When you pull up a stool and park your elbows on the bar at the Quiet Man Public House you are literally sharing history with thousands of U.S. Navy enlisted men and officers who served on the Battleship North Carolina during World War II.
The bar was lovingly crafted by master wood-worker Cathal McGreal from teak that made up the original deck of the ship and was replaced a few years ago. It is known as the purple heart bar for the plugs of purple heart wood that now fill the bolt holes formerly used to affix the deck to the ship.
In an additional reference to the Purple Heart, singer/song writer Tim Murphy of Peekskill has written, and frequently performs, “The Purple Heart” at the Quiet Man.
The Battleship North Carolina has been permanently moored in the Cape Fear River in Wilmington since Oct. 2, 1961. It was dedicated on April 29, 1962 as the State of North Carolina’s memorial to World Was II veterans and the 10,000 from the state who died during the war.
When the keel for the ship was laid in October 1937, the North Carolina became the first of ten fast battleships to be added to the American fleet in World War II. It was officially commissioned on April 9, 1941. It was decommissioned on June 27, 1947 and placed in the inactive reserve fleet in Bayonne, NJ for the next 14 years. In 1958 the Navy announced plans to scrap the ship. That created a statewide campaign to save the ship and bring it back to North Carolina.
At full strength, the North Carolina was manned by 144 officers and 2,195 enlisted men. It boasted nine 16-inch guns and 20 5-inch guns.
During the war years North Carolina participated in every major naval offensive in the Pacific area of operations. The ship earned 15 battle stars and developed an anti-aircraft barrage that helped save the aircraft carrier Enterprise and established the primary role of the fast battleships as protectors of aircraft carriers. The ship escaped serious damage except for one hit from a Japanese torpedo on Sept. 15, 1942. By war’s end the ship had lost only 10 men in action and had 67 wounded.