COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - For the past 35 years, veterans, their families and others have gathered once a year on Hampton Street to remember a World War II battleship bearing the name of South Carolina’s capital city.
While the USS Columbia has not sailed in decades, its legacy was remembered once again on Friday.
The USS Columbia sailed the Pacific during WWII and was nicknamed the “Gem of the Ocean.”
It sailed the Pacific for four years during a pivotal time in the war.
Friday’s memorial service in Columbia honored the extraordinary efforts and sacrifice of all who served.
Only a handful of sailors who served on the ship are still alive. Some of them spoke of close calls they survived while in combat.
One of them, Stanley Beckett, traveled from Pennsylvania to Columbia for the service and felt it was important to come this year more than any other.
“I’m proud of what I did,” Beckett explained. “And I’m proud of the other boys that were with me. We all did our part. And even the civilians did a lot. They gave up so much to keep us going. Everybody was helping. Everybody. Not like today. We were all proud Americans. And we still are. That’s all.”
The USS Columbia was decommissioned in 1946. It was sold for scrap in 1959.
However, the heroic efforts of the sailors, and legacy of their mission is clearly not forgotten.