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Battleship Iowa gets warm welcome at new home on L.A. waterfront

June 10, 2012 |  7:52 am

A fabled battleship is finally home

The battleship Iowa docked at its new permanent home on the San Pedro waterfront Saturday, and it got a warm welcome.

"This is my first time aboard since 1946," said Bob Dedic, who served from 1944 to 1946 and sported a cap he had bought at the ship's store more than six decades ago. He recalled wild storms, including one typhoon in which he feared the vessel would capsize. He also remembered calmer days, when sailors would jump into the ocean for a swim, while back on deck other sailors would shoot at sharks to keep them away from those frolicking in the water.

Every day that he was on board, Dedic recalled, "I wrote my sweetheart." He married her, too, and Eleanor Dedic, his wife of 66 years, was with him Saturday, along with their two daughters and a granddaughter.

The biggest U.S. battleship ever built, the 45,000-ton Iowa is known as the "battleship of presidents."

In November 1943, the Iowa carried President Franklin Roosevelt to a crucial meeting with Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin and Chiang Kai-shek in Tehran. The bathtub with rails that was installed for FDR's use will be on display when the museum is opened.

President Ronald Reagan boarded the Iowa July 4, 1986, for Liberty Weekend, the celebration of the restoration and centenary of the Statue of Liberty in New York City. In 1989, President George H.W. Bush joined the crew and families of the Iowa at a memorial service for 47 crew members killed in the ship's greatest tragedy, a gun turret explosion in the Caribbean.

Others on board Saturday had their own memories of the ship.

Joseph Aguilar, 85, of East Los Angeles showed off a still-crooked finger — the result, he said, of an accident on board in 1946. He also remembered how he spent his first night on the Iowa: "In the stern, feeding the fish. I was so sick. This thing pitches and rolls."

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--Martha Groves

Photo:  With great fanfare, the battleship Iowa was moved Saturday into its new permanent home at Berth 87 in Los Angeles Harbor. The largest U.S. battleship ever built will become a floating museum. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

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