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Muskegon is lucky to be host to one of the most successful surviving submarines from WWII. The USS Silversides has been a local resident since 1987 when it was moved from the Navy Pier in Chicago to be a centerpiece for the Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum, now the USS Silversides Submarine Museum. The complex now consists of a museum building and gift shop, the USS Silversides, and the US Coast Guard Cutter McLane. The Silversides was commissioned for service on December 15, 1941, shortly after the bombings at Pearl Harbor. She then went straight into action in the Pacific Theater during WWII, ending with 14 combat war patrols. She was officially credited with sinking 23 major Japanese ships, the third highest total for any US Navy submarine. The USS Silversides also received the Presidential Unit Citation and 12 Battle Stars for her wartime service and inspired parts of the 1943 film Destination Tokyo. After WWII, the USS Silversides was officially decommissioned in 1946 and was then utilized by the Chicago US Navy Reserve until 1969. The USCGC McLane was commissioned on April 8th, 1927 as a patrol craft of the 125-foot class. She earned several awards for service in WWII including the American-Defense Serviced Medal with sea-clasp, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the National Defense Service Medal with one bronze Battle Star, the American Area Campaign Medal, and the WWII Victory Medal. The McLane went on to serve the US until she was decommissioned on December 31st, 1968 and the was subsequently sold to the Marine Navigation and Training Association of Chicago on November 14th, 1969. She moved to Muskegon in 1993 to join the USS Silversides as a museum exhibit. Within the museum building one of the exhibits features a story that concerns a local of Grand Haven. It tells the story of the USS Flier, a WWII sub that was struck by a mine on its second war patrol and sank in the Balabac Strait in the Philippines. Out the approximately 80 crew members only eight, one of them being Ensign Al Jacobsen of Grand Haven, survived the explosion and 17 hour swim to land. The exhibit tells the story of that fateful day through artifacts and video and audio interpretations. Be sure to come out and see this excellent piece of WWII naval history. Also available is the privilege to do an overnight encampment on the ships and experience what it was like to be a crew member. It's a must see in the area and you can't go wrong walking the museum and touring the ships.
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