ANNUAL THANKSGIVING DAY DINNER FOR ACTIVE MILITARY PERSONNEL AND HOMELESS VETERANS ABOARD THE BATTLESHIP NEW JERSEY
CAMDEN WATERFRONT, NJ -- The Battleship New Jersey, in partnership with Camden County Office of Veterans Affairs and the Camden County Board of Chosen Freeholders, will offer homeless veterans and active military personnel from Joint Base – McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and Dover Air Force Base a full-course turkey dinner on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 27.
“It is an honor to host our military heroes on this holiday,” said Patricia Egan Jones, a member of the Board of Trustees for the Battleship and Camden County Surrogate. “To see the community come together to help these men and women who are either away from home or do not have a home, is truly an inspiration as we begin the holiday season.”
The meal will be prepared by Andreotti’s Catering and served by volunteers from the Battleship on the historic fantail (tented rear deck) at approximately 11:30am. The troops and veterans will arrive at approximately 10:30am. A brief welcoming ceremony will take place on the fantail before dinner is served.
Residents are invited to welcome and cheer on our heroes from the pier of the Battleship, which will be open for guests at 10am. Free parking is available in lot #1, across from the Susquehanna Bank Center, courtesy of the Camden Parking Authority. Entertainment from the Original Trilby String Band and refreshments of hot chocolate and coffee, supplied by the Canteen, will be available for guests on the pier.
After their meals, the military guests will be treated to music from DJ Stewart Balsham, an appearance by Miss New Jersey and more!
“To provide the troops and veterans a fun Thanksgiving and the opportunity to show our thanks for what
they have done and what they will do is such a pleasure for all of us,” added Rev. Floyd White, Director, Camden County Office of Veterans Affairs. “It’s a terrific chance to give back to them for the tremendous sacrifices they have made for our country.”
The Thanksgiving Dinner for active military personnel and homeless veterans would not be possible without the help of event partners – Philadelphia 76ers, U.S. Family Health Plan, the Spevak Family, Barb’s Harley Davidson, PJ Whelihan Restaurants, South Jersey Magazine, DJ Stewart Balsham, Bodek and Rhoades, and Balloon Celebrations.
Berthed on the Camden Waterfront across the Delaware River from Center City Philadelphia, the Battleship New Jersey is a non-profit historic ship museum and memorial that offers tours every day through October 31, and Saturdays and Sundays, as well as a few special weekdays, through December.
Consult the Battleship’s website for a schedule. The Battleship also offers overnight encampments for youth groups and families, special group and student tours and event rentals with a full catering menu.
For more information on the ship’s many programs, visit: www.battleshipnewjersey.org.
The Battleship New Jersey is a work in progress.
But progress is definitely being made, officials said Monday, as they seek new funding and plan projects beyond the maintenance of the storied warship.
The painting of the hull - right down to the iconic "62" on the bow - was finished this month.
A new coat of gray paint also has been applied to the New Jersey side of the ship, above the hull, and will be added on the Pennsylvania side in the spring.
That work has taken place as new teak decks are installed, a job that will take up to five years.
Even more ambitious plans call for the development of an engineering tour of the ship, costing $500,000, and a ferry service between Penn's Landing and Camden during the fall and winter months when the RiverLink is not running, said Philip P. Rowan, executive director of the Home Port Alliance for the Battleship New Jersey, which owns and operates the ship.
"I'm committed to getting the ship restored," said Rowan, who took over as executive director in 2012. "As we polish the apple, tourism will go up.
"Attendance has increased - in 2012 over 2011, 2013 over 2012, and this year over last year," he said, adding that the numbers have been rising steadily, if not sharply.
To draw more visitors, the ship plans to offer new attractions and is looking for funding.
Last month, Rowan requested the donation of $250,000 from the Battleship New Jersey Historical Museum Society, a nonprofit that helped bring the historic vessel to the state and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Last spring, the society donated $300,000 to the battleship, he said. About $100,000 was used to replace teak decks, $100,000 went for painting, and $100,000 was spent on marketing.
The society's president, Vincent Falso, said his organization's five-member board would likely vote in favor of the request some time after the holidays.
"I can't write a check myself," said Falso, 84, who sailed on two cruises aboard "Big J" from 1951 to 1953, in the gunnery division and commissary section. "I have to go through a process."
"But I'm pretty sure we can do it," he said.
The $250,000 would be used as a part of an application for a matching amount from an area foundation, Rowan said.
The $500,000 would then pay for the cleanup of the engineering spaces of the ship, the installation of safety railings and platforms, and the addition of interpretive devices in the boiler and engine rooms.
Much of "Big J" - most decorated battleship in U.S. history - is already open for tours, including Turret 2 with its 16-inch guns, and "Broadway," the long main corridor linking Turrets 1 and 2.
"What we're trying to do is finish the tour of the ship," Rowan said. The engineering section "is the last piece everybody has been asking for.
DETAILS: The USS New Jersey’s third commissioning service in 1968 and 1969 during the Vietnam War is distinct because she was the only active battleship in the world at that
time. A new exhibit, titled "A Dreadnaught in Vietnam," highlights the exploits of the USS
New Jersey during her Vietnam service.
Come explore the battleship’s historic role in Vietnam, including several objects from
the personal collection of Admiral J. Edward Snyder, Jr., the battleship’s commanding
officer during her Vietnam deployment. Many of these objects have never been on public
An example of the one-of-a-kind objects part of the Admiral J. Edward Snyder, Jr. collection
on exhibit is the original commissioning pennant from the April 6, 1968 Re-Commissioning
Ceremony. Other New Jersey veterans have also loaned items for the exhibit including Bert
Trottier who was the battleship’s bugler during Vietnam. In fact, Trottier was the last
bugler in the U.S. Navy, and his jacket is part of this exhibit. Trottier personalized this
jacket with memories of his Navy career, including time spent with the Battleship and places the Southeast Asia cruise had taken him.
The exhibit also includes items from the Battleship’s own vast collections. One such rarity
is a section of the six-inch armored deck that was removed during the reactivation process for
Vietnam. The thickness and weight of this piece illustrates how well parts of the battleship
were protected. Coincidentally, the piece weighs approximately sixty-two pounds, which is the
hull number of Battleship New Jersey, or “BB-62.”
Many of the items on display are documents, booklets, and pamphlets that contain far more
information inside them, but are behind glass out of the reach of guests. To enable guests to
further explore these items, the exhibit includes two “flipbooks” containing reproductions of
these documents in order to get a closer look at objects in the exhibit cases as well as additional
material and images not on display.
The new Vietnam exhibit can be experienced as part of the Fire Power tour of the Battleship,
available Saturdays and Sundays, as well as Nov. 28 and the week of Dec. 26 – 31, in November and December. The Battleship is open for walk-up tours during the above schedule from 9:30am with the last tour of the day departing at 3pm.
PHOTO OPP: Guests Experiencing the New Vietnam War Exhibit Aboard the Battleship.
Located on the Delaware River, along the Camden Waterfront across fromthe city of Philadelphia, the Battleship is open for walk-up tours every Saturday and Sunday in November and December, as well as some select weekdays from 9:30am to 3pm. Come greet active military and homeless veterans as the Battleship will offer over 250 of these heroes on Thanksgiving Day at 10:00am. For more information, call 866-877-6262 or visit the Battleship online at www.battleshipnewjersey.org.