Friday, July 6, 2012

Gov. Hospitalized After Choking at USS Iowa Dedication

The governor of Iowa was hospitalized after choking on food during a rededication ceremony for the former battleship USS Iowa at the Port of Los Angeles on Independence Day.

Gov. Terry Branstad was rushed by ambulance to a local hospital after choking on a carrot and vomiting during the event, according to his spokesman, Tim Albrecht. Branstad, 65, was then treated and released. He later returned to the ship for a 4th of July fireworks display, Albrecht said.

The 45,000-ton USS Iowa is scheduled to open to the public as a floating museum July 7 at the Port of LA’s Berth 87, directly south of the World Cruise Center.

The ceremony was attended by former USS Iowa crew members, other veterans and various elected officials, including Branstad, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin.

During its heyday, the USS Iowa took part in every major military conflict from World War II until the post-Cold War period. It was decommissioned in 1990 and donated to the Los Angeles-based Pacific Battleship Center in 2011.

The 887-foot ship arrived in Southern California in May after being based in Northern California for a time after being decommissioned as a warship in 1990.

The new museum’s operator, the non-profit Pacific Battleship Center says it will offer guided tours and educational programs, including overnight stays and youth camps. About 400,000 visitors are expected to visit the ship annually at its new home in the LA harbor.