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Heroes on Deck - WW II on Lake Michigan

In honor of the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the National Museum of the Great Lakes will be screening Heroes on Deck at the Lakewood Civic Auditorium. This hour long documentary explores the critical role of the USS Wolverine and the USS Sable, two Great Lakes passenger steamers that were converted into aircraft carriers and used to train thousands of pilots to land at sea during WWII. There will be a Q&A session with the director, Emmy winning filmmaker John Davies, following the screening.

Tickets are $7.50 for members and $10 for non-members.

Tickets for veterans and active military are free.

More about Heroes on Deck: HEROES ON DECK tells the little-known story of a bold and innovative response to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Following that catastrophic event, the U.S. Navy was desperate for aircraft carrier-qualified pilots. With enemy submarines patrolling both coasts, Commander Richard F. Whitehead, of the Ninth Naval District-Chicago, proposed a radical idea. Why not train pilots in the safety of Lake Michigan? Two Great Lakes passenger steamers were immediately converted into makeshift aircraft carriers, the USS Wolverine and USS Sable. Between 1942 and the end of the war, more than 15,000 aviators–including future President George H.W. Bush--were trained aboard these "freshwater flattops.”

Crashes and “water landings” often led to serious injuries and occasionally death. As a result, more than one hundred fighters and dive-bombers sank to the bottom of the lake. To date, more than 40 aircraft have been brought to the surface.

HEROES ON DECK captures some of the key recoveries and restoration efforts, and celebrates the stories of the brave pilots who survived this ingenious training operation. Narrated by legendary CBS and A&E newsman BILL KURTIS, HEROES ON DECK, brings to life a vital chapter of American history.

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  • Jodie

    I did call the auditorium. They have 1,800 seats so we don't need to get tickets in advance.

    November 29

    • Greg

      Thanks for checking on that Jodie!

      November 30

  • Jodie

    Hi Greg.. should we get tickets in advance? I've got two people that live out of town coming with me and want to make sure we all get seats.

    November 29

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