U.S.S. Darter-Dace Silent Service Memorial
|The conning tower of the Darter-Dace submarine, which took part in the biggest naval battle ever at Leyte Gulf in the Pacific during WWII.|
In a Maritime Museum annex with no entrance fee, the U.S.S. Darter-Dace Memorial honors crews of two World War II submarines, largely Upper Peninsula men. By extension it commemorates all Navy submarine crews. A fascinating computer-controlled diorama depicts the WWII Battle for Leyte Gulf in the Philippine Islands, October 23-24, 1944. History's largest naval battle, it inflicted crippling damages to the Japanese navy. Lights point out ships and their positions as the battle unfolded, to dramatic narration. The Darter and Dace submarines, played a key role in the battle's success.
"General Douglas MacArthur's landing at Leyte Gulf on October 20 was anticipated to force the Japanese Imperial Navy into a 'showdown' . . . at Leyte Gulf," explains Dave "Grog" Carpenter, a much later member of the crew of the Darter's successor sub, the Menhaden, in the exciting story on his Darter-Dace tribute web site, www.infomagic.net/~grog/ . Carpenter's story was meticulously critiqued by the Darter's commanding officer, the late Dave McClintock of Marquette. If you visit the site, don't be startled by the rousing rendition of "Anchors Aweigh." Carpenter's story is synopsized here.
Under McClintock's command, the Darter and Dace formed a two-sub "wolf pack" patrol at two approaches into Leyte Gulf. Picking up radio reports of MacArthur's landing, McClintock correctly guessed where his patrol might intercept Japanese naval forces coming from Singapore. The Darter made radar contact with three large Japanese warships, but couldn't catch up to torpedo them. During the ensuing rendezvous with the Dace, radar contact indicated that they had intercepted the Japanese Imperial Second Fleet: five battleships, a dozen cruisers, and 15 destroyers. Its location hadn't been known for a week.
The Darter tracked down the fleet, and the Darter and Dace fired the first shots in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. They sank three heavy cruisers, including the Vice Admiral's flagship (killing half his communications staff who devised and broke military codes). Another ship was so badly damaged that it headed back to Singapore under escort, taking the Japanese vice-admiral and half of his remaining communications staff with it, out of the action. (It was a mistake to head back, made by the vice-admiral's lack of sleep for days.) The Darter and Dace tracked the crippled Japanese cruiser by day, and by night made an "end-around" maneuver to get ahead of it in order to attack it with their remaining torpedoes. Then the Darter hung up on a shoal. The Dace abandoned the attack to rescue the Darter crew after the crew had destroyed anything on the sub that the Japanese might use. Their efforts to sink the Darter failed.
The combined crews returned to Australia on the Dace, to be greeted as heroes. A Board of Inquiry hearing determined that the McClintock took a justifiable calculated risk with his "end-around" maneuver and was not at fault for the Darter's loss. A vice-admiral recommended that the Darter crew stay together on a new submarine to be commanded by McClintock. But a navy personnel chief ordered McClintock to be demoted and sent to a Florida mine depot instead. Only a good word from an admiral in a face-to-face Washington brief about the battle kept the McClintock and the Darter crew together on the new sub USS Menhaden, built in nearby Manitowoc.
Submarines are legendary for the intensity of relationships they form. In World War II 20% of sub crew members were lost in combat. Darter, Dace, and Menhaden reunions of crews from all eras have been held since 1996. Art Bennett, a retired Navy aviator in Marquette, knew enough about naval history to realize that Dave McClintock the self-effacing NMU development staffer was a real war hero, unrecognized in his own home town. Bennett worked for 30 years to create the Darter-Dace Silent Service Memorial in a special museum annex. Fund-raising came from the Marquette Rotary and technical help from NMU art, broadcasting, and computer students.
Dave McClintock insisted that the Dace crew and its commander, Captain Bladen Claggett, share the honors. At the gala dedication in September, 2001, over 300 attended, despite the air travel shutdown caused by 9-11. Among them were featured speaker Gordon Van Wylen, WWII sub veteran and former president of Hope College in Holland, Michigan, and honored guest Nori Yoshida, a survivor of a heavy cruiser sunk by the Dace.
True submarine fans will want to be aware of the S. S. Silversides submarine at the Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum ( www.silversides.org ) in Muskegon, Michigan, which adds youth group sleepovers to regular ship-museum tours.
Inside the Marquette Maritime Museum, 300 Lakeshore Blvd. at the foot of Ridge, at the east end of the Lower Harbor. Open daily from 10 to 5 from May 14 thru October 22. (906) 226-2006. No fee to see Darter-Dace Memorial. Wheelchair-accessible.
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POINTS OF INTEREST
Marquette Wi-fi Hotspots. • Peter White Public Library has wi-fi & public computers. 217 N Front between Ridge & Bluff. • Olson Library (NMU) has wi-fi & public computers. On Tracy St., off Wright St. • Dead River Coffee has wi-fi. 119 W. Baraga, just west of S. Front St. ... more
Presque Isle Park. One of the coolest city parks anywhere, it's a rocky, wooded peninsula jutting into Lake Superior with great vistas, 5 miles of walking paths, swimming pool and water slide, picnic grounds, bandshell ... more
Marquette County History Museum. Choice artifacts, some life-sized exhibits with audio, and a good gift shop make this stand out. See an Ojibwa family group,the Burt survey party, a child-scale street of shops ... more
Ridge and Arch Historic District. A well-maintained neighborhood of historic homes in a variety of late 19th-century styles, and two richly detailed red sandstone churches with unusual stained glass windows, one by Tiffany ... more
Lower Harbor. The beautifully designed focus of the city's Lake Superior waterfront, with a fresh and smoked fish shop, a playground/picnic park next to the marina, a historic lighthouse, a breakwall to walk out on ... more
Marquette Maritime Museum. A colorful museum with lots of great stuff: superb replicas of freighters, three Fresnel lighthouse lenses, hands-on fishing nets and a pilot house, colorful flags from Great Lakes freighters, a miniature reconstruction of a famous WWII naval battle ... more
U.S.S. Darter-Dace Silent Service Memorial. A fascinating computerized, narrated diorama of the Philippine naval battle that crippled the Japanese navy, highlighting the critical role of two subs with U.P. crews and a replica conning tower are part ... more
Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center . At the Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center are exhibits on the various immigrant groups who populated the U.P., an historical look at student life at Northern Michigan University, and the artifacts from the life of philanthropist and business magnate Sam Cohodas. ... more
Marquette Harbor Light. Visitors can now tour this oft-photographed lighthouse on the rocks and take the catwalk 300' out to Lighthouse Point, with great panoramic views of Presque Isle, ore dock, harbor, and town ... more
Lakeside bike path from the Inner Harbor to Presque Isle. You can rent a bike or rollerblades for this beautiful, busy shoreline path from the inner harbor to magical Presque Isle Park, passing a beach and picnic area for students and one for families ... more
Lake Superior & Ishpeming RR Ore Dock. Extending a full quarter mile out into the lake, this huge 75' landmark is where you can watch taconite pellets of iron ore delivered by train and noisily dumped into a waiting ore carrier ... more
Alley Kat's Quilt Shop. Outstanding contemporary shop caters to quilters, fiber artists, home sewers, Lots of examples inspire quilters. Designer fabrics, geometrics, wools (for the primitive look), & linen-cotton blends for garments. ... more
Peter White Library. A dream library renovated and expanded through community visioning: restored 1904 reading rooms, an exhibit gallery, a children's room designed by kids, a community art gallery and shop, and a café/coffee bar with fresh Greek specialties ... more
The Village shopping district on Third Street. Between downtown and campus, Third Street has several popular restaurants, an excellent outdoors shop, a terrific fabric shop, a consignment shop, a bead shop ... more
Superior Dome. See the wood framework of the world's largest wood dome, used for athletics and community walking and jogging. Interesting exhibits in its outer corridor feature U.P. minerals, ethnic groups, and Upper Peninsula legends John Voelker, Dominic Jacobetti, Nita Engle, Glenn Seaborg, and Sam Cohodas ... more
DeVos Art Museum at Northern Michigan University. With this facility, the Upper Peninsula has a real art museum, open year-round, with some high-level nationally important exhibits along with local and regional shows ... more
Marquette County Courthouse. A grand public building from 1902, used with respect. See the impressive courtroom where the Anatomy of a Murder case was tried, the great view from the steps, and the display of Voelker legal memorabilia ... more
St. Peter Cathedral and Baraga Archives. In the cathedral, stained glass windows of saints and scenes from Jesus's life. Next door, the papers of the snowshoe priest from Slovenia involved with the early history of many Michigan communities ... more
Upper Peninsula Children's Museum. Low-tech, free wheeling, imaginative fun in a whacky micro city, a recyclatorium, and a great gift shop. Kids learn about microbiology after sliding down a toilet, fly in a real fuselage cockpit ... more
Park Cemetery. Download WMOT deejay Jim Koski's chatty Park Cemetery walking tour and a stroll through this hilly, wooded cemetery becomes a guided tour of the graves of Marquette's founding elite ... more
Jilbert's Dairy. An ice cream parlor is the centerpiece of this headquarters complex of the U.P.'s premier dairy, where you can see milk being processed, picnic next to a giant cow, and shop for various U.P. foods and knick-knacks ... more
U.S. 41 road cut with ancient algal stromatolites. Looming above Highway 41, this rocky cliff reveals eroded remains of ancient (2 billion-year-old) mountains once far higher than today's Rockies ... more
Blueberry Ridge Cross-Country Ski Trail/Escanaba River State Forest. 12K of trails, 1.7 miles of them lighted, are groomed for ski-skating and diagonal stride ... more