The history behind the battleship memorial in Sioux Falls

Many people have probably driven 12th Street past the battleship memorial in Sioux Falls and wondered why the memorial is there, and what it commemorates. The memorial, which has the appearance of a ship that’s been sunken into the ground and filled with grass, looks like a neat place to visit. But knowing the memorial’s story makes it all the more interesting.

The state Office of Tourism has a series of news releases called "Marks of History," and one of the latest releases from the series is about the battleship memorial. It’ll tell you everything you need to know:

Marks of History: Battleship X – USS South Dakota
 
PIERRE, S.D. – The USS South Dakota was the most decorated war ship of WWII and one of the most decorated U.S. battleships in history.  Commissioned in June 1941, she steamed 246,970 miles, destroyed 64 enemy planes, was involved in every major Pacific battle from 1942 through 1945 and was awarded with 13 Battle Stars.
 
After the Japanese believed they had sunk her in battle, she was adorned with the nickname Battleship X to prevent the Japanese from discovering they had not actually sunk her. Under the new title, she became a ship of legend and was adored by Americans who read about her heroics in the papers under the title of “Battleship X” and “Old Nameless.” 
 
The South Dakota was in active commission for less than five years. In her few short years of service, she decorated herself with more honors and glory than most ships do in twenty to thirty years, the average active career for most warships. 
 
She was decommissioned in 1947, was sold and sent to be scrapped in 1962. At that time, Sioux Falls attempted to acquire the ship for a memorial. They were unsuccessful in obtaining the entire battleship, but they salvaged the pieces they could. A one-foot-high concrete barrier was poured in the outline of the ship and the salvaged pieces were put in place for the memorial.
 
The USS South Dakota memorial was erected to commemorate the great battleship and her storied career and service. At the dedication ceremony, Vice Admiral Bernard Roeder declared, “This grand memorial shall stand in quiet tribute to a man-o-war, a Navy fighting ship that did its best for her country.” 
 
The memorial may be viewed in Sherman Park on W. 12th St. and S. Kiwanis Ave. in Sioux Falls, S.D.

About Author

Seth Tupper

Seth Tupper was born and raised in South Dakota and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from South Dakota State University in 2001. After college, he worked at a newspaper in Minnesota and then returned to South Dakota in 2003 to join the staff of The Daily Republic in Mitchell, where he is currently the publisher. Seth has won numerous awards for his writing, including the 2007 Outstanding Young Journalist award in the daily newspapers category of the South Dakota Newspaper Association’s Better Newspapers Contest. Seth’s day-job and freelance work have granted him opportunities to meet hundreds of South Dakotans and travel across much of the state. He also spends a lot of his free time exploring South Dakota’s state and national parks, hiking trails and kayak-friendly rivers.

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