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Freedom Park Exceeds Expectations

Coast Guard Chopper
Published on September 2, 2009

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I’ll admit, I had low expectations for Freedom Park. Just short of the airport off of Abbott Drive, down a nondescript, potholed little street, it was easy to write off the place as a patriotically themed graveyard of old military trucks. This happens fairly frequently, but here goes: I was wrong.

Bunks on the USS HazardBunks on the USS HazardWhen I went, it was a glum, rainy day, the park was empty, and everything was shrouded in a thin film of water. As I entered the park, I overheard a father and son leaving, the boy seeking out a little fatherly approval: “it was lucky I found that light switch, wasn’t it!” At the time, I didn’t know what to make of his statement. Do Army jeeps have light switches?

While it’s true that the park does have some run-of-the-mill artillery and personnel movers, as soon as I saw the giant Coast Guard chopper, I started to warm to the place. Throw in some massive propellers and anchors, a sweet A-7 Corsair II (yes I certainly did have to wiki it, but isn’t it sweet looking?), and a nice view of the Missouri River, and I was sold.

USS HazardUSS HazardThe real crown jewels of the park are the minesweeping USS Hazard Admirable-class boat and the USS Marlin T-1-class submarine, both of which date back to WWII. I mounted the walkway to the Hazard, forcibly unlatched its old iron door, and entered. It was…dark. And the kid was right. There’s no guarantee that you’ll have the same experience, but I for one thought it was pretty cool to board a creaking old boat, search around for the power, and then flick on the lights, knowing, “I’m the only one in this tin bucket, now let’s explore!”

Room on the USS HazardRoom on the USS HazardExplore I did, managing to creep myself out only slightly in the process. Like I said, my hopes were low, but I really found the living history contained in the old boat worth seeing. The mere act of unlatching the multiple locks on the watertight doors reminded you that once this boat was not so safe and sedentary. The well maintained crew quarters, galley, and bridge give you a pretty good sense of what the boat looked like in active service.

Sadly, the submarine was locked up when I visited. I guess it gives me a good reason to return. Not a date park, unless perhaps you’re a girl with a war-buff boyfriend to impress, but a great, free place to bring a younger brother, an out-of-towner, or anyone apt to feel a tingle when they look down the dark corridor of an old, empty ship.

Spread the word, but let’s not Sabotalk!


jordyAn writer since 2008, Jordy freely admits he's waiting for his golden parachute "anxiously." He microblogs @jordyclements + macroblogs