A big part of living like a local in any military community is knowing the local legends — proven or otherwise. Climbing aboard the USS Lexington museum docked at Corpus Christi’s North Beach will give you the chance to roam the corridors where history (and part of the film Pearl Harbor) was made. Nicknamed the Blue Ghost by the Japanese propagandist, Tokyo Rose, during World War II because she was rumored to have sunk at least four times, but just kept coming back, some visitors and museum employees believe the nickname isn’t the only Lexington ghost we need to know about.
Some museum guests have reported running into a very knowledgeable, handsome, blue-eyed tour guide near the engine room who wears a Navy uniform. How nice that the tour guides really get into character, right? The only catch is that members of the museum’s staff don’t wear Navy uniforms, and, apparently, none of them are named Charley (or Charlie…or Charly — various sources couldn’t even decide on the spelling of the alleged ghost’s name). Whether you believe it or not, at least this ghost is friendly — nothing to fear here!
Casualties of a Japanese Plane Crash
On an episode of “Ghost Hunters,” the crew speaks with the museum historian at the time, Judith Whipple. She walks the crew to the flight deck and points out a Japanese flag on the island that marks the spot where a Japanese plane carrying a 50-pound bomb crashed into the vessel. According to Whipple, that crash took the lives of 50 U.S. sailors and injured at least 135 aboard the ship.
When you visit the Lexington, you can see the flag with your own two eyes — no denying that. But, you’ll have to be the judge of whether any of those spirits are still aboard. Common reports are screams, whispers, apparitions in several forms, and uneasy, even ill feelings in areas of the ship that were hardest hit by the crash.
A Woman’s Voice
One fact of historical significance is that the Lexington was the first U.S. carrier to have female crewmembers. On the same episode of “Ghost Hunters” we mentioned, the TAPS team concluded that they heard a female voice during their investigation that did not belong to anyone on their crew.
Like any ship, there are plenty of strange noises aboard — echoes, the humming of equipment, metal pipes, creaking, the sound of the water against the ship. Maybe they did hear voices, maybe not.
What We Can Prove
Whether or not you choose to believe the stories aboard the Lex or you think you’ve experienced a ghostly encounter yourself, the history of the USS Lexington is something we can all agree on.
Commissioned in 1943, the Lexington set more records than any other Essex-Class carrier — including being the oldest working carrier in the Navy before being decommissioned in 1991. Her name was actually intended to be the Cabot, but when the USS Lexington (CV-2), which was recently located, sunk in the Battle of the Coral Sea, the name change to the USS Lexington was approved. During World War II, the Blue Ghost participated in almost every major conflict in the Pacific Theater — 21 out of 24 battles.
After the war ended, she was briefly decommissioned for renovations and spent time in San Diego and the waters off the coast of Formosa, Laos, Cuba, Pensacola for training operations, and eventually found her permanent home in Corpus Christi.
With such an active military history that resulted in the tragic deaths of an estimated 400 service members, it’s not surprising that the Blue Ghost is the setting for a few good ghost stories. You’ll have to visit and decide for yourself if there is any truth to the tales.
Visiting the USS Lexington
Military history buff or not, a visit to the Lex is a must-do for your stint at NAS Corpus Christi or Kingsville. With a military ID, you’ll pay $14.95 for admission, and kiddos ages 4-12 are $11.95. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Labor Day to Memorial Day, and it stays open an extra hour during peak season and spring break.
If you’re brave enough to host a special event onboard, you can do that. What a memorable change of command or squadron Halloween party that would be — maybe take a bathroom buddy with you so you don’t have to venture away from the group alone! You can even spend the night aboard the Lex. It’s easy to talk tough about not believing any of that ghost business, but we’ll see if you change your tune after the scheduled ghost stories at 2130 right before Taps and lights out — sleep tight, campers.