Twenty-one of the remaining crew members of the World War II-era aircraft carrier Franklin will gather with their families for a final reunion Friday aboard the Yorktown at Patriots Point.
The naval and maritime museum in Mount Pleasant will host a series of events and educational programs throughout the day to allow the public an opportunity to speak with and hear from the World War II veterans. Events will include a memorial service, special educational program with the veterans and meet-and-greet sessions.
The warship Franklin participated in Pacific Theater operations and was in service from 1944 to 1945. The ship is best known for an attack that took place on March 19, 1945, when two Japanese bombs struck the ship shortly before dawn.
The bombs hit at the heart of the ship, igniting armed aircraft and triggering a gasoline vapor explosion that devastated the hangar bay. About 800 sailors were killed and 500 were wounded, according to a recent count by a Franklin historian and researcher. Following this attack, the Franklin earned the designation as the most heavily damaged U.S. aircraft carrier to survive the war.
Today, the Franklin and its crew remain the most decorated in Navy history, earning two Medals of Honor, 19 Navy Crosses, 22 Silver Stars and 1,100 Purple Hearts.
“We are honored to welcome the USS Franklin’s decorated and heroic crew to Patriots Point for their final reunion,” said Mac Burdette, Patriots Point executive director. “WWII veterans are the heart and soul of the ‘Greatest Generation’ and these men set the standard.”
Veterans will arrive at 9 a.m. and proceed down the pier to the Yorktown. The pier will be closed to tourists during the procession, and it will be lined with about 70 active-duty sailors in uniform as well as a contingent from the Coast Guard.
At 9:45 a.m., a memorial program will begin in the hangar bay. It includes remarks by Medal of Honor recipient retired Maj. Gen. Jim Livingston as well as Capt. Thomas Bailey, deputy commander of Joint Base Charleston.
At 11:15 a.m. the Yorktown will feature an education program on the Franklin in Smokey Stover Theater that will include remarks from the 21 veterans attending.
At 12:15 p.m., Franklin veterans and their families will participate in a private lunch before taking a tour of the ship.