Living Ship Days

Living Ship Days

Experience an aircraft carrier in action! Witness simulated flight operations; participate in mission briefings; meet former crew; sit in the cockpit of a fighter jet!

Usually scheduled for the third Saturday of each month.Hornet’s Living Ship Day Season usually runs from February-August and is subject to change. Please check back for updates to our schedule of Living Ship Day Events.

PLEASE NOTE: Our aircraft elevator is undergoing repairs and will not be in use until further notice.

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Scheduled Dates

Saturday, July 18, 2015 – Apollo Splashdown Anniversary Celebration

Apollo 11 Recovery as remembered by Eyewitnesses

Join former U.S. Marine Joe Holt as he gives a firsthand account of the Apollo 11 recovery from the perspective of a Hornet crew member. Holt, a San Francisco native, joined the Marine Corps after high school and spent a tour in Vietnam from 1966-1967 as a rifleman, and was decorated for his actions in combat. Later, he was assigned to the Marine Detachment onboard the USS Hornet CVS-12 for his final two years of military service.

He will share several poignant memories about the recovery of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission on July 24, 1969. Holt says, “The Marines were all pumped up to have the U.S. President aboard our ship, the only spaceflight recovery so honored.” Using personal photographs and film documenting the historic event, he will share his memories during a special presentation at 1:00 pm.

Other guests include former NASA-Ames Research Center employees Richard D. Johnson and his wife, Catherine C. Johnson. Richard was on the Preliminary Examination Team for the Apollo 11 moon rock samples, working in the Lunar Receiving Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center. After many samples were distributed to scientists around the United States, Catherine was part of a team that examined them for microbial life.

The Johnsons were present when the Apollo 11 astronauts' Mobile Quarantine Facility arrived at JSC and they entered the Lunar Receiving Laboratory. The couple also viewed from the gallery when the boxes containing the samples were opened under vacuum to simulate the lunar atmosphere. They will share many interesting and humorous recollections of working in the JSC Quarantine Facility.

The day will also feature a special screening of the rare U.S. Navy film, “Hornet Plus 3: A Captain’s account of the Apollo 11 Recovery.” This is a compelling eyewitness account of the Apollo 11 recovery operation narrated by RADM Captain Seiberlich, commanding officer of the USS Hornet CVS-12 who orchestrated the flawless recovery of Apollo 11.

Saturday, August 15, 2015 – Go For Broke

Honoring the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and its rescue of the “Lost Battalion”

Join us as we welcome four special guests, who will each present different aspects of this compelling story!

The 442nd Regimental Combat Team (442 RCT), formed in 1943, was a segregated U.S. Army unit composed mostly of Nisei soldiers (second generation Japanese Americans). Initially engaged in Italy, the 442 RCT became a formidable and well-respected fighting unit. “Go For Broke” was its motto. For its size and the length of service, the 442 RCT became the highest decorated unit in U.S. Army history with 21 Medal of Honor awards.

On October 24, 1944, the 1st Battalion of the 141st Infantry Regiment, 36th Division (originally the Texas National Guard), became surrounded and trapped by German forces in the Vosges Mountains, France. The 1st Battalion was deemed “lost” because repeated attempts by 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 141st Infantry Regiment failed to rescue the 1st. Although the 442 RCT was merely attached and not officially part of the 36th Division, the Division Commander nevertheless ordered the 442 RCT to rescue the “Lost Battalion.” Even though the 442 RCT just came off bitter battles to liberate Bruyeres and Biffontaine and thus was severely short of manpower, the Nisei soldiers smartly saluted and valiantly pressed on. It was another opportunity to prove their loyalty to America after being classified as “enemy alien” after Pearl Harbor. On October 30, even after taking extremely heavy casualties, the 442 RCT broke through and rescued the “Lost Battalion.”

Our Four Guest Speakers:

Tom Graves (professional photographer/author of “Twice Heroes”) will present an overview of the 442 RCT and the importance of the battle to rescue the “Lost Battalion.” He will also comment on why this rescue lives on in history.

Franz Steidl (author of “Lost Battalions”) will give an introduction to the regional military situation, military motives behind the battle and its results. He will show a brief audiovisual presentation.

Al Tortolano (soldier of the 1st Battalion, 141 Infantry – the “Lost Battalion”) will talk about his side of the battle, what his fellow soldiers faced and knew, and what they went through before the rescue by the 442 RCT.

Lawson Sakai (soldier of E Company, 442 RCT) will talk about the Regiment itself – its origin and training. He will then focus on his role during the battle to rescue the “Lost Battalion.”


If you enjoy our Living Ship Days, and the variety of informative speakers and exciting activities we offer, please consider making a donation directed specifically to the Education Department. Contact the Donations Department by phone at: (510) 521-8448 x238 or email: Donations@uss-hornet.org. Thank you for your support!

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