Upcoming exhibit to honor USS Juneau

The U.S.S. Juneau is seen underway during World War II in this file photograph..

The Juneau-Douglas City Museum will honor the 70th anniversary of the sinking of the U.S.S. Juneau (CL-52) in a public presentation of artifacts from each of the three ships to be named for Alaska’s capital city on Nov. 10.

The first U.S.S. Juneau, the anti-aircraft cruiser CL-52, was commissioned on Feb. 14, 1942, and commanded by Capt. Lyman K. Swenson. After fighting in the battles of Santa Cruz and Guadalcanal, the cruiser was struck by an enemy torpedo and sank on Nov. 13, 1942. Out of a crew of over 700 men, only 10 survived.

The artifacts will be presented at 10:30 a.m. After that, guest speaker Miguel Vasquez of the United States Navy will present information about the U.S.S. Juneau at 11:00 a.m.

Bryan Crowder, a student in the Perseverance Theatre and University of Alaska Southeast theatre program, will read from the letters of the U.S.S. Juneau sailor William George Meeker Jr. at 11:45 a.m.

“At the reception we will have copies of letters written by U.S.S. Juneau (CL-52) sailor William George Meeker Jr. as well as copies of photographs of Mr. Meeker,” said Jodi DeBruyne, curator of collections and exhibits. “The William Meeker Collection is a promised gift by Raymond and Mary Winefride Blohm Testa in honor of Winefride L. Blohm, Mrs. Testa’s mother and recipient of Mr. Meeker’s letters.”

The Meeker letters were offered to Juneau recently after Raymond Testa contacted Assemblymember Randy Wanamaker and sent him copies of the documents, which date back to 1942 and catalog Meeker’s Navy service up until just days before the Juneau’s sinking (http://bit.ly/VOPj3V).

Along with the photos, artifacts and guest speakers, the museum will display Glenn L. Smith’s collection entitled Only Ten Survived on a digital photo frame.

Only Ten Survived tells the story of the U.S.S. Juneau (CL-52) in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, the operation in which it met its end. The philatelic exhibit sheds light on the loss of the U.S.S. Juneau (CL-52), the tragic plight of her survivors and the eventual rescue of the 10 men who lived through the ordeal.

Glenn L. Smith served 29 years of active duty, retiring at the rank of lieutenant commander. He is a stamp collector and amateur naval historian. Combining both of his interests, he researched the story of the U.S.S. Juneau (CL-52) and gathered philatelic and other material to tell the ship’s gallant tale. The digital display will be available for viewing beginning Nov. 1 throughout the month.

Refreshments for the event will be provided by the Friends of the Juneau-Douglas City Museum, while coffee is being donated by Heritage Coffee Company. For more information regarding this free public event, or other Museum exhibits and programs visit, http://www.juneau.org/parkrec/museum or call 586-3572.

The Juneau-Douglas City Museum is a program of the Juneau Parks and Recreation Department. It is located on the corner of Fourth and Main Streets. Winter hours are Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. November admission is free, courtesy of Don and Alma Harris.


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