MOBILE, Ala. – The USS Alabama in Mobile draws hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. But one recent guest went aboard hoping to remember his service during World War II. Ron Vogel traveled all the way from Sioux Falls, South Dakota to climb the stairs to the bridge just like he did years ago on his ship.
Vogel surprised himself getting up and down the steep stairs and quarters of the battleship. “Privileged that I can still do it,” he said, “The people that do that at my age is amazing.”
Mr. Vogel served aboard the USS West Virginia during World War II. “As a quartermaster, I spent my whole tour of duty on the bridge,” he recalled, “So being that I was on the bridge, I saw a lot of good things, I saw a lot of bad things.”
This veteran from what’s called the greatest generation is writing his memoir about his time serving during the war. He’s hoping the visit will help him remember things he’s forgotten. Vogel’s son Randy is a veteran too. He served in Vietnam.
“There’s many things he’s talking about that he never talked about before, you know specific engagements in battle and some of the things he experienced,” Randy said about his dad, “So it’s enlightening for him to be able to document that now for the family.”
When a WWII veteran visits, the battleship park staff records an oral history of their memories. “It allows us to interpret the ship and the sub in a very authentic manner and tell the stories of the people who fought in World War II,” park employee Rhonda Davis said. They’re preserving the past for the future.