On Saturday morning July 23, 2011 the Mariposa County Odd Fellows sponsored a trip to Alameda, California to visit the USS Hornet Museum. Over forty residents from Mariposa to Coulterville met at the Fairgrounds to board a VIA bus for the ride to the San Francisco Bay Area. After a three hour trip the bus pulled into the parking lot of the museum and everyone was out stretching their legs as they prepared for all the climbing that was ahead of us. Walking up the gangplank we could hear music playing inside of the ship. It was the USS Hornet Band playing some welcoming music for the start of the tour. I'm not sure they were playing just for us, but it was a nice greeting. Once inside we sat in chairs to watch an orientation film about the USS Hornet and what we could do and should not do onboard the ship. Not crossing over chains, opening levers or valves or venturing into the dark areas of the ship were mentioned. Splitting into two groups, our group went down into the ship from the Flight Deck to where the big anti-aircraft guns were located. We got to lift the shells, about 45 pounds apiece and see where the shells were stored on the ship. Next up was a tour of where the sailors slept when on the ship. With three to four rows high of beds a veteran told us that you never wanted the bottom bed as the other sailors used your bed to get up into their beds.Climbing down steep stairs our group next went to the deck that houses the anchors and chains. Their were chains with links that weigh 120 pounds apiece and were 1,100 feet long. We were advised that working in this area was dangerous as the chain was unforgiving if one made a mistake. On another deck on the ship was a room that was used for steering the ship in case something disabled the steering of the ship from the tower. There was also one more place on the ship that the ship could be operated from in case the room that we were in also became disabled. Our group also got to see the emergency generator that could be used for back-up power in case the main power supply became disabled. Next up was lunch onboard the USS Hornet that consisted of a green salad, mashed potatoes, a fabulous sliced chicken breast with mushroom gravy, a roll and cookies. There were many fascinating stories about the ship told by a former sailor who is currently doing historical research on the USS Hornet.With no time to rest after lunch we were busy climbing up and climbing down the steep stairs on the many decks of the ship as we visited the Operating Room, the Printing Press Room, the Torpedo Room and the Jail. The small Jail was only operated during the night hours as the prisoners were put to work during the daylight hours. One cannot see all of the USS Hornet in one trip as the ship is very large and there are many different areas of the ship to explore. It would definitely be worth a second trip back to be able to explore the entire ship with this great group of people.
After posing for a group photo we were back on the bus by three in the afternoon and the driver had us safely back in Mariposa just before six in the evening as a great day came to a close.
Article by Jerry SarazinFor more information on the USS Hornet Museum.
To Read More: Who are the Odd Fellows? By Tom Phillips