Commissioned post WWII in 1945, the USS Midway aircraft carrier remained active until 1992. In April 1975, the Midway helped evacuate South Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon. Crew members gave up their berths, so that 3,073 U.S. personnel and Vietnamese refugees would have a place to sleep.
She served as central command ship of Operation Desert Shield in 1990, as the carrier for Battle Force Zulu. USS Midway possessed the ability to launch an aircraft every 45 seconds. During Operation Desert Storm in January 1991, the carrier averaged 121 sorties daily for a total of 3, 339 during the conflict.
Her last mission in June 1991, as part of Operation Fiery Vigil, evacuated 1,823 military personnel and their families from Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines after the volcanic eruption of Mount Pinatubo. The Midway also functioned as temporary shelter for the evacuees’ pets including 68 dogs, 23 cats, horses, and a lizard.
The USS MIdway CV-41 lives on as a museum ship, moored in San Diego Harbor since 2004. She now houses 29 restored aircraft, five flight simulators and numerous exhibits. Volunteer docents spread Midway Magic among its visitors, sharing aviation history and stories of military life at sea.
All photos courtesy of William Lesko.
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- Lessons from the USS Midway (trafcom.typepad.com)