The USS Yorktown (CV-10) was the 10th aircraft carrier to serve in the United States Navy. Under construction as Bon Homme Richard, this new Essex-class carrier was renamed Yorktown in honor of Yorktown (CV-5), sunk at the epic Battle of Midway. After being built in an amazing 16 Â½ months at Newport News, Virginia, Yorktown was commissioned on April 15, 1943. The ship participated significantly in the Pacific Offensive that began in late 1943 and ended with the defeat of Japan in 1945. Yorktown received the Presidential Unit Citation and earned 11 battle stars for service in World War II. Much of the Academy Award-winning (1944) documentary “The Fighting Lady” was filmed aboard her.
In the 1950s, YORKTOWN was modernized to operate jet aircraft as an attack carrier (CVA). In 1957, she was re-designated an anti-submarine aircraft carrier (CVS), and would later earn 5 battle stars for service off Vietnam from 1965 to 1968. In December of 1968, the ship recovered the Apollo 8 astronauts and capsule after their historic trip around the moon. YORKTOWN was decommissioned two years later in 1970 and placed in reserve.
The USS Yorktown made its way to Charleston from Bayonne, New Jersey in June 1975 to become the centerpiece of the future Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum. The ship’s dedication ceremony was held on the U.S. Navy’s 200th birthday a few months later on October 13. The museum and the Yorktown officially opened to the public on January 3, 1976.
Since opening 41 years ago, Patriots Point has become one of the largest museums of its kind in the world. In addition to the Yorktown, the museum is also home to destroyer USS Laffey, known as “The Ship That Would Not Die” and Balao-class submarine USS Clamagore.
In addition to warships, Patriots Point is also home to more than 28 aircraft. Exhibits include planes such as the F6F Hellcat which came to fame in World War II. First flown by USS Yorktown pilots in August 1943, the aircraft quickly gained a reputation for its power and agility. The Hellcat dominated the Pacific Theater and is credited with more air-to-air kills than any other U.S. Navy aircraft in history. The Hellcat and Yorktown will forever be remembered for the exploits of June 19, 1944 in the battle of the Philippine Sea. Known as “The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot”, Yorktown Hellcats (VF-1) shot down 37 enemy aircraft. In total, Navy pilots from fifteen United States carriers destroyed nearly 400 Japanese aircraft that day.
One of the most famous WWII pilots to serve aboard Yorktown was Lt. E.T. “Smoky” Stover. A skilled pilot, respected by the Yorktown crew, the charismatic 24-year-old Stover was featured in the 1944 Academy Award winning documentary film “The Fighting Lady.” On Feb. 16, 1944 Stover’s Hellcat was shot down and he was killed during an attack on Japanese forces at Truk. The museum’s theater is named in honor of the young pilot.
On the flight deck of the USS Yorktown, visitors will find more of the 28 aircraft at Patriots Point, including an F-14 Tomcat and S-3 Viking. The ship also houses the Congressional Medal of Honor Museum, a museum devoted specifically to the meaning of the Medal of Honor and those who have received this highest honor for military valor. Among the remarkably brave is Ralph Henry Johnson of the United States Marine Corp, who served in Vietnam.
Born in Charleston, South Carolina on January 11, 1949, Private First Class Ralph Johnson gallantly gave his life on the battlefield near the Quan Duc Valley, Republic of Vietnam on March 5, 1968. Serving as a reconnaissance scout with Company A, Pfc. Johnson was part of a 15 man patrol that came under attack by hostile forces. In the midst of a horrific fire fight, a hand grenade landed in a three man fighting hole. Realizing his two Marine comrades were in danger, Pfc. Johnson shouted a warning and without hesitation threw himself on the exploding grenade. He was killed instantly. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, the Medal of Honor was presented to Pfc. Johnson’s family at the White House on April 20, 1970.
The Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. All active duty military service members who visit in uniform are offered free admission. Normal adult admission costs $22.
Comments & Ratings