NORFOLK, VA: An enormous, 70-foot-long homecoming lei will adorn the Battleship Wisconsin’s iconic bow through Monday as the ship’s former crew members return to Norfolk this week. The 30th anniversary reunion of the USS Wisconsin Association brings three generations of battleship sailors together – the vessel took part in WWII, the Korean conflict, and Operation Desert Shield.
“That ship is our heritage. We were forged by our experiences,” said Ranzy Weston, president of the USS Wisconsin Association. “That’s why we come to Norfolk. We get to bond with our ship.”
Homecoming leis are a U.S. Navy tradition – this is the first to be placed on the Battleship Wisconsin since arriving at Nauticus in 2000. The decorative wreath was constructed by 20 active-duty volunteers over the course of five days.
“We recognize what this battleship means to its former crewmembers,” said Stephen E. Kirkland, Nauticus executive director. “Make no mistake, this is their ship. This was our way of saying ‘Welcome Home.’”