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Charleston Chapter – MOAA

Liberty Ship John W Brown

S. S. John W. Brown

WWII Liberty Ship

Living History Cruise, 8 October, 2008

There I was, on board the SS John W Brown in 2008 chatting with President & Eleanor Roosevelt, watching Abbott & Costello perform their famous, “Who’s on First” routine, listening to the McGuire Sisters and talking with the Supreme Allied Commander Southwest Pacific Area, Douglas MacArthur about his strategy for the war! Could it all be real?

You bet’cha!

The SS Brown is only one of two remaining, fully operational Liberty ships that participated in WWII.  It is berthed in Baltimore and is lovingly cared for by volunteers as a working museum for all to appreciate.

Every year, the Brown makes at least two “Living History Cruises” out into Baltimore Harbor.  I honestly can say the trip is well worth the price.  Walking up the gang way early on a Saturday you are met by the sounds of a Big Band belting out tunes from the 30s & 40s.  Walking around the main deck it is amazing to see displays of all types of uniforms and memorabilia from German, Japanese, Russian and Allied Forces.  Throughout the sail there are activities going on in many of the spots on the deck as well as below decks: talks by General MacArthur, FDR, ship’s crew (WWII era) and of course, performances by the band and singers from that time.  Abbott & Costello perform, leaving the crowd in stitches with their antics…“Natch”!

Chow is served on the mess decks and while K-rats were a WWII staple, the food was fairly good.  You didn’t go away hungry. Oh yes, spam was not served (for those of you who only know ‘spam’ as in emails – ask your grandparents about it!)

After lunch, the ship was in the outer harbor and the Project Liberty Ship leaders performed a memorial by placing a commemorative wreath in the waters.  A short while later….WAIT!!  What’s that coming over the 1MC!

“Now hear this! General Quarters! General Quarters! All hands man your battle stations!”

OMG we’re under attack!

Sure enough after the guns were manned and all hands had donned battle dress, A Japanese Zero made a run for the ship.  This can’t be!! Look! What’s coming out of the sun?  Thank goodness it’s a Corsair and he’s got the Zero in his sights!

An exciting fly over of not only the corsair and zero but several other aircraft from that era, including a B25 took place as we headed for the pier and the end of a VERY memorable day.

For more info about the S.S. John W. Brown visit their website:

(Also visit the chapter’s site for photos from my visit -

Keith Rodwell

Charleston Chapter – MOAA
Charleston Chapter – MOAA
Charleston Chapter – MOAA

Charleston Chapter – MOAA

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