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My Uncle’s Ship_USS Providence_Guided Missile Cruiser

One of my earliest memories is of living in Boston, Massachusetts. My dad was transferred from AC Spark Plug in Oak Creek, Wisconsin to spend a year in Boston and attend MIT. He was involved in developing components for the space program. This would have been 1960 and I was in kindergarten- first grade.

While we were in Boston my uncle’s ship came into port and we got a tour. It was the USS Providence, a WW2 light cruiser that had been converted into a guided missile cruiser in 1959. Guided missile cruisers were anti-aircraft cruisers and designed to defend the fleet’s Air Craft Carriers. This was the height of the cold war.

I remember the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. By then, we were back in Milwaukee. The Russians had been establishing missile bases in Castro’s Cuba. These missiles had nuclear capability and could hit the US. President Kennedy established a naval blockade of Cuba and the Russians blinked first by withdrawing their missiles. It was a remarkably tense time. As a third grader I recall being terrified that a Russian missile could reach Milwaukee, Wisconsin from Cuba. I also wondered if my uncle was part of the blockade (he wasn’t).

My uncle Bill's ship

Nevertheless, when my uncle’s ship came to Boston in 1960 while we were there it was quite a thrill for a six-year-old to get a personal tour of a guided missile cruiser from his Uncle Bill.

The ship served until 1978. My uncle retired from the Navy and died in 1977 after serving in WW2, Korea and Vietnam.

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