PIERRE, S.D. - The USS South Dakota was the most decorated war ship of WWII and one of the most decorated U.S. battleships in history. Commissioned in June 1941, she steamed 246,970 miles, destroyed 64 enemy planes, was involved in every major Pacific battle from 1942 through 1945 and was awarded with 13 Battle Stars.
After the Japanese believed they had sunk her in battle, she was adorned with the nickname Battleship X to prevent the Japanese from discovering they had not actually sunk her. Under the new title, she became a ship of legend and was adored by Americans who read about her heroics in the papers under the title of “Battleship X” and “Old Nameless.”
The South Dakota was in active commission for less than five years. In her few short years of service, she decorated herself with more honors and glory than most ships do in twenty to thirty years, the average active career for most warships.
She was decommissioned in 1947, was sold and sent to be scrapped in 1962. At that time, Sioux Falls attempted to acquire the ship for a memorial. They were unsuccessful in obtaining the entire battleship, but they salvaged the pieces they could. A one-foot-high concrete barrier was poured in the outline of the ship and the salvaged pieces were put in place for the memorial.
The USS South Dakota memorial was erected to commemorate the great battleship and her storied career and service. At the dedication ceremony, Vice Admiral Bernard Roeder declared, “This grand memorial shall stand in quiet tribute to a man-o-war, a Navy fighting ship that did its best for her country.”
The memorial may be viewed in Sherman Park on W. 12th St. and S. Kiwanis Ave. in Sioux Falls, S.D.
The Marks of History series is a project of the South Dakota Office of Tourism designed to highlight historical markers all across South Dakota. Click on the special “Marks of History” link at www.MediaSD.com
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The Marks of History series is part of Goal 1 of the 2010 Initiative to double visitor spending in South Dakota from 2003-2010 and Goal 4 to enhance history and arts as a tool for economic development and cultural tourism in South Dakota. The Office of Tourism serves under the direction of Richard Benda, Secretary of the Department of Tourism and State Development.
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