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Wisconsin’s Naval History

By Annalisa Underwood, Naval History and Heritage Command Communication and Outreach Division

Wisconsin, known as “America’s Dairyland,” is located in the north-central region of our country. On May 29, 1848, Wisconsin became the 30th state to be admitted to the Union.

There have been more than 65 U.S. Navy ships named after the cities, people, and places of Wisconsin. Of note are the two battleships that take their namesake from this great state: Wisconsin I (Battleship No. 9), which was commissioned in 1901, and USS Wisconsin (BB 64), commissioned in 1944. USS Wisconsin (BB 64) earned five battle stars for her World War II service and one for her service during the Korean War. Want to walk the decks of this famed battleship? Visit the Hampton Roads Naval Museum in Norfolk, Va. where she is currently docked and open to visitors.

Did you know that Wisconsin is the birthplace of some of the Navy’s heaviest hitters? Admiral Marc A. Mitscher, one of the first aviators in the U.S. Navy, was born in Hillsboro, Wis. In March 1944 he assumed command of the First Carrier Task Force and Task Force FIFTY-EIGHT, which operated in the Pacific during World War II. For outstanding services in this assignment he was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a Third Distinguished Service Medal; the Legion of Merit with Combat Distinguishing Device “V”; and Gold Star in lieu of the Second and Third Navy Crosses. Vice Adm. James H. Flatley, Jr., born in Green Bay, Wis., a World War II naval aviator and tactician, was a key player during the Battle of Coral Sea and the Guadalcanal campaign. Among his accolades are the Navy Cross and Distinguished Flying Cross.

For more information on Wisconsin’s ties with U.S. Navy history, visit the state’s source guide from the Navy Department Library.