The threat of bad weather on the Pacific coast has delayed the final voyage of the U.S.S. Iowa to its final docking site at the Port of Los Angeles. A group of veterans have been working on the ship’s restoration at its docking site in northern California. George Hillenbrand is proud to have served on the U.S.S. Iowa during World War II.
“If there was bad days aboard this ship, I was never involved in any,” he says. “…And here I am, all these years later and every weekend I’m aboard it, just having the time of my life.” John Wolfinbarger is another World War II veteran who served on the ship. He was part of a delegation who toured the retired warship with Navy officials three years ago when the lobbying began to save the Iowa from the scrap heap.
“When I came aboard I said, ‘Boy, it (doesn’t) look like it did when I left it in 1945,'” Wolfinbarger says. Michael McEnteggert served on the ship in the 1980s.
“I grew up on this ship in my early twenties and now I’m 46 years old and I’m back,” McEnteggert says. McEnteggert was on board the ship when one of its gun turrets exploded, killing 47 of his fellow sailors.
Just days after the Navy announced the Iowa would be saved rather than sold for salvage, McEnteggert left his home in New York, bound for the San Francisco Bay. “I put my stuff in storage. Kissed my girlfriend goodbye, said goodbye to my friends and family and drove across the country,” he says.
McEnteggert envisions a restored U.S.S. Iowa partly as a floating memorial to the soldiers who died on the battleship during that 1989 accident. The U.S.S. Iowa was to have been towed under San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge on Sunday, but weather has delayed the start of her four-day journey to Los Angeles.
By Mark Carlson, KCRG, Cedar Rapids