Patriots Point Mt. Pleasant, SC

The new Vietnam area is to the right of the walkway out to the ships at Patriot’s Point

You might be in Charleston for the architecture or the beautiful beaches or a round of golf, but be sure to head across the bridge to Mt. Pleasant and Patriot’s Point. A perennial favorite for tourists and veterans alike, Patriots Point is multi-ship complex anchored by the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown.  A WWII veteran,  the USS Yorktown fought in almost every major battle in the Pacific Theater earning  no less than 11 battle stars.  She was then recommissioned for Vietnam and earned 5 more battle stars before being sent out on one more mission, this time to be  part of the fleet of ships stationed in the ocean to recover Apollo 8. Only then was she allowed to  step down to enjoy life as a floating museum.

Start your visit on the Yorktown and work your way through the extensive exhibits on her hanger deck. Read about her battles and the men who served on her. Take in the video clips and  explore the WWII warbirds and the B-25 Mitchell that’s here. Next, take Tour 1 (self-guided) and explore her interior compartments. In the main, the restorations let you see the ship the way she was with only a few displays placed here and there.

The aviation buff will find almost every aircraft or jet every deployed on a Navy aircraft carrier including World War II-era planes such as the F6F Hellcat, the FG-1 Corsair, the TBM Avenger, and the SBD Dauntless. Vietnam era jets include the F-4 Phantom,  the A4 Skyhawk, and the A6 Intruder. There is also an F-14 Tomcat, an F/A-18 Hornet, plus dozens of other ones,  including helicopters and large artifacts.  Be sure to walk through the Medal of Honor Museum (on the hanger deck) before disembarking.

Next, visit the destroyer the USS Laffey, and learn her D-Day story, and the USS Clagamor, a Cold War submarine.

Finally, get ready for the land side exhibits. New to Patriots Point is the incredibly immersive Vietnam Experience. This 2 ½ acre outdoor park  has a very realistic Brown Water Support base and a Marine Artillery Fire Base.  (In 1965, the US Navy reinstituted its  brown water operations and began patrolling the Mekong River with a fleet of river boats that included the agile PBRs  –Patrol Boat, River.) The Brown Water Support Base seen here reimagines those operations in a full scale diorama that incorporates  a 31-foot PBR with grenade launchers and a full compliment of  guns. Next to it is the Marine Artillery Fire Base which reimagines a fire base at Khe Sanh and delivers the same reality with mannequins, a 105mm howitzer, sandbags, medical MASH tents,  and three of the iconic helicopters of ‘Nam, the Huey, Sea Knight and Sea Horse. Note the landscaping. Realism was one of the objectives and these are incredibly detailed battlescapes.

This is one of the most visited military destinations in the nation so come early. There is a gift shop that you must pass through as you leave (how clever)  and a few places to grab a sandwich or an ice cream on the Yorktown

Hours:  Daily:  9am – 6:30pm

Visit museum website

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