During World War II, submarines newly built in Manitowoc, Wis., were brought down the Mississippi River to be commissioned in New Orleans. From 1942 to 1945, 28 of them passed Cape Girardeau on their way to the Pacific Theater.
Members of the U.S. Submarine Veterans of World War II were in Cape Girardeau recently to dedicate a storyboard commemorating the 52 submarines the U.S. lost during the war. The storyboard at the base of the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge on the River Campus at Southeast Missouri State University depicts the launching of a Manitowoc submarine.
The submarines built in Manitowoc were launched sideways because the Manitowoc River was too narrow for a conventional launch sliding a ship off the length of a ramp.
Submarines played an important role in the war. They conducted reconnaissance, rescued fliers, lay and searched for mines, and delivered special forces operatives to their missions.
Their occupants of submarines were six times more likely to die in the war than servicemen on other Navy vessels.
The 25 Manitowoc-built submarines in the Pacific theater sank 132 enemy ships during WWII. Submariners are deservedly proud of their service to their country.
In addition to the submarine history that Cape Girardeau enjoys, the walking trail that meanders through the River Campus offers over insights into our area's history. Take a walk, enjoy the view and learns more by reading the placards along the way.