Honoring veterans aboard the SS American Victory in Tampa

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – There’s a special ship docked in Channelside that honors and recognizes our military year round.

The SS American Victory is one of four fully-operational World War II ships in the country.

Visitors can board the ship in downtown Channelside and get a hands-on experience, as they travel back in time to what life was like decades ago in the military.

The sailors would use the ship to carry ammunition and other valuable supplies to our troops during WWII, as well as the Korean and Vietnam wars.

These days the crew is made up of a special group, including several veterans who volunteer to help keep it running.

“I came aboard as a volunteer. So I told the captain when the ship is reactivated, I wanted to go out. He said you can’t unless you join the merchant marine. So I joined the merchant marine,” laughed U.S. Army Veteran Gary Brooks.

Navy Veteran Robert Stanley was a welder in the Navy, and now he uses his expertise to keep the ship in tip top shape.

“Not only welding, I get into the plumbing, some electrical, carpentry, everything on board that has to be repaired, just to preserve the ship,” Stanley said.

Currently, the ship sails once a year. It is used by local law enforcement and firefighters for training purposes, and it serves as a floating museum, preserving American history, and honoring and recognizing the military, not only on Veterans Day, but year-round.

“It means the world to me if it’s Veterans Day or not Veterans Day. I just always thank them for their support because it hasn’t always been that way. Vietnam did not come back with open arms and being cheered for,” said volunteer and U.S. Army Veteran Anthea Onufrak.

“It’s very important to remember the history and the people. It’s just amazing what they’re willing to do in that one day,” said U.S. Army Veteran Philip Luoma, who also volunteers.

The SS American Victory opens early, at 10 a.m. on Veterans Day. Veterans can get in free. For more information click here.

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April 24 2021 08:00 am

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