50th USS Alabama crewmen reunion this weekend

MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – Original crewmen of the USS Alabama are reuniting for the ship’s 50th Crewmate Reunion, April 10, 2014.

The reunion, which does not officially kick off until Friday, has been held annually at the ship since it came to Mobile in 1964.

On Thursday, FOX10 News caught up with Radarman Second Class Frank Radulski. He served aboard the USS Alabama from 1943 to 1946 in CIC, or combat information center – the brains of the ship.

“This piece of equipment is a surface search radar. That was my station during general quarters,” said Radulski while on tour.

Radulski has been coming to the Battleship reunions for the past several years and said each year, the number of crewmen dwindle. At the 50th anniversary of the ship, over 1,000 former crewman showed up. At the 70th, just 16.

“You had over 16 million Veterans from World War II. Last week, I heard on television, that there’s only less than one million of us left. So, we are getting thin. Yeah, we’re kind of aging a little bit,” said Radulski.

Out of 7,500 men that served on the Alabama between 1942 and 1947, less than 20 will be back this weekend.

“Well, going back many years ago, we sat down and were all talking and saying: ‘Isn’t it amazing that so many years later, so many of us from our division could be back here and be associated with each other from the time we served aboard during the war until now,” said Radulski.

At 90-years-old, Radulski has story upon story while serving aboard.

“We bombarded Japan July 17 and 18 of 1945. We didn’t know what we we’re go king to expect. You know, we throw all them big heavy shells over there, they’re 3,000 pounds. I said the Japs were smart, they kept all them things and melted them down and sold them back to us as microwaves,” he said with laughter.

Interacting with the original crewmen this weekend are members of the USS Alabama Living History Crew – a group of volunteers ranging from ages 14 to 70.

“A lot of time when you go to a museum and you see mannequins and you stuff displayed out, it’s hard to get a picture of what was dally going on here, that there were 2,500 living, breathing young me working on this ship at all times. What we try to do is give you, the visitor, some scenes of what the men did,” said Tom Watson, commander of the organization.

If you would like to visit the crewmen, both original and reenactors, you can visit the Battleship this weekend.

For more information on the USS Alabama Living History Crew, click here.

For more on the USS Alabama, click here.

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