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USS South Dakota - "Battleship X"

The weekend of June 28-30th, 2013 will be reunion weekend for the veterans, families and friends of the sailors of the USS South Dakota. The USS South Dakota (BB-57) was a battleship in the United States Navy from 1942 until 1947, the lead ship of her class. The South Dakota was the third ship of the US Navy to be named in honor of the 40th state. The South Dakota received 13 battle stars and was the most decorated ship of World War II and earned the nickname "Battleship X." The battleship was launched June 7, 1941 and was famous before her first year of action was over.

She entered the Pacific Ocean in early September but two days later hit an uncharted coral reef and experienced serious damage to her hull. This was a brief bump in what would be an illustrious history. After repairs were made at Pearl Harbor she left to join her Task Force to begin a sweep of the Santa Cruz Islands before moving southwest to block any Japanese ships approaching Guadalcanal. In the ensuing battle at Santa Cruz on October 29, 1942, the battleship was credited with shooting down 26 enemy planes, even though a 500-pound bomb took out her first turret. Two weeks later she engaged in more fights near the Savo Island near Guadalcanal and inflicted severe damage on several Japanese ships. Unfortunately the ship sustained serious damage and although minor repairs were made she sailed for New York for repairs in December 1942. After repairs were made and an overhaul she left New York and operated in the Atlantic until August of 1943 when she began a second tour in the Pacific.

During her second tour she seemed to be in every aspect of the action at the Marshall, the Mariana and Caroline Islands, in New Guinea. She was part of the attack on Saipan during the Battle of the Philippine Sea where she was hit and twenty-four men were killed. After repairs she participated in attacks against Tokyo and at Iwo Jima. She was in the Tokyo area on August 15th, when the Japanese surrendered. Visit USSSouthDakota.com for a full story of the ship, oral histories of her crew, timelines of her battles and interesting commentaries on her memorial.

USS South Dakota

USS South Dakota Battleship Memorial

The USS South Dakota was placed out of commission in 1947 and in the early 1960s was sold for scrap. Citizens from Sioux Falls, South Dakota requested pieces of the scrap and a battleship memorial was built. The memorial, in place since 1969, features a concrete wall stretching in a long oval across the Sherman Park grass to provide an outline matching the ship's perimeter. Inside are remnants of the ship, along with a museum and a series of plaques recapping its mission.

USS South Dakota Memorial

Restoring the Memorial

A Sioux Falls resident, retired Chief Petty Officer Ron Ruf, has been working to restore the parts of the memorial in anticipation of the return of the remaining original crew members in June 2013. Please watch this YouTube video that tells about his work on the memorial.

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