square is trying to raised enough money to permanently take over the ship and turn it into the museum and memorial.
The group was recently in Des Moines and Nichols was there to lend his support as he says he like to see the ship become a place for people to visit. Nichols says he’s love to be able to visit it, and says people should be able to go aboard it and visit as there are “no more ships built like the Iowa.”
Nichols says the ship has an interesting history, including being the only ship with a bathtub. That tub was put in for President Franklin Roosevelt when they took him to the Malta meeting with the Russian and British leaders in World War Two. The big ship was also on hand at the end of the war, but Nichols says it did not have the prominent role he thought it should.
He says the Iowa was the flagship at the end of the war and the peace treaty would’ve been signed on the ship, except for the fact that Harry Truman was now president, and a native of Missouri. So the agreement to end the war was signed by Japanese officials aboard the U.S.S. Missouri.
The Missouri is now docked in Pearl Harbor alongside the Arizona, which was sunk at the start of the war. Visit the website: battleshipiowa.org to find out more about the fundraising effort to save the battleship.