Was your family in Pascagoula during World War II?
If so, they were most likely involved in the war effort, and now their hard work and sacrifice are being recognized by the United States government. Pascagoula has been named a World War II Heritage City by the National Park Service, the only city in Mississippi so recognized, and one of only nineteen such cities in the nation. The Heritage Cities program was established in 2019 to memorialize the historic importance of home front efforts in support of America’s soldiers and sailors fighting overseas. The city will hold a ceremony on Friday, November 17, 2023, to celebrate this national recognition, and the public is invited to attend.
The designation was based on Pascagoula’s outstanding accomplishments during World War II in such areas as the manufacturing of ships, aircraft, uniforms, and equipment; the production of food and consumer items for the Armed Forces and for home consumption; volunteer civilian participation in such areas as war bond drives and “scrap drives” to supply much-needed strategic raw materials; and civil defense preparedness, particularly in protecting the coastline.
Pascagoula’s application to the National Park Service for recognition as a Heritage City spelled out the following case for the city’s inclusion in the program:
“From the very start, Pascagoula embraced the war effort. We went into debt to build a shipyard
when America was not yet at war. We opened our homes to the strangers flooding into town. We
built streets, schools, utilities, and recreation facilities to handle the sevenfold explosion in
“We welcomed the soldiers and sailors. We kept diligent watch to keep the home front safe. We
assumed non-traditional roles in which women became welders, sharecroppers traded hoes for
pipe wrenches, and farm boys worked at steady jobs for good wages. And our efforts paid off for
the entire country; the nearly one-hundred ships we launched played a major role in the Allied
“In doing all this, we became a changed city. In most towns, soldiers and sailors, WACs and
WAVEs, returned to their hometowns after the war to comfortable and familiar surroundings. Not so in Pascagoula. In four years, the little shrimping and boatbuilding town had become a major industrial power, and most of the newcomers stayed. Today we are the nation’s premier military shipbuilding center. World War II transformed Pascagoula on a fundamental level, and that is our true World War II heritage.”
The recognition ceremony is scheduled for Friday, November 17, at 10 AM at Singing River Island. Representatives from several branches of the U.S. military including the Coast Guard, the National Guard, the Air Force, and the Navy Seabees will be on hand. U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, U.S. Representative Mike Ezell, and Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann will participate along with a number of municipal officials from the three coastal counties. Special guests will include veterans from the Armed Forces Retirement Home, including some WWII veterans. Special entertainment will be provided by The Victory Belles, a vocal trio form the World War Two Heritage Museum in New Orleans who specialize in WWII era songs.
Sponsors for the event include Ingalls Shipbuilding, Mississippi Power, Senator Brice Wiggins, Bollinger Shipyard, Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area, VFW Elmer Joseph Grant Post 3373, Chevron Refinery Pascagoula, Oleo-X, Port of Pascagoula, Military One Coast, and Waste Pro. Also in conjunction with the event, Ingalls has placed a series of banners along Ingalls Avenue east of Market Street, and the City of Pascagoula is erecting signs at the city’s three highway entrances (Highway 90 East, Highway 90 West, and Telephone Road) proclaiming Pascagoula as a World War II Heritage City.
The ceremony is free and open to the public. To get to Singing River Island, exit Highway 90 near the East Pascagoula River Bridge onto Jerry St. Pe Highway. From Jerry St. Pe, you will take USS Vicksburg Way and follow it to the end. Please make plans to come to Singing River Island on Friday, November 17th, to celebrate our being named Mississippi’s World War II Heritage City. It’s another one of the many things that make Pascagoula a one-of-a-kind city.