Monday, March 31, 2014

Vietnam Memorial, MS - 03/31/14


Monday – March 31, 2014
Mississippi Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Ocean Springs, Mississippi

This is our last day at the Davis Bayou Campground at the Gulf Islands National Seashore in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. We decided to visit the Mississippi Vietnam Veterans Memorial, located about a mile east of the entrance to the Gulf Islands National Seashore on US-90.

Jackson County is home to the Mississippi Vietnam Veterans Memorial that is a living tribute to those who served there and honors the 669 from Mississippi declared dead or Missing in Action in the war. Their names are laser engraved on black granite panels on parallel walls. While all 50 states have Vietnam Memorials, Mississippi’s is unique in that engraved photographs from those memorialized are also displayed.

Included on the Memorial site are plaques honoring WWI, WWII and Korean War veterans, as well as a pedestal-mounted "Huey" helicopter. Honoring Navy veterans, the entire main mast from the retired nuclear cruiser USS Mississippi towers overhead and the "Tullibee Memorial" recognizes sacrifices by the nations submarine veterans.

Flags of the Allied Nations (Australia, South Korea, New Zealand, Thailand and South Vietnam) who fought in Vietnam alongside American troops are flown at the Memorial.

The Tullibee Memorial honors 79 U.S. submarine veterans from WWII who were lost in battle aboard the USS Tullibee (SS-248) on March 26, 1944.

Tullibee began her career in the submarine force in July1943, with her first patrol in the Western Caroline Islands. On this patrol she sank one freighter and damaged another. Her second patrol in an area south of Formosa she sank a transport ship and damaged a tanker and a transport. On her third patrol in the Mariana Islands Tullibee sank a freighter. This gave Tullibee a total of 15,500 tons of shipping sunk and 22,000 tons damaged.

On her fourth patrol leaving Midway on March 14, 1944, Tullibee was not heard from again. According to a lone survivor on the Tullibee, C.W. Kuykendall, CM2, Tullibee arrived on station, March 25, 1944. On March 26, 1944, radar contact was made with a convoy consisting of a troop ship, two freighters, two escort vessels and a destroyer.

Tullibee made several surface runs on the transport, but held fire due to squally weather. At 3,000 yards and still unable to see the target, she fired two bow torpedoes. A minute or two later a terrific concussion shook the boat. Kuykendall, who had been on the bridge, found himself in the water. Kuykendall stated the explosion was a result of a circular run by one of Tullibee’s torpedoes.

There were shouting men in the water when Kuykendall regained consciousness. After about ten minutes everything was silent. On March 27, 1944, a Japanese escort vessel came in and rescued him. He learned that the transport they had fired at was sunk.

The story of Kuykendall’s captivity is much the same as the survivors of Grenadier, Sculpin, Tang, Perch and other U.S. submarines. He was questioned and beaten when he refused to talk. On April 19, 1944, he was taken to Ofuna Naval Interrogation Camp where he stayed until September 30, 1944. From that date until September 4, 1945, he was forced to work at the copper mines at Ashio.

The Mississippi Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a wonderful tribute to Mississippi veterans who lost their lives in service to their country. It provides a unique space for those visitors who wish to sit and pay silent homage to these courageous young men and women.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

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