Museum Prepares To Celebrate San Diego-Navy Anniversary

Overlooking the USS Ronald Reagan -- one of the newest carriers in the U.S. Navy fleet -- is a new set of static displays being prepped and readied on the bow of the Midway Museum to remember how it all began.

"Monday will be the centennial of the arrival of Teddy Roosevelt's Great White Fleet to the waters off of Coronado," said Midway historian Karl Zingheim.

The Great White Fleet, named for the gleaming white paint of the ships, was making a round-the-world goodwill tour. A stop in San Diego was not on the agenda, but civic leaders persuaded the Navy to come.

"That's what's made San Diego unique. Other communities have had large naval bases but San Diego's relationship from the very beginning has always been fundamentally different and much more welcoming," said Zingheim.

In the display, there are different panels that depict different eras, including the birth of naval aviation which began at North Island.

While a static display can certainly reveal the history between San Diego and the Navy, what sets the Midway apart are those who lived it, like Jerry Vickers.

"We have to be able to go to full power," Vickers said while explaining how the catapult system works.

On the comparisons between what is across the bay and on the Midway, Jim Ouimet said, "Everything is steam-powered just like it is on the new ship."

Exhibit director Duke Windsor told 10News, "A lot of pilots flew off this (the Midway's) deck. There are also a lot of enlisted personnel here. There is a former Marine Corps detachment that volunteers regularly. This ship is walking history."

The official dedication, complete with a Teddy Roosevelt impersonator and others dressed in period costumes, takes place during a VIP reception on Monday night.

The display opens to the public Tuesday.

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