~~~APA 168, the last of the Haskell-class attack transport ships still in its original WWII configuration, was towed off to be scrapped on July 23, 2009.
So what, you may ask.
Well, the thing is, arguably WWII was the conflict that prevented humanity from turning down a path to a future that would have been utterly horrific and evil. Civilization was saved by a bizarre alliance that included the United States as a key player, and much of what the US provided was excellent technology--and not just fast planes, big bombs, and huge aircraft carriers, but prosaic yet necessary items: unglamorous things like reliable and sturdy two-and a-half ton GM trucks, a really good semi-auto battle rifle, and fleets of cargo and transport ships, some of which were built in a matter of days. The Gage was an important artifact of that struggle.
Attack transports like the USS Gage carried the troops and smaller landing craft to the staging points for numerous amphibious assaults. They got the men there, they put them in the water and sent them on their way. 117 of the particular version of transport ship represented by the Gage were built. As of this year, only the Gage still survived, essentially unchanged from her WWII appearance. A few others may still be out there, but they have been so altered as to no longer be the same ships that took part in the amphibious assaults of WWII.
The USS Gage was built under a United States Maritime Commission contract by the Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation of Portland, Oregon in 1944. She was commissioned in November of that year, and then carried support units to a variety of destination in the south Pacific and took part in the invasion of Okinawa in March 1945. At Okinawa, the Gage sent ashore elements of the 4th Marine regiment and a Seabees unit. After the Japanese capitulation she was involved in duties related to the occupation and also the "Magic Carpet" operation in which she was one of the many US Navy ships that brought thousands of GI's back to the Untied Sates.
While battleships and aircraft carriers were rebuilt for ongoing service, and eventually many were saved as museum ships, ugly ducklings like transport ships were used up, sold off and scrapped. As for the Gage, by the 1950s she was transferred to the reserve fleet and sat there, rusting away and awaiting disposal.
At one point there was a group trying to save her as a museum ship. The Feds tried to accommodate these guys and assigned the Gage status as a potential museum ship and held off sinking or scrapping her. But the preservation group couldn't get their shit together to raise the money for the project.
Not many other people even got the importance of this. At one point a friend of mine tried talking to some people involved with a maritime museum in Oregon where the Gage was actually built. He hoped they might show some interest in trying to save her, but they were apparently too stupid for words and could barely comprehend what the fuck he was talking about. So he gave up. And everyone else has given up. The ship apparently got to the point that it was determined she was past saving. And on July 23rd, the USS Gage was towed down to Texas to be broken up for scrap. The only good part of the story is that some of her bits and pieces are being saved and will be used in the ongoing restoration of the venerable battleship USS Texas.
All I can say is I hope that the people of this country do a better job of remembering the men and women who built and crewed and sailed on ships like the Gage, even if they throw away the tangible artifacts of that generation's effort to fucking save civilization.