The story of the USS Boise, a World War II light cruiser, "pops up with all these famous characters and famous battles," said Ken Swanson, director of the Idaho Military History Museum.
The USS Boise was commissioned in 1938. When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, the ship already was in the Philippines.
"So it was in the war from Day 1," said Swanson.
Just months after Pearl Harbor, the U.S. wanted to send a message to Japan. The Doolittle raid in April 1942 was the first U.S. air strike on the island nation. The USS Boise, positioned near Japan's southern islands, sent out radio chatter to distract Japanese military away from the mainland.
Months later, the ship faced its most deadly encounter, Cape Esperance on Guadalcanal. Within the first minutes of battle, a Japanese heavy cruiser hit the USS Boise, killing more than 140 men, said Swanson. It made it back to the Philadelphia Navy yards for repair.
The USS Boise had some intriguing encounters. It impressed Gen. Patton with its fire power at the Battle of Gela in 1943 during the allied invasion of Sicily. When Gen. MacArthur returned to liberate the Philippines in 1944, Swanson said, Patton rode on the USS Boise.
In 1945, when the war in Europe had ended, the USS Boise was part of a happier mission: The U.S. sent every available ship to Europe to pick up military personnel and bring them home.
The Navy took the ship out of action in 1946. It sat "in mothballs" for a few years until Argentina bought it for its Navy. After the Falklands War, Argentina sold the ship for scrap. It was towed to Texas and cut up.
"It's now in razor blades and cars all over the world," said Swanson.
The USS Boise may be gone from all but memory and photographs, but remnants exist. Until about 10 years ago, veterans who served on the ship held regular reunions in Boise. The ship's original bell, repaired after the battle on Guadalcanal, is at the Idaho Military History Museum.
A monument stands next to the Discovery Center of Idaho on Myrtle Street. Given by the citizens of Boise, it lists the names of the "officers and men of the United States Ship Boise who engaged in gallant action off Cape Esperance ..."
See the ship's bell: The original USS Boise bell is on display at the Idaho Military History Museum, 4692 W. Harvard St. 272-4841.
Anna Webb: 377-6431