The City of Joliet inviting the public to attend a special Flag Day ceremony, which will take place at 11:00 am on Wednesday, June 14th at 30 North Bluff Street. A group of U.S. Submarine Veterans from the Northeastern Chicago area, USS Chicago Base, are dedicating a memorial to remember the 28 World War II Submarines that traveled through Joliet on their way to the Pacific theater. The monument will be installed at the existing Veterans Memorial, on the south side of Bicentennial Park.
The ceremony, which is co-sponsored by the City of Joliet, will feature remarks from Joliet Mayor Terry D’Arcy, State Representative Larry Walsh Jr., the Military & Veteran Outreach Aide from Congresswoman Underwood’s office and the Commander of the USS Chicago Base as well as a presentation of colors, national anthem and taps/gun salute. Free parking will be available in the parking lot directly south of the Veterans Memorial site. If there is inclement weather, the dedication ceremony will take place indoors at the Bicentennial Park Theater at 201 N. Bluff Street. The United States contracted the Manitowoc Ship Building Company to build 28 Gato/Balao Class submarines for the U.S. Navy during WWII. After completion of crew
training and sea trials in Lake Michigan, these submarines sailed through the Chicago River and the Sanitary & Ship Canal to Lockport where they were placed on specialty-built floating dry docks. These dry docks then moved through the locks, through Joliet, onwards to the Mississippi River and then down to New Orleans, Louisiana. Once their periscopes were reinstalled, they traveled across the Gulf of Mexico through the Panama Canal to the Pacific theater of WWII.
Four of the Manitowoc Submarines, the USS Golet SS-361, USS Kete SS-369, USS Lagarto SS-371, and USS Robalo SS273, were lost in combat during the war, with the loss of over 300 officers and men. These four submarines brought the total number of submarines lost in World War II, to 52. A total of 3,000 officers and men are now on Eternal Patrol.
On the front side of this Monument are replicas of Navy Submarine Dolphins and the USS Chicago Base Logo followed by a description of the Manitowoc Submarines Story. The opposite side lists the names of the 28 submarines that were built by the Manitowoc Ship Building Company. Of these 28, the four previously identified were lost in combat. As a follow-up to this dedication ceremony, the Joliet Area Historical Museum will host a program on World War II Submarines and the Manitowoc Submarine Expedition on Wednesday June 21st at 5:00 pm for its June “History Happy Hour” event. This event is free and open to the public. Cash bar will be available. This program will occur in the Museum auditorium located at 204 N. Ottawa Street in downtown Joliet.
To read more about the history of these subs, click here.