Despite reluctance to host game on Veterans Day, organizers couldn’t pass on national television audience

first_img Published on November 9, 2012 at 2:28 am Contact Michael: [email protected] | @Michael_Cohen13 Facebook Twitter Google+ ABOARD USS MIDWAY, SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Up 43 stairs from the flight deck, through the control tower, beyond the navigation room and inside the bridge sits the captain’s chair. It’s made of brown leather, swivels and comes with a metal footrest.On Thursday morning, the chair faced outward into San Diego Harbor, with the flight deck to the left. And through the window of the bridge, over what would have been the captain’s left shoulder, a portion of the green bleachers for Sunday’s basketball game were visible as history met modernity.“We think it’s awesome,” said Steve Walker, a docent for the USS Midway Museum and retired Navy captain who served 23 years. “It’s advertising you just can’t buy.”Walker and Dave Cowles, another docent who is a former Navy Captain and served on the Midway, gave The Daily Orange a private tour of the superstructure above the flight deck and the admiral’s quarters. Both were extremely excited about Sunday’s game between Syracuse and San Diego State, though neither has tickets to attend. And though the docents and the museum’s marketing director, Scott McGaugh, are grateful for the opportunity to host such a unique event, the decision to close the museum on Sunday, Veterans Day, was not an easy one.“That’s the last day of the year we would ever want to close to the public and the 4,000 or 5,000 people that are coming to Midway to visit on Veterans Day, and they can’t,” McGaugh said from inside the hangar of the USS Midway. “We didn’t want to move it, truth be known. It was a reluctant decision, a painful decision, but when we stepped back and looked at it from the big picture — from the Midway, from San Diego, from the national audience — there you go. We had to make that decision.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textMcGaugh said there were many meetings — he repeated the word five times — to discuss if the game could be moved to Sunday, and that the final decision ultimately came down to whether or not the museum was willing to shut down on the most meaningful day for the United States Armed Forces.It came down to exposure and the national television audience that Fox Sports will provide. Two things that McGaugh and the Midway could not pass up, noting the only other time it received such widespread notoriety was when “American Idol” filmed an episode on the ship last year. The only other compensation the USS Midway Museum receives for hosting the event is a small facility rental fee, McGaugh said, and that amount will not be determined until ticket sales are finalized.So for now the museum remains open, and Walker and Cowles guided The Daily Orange through some of the ship’s most unique elements. From Vulture’s Row outside the bridge to the chart house — Walker is quick to point out this was not named after the restaurant — to the War Room, the ship oozes history.Cowles, who was a member of the admiral’s staff during his second stint of service aboard the Midway, explains the significance of the War Room to the first day of Operation Desert Storm. The 15-by-25-foot room with blue carpet is lined on one side with maps of Kuwait and Baghdad. It is connected to the dark, movie-esque “battle watch” room where any conflicts — including the battle that eventually defeated Saddam Hussein — are managed.“This is an opportunity to showcase the USS Midway Museum and the 200,000 sailors who served on Midway as well as San Diego’s enormously proud military heritage to a national audience,” McGaugh said. “We’re a big Navy town, and we’re damn proud of it.”Cowles agreed that the opportunity to host such an event could not be passed up. It is a wonderful chance to learn about an aircraft carrier that was decommissioned just 20 years ago.But he too was surprised that a basketball game would ever be played aboard the ship he and 200,000 other sailors once called home. After all, the ship is made up of three expansion joints that still grow and contract even while the Midway is stationed in San Diego Harbor.So when asked if he ever would have dreamed that sports would be brought to a military vessel, the former F-14 Tomcat pilot laughed and smiled.“I would have said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’” Cowles said. “And I’d probably use a different word than kidding.” Commentslast_img

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