The USS South Dakota was the most decorated American ship during World War II. The battleship participated in every major naval battle in the Pacific Theater. It’s memorialized in Sioux Falls.
The South Dakota was decommissioned in 1962 and sold for scrap. So, instead of having an opportunity to figure out how to haul a mammoth ship through the nation’s waterways, a memorial was built with concrete. It encompasses the size of the ship, from bow to stern. The memorial includes a museum with actual artifacts from the ship, plus other World War II-related items.
The USS South Dakota, commissioned in 1942, served as the standby ship during the Japanese surrender to end the war. Its sea battles included the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands and the Battle of Guadalcanal.
The memorial mixes actual ship equipment with the concrete design. Guns and radar equipment are positioned where they would have been on the actual ship.
Inside the museum, the South Dakota’s bell greets visitors. It’s one of the pieces from the ship on display.
The ceiling in the museum contains wooden planks from the ship. They enhance the look of the facility while being part of history.
A model of the USS South Dakota is displayed. It’s a large model, so you can only imagine how long the ship really was – 680 feet.
Among donated items are Navy uniforms, including a poster of the insignias.
The USS South Dakota Battleship Memorial and Museum give visitors an understanding and appreciation of what the sailors went through in winning World War II.