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Get to know the Kidd: What makes the Baton Rouge landmark so special?

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BATON ROUGE - Wednesday, the capital city said goodbye to a historic attraction and piece of history parked — or docked —right in our backyards: the U.S.S. Kidd. 

Not to worry, though, the Kidd is only staying in Houma temporarily as it is receiving much-needed repairs. She's scheduled to be back in Baton Rouge waters in spring of 2025.

For the uninitiated, however, the Kidd has a storied history that Baton Rouge is proud to be the home of. 

1943: The Kidd launches on its maiden voyage. It's a Fletcher-class destroyer and the 61st destroyer built by the U.S. Navy. It is 376 feet long, 39 feet wide, and weighs over 3,000 tons. The Kidd is named for Rear Admiral Isaac Kidd, who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor. 

In her first mission in 1943, the Kidd was tasked with rescuing downed pilots. During the rescue, the Kidd came under attack from a group of Japanese dive bombers; she was able to take out three enemy planes, maneuver to avoid the bombs, and rescue the pilots, to boot. 

1944: The Kidd is present for the occupation of Saipan and assists in the bombardment of Guam in July and August. She's credited with rescuing 35 carrier personnel during this time. She received two repairs this year and is soon staged for occupation of Okinawa. 

1945: A Kamikaze attack leaves the Kidd with its most severe damage. Ninety miles east of Okinawa, the Kidd is hit with multiple bombers, losing 38 crew members and seeing 55 more injured. Broox Garrett, a doctor from Shreveport, was stationed on the Kidd during the attack and captured a photo moments before the plane hit. Ship Superintendent Tim NesSmith said the Kidd had been used as a part of a picket line around Okinawa, and that she was meant to be expendable. 

"More destroyer type vessels were lost at the Battle of Okinawa than any other type of vessel," NesSmith said. "And more vessels were lost at the Battle of Okinawa overall than any single battle that the United States Navy engaged in from World War II all the way back to the American Revolution."

1946: One year after the end of WWII, the Kidd joins the Navy's reserve fleet. 

1951: When North Korea attacks South Korea, the Navy reserve fleet and the Kidd are put into action again. The Kidd spends two years patrolling the coast and providing fire support. 

1953: The Kidd served in the Cold War making anti-Soviet submarine patrols and making stops at various ports in the Pacific Ocean. 

1960: The Kidd made Navy training cruises and joined fleet operations during the Berlin crisis. She was also used as a "show of force" in the Caribbean, providing extra security in her patrols. 

1964The Kidd is decommissioned after two decades of service. The ship saw a number of campaigns in its heyday, serving at anti-submarine picket duty, downed pilot rescue, shore bombardment, and anti-aircraft. The age of her hardware made it difficult to add new technology needed to fight more modern campaigns. 

She was set to be scrapped or sunk, but a Louisiana politician, former congressman Hensen Moore, saw the potential for it to be moved to Baton Rouge to be used as a military museum. 

1982: The Kidd settles in her cradle right on the other side of the levee where we know her to be. 

Due to the levels of the river rising and falling so frequently and rapidly, the cradle holding the Kidd has been damaged. Her trip to Houma is not only good for her to receive repairs she needs, but repairs can also be made here in Baton Rouge to ensure when she returns, she has a comfortable space to rest. 


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