Pascagoula Officially Designated: PASCAGOULA, Miss. Pascagoula is set to be officially recognized as a National Park Service World War II Heritage City on Friday. This designation is a result of extensive research by lifelong resident Martin Hegwood.
“World War II fundamentally changed Pascagoula and when I say fundamentally, it changed the character of the town,” said Hegwood.
Inspired by former President Donald Trump’s declaration of Wilmington, NC, as the nation’s first World War II Heritage City, Hegwood felt that Pascagoula perfectly fit that definition.
“I looked at every newspaper from 1938 from the time Ingalls came over here to 1945 and we checked off every box,” Hegwood said.
Now, Pascagoula joins the ranks of 19 World War II Heritage cities, with only one allowed per state. The city’s significant contribution to the war effort, particularly through industries like Ingalls Shipbuilding, played a crucial role.
“24 hours a day, 7 days a week that shipyard was running constantly,” Hegwood said.
The shipbuilding boom brought a substantial increase in population, from 3,000 to over 30,000 residents during the war. Notable figures, like Elvis Presley’s father Vernon Presley, even came to Pascagoula seeking employment.
Ingalls, renowned for military ships today, primarily built cargo ships during World War II. Hegwood emphasized the importance of these cargo ships, stating, “It mainly built cargo ships. As all the British historians and Winston Churchill said, it was these cargo ships, American industry, goods, and materials moving over to Europe that won the war for them.”
The legacy of Pascagoula’s contribution to the war effort stands as a testament to resilience and the power of teamwork. The official celebration of Pascagoula’s World War II Heritage City designation will take place on Singing River Island on Friday, Nov. 17, at 10:00 a.m.