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Juneau museums honor the anniversary of the sinking of the USS Juneau

Posted: November 8, 2012 - 12:05am

The Juneau-Douglas City Museum and the Alaska State Museum have both scheduled events to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the sinking of the USS Juneau. The USS Juneau, an anti-aircraft cruiser CL-52, was commissioned on Feb. 14, 1942 and commanded by Captain Lyman K. Swenson. After fighting in the battles of Santa Cruz and Guadalcanal, the cruiser was struck by an enemy torpedo and sank on November 13, 1942. Out of a crew of over 700 men only 10 survived.

The City Museum will host a public presentation of artifacts on Saturday, Nov. 10 at 10:30 a.m. Guest speaker Miguel Vasquez of the U.S. Navy will present information about the USS Juneau at 11 a.m., followed by Bryan Crowder, a student in the Perseverance Theatre and UAS theater program, who will read from the letters of USS Juneau sailor, William George Meeker at 11:45 a.m. Copies of Meeker’s letters and photographs of the sailer will be on view at the reception. The Meeker Collection is a promised gift by Raymond and Mary Winefride Blohm Testa, in honor of Winefride L. Blohm, Mary Testa’s mother, who was the recipient of Meeker’s letters, said Jodi DeBruyne, Curator of Collections & Exhibits, at the City Museum.

The City Museum will also display Glenn Smith’s collection entitled “Only Ten Survived” on a digital photo frame. “Only Ten Survived” tells the story of the USS Juneau’s role in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. Smith, who researched the story, served 29 years of active duty, retiring at the rank of Lieutenant Commander. The digital display will be available for viewing throughout the month.

This event is free. For more information, visit www.juneau.org/parkrec/museum or call 586-3572.

Over at the Alaska State Museum, there will be a display of two rare artifacts from the USS Juneau: a welcome mat and an ammunition container. These are among the very few surviving remnants of the sunken ship — radio restrictions and military oversight delayed recovery efforts until eight days after the ship went down.

Removed from the vessel prior to its sinking, these artifacts will be displayed at the State Museum Nov. 13-17.

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