Monday, June 16, 2014
Patriots Point visitors can now virtually travel decades back in time and get a greater understanding of what it was like to be inside the aft 5-foot 38 caliber gun mount of the destroyer USS Laffey. Through an interactive exhibit that opened Monday, Oct. 21, the experience comes to life, teaching visitors about the gun mount which was destroyed by a kamikaze attack on April 16, 1945, killing six crew members.
“This is the best way to bring the experience of working that gun during an air attack to life,” Patriots Point Executive Director Mac Burdette said. “Our visitors can look at static displays all day and try to imagine the fear and adrenaline rush these young men must have felt, but closing the door, cranking the sound on a video of that time and bringing in the vibrations that came with the an attack where 20 or more 55-pound rounds were fired per minute – the scene is practically alive again 68 years later.”
The exhibit is funded by the Tin Can Sailors, a national association of destroyer veterans. Their contribution of $10,000 will provide a new-age education and entertainment level to Patriots Point visitors who can better appreciate what is considered to be one of the best naval guns of WWII. The exhibit is a start toward the museum master plan and paves the way for where the museum is headed over the next three years.
The Mount 53 Experience is one of the first exhibits at Patriots Point that incorporates cutting-edge technology for an immersive visitor experience. As part of the museum master plan, the museum is working to meet the desires of guests, and society as a whole, to include interactive exhibits that really bring history to life for people of all generations. With the expansion of the Vietnam Experience Exhibit and other exhibit updates in the fleet, such as the Mount 53 Experience, locals have another reason to return to Patriots Point and experience history in these new and engaging ways.
It is also of note that Lee Hunt, a man who served aboard the Laffey when the ship was hit with kamikaze attacks, said about the exhibit, “This is as close as you can get, and I was there.” The goal of the exhibit is to help people understand what America's fighting men went through and how they really are heroes and patriots.
This article published on page 4 of the recent special section, Bites & Sites (June 11, 2014). To view the online edition of the special publication visit http://shop.moultrienews.com/moultrie-sc/special-section/bites-and-sites/06-11-2014.