The USS KIDD (DD-661) is a Fletcher-class destroyer displayed as part of a Veterans’ War Memorial on the bank of the Mississippi River, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. There are few historic military ships still on display in the United States, and The KIDD holds special prominence among those. This is a working museum that encourages walk-through and active participation.
I first learned about The USS KIDD when looking for a special Christmas gift for my husband. He always has been interested in WWII history and, as a ship modeler, enthralled with that era Fletcher-class destroyers. I was looking for a museum where he could visit a Fletcher-class destroyer first-hand. The USS KIDD not only offers a fine museum, but even better, there was an opportunity for him to volunteer as part of an annual four-day “Field Day” repair crew. Each year, people travel from all over the country to stay aboard the ship and complete repair projects. They sleep in the bunks, eat ship chow (served by the best Admirals’ retired chef in the Navy), visit with sailors who actually served on the ship, and enjoy the historic atmosphere.
My husband has been to the last two annual Field Day Weekends on The Kidd. Each time he comes home more enthused and excited about the time spent helping to restore The Kidd. But you don’t have to spend days repairing her to appreciate what The Kidd offers. You can walk on her decks, see how sailors lived, read about her honorable history, and experience U.S. Naval history first-hand. A visit to this memorial and museum is well worth the planning and effort.
The KIDD was launched February 28, 1943. She was named after Rear Admiral Isaac Campbell Kidd, Sr, who died aboard his flagship, USS Arizona, during the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. KIDD served in the Island-hopping Pacific Theater campaign with distinction and again during the Korean War.
KIDD was decommissioned June 19, 1964. During the twenty-three years in service, she earned eight battle stars for service in World War II and four for service in Korea.
Becoming a Memorial
In 1975, the U.S. Navy decided to set aside three Fletcher-class ships for use as memorials. They include THE SULLIVANS, CASSIN YOUNG and KIDD. The KIDD was deployed to Baton Rouge because, according to the KIDD official Website, “… largely due to the efforts of Harold Monning, who served aboard her during World War II, and the shipmates of the DESRON 48 Reunion Association. When Congressman W. Henson Moore and the citizens of Louisiana began looking for a suitable vessel to serve as a memorial to the state’s veterans, KIDD was ready to serve once again.”
Today, USS KIDD is the centerpiece of the Louisiana Naval War Memorial. Since the river moves up and down nearly forty-feet during the year, half of the year, you can see The KIDD floating in the Mississippi; the other half, she’s in the same location, dry-docked in a cradle.
The Website boasts, “Restored to her August, 1945 configuration, KIDD is one of the most authentic and accurate restorations in the Historic Fleet. Of the three preserved Fletcher-class destroyers, she is the only destroyer remaining in her World War II appearance and is now on exhibit in her wartime camouflage paint….”
Here is the Website for the USS KIDD & Veterans” War Memorial in Baton Rouge, LA. For tour information, go here. Accommodations and visitors information can be found at this Website.
USS KIDD & Veterans’ War Memorial: Website
Visit Baton Rouge: Website