A massive piece of American history will receive a hero’s welcome in Georgetown next week.
A 66-foot-long cannon from the decorated USS Missouri battleship will be guest of honor at a star-spangled ceremony at The Circle on Monday.
The nearly 120-ton gun, which had been the middle barrel on the turret closest to the ship’s bow, ultimately will end up at Fort Miles in Lewes’ Cape Henlopen State Park, where a similar pair of 16-inch cannons were used during World War II before being scrapped.
“This is something we started five years ago,” said Gary Wray, president of the Fort Miles Historical Association. “Acquiring one of these cannons has always been a part of our strategic plan. The most rewarding thing for me is that this has been a total team effort and we were able to save a piece of military history.”
The welcoming event will begin at 1 p.m. with World War II-era music on The Circle. All roads within a one-block radius of the town center will be closed at 1:30 p.m.
At about 2 p.m., the formal 45-minute welcoming ceremony will begin with former Sussex County Register of Wills and U.S. military veteran Greg Fuller performing the national anthem, followed with a flyover by a Russian YAK9 fighter jet from Andrews Air Force Base.
Several guests are expected to make comments, including
Jack Stempick, president of the USS Missouri Memorial Association and Newt Tyndall, a Georgetown resident who piloted the lead plane that flew over the battleship during the Japanese surrender.
Other speakers will include officials from the state tourism office, the state parks department and the National American Legion Association.
The Sussex Technical High School’s Raven Nation band and motorcyclists from American Legion Post 28 in Oak Orchard then will lead a group of veterans from The Circle on a five-block march to the U.S.S. Missouri’s gun barrel, which is being kept on a rail car between the Georgetown post office and Railroad Avenue.
More than 500 American flags will be handed out to the public during the event, which will conclude with a reception at the Georgetown Volunteer Fire Department, where refreshments will be served and members of American Legion Post 28 will demonstrate proper flag etiquette.
Limited transportation options will be made available for those veterans who cannot walk the five blocks to the gun site.
The USS Missouri cannon has been on the move since late March, when it was loaded onto a trailer at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. Since then it has been transported via truck, train and barge.
Following Monday’s ceremony, the cannon once again will head out on a train car before finally being delivered to Fort Miles aboard a 96-wheel, 12-axle trailer.
Page 2 of 2 - “We think it’s going to be a big part of Delaware tourism and attract a lot of World War II veterans who maybe can’t make it out to Pearl Harbor,” Wray