Other parts of the country are experiencing unthinkable cold weather while the San Francisco Bay Area has been the hottest ever recorded. Taking advantage of global warming while wishing for rain, decided to visit the SS Red Oak Victory in Richmond. The ship is now a museum and located in the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park.
The drive to the SS Red Oak Victory is an odd but familiar one. Passing a large parking lot of new vehicles in a desolate port seems somewhat strange in a busy urban setting. However, the backdrop of the glistening Bay against a tall skyline makes up for the mass marketing.
The story behind the SS Red Oak Victory is quite amazing. According to the National Park Service website: “The Victory ship SS Red Oak Victory was built in Richmond Kaiser Shipyard # 1, and launched on November 9, 1944. It was one of 414 Victories built during World War II, but one of only a few of these ships to be transferred from the Merchant Marine to the U.S. Navy. The Red Oak Victory served as an ammunition ship in the South Pacific during WWII. The ship was named for the town of Red Oak, Iowa, which suffered the highest per capita casualty rate of any American community during World War II.”
Upon arrival, a tour guide was ready to share facts and details for a nominal fee. All proceeds go to ongoing restoration and maintenance. Well worth every dollar! I was able to see different sections including the kitchen, medical, engine, cargo, captain’s quarters, and much more. In addition, was shown historical maps and photos of its location during World War II.
Women and minorities were given the opportunity to work and proved that the job could be equally done. For example, some were referred to as Rosie the Riveter and Wendy the Welder to encourage recruitment. The tour guide shared that females were better at physical detailed work than the males.
A visitor feels transported into a different time and experience. It must have been hot and miserable as it moved through turbulent waters and war. Imagine the SS Red Oak Victory rocking back and forth across the ocean during World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam War. A slice of history is always worth revisiting. It helps one respect the sacrifice of others and that freedom and peace are worth fighting for.