My name is Karl Zingheim, ship historian aboard the USS Midway Museum.
Originally from North County, I am a 1986 graduate of the U. S. Naval Academy. Following my naval service, I helped establish the Exhibits Department for the USS Midway Museum and now serve as the staff historian. As an early advocate for its establishment, I have been with the Museum for twenty years – and as a specialist in naval history, I have appeared on the television series “Dogfights!” and other documentaries.
“Karl’s Korner” is a new place for me to share with you – our social media followers, our visitors, and our Midway family – slices of history from my screen to yours! I welcome and encourage anyone who reads this monthly historic segment to comment below, like, and share with your communities.
This month, I wanted to share a brief overview of the USS Midway and her history & here it goes…
Her Story: USS Midway CV-41
The USS Midway dates back to the end of World War II as a new carrier with both a large air group and an armored flight deck. For the first decade of her career the Midway served in the Atlantic Fleet, supporting NATO in the first years of the Cold War.
The Midway’s penchant for responding to crises began in 1955 when she transferred to the Pacific in time to cover the evacuation of the Tachen Islands off Taiwan. Following an angled deck modernization, she deployed to the western Pacific from her new homeport of Alameda. She was present during the Laotian crisis of 1961, and made her combat debut in 1965 conducting air strikes against North Vietnam. A massive 4-year reconstruction followed before the Midway returned to the warzone and eventually saw out the end of the war in February 1973.
Just eight months later the Midway reported to her new homeport of Yokosuka, Japan. For the next eighteen years, the Midway was the “cop on the beat” in the western Pacific and Indian Ocean, including the fall of Saigon in April 1975, when Air Force helicopters to shuttled 2,047 refugees to her flight deck.
After Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the Midway was amongst the first carriers on station. During Operation Desert Storm in January 1991, she sent the first naval aircraft over hostile territory. In the campaign, the Midway’s Air Wing Five did not suffer a single loss to enemy fire. Soon after, the Midway evacuated American military dependents from the Philippines after Mount Pinatubo erupted in June 1991. After 47 years as a deploying carrier, the Midway ended her sojourn in Japan and was decommissioned in San Diego on April 11, 1992.
Twelve years later, the Midway returned to San Diego to open as a premier museum and attraction. In ten years’ time, the USS Midway Museum is now host to more than one million visitors each year.
I am thrilled to be a part of living her history every day and honoring the legend of the USS Midway. Join me again in February for a new “Karl’s Korner”. Thank you for reading!
Eight bells, launch ‘em… until next time –