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City finds home for bell from USS Biloxi

 From: City of Biloxi    Vincent Creel        Filed 6/19/06  GCN
Photo: City of Biloxi

A piece of Biloxi history has returned to a secure location, the lobby of City Hall, where it stood decades ago before being loaned to the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum.

The solid-brass ship’s bell from the USS Biloxi, a light-cruiser that distinguished itself in World War II, was moved last week to the City Hall lobby from the grounds of the Seafood Industry Museum. The bell had laid next to the Golden Fisherman statue, which was stolen and later recovered in pieces.

The bell is one of two artifacts the city possesses regarding the storied USS Biloxi. The other is the ship’s superstructure, which stands in Guice Park, near the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor.

The 608-foot, 10,000-ton USS Biloxi, known by her 1,200 officers and crew as “The Busy Bee,” earned nine battle stars during her service from January 1944 to May 1945. During that period, the Biloxi completed one of the longest continuous tours of combat duty by any U.S. warship, never missing a major operation in the Pacific.

Operating in support of carriers making air strikes against the very heart of the enemy homeland, Tokyo itself, the Biloxi saw action in battles at Okinawa, Iwo Jima, Formosa, Leyte Gulf, Saipan, the Phillipines, and was one of the first ships to evacuate allied prisoners of war from Nagasaki, Japan shortly after the atomic bomb was dropped.

On March 27, 1945, during the assault on Okinawa, the Biloxi was attacked by four Japanese kamikaze planes. Three were shot down, but a fourth, riddled with bullets, crashed into the Biloxi, and a 1,100-pound bomb was later found unexploded below the ship’s hangar deck.

The ship was decommissioned on Oct. 29, 1946, and broken up for scrap. The ship’s superstructure, however, was saved and erected in Guice Park near the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor.

Learn more online about the Biloxi

---To see photos of a Public Works crew moving the bell into the City Hall lobby, click here.

---To see a compilation of World War II press releases about the wartime exploits and achievements of the Biloxi, click here.

---To see before-and-after photographs of the USS Biloxi superstructure at the small craft harbor, as shown on a page from “Katrina & Biloxi,” click here.

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