It's the longest serving carrier of the 20th century -- 47 years before retiring. Nearly 200,000 sailors served aboard the Midway -- average age 19. It was the first carrier to sail into the Arctic during winter.
And in 1975 Midway set the bar for humanitarian missions with Operation Frequent Wind, part of the U.S response to the fall of South Vietnam and the resulting rush of refugees. When it was all said and done, the Midway was credited for saving some 3,000 refugees, who would otherwise have been left behind.
"Some very courageous decisions had to be made in terms of pushing helicopters overboard to create space for those refugees," says Scott McGaugh, author and director of marketing for the USS Midway Museum. "You talk to sailors who were aboard at that time and they all will tell you, it was the highlight of their military career."
Among San Diego's 170 tourism attractions, the USS Midway is rated No. 1 on TripAdvisor.com. Visitors can climb into aircraft cockpits, sit in the captain's chair and stretch out in a sailor's bunk. You can go into the brig and see what it was really like to be confined to a jail cell aboard a Navy ship.
Check out the flight deck, and the bridge -- the ship's nerve center. Imagine what it was like to launch some of the first strikes against Iraq at the dawn of 1991's Operation Desert Storm. Or take your imagination back further to the days after World War II. "It's a remarkable amount of history that's now being preserved on the ship," says McGaugh.
On Friday, November 9, the Midway is testing new waters with a fresh venture: college basketball.
Right smack dab on the ship's 4-acre deck Syracuse University will battle San Diego State University on a temporary court with room for about 4,000 fans to cheer from temporary stands.
Then on Monday San Diego hosts its annual Veterans Day parade, led by legendary pilot Chuck Yeager, who in 1947 was credited with breaking the sound barrier.
"This week is a good time to pause and reflect, for just a moment," says McGaugh, "the thousands of men and women who served their country to defend the freedoms that so many of us enjoy. It's a great time to simply pause and thank a veteran."