Sunday, November 10, 2013

Adventures of Cub Scout Mom: A visit to the USS Midway #USSMidway #veteransday

On the USS Midway at night

When my son's Cub Scout Pack said they were going to visit the USS Midway, I got very excited. I like all things military. I served in the US Army from 1986-1997, and I got to see places I would never have if I didn't serve.

I signed up the family right away, ironed all our uniforms, and waited impatiently for the day to arrive.  Mind you, I don't know anything about the Navy, so I was looking forward to visiting the Midway and discovering a lot.  Did I!

Planes on the flight deck

The trip down to San Diego took us 3 ½ hours with traffic and we made it with just a couple of minutes to spare. At 5 pm, we lined up and went into the enclosed hanger bay where we received a safety briefing, had a fire drill, and met our staff for our overnight stay. I'd guess there were about 75 of us total and we all wore our uniforms.

We received our sleeping quarters in the enlisted berthing area and I was shocked at how small they were. It was like a tin can with just enough room to move around.

Sleeping in the tin can

 Interesting Note: Usually when I go anywhere there's always a long line for the ladies room. Not so here. On Cub Scouts outings, there's more boys and men. No wait for the ladies room!

The staff was friendly, knowledgeable, helpful, and eager. They were very appreciative of us veterans, reminding everyone that freedom is not free and that veterans have paid for everyone's freedom. They acknowledged us in a ceremony that was quite nice, but there was only a handful of us.

We ate dinner on the ship in the gallery downstairs. Chow was lasagna and very tasty. Afterwards, we went on a scavenger hunt and learned what life was like for the officers and pilots on the ship.

Learning about the anchors

 Our staff gave us guided tours of the engine room, (Joe's favorite part of the visit was acting like steam) the emergency control center, the flight deck, the bridge and catapult control rooms.

We learned what an air boss was, and how aircraft catapult off an aircraft carrier and how they land using a tail hook. The cables used for the tail hooks are heavy and thick. After 100 times, the cables were considered used up and thrown into the ocean.

On the bridge

So where do you think they threw leftover food and other waste?

We went to bed at 1030 pm and after all that climbing and walking, we were so pooped that sleeping in a tin can wasn't a big deal.

The next morning we had breakfast – tasty for Navy chow, but I kept it light. During our free time the boys used the simulators and we saw all the planes on the flight deck.

We got our souvenirs, said goodbye to the staff, and headed out.

A plane with the tail hook

The Midway and its story fascinated me. The ship was constructed during World War II and was originally a straight landing strip aircraft carrier. It entered service in September 1945, just missing the war by a month! Believe it or not, it was built ON TIME and IN BUDGET!!

It spent time in the Mediterranean Sea in the late 1940's. Unfortunately it's too wide to go through the Panama Canal. In the early 1950's, it went to the Pacific. From 1955-57, it was retrofitted and updated, acquiring its angled flight deck.

It conducted combat missions in Vietnam and got another retrofit in the 1960's. In 1975, Yokosuma, Japan was named the Midway's homeport.

Midway served in Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and helped evacuate Clark Air Base when Mt. Pinatubo blew.  In 1992, it was decommissioned. After sitting in a shipyard up in Washington State, it was brought down to San Diego and made into a museum in 2004.

Giving the "go" for Catapult

The USS Midway served 47 years. Amazing for a ship. It wasn't run on nuclear power, but steam. My thanks go out to the Midway and it's sailors for serving our country.

Anyone visit the Midway or have a Navy adventure they'd like to share with us?  For those reading my blog who have served in the Armed Forces of your country or have relatives serving: thank you. 


  1. My own Navy adventure resulted in 3 wonderful sons courtesy of the Royal Navy (me) and US Navy (my husband). My late uncle died on HMS Hermes in WWII so appreciate the Navy very much. It must've been an interesting trip for your troop.
    Angela Britnell

    1. Angela, we had a fantastic time and the boys learned a lot. It's important for them to have such a tangable connection to the past. Thank your husband for serving.


  2. This made me cry, Steph! SO excited for you and your family that you got to go on Midway! What a super exciting time for the kids - and YOU! What a trip down memory lane for me, although I never served on a carrier. BUT, Midway was in Norfolk when I was stationed there in the mid-70s, in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard when we were stationed there, and then in Yokosuka, Japan, when we were stationed there! Not plugging my book here, but you MIGHT enjoy FORGIVE & FORGET, a romance that takes place on a carrier. Now that you have all the visuals and sensory cues - all except for jets taking off at all hours of the day and night from your roof - often while you're trying to sleep in your "tin can." What a magical trip for Cub Scouts - and moms and dads. Anchors Aweigh!

    1. Oh, Heather, thank you for stopping by. I had a great time - I felt like a kid myself.

      Thanks for the head's up on Forgive and Forget. It sounds like a book right up my alley.

      I can imagine it wouldn't be easy to sleep with all that sound. Thank you so much for serving and sharing your memories.


  3. What a lovely blog about you and your boys on the USS Midway.
    I'd also like to add, thank you for your service to your country, Stephanie.

  4. What a fabulous opportunity for your family. I love right here in San Diego and am yet to board the Midway, although I've been offered the opportunity numerous times. Life has kept getting in the way, but after reading your blog and seeing these pictures, I feel Like I've finally been.