Saturday, August 1, 2009

Liberty Ship "John w. Brown"

During the summer of 2003, the Liberty Ship "John W. Brown" came up the Detroit River for a fundraising cruise to help pay for new rivets she badly needed. A dry dock in Toledo, Ohio is still the only dock that makes rivets and could handle a ship her size. So she sailed up the St. Lawrence Seaway and had over a thousand new rivets installed. To help pay for this, she made a trip up the Detroit River for a one day cruise out into Lake Ste. Claire and return to Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

My wife and I purchased tickets and we became part of that historic cruise. It was a beautiful July Saturday with temperatures in the low 80's, mostly sunny with calm waters. As luck would have it, an Air Show was happening at Selfridge ANG Base that same day. It truly turned out to be one of many high lights of our Golden years of retirement. We had box lunches, below decks in one of the forward cargo holds while listening to music of the era. On deck, a band dressed in uniform played and a group of dancers also in costume danced the Jitterbug and various swing dances. Later an actor who is part of the ships company dressed as General Patton gave Patton's famous speech.

Before long, we were under siege by aircraft from the Air Show. Passes were made by a Spitfire, an Avenger, a Swordfish, a B-25 Mitchell Bomber and a Japanese Zero fighter. The guns on deck were maned by members of the Navy Guard which sailed on every Liberty Ship during the War. These guards are also part of the ships company and in uniform. The guns have been rigged to simulate via electric circuitry the flash and noise of the guns, mounted in an open gun tubs protected by thick pads of cork.

When we reached the turn around point, a prayer was said and a wreath tossed overboard to honor those lives that were lost during the war from the United States and Canada. When the ship returned to Windsor, visitors were allowed on board the next day, Sunday, before she left to return to her home port in Baltimore, Maryland.

Here are a few pictures of the "John W. Brown" taken by me as she arrived in Detroit on the Friday afternoon before.

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