New mural & exhibit in Tampa honors WWI crew of USCGC Tampa
By Roberto Roldan & Andy Lalino
via the University of South Florida WUSF Public Media News web site
One hundred years after the sinking of the USS Tampa during World War I, a new mural was unveiled on February 3 honoring the more than 130 men - including 24 from Tampa Bay -who were killed when the ship was sunk by a German submarine.
During a dedication ceremony at the the Tampa Bay History Center, Robin Gonzalez read each of the names of Tampa residents who were aboard the USS Tampa warship when it sunk in 1918. Afterwards, city leaders and descendants of those who died tossed memorial wreaths onto the water across from the history center.
Gonzalez helped lead the push for the city to create a remembrance of the tragedy.
"After World War I, then came the depression and World War Two and people just kind of forgot," she said. "Now with the mural and the education program, it will never be forgotten again."
In addition to Saturday's event, the Tampa Bay History Center will have an exhibit on the USS Tampa running through March.
Gonzalez and Tampa resident Nancy Turner compiled a book about the USS Tampa that has been distributed to all Hillsborough County schools. The book documents the connection between the warship and its namesake city.
The Coast Guard cutter was the first to be a part of the Gasparilla invasion in 1913. In 1914, it was ordered onto iceberg watch in the North Atlantic Ocean following the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.
In 1917, the ship was transferred from the Coast Guard to the U.S. Navy, where it was tasked with escorting ships from Gibraltar to the southern coast of Great Britain. The sinking of the USS Tampa on September 26, 1918 was the largest Navy combat loss during the war.
"There's nothing to tie Tampa to much history, and to tie Tampa directly to World War I is amazing," Gonzalez said.
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