USS Colorado in World War II

The first ship my grandfather served on during World War II was the USS Colorado BB-45. She was an older ship, having been in service from 1921 to 1947. He served aboard her from November 1940 until April 1942.

Before he was assigned to her she had already made her mark in history. She was the largest most state-of-the-art battleship of her time and inspired awe from all who saw her worldwide. Her Alumni have created a very nice blog detailing her history, which I have summarized below.

In 1923, after her initial tour of Europe, she became part of the Pacific Battle Fleet where she served for 35 years. She routinely patrolled between Puget Sound, Washington, San Francisco Bay, Long Beach, California, and Hawaii – routes she continued to traverse while Grand-dad served aboard her.

In 1937 she was training NROTC students from the University of Washington and University of California, Berkley in the Pacific when she was called upon to participate in the search for Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan.

The remainder of that decade saw peace and routine duties for the USS Colorado. Despite being designed and built as a result of World War I, she was not launched until after the end of the Great War. She received a second chance to show what she was made for when World War II broke out in the 1940s. With the grumbling of war emanating from Germany and concerns over Japanese aggression, she increased defensive patrols in the Pacific. It is these years that Kenney captures in his letters home.

After Kenney was reassigned to a new ship, the USS Colorado continued to serve her country. She took part in the Navy’s Pacific bombardment of Japanese-held islands in retribution for the attack on Pearl Harbor. She took part in attacks against Okinawa. She survived numerous suicide bombing attacks by Japanese airplanes. She was damaged by enemy shelling but jumped right back into action after repairs were complete.

Shortly after the war, she was decommissioned and dismantled as scrap. Her teak planks were used as reclaimed lumber in several buildings in Seattle, Washington. The city also displays one of her 5” guns in a museum.