Museum celebrates WWII heroics of USS Columbia

COLUMBIA, SC – On Friday, Dec. 7, the nation will mark the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which plunged our nation into war.

The next day, the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum will celebrate part of our nation’s response to that attack, the USS Columbia, a light cruiser commissioned on July 29, 1942 – a warship named for our state’s capital city, and largely manned by sailors who had enlisted in response to Pearl Harbor.

The ship was christened by the daughter of Columbia’s mayor, and went on to become one of the most distinguished combat vessels in Pacific War, earning two Presidential unit citations.

She had a very busy war, participating in the battles for Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Peleliu and Leyte Gulf, among many others. Dozens of her crew were killed in kamikaze attacks, and many more wounded.

The first thing museum visitors will see on “USS Columbia Day” will be Navy reenactors in the atrium, wearing period uniforms and showing off artifacts of the war in the Pacific. Columbia-related kid’s activities are also planned.

Then, there will be two special lectures on the Columbia’s role in history:

• At 11 a.m., historian John Carter will speak on “The Hollywood Cruiser: USS Columbia,” discussing Hollywood in the WWII era and the ship’s connections with it, leading to that nickname.
• At 1 p.m., the topic will be “Pacific Valor: The USS Columbia at War.” Relic Room Curator of Education Joe Long will tell stories from the combat career of the ship, through major sea battles and kamikaze attacks to final victory in 1945.

One of the most prominent displays in the Relic Room’s main gallery is a five-foot long model of the USS Columbia, created by a crew member in commemoration of her gallant wartime service.

About the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum

Founded in 1896, the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum is an accredited museum focusing on South Carolina’s distinguished martial tradition through the Revolutionary War, Mexican War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the War on Terror, and other American conflicts. It serves as the state’s military history museum by collecting, preserving, and exhibiting South Carolina’s military heritage from the colonial era to the present, and by providing superior educational experiences and programming. It is located at 301 Gervais St. in Columbia, sharing the Columbia Mills building with the State Museum. For more information, go to https://crr.sc.gov/.