CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — This year marks a big celebration for the folks at the USS Lexington Museum.
2022 is the 30th anniversary of the ship being brought to her final stop right here in Corpus Christi.
The aircraft carrier played a significant role in the nation's defense for nearly 50 years before she was decommissioned.
"It's been quite an honor to be able to be art of a project this big," said operations and exhibit instructor Charles Reustle.
It's a project he has been part of almost every single day since the ship's arrival.
"If you can imagine we didn't have a pier, no exhibits at all just one big empty ship," said Reustle.
A lot has changed over the last 30 years, but one thing that remains the same, the history lesson on where the massive vessel has been.
The USS Lexington known as the oldest working carrier in the US Navy, played a vital role during World War II even earning the nickname "the blue ghost."
The ship also carries an important legacy for women in the Navy as the first aircraft carrier to have women stationed as crew members.
"If you have ever been to the USS Lexington Museum you need to come back. You haven't seen what we have now," said the ship's executive director Steve Banta.
Banta said the museum has no doubt become an iconic part of the Corpus Christi bayfront and has welcome over 8 million visitors since 1992.
"Everyone of those people, they come here most from out of town, they come stay in hotels they eat at the restaurants a big economic impact for the local area," said Banta.
The city faced some stiff competition with several other communities bidding for the ship's final stop.
"The ship could have been somewhere else if not for Landing Force 16 and not for the city and community being so supportive of the military in general," said Banta.
The ship arrived from Pensacola Florida to Naval Station Ingleside in January of 1992 before she was towed to her final stop along North Beach later in the year.
This November she will celebrate 30 years.
"This 30 years has been like an addendum to our history," said Reustle.
The museum has been the backdrop for everything from remembrance ceremonies to even movies like 2001's "Pearl Harbor" staring actor Ben Affleck.
Still, its main purpose remains to tell the ship's history.
"We plan to be here for many years to come and it's going to be exciting," said Banta.
Banta said he's working to host a big party to celebrate the ship's 30th anniversary.
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